Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Letter

I go in for a blood draw today. I am excited to compare my previous labs from two years ago to current data! I also got a pleasant surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning, and saw that three out of 5 of my Christmas pounds are gone. Wooohooo!

Man, yesterday was a big day, in the world of me. I had my appointments, got my first blog comment (yay!) and also the Amazon shipment containing my FitBit showed up! So I am enjoying trying that out.

I posted something about my multiple appointments to the acupuncturist and the naturopath on Facebook yesterday. One of my friends asked about why I wasn't just seeking out conventional medicine, and I wrote a novel: one that ties in pretty well over here, I think, so I will share. :)

The short answer-

It's been my experience that alternative medicine practitioners do a lot more listening, and are a lot less cookie cutter with their approach to health. They seem to do better at discovering the cause of my problem, rather than just treating the symptoms.  I love the knowledge that the ultimate answer is that I can work with my body and do my best to help it heal, as opposed to just throwing stuff to the wall (in some cases you can substitute "huge amounts of money" for the word "stuff") to see what sticks. It's been gradual, and there is no "pill" I can take, but I can tell that it's working, because I feel better and better every day. I now feel like a rational human being, instead of a human guinea pig.

Here's the(really really long) lowdown: Since you lived with me way back when, you may remember that I always struggled with my weight and my skin (among other things.) I was constantly sick in the winter, with horrible sinus infections- and had pretty much been that way since childhood- although back then, it was also recurrent bladder/ear infections. And I was the world's heaviest sleeper- I snored, even as a kid. I'd sleep through my alarm and miss class all the time.

Over the years, things just seemed to snowball and get worse. I went to a bunch of the usual specialists, they ran a bunch of tests, and always said something like, "Well, it sounds like thyroid, but your labs are fine, so we don't know WHY you have this problem- but since we obviously need to deal with it, here's a ton of antibiotics/Accutane/maybe it's all in your head, but you should go on a diet, and also exercise more- couldn't hurt." And it was generally a solution that was ineffective, or in some cases, actually made me sicker. And I guess I just assumed that it was the way I was: I had always been a heavy sleeper, and low energy, and I always had breakout-prone and super oily skin and got my weird colds in the winter, etc.

And then there was a point where my husband and I started trying to get pregnant, and just...couldn't. Once again specialists, who all fixated on my weight- but admitted that it was just a guess, as there was nothing technically "wrong" with my husband, or with me. We went through the whole gamut, with no luck. There was no explanation they could come up with as to why it all failed.

So I went with the only thing I had control over. I started desperately trying to lose weight, and it worked- briefly. But inevitably, even with tracking my exercise and activity, and every calorie that went into my mouth, I'd not only stall, I would start to regain. And then, when I would freak out and tell the doctor, "Something isn't right, look at the math!", the doctor would tell me that stress is another factor in infertility, and I just needed to be patient. I finally elected to take a break from pursuing it: We were both emotionally bankrupt after a few rounds of it, our savings account was a wreck, and I was desperately sick of being a crazy hormonal diva monster with all the pills and shots!

So. When we moved up here, it was (at least in part) because of the proximity to the fertility specialists in the Bay Area (there was ONE GUY in my hometown) and also because the change in earning potential- we would be able to do IVF without it being a horrible financial strain.

I was desperately trying to stay in control of my health, and failing. I'd added a ton of whole grains into my diet, since they're supposed to be good for you! But I just got sicker. I developed rosacea, my hair was falling out, I was getting debilitating migraines two or three times a week, and once again, nobody knew why. My new doctor advised me to quit my job and lose a bunch of weight- once again, she cited "stress".

Luckily, (but misguidedly) I decided that if I wasn't working, we should start focusing on the baby thing again. I decided to start seeing an acupuncturist. He basically looked me over, asked a bunch of questions, and said, "You're too sick to have a baby, and you're almost too sick to function on your own.You have no business pumping yourself full of drugs like this, your hormones are all messed up, you're just making the damage worse." He's the first person who ever looked at my charted temps in the morning, which were consistently below 97 degrees, and said, "You're way too cold- this isn't normal, and we need to fix it." That's the way my temperature has always been, but nobody had said anything about it until now, even when I had tried to bring it up in the past!

He suggested I try an elimination diet. By this point, I was willing to try anything. Coincidentally, I had recently read about a diet that meant you cut out all grains, sugar, and dairy. I had dismissed it as "Low carb dressed up in a caveman suit," but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made, and I decided to try it for a week. And well, here I am!

It's been about two years: skin problems started to disappear in the first week. I will occasionally get a pimple (Thanks, PMS). Recurrent sinus infections and UTI's- gone. Migraines: I'll occasionally get one if I get off track with my eating: otherwise, they're gone. Seasonal depression- gone. Brain fog- gone. My eyes aren't bloodshot all the time. I actually wake up in the morning before my alarm goes off! I haven't lost a lot of weight, but I am not as "puffy" and I can maintain, which is amazing. My teemperatures seem to be slowly stabilizing and climbing. And my hair lady says my hair is healthier- growing back in thicker and stronger.

Confession time-I do occasionally cheat. I had some gluten-free treats over the holidays, and I am not always good about avoiding sugar. I learned the hard way that it is definitely gluten my body has a problem with. We had cream puffs leftover from a party last Christmas, and I ate some- you'd think they were poison. It was like the world's worst hangover and flu combined. I was horribly sick for a week.

My goodness, I wrote a novel- my apologies! I know my zeal sounds a little crazy, like I ran off and joined the Hari Krishnas or something. But it really has been life-changing- on par with going off to college or getting married for me. I can't stop thinking about what it would be like if I had never figured this out. So, if my story can help anyone, I am happy to tell it.

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