Autoimmune help on Christmas Eve.

Hi friends.  I wonder how many of you suffer from autoimmune diseases and just don’t realize it?   It’s been one year since I gave up processed foods, sugar, flour and any word on an ingredient list I couldn’t pronounce or immediately recognize.  I have good days and bad days just like anyone else.  It’s been almost 2 years since I started figuring out what triggers my “flare ups” and mood swings.  I still don’t have it down to a science the way I want to.  For example, yesterday my children and I made a gluten-free eggnog cake.  Sounds delicious huh?  It was.  I have everything on Pinterest🙂  Anyway, after eating it and drinking my tea, I began to feel weird.  I got a bad headache and my throat started hurting…signs there was something that was triggering an autoimmune reaction.  Later, bloating.  When I woke up today, red eyes that were sticky.  If you have been following me for a while, you might recall when I started putting all this together.

Bad food triggers bad responses.  Period.

I was doing research on neurotransmitters and the brain…but more specifically how food triggers reactions in the stomach to the brain thus causing depression and/or mood swings that come out of no where.  Anyway, that was last year and you can find it by searching for “New Year, New Brain?” over there on the side search thing a ma jig.  I can’t stop researching.  I probably can…but I haven’t yet.  So a friend suggested a while back that I get a light box to help with my moods during the winter as it’s harder on me.  Fibromyalgia flares up in the cold, there are people making things I can’t eat, and after 38 years of basically eating whatever anyone put in front of me, including sushi, it’s difficult for someone who loves food to be able to cope with what my body is doing to me.  It doesn’t help that every single time we go out, no matter how hard my dad tries, he passes me the bread when we get it and I say no thank you and he keeps saying “I’m so sorry.  I forgot.”

So I came across this interesting talk, and I wanted to put it out there as a reminder that there really are things we can still control without pharmaceuticals.  I know that I am the rare person trying to reverse this without “drugs”, but more and more people are thinking about this I hope.  So here it is, Brain Chemistry Life-hacks:

My husband was just shaking his head at me as I listened to this “guy”, you know a clinical neuroscientist, because he tells me to move more.  I know exercise is important.  I do.  I get it.  That’s why I go to yoga, but I don’t go enough.  So I need to change that.  I need to go at least 3 times a week.  It can be 2 yoga days and 1 walking day, but it does matter.  I have GOT to do better…at something I used to like doing.  The mind is very powerful and we have to learn how to control it as I believe it’s the key to helping people like me fight off the diseases.  Once my body is brought back into fully functioning mode, I have to take care of it better.

Getting autoimmune help is just a matter of learning your body and how it reacts.

So if you are like me, you have autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia or anything that causes flares/pain, pay attention to what you are doing.  Eating.  Putting into your body.  Stay away, far far away, from sugar.  Do not feel bad you are not putting “cocaine” as Steve Ilardi calls it into your body…he gets to that at around 8 minutes in.  Listen carefully (as a side note, I use only coconut palm sugar or pure maple now as it breaks down differently.  I also take Omega-3 supplements, mine, so see the tab Vitalize You for how to purchase what I use.  Everything I take is all-natural, with no additives, and is made using phytotherapy or plant based methods.)  It became so important to my health, that we started a business called Vitalize You Wellness.

This video runs about 10 minutes and if you are having a hard time during the Holiday season, really pay attention.  You can help your own moods, depression, and life.  You can.  So my gift to you is to think about happy thoughts, get a light box if needed, take care of yourself, go to yoga or exercise, grab a buddy, and don’t ruminate on those negatives in your head.  Don’t.  Experience changes the brain.  Change your thoughts.

** Author’s note, this was written before I went through 200 hours of yoga teacher certification, completely re-trained my body to move again, and then was additionally trained in using yoga to help with pain and arthritis.

Gift 2 you

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Woe is me…

Anyone remember Droopy the cartoon dog?  Just say yes.  Okay, well, there are times I feel like that.  I thought my less than positive feelings would eventually go away when I saw things I couldn’t eat.  Sadly, this is not the case around “Pumpkin” season.  Yes, it’s a season.  I love everything pumpkin.  Everything.  I want all the mixes, and batches of cake, cookies, drinks, icing, marshmallows, candy and whatever else I am not supposed to eat.  So, ahem, last year, when I went through my Grouchy Smurf phase, I deleted and unfollowed every single person pinning CRAP I CAN’T EAT on Pinterest.  SICE for short (replace crap with well you get the picture).

However, it was all I could do not to burst into tears at the grocery store with my little pumpkin last night.  She has a birthday coming up and we always make funfetti Halloween cake.  With the orange icing and sprinkles.  I know this is dumb to some people…clearly, I can live without this, but she looked at me with her big blue eyeballs and said “I wish you could eat this.”  So into the cart it went because it’s not just about me eating it, it’s about memories.

I mean, let’s face it.  I grew up with Taco Bell, Doritoes, McDonald’s and more, and usually, I have willpower.  OKAY, I WANT A MEXI-MELT, but can’t have one.  And flour tortillas.  But whatever.  I am trying to be kind to my insides because I was sick all the time.  All the time.  So I started my business Vitalize You and I try to help others like me.  Yes, of course, I offer suggestions based on my gluten-free all-natural supplements because I know they work (the tab is up top here on the blog).  And I have lost 17 pounds even though my mom is worried I’m not eating enough.  I am. I had put on 20 pounds with my new friend Hashimoto’s.  Not some new sushi place.

But I am not that mom…the one who sits around messing with gluten-free flours and making recipes up.  I wish I was.  Trust me.  I look in the cabinet like it’s magically going to mix itself together and jump out for me to eat.  I pin things, I do.  I even make most of them…if they take like minimal cooking times.  Lately I have been eating more fresh veggies, which I love!!  It’s much easier than trying to figure out what they are magically going to concoct themselves into.  I’m not going to lie, it still takes way more work than I really want to invest in.  But I am doing mostly Autoimmune Paleo, so I mean, the cavemom had to work this hard I guess.  She couldn’t run up to Taco Bell either.  That makes Sir Mix-A-Lot sad.  Me too Sir.  Me too.

So I’m not sure if you all will get this post, but if you are a gluten-free, sugar-free, food intolerance label checker, word.

 

Anew

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War on me…

The invisible war inside me threatens to take me down.

I suspect that if I were to take the posts about my food issues and put them together in a book, it would be helpful to many people.  I will briefly try to explain what has happened to my body as best I understand it.  When I was born, I was born with the C282y gene that the Irish people needed.  It not being the potato famine and all that, it continues to function in the way it would have by holding onto iron.  Basically, it is thought that this protein functions to regulate iron absorption, and mine is “broken” so to speak. Luckily, the porphyria cutanea tarda kicked in and gave me blisters all over and turned my urine dark.  Warning!  Warning!  Anyway, you can see other posts about all that.  Just use the search button.

So we have a kid loaded up on iron, fed by well water, eating collard greens like they are going out of style and taking her Flintstone vitamins.  Anyone see what’s happening?  Yes, you over there.  Poisoning myself.  That would be correct.  Because my body has no way of getting rid of the access iron.

Now let’s throw in mononucleosis at age 15 which left behind some Epstein-Barr virus and find out that EBV latently persists in the individual’s B cells for the rest of the individual’s life.  Hmmm.  Not sure what happened with this, but I KNOW it was reactivated about 4 years ago which started causing a number of problems and thus spawning more invisible diseases.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was found when my body starting attacking itself several years ago.  To use a bit from the Mayo Clinic:  Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.
Read that part again about coordinating MANY of your body’s activities.  READ it.  MANY.  I exhibited every SINGLE one of the symptoms for all of these diseases, but never in my life had a light-bulb gone off as when my good friend told me to read about Hashimoto’s.  I’m going to let you use the link above if you want to read more about Hashi’s but seriously it was the worst diagnosis.  I just didn’t know it yet.

When I started to feel like I had the flu every single day for the last 3 years, I should have known something more was coming.  The truth is, I did know.  I knew I had fibromyalgia, I knew I was living with pain and the swollen tender points daily, but what I didn’t know was that it was so hard for people to understand and/or believe.  From what I can tell, it is usually triggered by an underlying cause.  Read more about fibromyalgia here.

All this bring me up to date, but what I left out was what I did in between to feel better.  As the years went on, the extreme sensitivity to cold got to me.  My bones ached to their very core.  Still do, but cold is worse.  My stomach bloated like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.  I would have to go to the bathroom more than normal people, but still couldn’t lose weight.  It was painful.  I went through all kinds of tests, again that portion is in the blog if you search.  Giving up gluten as BEST I could was not good enough.  I really had to be serious.  Then I suspected there was another trigger,  so I gave up sugar in November.  That was very, very, very difficult.  I felt like Paula Deen came over and took away my Southern License.

I am not teaching.  I actually could not continue.  The pain, fatigue, constant contact with infection had my body fighting hard just to stay alive.  Not to mention the phlebotomies, and the fact that now my blood cells are considered Microcytic Anemia stage.  I was dizzy, it was hard to get my breath, and my exhaustion was at the highest it had been since I could remember.

I will not go down without a fight.

I started a process by researching all-natural supplements and what would help my body.  I got off acid-blockers as my stomach was already having issues with digestion so that did not actually help.  I started taking apple-cider vinegar in water.  I added probiotics, see the tab here called Vitalize You for more on that, and I added vitamin D as well as a gluten-free supplement called It’s Vital.  I still have bad days.  Flare-ups, and days I stay in my pajamas, but the good days are now finally catching up to the bad days and for that I am thankful.  I am working with my all-natural supplements business and I am spreading awareness of “invisible” diseases because they sure as hell aren’t invisible on the inside.  Not at all.

Changed

Here is the Work With Me tab if you are interested in learning more on how I changed my life.

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Motivational Monday…maybe

My husband had his high school reunion…well, sort of his.  Apparently, they don’t mind if you were around that year and can make it since it was Heidelberg, Germany.  No, I did not get to go to Germany.  It really would be Motivational then, but they had it close to us in Washington D.C. so off we went after securing my parents, well mostly my mom, to watch the girls and 3 dachshunds.  He was really excited to see some old classmates, but knew that it would be difficult on me for many reasons.

There was not a gluten-free option clearly available, but after looking everything up, we thought one option would be safe.  After ordering it for a pretty penny on the “set” menu, the girl told me it really wasn’t gluten-free.  They had vegetarian, but it was over pasta.  Hmm.  Ok, she said she could deconstruct it for me.  So it arrived not looking as nice as everyone’s but it tasted yummy.  The problem is that no matter what, I was screwed.  There was nice crusty bread, I didn’t touch it.  Wine, I did touch it.  And a of course, no such thing as sugar-free dessert.  But again, I knew all this going in there.  I thought I had some will power, but sadly, I am mistaken.

So later that night we went to a popular pub.  The whole time I tried to act like nothing was wrong.  Even when the server couldn’t answer my questions.  I didn’t want anyone to make a “fuss” or put anyone out or generally go into this big long explanation of how this was going to KILL me this week.  Because, after all, if you don’t need an epi pen, I have found they are less likely to be cautious.  Sigh.  My personal experience is that they are not trained, but once in a while, you do meet someone who can answer your questions.  Again, this is MY experience.

What I need to realize after all of this is that I should not be the one to feel guilty, weird, freakish, or feel the need to EXPLAIN myself.  I should NOT.  I know that it is becoming more common to find suitable food when you have autoimmune issues.  I know for a fact I am not alone…even if I feel that way.  So I am going to tell you how I feel.  I feel like crap today.  Utterly and completely like I was beaten all over, and want to throw up.  It started yesterday in the car, with the warning sign of a headache.  It got worse.  I ache in all the places that fibromyalgia flares.  My stomach has been torn up since Saturday.  And it IS completely my fault.  It is my fault for many reasons, but mostly because I want to be the same as I used to be.  I want to eat food, any food I want.  I want to look the waitress in the eye and not bat an eyelash as I order brashly off the menu and when she asks, you want everything on it?  I want to say yes!  Yes, I want everything!  And a milkshake while you’re at it.  Throw in some extra sugar.

But the thing is, I can’t.  I have a list a mile long of what I am not supposed to eat.  So when I saw the “puddin”, I should have walked away.  It is NOT on the safe list.  I don’t care if it was smack yo momma good bread puddin with Bourbon glaze.  NOT SAFE.  Walk away.  I can basically eat meat, fresh veggies, rice, and drink water.  That’s not bad.  I can still make meals work.

Bottom line, do what YOU need to do for you.  Because if you compromise for fear of “hurting someone’s feelings” you will regret it.  I do.  Now I have had all the natural supplements I can take to counteract my dumbness (see the tab up top called Vitalize You).  I am in pain and going to bed.  So motivate yourself today by NOT feeling sorry when you have to do what’s right for you.  It’s better for you in the long run.

Walk away

 

 

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New Year, New Brain?

You knew it was coming.  I might, just might, be doing a tiny bit more research.  I know.  Some people are addicted to finding answers.  I guess that’s me.  Ever since my body started attacking me, and I was well, not happy about it, I have been on a mission to find out where all this was coming from.  I know that as a child I was sick more often than not.  By 5 years old, I had tubes in my ears, and had been on antibiotics so much that I looked forward to the pink medicine my mom gave me.  I remember being sick, shivering under crocheted afghans, on the mildly scratchy brown plaid couch.  The pattern continued to repeat all the way into adulthood.

Knock on wood, but right now, since changing things with my body, and the way I eat, I have started to heal internally…I think.  I have not gotten sick even though I have been around others who were very sick.  My stomach is leveling out and my “second brain” is healing.  Wonder what I am talking about?  Read this article on How the Gut’s Second Brain Influences Mood and Well-being.  I know this to be true because when I was under constant attack only a few months ago, I was perhaps the worst mood-wise I have ever been.  I back this up with research that has been ongoing for years:

DO BACTERIA CONTROL THE BRAIN?

A study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility indicates that it is not simply the neurons and neurotransmitters in the stomach that play a role in signaling to the brain.  In fact, a large part of the work may be done by the “intestinal microbiota” in your gut—a.k.a. the germs in your stomach.

There are approximately 100 trillion bacteria that reside in your intestines, reports Psychology Today.  Researchers in Canada have studied these microbes and have concluded, “that the presence or absence of conventional intestinal microbiota influences the development of behavior and is accompanied by neurochemical changes in the brain.”

Some believe that this study could serve as a gateway to treating stress-related disorders such as depression, reports Psychology Today.

Not only do I believe this, but I have been conducting research on my own, and using myself as a test subject.  Why?  Because I had nothing to lose.  I was already in pain, so I needed to start at ground zero.  The good news is that after taking some of the food triggers away and adding the healing supplements I have been taking, I seem to be able to know how to balance myself out.  The bad news is that my gut has more triggers than most.  The autoimmune disease I have thinks most food is trying to attack me, so I have been very careful.  I have messed up twice during the holidays and immediately had another attack.  It is when I eat any food other than prepared by my household that I have pain.

Lastly, I just wanted to throw this bit of news in here.  After years of research on keeping the gut balanced, the body aligned and your head clear of extraneous mood triggers, I developed 4 Weeks to Wellness.  Feel free to check it out!  Hover over the link to go there and click it to learn more.

I will

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Redemption…

I read this post today and felt someone needed to hear it.  I am not going to beat a dead horse; however, I am going to say that unfortunately, a few people in my life have not understood where I was coming from or what I was going through the past 4 years.  I was quiet with my other diseases as I thought it was expected.  When my friend suggested I start this blog, well, I did so under an avatar because I wanted to be honest about what was happening.  I personally believe “normal” is just a setting on a dryer too, and too often people hide what is going on inside their heads for fear of repercussion.  That isn’t who I am, and never will be.

So today, a friend shared this:

I am grateful for my supportive friends and family who have gone out of their way to make special meals and take me to special restaurants.
I feel so blessed to be where I am today, compared to the beginning of my journey…when I slept under two blankets in my Los Angeles apartment, when I had constant brainfog and needed to sleep for 11 hours to feel rested, when I was anxious all of the time, when I was losing my hair, when I had carpal tunnel in both hands, when I was addicted to caffeine and sugar… when I felt that I couldn’t do anything.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly”

This is a very personal quote from my Hashimoto’s journey. I thought my life was over as a result of this diagnosis, but I now realize that Hashimoto’s has made me a better person, the person I am today.
Mark Hyman, MD once said: “I didn’t choose this type of lifestyle, my body chose for me”, and this really resonates with me.

The person who wrote this is Dr. Izabella Wentz.  I don’t know her at all.  In fact, I just found her site today.  What I like about what she said, is that it’s honest.  The doctor who told me about mine acted like it was no big deal.  Period.  No one, and I mean no one, put anything together for me.  They left me alone to hurt, and sometimes, I would cry in their office as I asked them what more we could do.  I got blank looks and was told perhaps I needed antidepressants.

So after copious amounts of research, I have finally put together a timeline of what actually went “wrong” in my body.  I know what happened.  I also know how to “fix” it.  The crazy thing is, this lady put it together around the same time too and I think she has a better understanding of What’s Really Going on in Hashimoto’s?

The bottom line is, because of my Iron Overload, and the push to make me anemic, it tipped the scale in the wrong direction.  Trying to “fix” (I use that word loosely as there is no cure) my PCT/HH by numerous phlebotomies led my body into a state of attack I was in no way prepared for.  Ever.  Because all of my conditions have the same symptoms, with the exception of the latest, the food intolerance, I didn’t know what was going on.  I have a path and I strongly encourage anyone out there suffering with Hashimoto’s not to wait too long to start healing yourself.

redemption

Contaminated…

I am going to take a quick break today from the series I was doing, because this post wrote itself in my head and is banging around until I get it out.  Previously I had written about food as “killing me” here and told you how her opening really described me as well.  What is a food allergy?  “A food allergy is when your body sees food proteins as foreign, and it launches this inflammatory response to drive out that foreign invader.”  If you watch   Robyn O’Brien in that TEDx talk on my old post, you start to wonder.  You might get chills as I did that day when I began my research.

So when I realized that “four-score men and four-score more” could not make me as before, I began to panic.  Not only do people NOT understand what it means to live as if food is akin to Stormtroopers coming to attack what’s left, but it makes life difficult…for me anyway.  Now some of you read my post on Unhappy Meals which is the second most popular after the one I linked above.  So I think perhaps you might be looking for answers too. Well, I don’t have them…yet.  That isn’t to say I’m not trying.  I have enlisted in the help of my husband, who was put into my life for a reason.  The quoted line above is from the original version of “Humpty Dumpty” in 1797.  Quite simply, he keeps me together.  My parents are now on board with my theories as well.  The “problem” I think comes from the fact that my parents and I’m sure other parents see it as something they have done “wrong”, when in fact, I don’t see it that way.  Just like the mom in the TEDx talk, what is foreign in our food now that wasn’t there before?

This is our bodies way of reacting to things that were not there before.  My body is trying to protect me by developing the gene from the “Celtic Curse” and holding onto that iron thus causing the photo-sensitivity to morph and leading to the Vampire myths from old.  So what is one more step in the evolution of me?  The autoimmune response.  I realize that if you are new to my blog, this part just confused the hell out of you:)  Anyway, out of all the diseases, this last one is by far the hardest.  Here is another link I found on more information for the Autoimmune Food Challenged folks.  Yes, I like the word I made up.  We are AFC folks because when I go to a restaurant and ask for a “gluten-free” menu, they look at me like I am contaminated…just letting you know, it is not I, but sadly the food we eat.  Lastly, I will use this link and I say I wish my doctors had even thought of one of these 9 steps to heal autoimmune.  Just one.  Instead of looking at me like I’d lost my mind…which clearly will happen if your body keep attacking itself and you have no one on your side to believe you.  Hereditary Hemochromatosis friends, please read this as well about copper.  Whew.

So, here I am:

Take Care

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