Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Better, Part I

I've dropped mentions here and there about how I have changed my diet and have had profound results. I thought I would post here about what I have done, why I did it, and how my life has changed. I am having the most exciting time of my life, getting better. This post is different from most and is kind of long, but bear with me. This is Part I and focuses on my progress after 1 week, back in November. Part II will catch me up to now and will discuss more about food especially local food, which is what I am really getting into.

I wrote the following on November 6:
A few months ago, I read a posting on a narcolepsy list serve that recommended an article in August's Scientific American( about a bunch of genetically linked disorders (narcolepsy, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, MS, etc), and how scientists had recently proven that several of the disorders (narcolepsy, celiac) are T-cell disorders. The article was specifically focused on celiac, and how the disease process starts with two conditions (leaky gut and overactive T-cell response) but doesn't turn into a disease until people eat wheat- the wheat is only partially digested, passes through the leaky gut, and is recognized as an antigen by the body, which attacks the places where it is found. It doesn't just attack the stomach- I did more reading and realized that it can attack other organs like bones and the brain. So I thought I would do a test, and I quit eating gluten back in August. And I started to feel a little better. Basically my depression lifted and I felt a little healthier. And then I thought, maybe it's not just gluten. And I wanted to find someone who could help me eliminate things systematically from my diet and figure out piece by piece. A naturopathic doctor named Dr. Sinclair was recommended to me, and he told me that he thought I had adrenal fatigue, perhaps as a result of diet, and prescribed a cleanse with elimination diet and an adrenal supplement.

I am going to make a prediction here that you might think is crazy but I think I am going to get better now. I mean all the way better.So far here is what is different from starting on the plan just this past Saturday 10/31:
  • The fog in my brain is about 60% gone. I can concentrate and remember things. I noticed this yesterday when reciting lines for my acting class and actually remembered them.
  • Mental Fatigue during the day: 40% better. I am no longer bumping into walls. My voice does not slur from sleepiness when I try to talk. I feel a little spring in my step. I also noticed listening to music in the car the other day that I felt like I could really listen to it. It was intense. Like freaking great. My attention has improved significantly.
  • Physical Fatigue: I raked the leaves in the yard, mowed them, and mowed the rest of the yard the other day with no problem. I was only counting on being able to rake the leaves. Today I walked a mile on my way to and from lunch. It was fun. I am actually looking forward to going back to the gym this weekend.
  • Constant pressure on the top and sides of my head (My physician once sent me for an MRI for this complaint): 90% gone within three days of first starting Isocort. CRAZY.
  • Chronic hip pain that I notice after walking for a mile or when trying to sleep that I have had since childhood: gone within three days. I am excited about this because it means I have started walking again and should be able to walk to work again (about 2 miles per day)- I am going to try next week. It also means that I will sleep better because I roll around a lot from the pain.
  • My foot soreness is also about 50% better as of today. The heel pain from the plantar fasciitis is about 60% gone.
  • Leaden limbs, especially legs and feet: gone within five days. I walk around all sprighty now instead of dragging my clumpy feet around. Pretty cool.
  • Inability to wake in the morning: about 25% better than normal after 6 days (today). This is HUGE. I actually feel an alertness in me when I waken. IT'S FREAKY. Is this how you people feel? I guess that's how you can get up in the morning, huh? I just let the snooze go about a hundred times until I gradually come out of a coma and drag my carcass into the shower.
  • Constant depression: Already somewhat better from not eating gluten starting back in August. But within 1 day of taking the IsoCort, I actually had happy, positive thoughts in my head that I did not have to put there with extreme conscious effort. Walking down the street with Lucy last night I was thinking about how I am excited about my life in general, which never happens. I am usually just happy about a particular thing but feel blah in general. I am not dreading winter any more. I am noticing that people are reacting to me a lot more positively. I also don't feel like I am having the winter blahs anymore and I am no longer afraid of this winter.
  • The tension and stiffness in the back of my neck is gone. The old lady bump on the back of my neck- I actually noticed this morning that it is reducing in size. FOR REAL.
  • Asthma: about 50% better. I was using the inhaler last week but have not needed it this week. I am still feeling some inflammation. I can catch a deep breath now more and more.

It's totally weird that a lot of the random problems I have struggled with all now appear to be connected. As I read up on adrenal fatigue I see that things like pressure on the top of the head, hip pain, asthma, digestive problems, gradual weight gain, insulin resistance, and frequent lung infections are common symptoms that get better with treatment. This is pretty wild.

My Dad advised me not to get my hopes up the other day, but I thought this was totally lame, and am way past that point. The only thing I am afraid of is a Flowers for Algernon situation where all of this progress suddenly starts to decay. But I do not think this will happen. I have read online about other people who have adrenal fatigue, and if the medicine works, it usually keeps working. A lot of people don't see results right away- it takes a month or so. So I am really curious to see if I will keep getting better, and at what point I will stop. I also am not afraid to look forward to things, dammit. Expect the best. The worst can look out for itself.

I'll be working with the naturopath to see if we can't figure out what is causing the fatigue in the first place. He thinks it could be an autoimmune food sensitivity and believes I will continue to get better. His goal is to see if I can eventually go off the medicine for narcolepsy - he thinks I will - I feel like I am so much better than I was but this is just by contrast, and I definitely still need the narcolepsy meds to stay awake during the day. But I AM so much better than I was - this is so manageable - that I feel like my life is being given back to me. But my idea of a better life versus a normal life may be totally different. I actually have no idea how it feels to be normal and be able to wake up in the morning and do my hair, or have energy when I come home from work to clean anything. My idea of better is just not feeling tortured by exhaustion. I really don't even know how to anticipate anything better than that. But I bet it would be awesome. Imagine your whole life has involved sloshing through mud up to your neck, and suddenly the mud goes away.

What is exciting for me now is that I might have found some answers to the problems I have had not just since I was a teenager, but perhaps also my whole life. Even if this is all the better I get I am totally excited. But the prospect of getting really better- of having a condition that can be treated, not just managed, is awesome. I also think it's interesting that adrenal fatigue is a condition that is not accepted by the mainstream medical establishment. I gave them 36 years and the could not do what a naturopath was able to do in a single office visit.



Jacqueline said...

Dealing with my adrenals is my top 2010 goal. I thought I had Adrenal Fatigue, but now I'm thinking my symptoms match Cushing's syndrome more. Whatever it is, I hope to get to the bottom of it. Here's a good article from the Women to Women clinic that has a comparison chart between health adrenals, AF, Addisons, and Cushings. I found it very helpful. Good luck!
Adrenal extremes — could you be on your way to Cushing’s or Addison’s disease?

smoo said...

I've read that article. If you have Cushing's that is pretty severe.