Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Intensity and Medication

The deep sensitivities and intensely felt emotions of artists fuel their creativity. The urge to release their feelings moves them to create, to make art, to write, to make music, to compose lyrics.

Sometimes I wonder if the passionate artists of the past were medicated in their youth and in their 20s, what would have happened, would their works have not been created?

This occured to me today while listening to Bruce Springsteen. At the age of 28 he recorded Promised Land.

"I've done my best to live the right way I get up every morning and go to work each day But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode Explode and tear this town apart Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart Find somebody itching for something to start"-Bruce Springsteen, Promised Land

Today if someone feels they want to explode they are given a mood stabilizer. If they want to cut the pain from their heart they are thought to be suicidal or violent, feared and in need of rescue. If you say you are looking for somebody to start a fight with, you are thought to want to provoke violence. 

I just don't know what is normal and what teen boys are like but outgrow, versus what is pathological and which are signs of something more serious that needs attention. It's so confusing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Figuring Out Systems and Letting Go

I came to the realization about a year ago that I'm good at figuring out systems. This has been good and bad for our homeschooling and family journey. I've been thinking about this for a while and am still trying to figure out how this all matters.

Honestly I believe my childhood was filled with benign neglect. Additionally my mother's mental illness created a family dynamic that was less than ideal. Recently I have been hearing women grapple with the loss of their mothers when they pass away and it dawned on me what they are now missing I never had. I will not grieve the loss of that mother/daughter relationship as I never had it. My mother began slipping away when I was about nine, so those are my last good memories of what a normal childhood was like. My brother is in the process of trying to convince me that our father is a narcissist. I don't know much about narcissism. I do know he has symptoms of OCD and a bit of anxiety that affects his daily life and his life path but it's not clinical anxiety. Stuff like the fear of the stock market losing your money so only investing in CDs so you barely have a retirement fund or discomfort in social situations so he keeps very much to himself (not a social party goer for example).

All this is said to explain that I realized when I was in about 10th grade that I'd have to figure stuff out on my own in order to plan my life out as I was getting no advice or encouragement from either of my parents. A first let down was realizing I did not have the right classes in high school to be admitted to certain colleges for certain degrees. The college books showed the best colleges for this and that major but I did not have what it took to get in. I realized my ignorance and lack of guidance from school set me on a path that was not in alignment with my hopes and dreams.

With my own family I wanted to do things right and best. Because how else could a responsible mother do things? Who really chooses second or third best or chooses actions for a bad outcome?

I was able to figure out a lot which took a lot of thinking, hence the blog name. When my older son had health problems I figured out it was food allergies (then was confirmed by doctors). When my baby had troube breastfeeding and the lactation consultant could not help I found another source, La Leche League and they were a huge help, along with referring me to a different lactation consultant not associated with our pediatrician, who solved the problem. For homeschooling I figured out what to do, what was legal, what was best, what the alternatives were. I spotted and helped get my son diagnosed with Lyme Disease and learning disabilities. Before calling the other one lazy I had him tested and he's just gifted with no problems other than a little slow reading speed which does not quality him for an LD.

The struggle we (I) have had was mostly in the high school years is when what I know to be best or right was not agreed to do by my son(s). I think it's worse when you know the right thing that should be done and your teen refuses, then your teen performs sub-optimally or fails, and you know there was no good reason for that to have happened. It is hard to see your child  not live up to their potential. But to grow up they must become independent and they must own their path and the motivation and drive has t come from within themselves. Teens cannot do well with only the parent pushing. The experience of the teen who is acts only when pushed by the parent is not the good and beneficial equivalent compared to teen whose same result came from within.

I have so many stories I wish I could share here about how imperfect things are with our family but for privacy reasons it's not right to share them. I have said that this year athletes on the sport team have been making fun of my son for what what written here. It's not right. But it's a risk with me blogging.

Some of the challenges we have been living with are working themselves out and some former issues which caused me much hand-wringing and too many tears are turning out alright. The more that my husband and I let go and let our teens navigate their own path, the better it turns out. It is just hard to let go and it's hard to watch them make bad choices that cause problems.

I hope some day after some years go by I can share some of the stories, when my kids are past the time when telling of their flaws and struggles is no longer risky or dangerous. When it's all behind us and things are good then I can speak of some of the hard times. For now I am happy that our familyl is moving along in the right direction even though we are far from perfect.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Digestive Enzymes Started

Having changed nothing except adding digestive enzymes and a typical probiotic I am shocked.

I cannot believe how much energy I have from what I feel are the digestive enzymes!

I was not absorbing nutrients from the food I ate despite it being high quality food.

Now I am actually absorbing those nutrients!

I feel younger and have high energy. This is amazing.

When I skip the digestive enzymes due to being out and eating when not at home I feel blah.

I cannot believe they make that much of a difference!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Treatment Plan After Stool Microbiome Test

The results were worse than I thought. My test (by Genova Labs) showed severe inflammation in my system and severe damage of the intestines but at least I am negative for Chron's and Celiac. Since I now have symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) I already had a clue I was a real mess. I also have no parasites (which I never suspected). Bottom line: I have dysbiosis and leaky gut (gut permeability) which I already knew from me becoming intolerant (having IGG allergic reactions to whatever I am eating).

I am low on many of the good bacteria in the microbiome, some are not in the common probiotic supplements. One I am very low in is responsible for breaking down starches and converting them to energy. I wonder if this is why when I avoid starches and eat Paleo I feel fantastic, as I am getting the actual energy from the food compared to when I eat starches I feel really tired.

Certain parts of the test indicate that I am low on bacteria that help break the food down during digestion so that the nutrients in the food can be absorbed by the body. I already suspected leaky gut as the cause of the non-absorption based on me being Vitamin D deficient for about five years now and despite taking 15K supplements a day my body still cannot absorb it. I am low on B12 also. Same issue. Chronic low levels of vitamins and/or minerals is a flag for leaky gut. Having read an article on theat is what led me to go down this road to see if I had leaky gut. Most of my deficiencies and my rosacea flare all began after the dog attack with infected bite and two courses of strong antibiotics. I am pegging my leaky gut on that dog bite. The cost of my out of pocket medical expenses for these years of leaky gut testing, diagnosis and care (not to mention the expensive special foods and supplements)  has now exceeded the lawsuit settlement amount, for the record.

I have been dealing with food changes for 2 years and 9 months trying to fix this.

The treatment plan is a special probiotic from the doctor which has these specific bacterium in it. I also have to take digestive enzymes which is tricky as they are required 2 hours before eating to be able to work. I don't eat on a schedule. (Update: the bottle says take with the meal so I am doing that most of the time.) The doctor is making me be very strict about not eating any of the foods that I was allergic to on my 2015 Genova food allergy test. That means my 1-2 servings a week of dairy will be ending as I was +5 reactive (the worst) to dairy.

On my own I am adding in fermented foods as those have two of the families of bacterium that I am low on. Daily I have added raw probiotic salsa on top of my breakfast eggs. I am eating pickles and trying to come around to sauerkraut as a side dish.

It is really hard living in America with a lot of food restrictions. To sum it up I cannot eat: gluten, wheat, soy, corn, dairy, pecans, walnuts, seafood, or fish. I was a +1 on eggs so eat them now but the doctor said if I am not responding well then I may need to eliminate the eggs also. Eggs are a breakfast food for me and when traveling they and bacon or sausage are often the only foods I can eat in restaurants for breakfast. The Paleo Diet is the thing with a name that most fits what I am allowed to eat, so I am Paleo for health reasons not for a fad and not for its philosophy.

I heard all of this with an open mind. I really want to be well and am doing what it takes (although the digestive enzymes thing will be work for me). It is not a good quality of life to live with abdominal pain and cramping and to be stuck near a toilet for 3-6 hours a day with diarrhea, or to live with the discomfort of constipation. Living with IBS is uncomfortable, painful, and makes doing normal activities sometimes impossible. A hard this is you don't know it will be a bad morning until it hits and interrupts your plans. I plan for high productivity but then cannot always work or do household duties.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Joined The PTO

I didn't really know what it was going to be like but I jumped right in and joined the PTO. I attended the first and second meetings too. What I have already learned is this:

1. The PTO uses funds from membership to deliver programs that help students so the hope is that all families will pay the membership fee. Most do not attend meetings or get involved and tha is okay.

2. By attending a PTO meeting you find out about events and things you did not know about by reading the school's newsletter for parents, reading the local newspaper and being told things by your kid. These are either announced, discussed, or are run with help by PTO parents. For example we heard about homecoming details, a big deal graduation night event, a lecture series open to all students about what certain careers are actually like (evening lectures). I found out about a website that promotes student achievement academically, for voc-tech programs, and in all sports and clubs which is not as biased or one-sided as the local newspaper.

3. There are jobs very small to large that need volunteers. Two of the easiest were decorating posters to give them some color to attract attention and helping serve cookies and juice at a senior candle lighting ceremony.

4. There is a mentor program for adults in our community to work with disadvanged students at an elementary school in another town.

Of course being the person I am I have already jumped in to be both a mentor and a volunteer with a leader role (when follower roles for that event were also needed).

So far so good and nothing controversial or to complain about. I am glad to be of service. I'm also learning more about what goes on and the principal's portion of the meeting is helping me get to know him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Had a Microbiome Stool Test

Over a year ago I attended a free lecture about nutrition given by my doctor's wellness practice. It was mentioned not as a hard sales pitch that they were now offering a stool test that would analyze the state of your microbiome in your intestines and gives a count of the bacterias which are low, normal, or too high, as well as the candida (yeast) levels. After that is known a customized plan to restore the microbiome can be done.

I have been banned from eating certain foods for two years and nine months. My condition has only gotten worse with my body getting new intolerances based on what I am eating suddenly giving an allergic, inflammatory response. Since late spring and all summer I have been dealing with conditions that if reported to my GI doctor would be diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My mother and her mother both had a formal diagnosis of IBS for years and were told there is no life change that can fix it and there is no treatment other than Imodium to stop diarrhea. My IBS is to the point where one teeny serving of a food that bothers me can tie me to my toilet the next day in pain from cramping for four to six hours. Normal daily living is not possible when that attack occurs and I do not want to live that way.

So I approached my doctor to ask for the three day stool test (there is a less accurate one  day test).

I have been waiting almost a month for the results and am excited to get them tomorrow. I want to be well so I am excited to hear the results. My hope is that a customized plan for which probiotics I should take or what foods to eat to help me fix my microbiome so that I can heal my leaky gut hopefully once and for all. If I can heal it then I will stop reacting badly to some foods and would be able to reintroduce some foods back into my diet.

I actually have been waiting longer to do this. I was on day three of the test when I suddenly had a UTI and needed to start antibiotics. I was in agony and didn't see any alternative. So I had to throw out the specimens already collected and wait three week after finishing the antibioticst to do a new test. I was also angry that my microbiome was already a mess and I had to take an antibiotic which will just make it worse.

I really learned a lot by reading The Microbiome Solution by Robynn Chutkan M.D. and I recommend that everyone read it as things that we are commonly told to do in our daily living are hurting our bodies but no one seems to know it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Began Advance Meal Planning

I'm in week three and it's been a great success so I decided to share the story. One of the peskiest things for me has been planning dinner meals. I hate doing it, I did not like planning ahead (favoring spontaneity), but sometimes winding up with nothing to eat at dinner time. Since we can now afford to eat dinner out we had been eating out about twice a week but that was hard given my food restrictions.

I finally buckled down and decided to do some serious meal planning.

I purchased a meal planner journal at Michael's Craft Store. I believe full retail was $4.99 and I used a 40% off coupon.

The first time I sat down on a Sunday and planned out dinners for Monday through Friday for the first two weeks. This last time I did one week only. I combined this with a project in which I selected a new cookbook where the theme was to make a pretty fast cooking recipe. Many of the dishes in it had appealing photographs and they are all Paleo so I wanted to try it. (I later found out the prep work can add a lot of time but I digress.)

I then shop for everything on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning except for fresh seafood. I also have been trying to use up food in our freezer so that gets taken out the night before or the morning of. (We buy meat on sale or at discount at Costco in bulk.) It is hurricane season here and our family's only prep is to start using up stuff in the freezer.

The biggest pain in the neck for me is that I have to pick my son up at practice at the same time that ideal dinner cooking should be happening. We arrive home right when my husband does and he is starving after not  having eaten for about seven hours and he wants to eat right away. If the meal is no ready right away he winds up eating "appetizers" then eats a full meal afterwards which I feel gives portion sizes that are too large. All of us are hungry so I am trying to figure this out. My solution that I will try today is to do the prep work (usually cutting up many vegetables or the meat) before leaving and I will lay everything out and have it ready to start the second one of us walks in the door (my husband is a very good cook).

I don't know why I resisted this until I was nearly fifty years old. It's working great so far.