Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatique Syndrome – Eating Habits – Part 3

In my first blog on this topic, I discussed how I had been diagnosed with these strange illnesses and how massage helped many of the problems. In my second blog entry, I discussed the food allergies I discovered and took control of.

Now I will discuss more about my eating habits. I grew up eating and loving Chef Boy Ardee and Spaghettio’s. In fact, I would have eaten it every day if I was allowed to – or anything with tomato sauce for that matter. Vegetables were nothing I would touch, unless it was a tomato or maybe a cucumber. Even as an adult, my eating habits didn’t change much until about a year or so ago when I was sick of feeling sick five or six out of seven days a week. So I began educating myself.

First, I started by finding out what may be the cause of aches, pains, and general feelings of discomfort. I began visiting health food stores and talking with others just like me who made some suggestions. One of them happened to mention the link between the pH in the body and the growth of disease. It reminded me of taking those little litmus test papers in school science class, but I was now beginning to understand what that was all about.

Balancing the acidity vs alkalinity in my body took on a whole new meaning of eating properly. I started to take notice of how my body felt when I craved and ate too much pasta. Without knowing how to fully describe it, I would say heavy, like a wet rag, and slightly achy – whatever it was wasn’t normal. I had no idea that pasta is considered acidic. Also, my love of tomatoes hasn’t died… add those to the pasta and what do you get? More acid in the body. My beloved morning coffee = more acid. So you get the picture. I was a walking body of acid. One conversation started to change that, however.

Having no idea what foods or drinks I had been consuming were acidic in nature, someone had informed me of taking an all-natural drink powder made with all organic green vegetables. Apparently, the powder is supposed to balance the acidity in the body and make it more alkaline. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it when I discovered that this powder worked. The name of what I take is called Green Superfood, and it’s made by a company called Amazing Grass, runs for about $28 in the health food store for a 30-serving supply. One tiny scoop mixed with water looks pretty gross but the flavor really isn’t bad. I drink that if I tend to be consuming too much acidic food or drink and have noticed a huge difference in the aches.

Advertisements

Beating Fibromyalgia and CFS, Allergy Tests – Part 2

Sometime around 2002 someone finally convinced me to get tested for allergies. Thankfully, I had insurance so the visits and tests were covered. I discovered through an allergist that I was allergic to grass, ragweed, pine, and milk. The pine allergy would definitely explain much of the misery I felt in 1997-1999 because I lived in northern Florida in the middle of a pine forest! As I had stated in my last blog, this is when the joint popping and cracking issues began.

Basically, I could do nothing about the environmental pollens because they surrounded me. I was given various allergy medications, such as Claritin D, which helped relieve stuffiness and post nasal drip, but did not fix my issues with the aches. Being sensitive to medications, I noticed I started feeling “loopy” (although some people might agree that is just my natural state, lol) after taking it. I felt as if I had the flu about 5 days out of each week. I was completely and totally miserable and hopeless. Exercise seemed to do nothing to help with any of the symptoms either, however, I also noticed a huge correlation between the allergies, the amount of sunlight I received, and the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Being a Florida girl, I grew up on the beach and the times when I did not get enough sunlight I noticed a difference in the way I felt. There were certain times when I would go for days without going out into the sun for at least 20 minutes, and I noticed if I did not go out at least every other day, by the third day I started feeling ill again. Anytime it rained, which is inevitable in a hurricane-fixated state, I could feel a huge amount of pressure in my joints.

I was eating better than before, but still not that well. Cutting milk out of my diet helped with phlegm and digestion issues, but I had a habit of eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast or donuts because it was easy to make and I had a 45-minute drive to work every day. My diet consisted of that of the average working American, and we all know what that means.

Eventually, I decided to move to a more tropical area that wasn’t laden with trees and grass, which was a huge help on the environmental allergies. It really did make a difference, and I also started chiropractic care. The combination helped, but I was unaware that I had developed more food allergies over the years. In 2007, I had another series of tests and found out I was still allergic to all of the prior tested things, in addition to cedar and (of all things!) corn! (See blog about corn allergy here.) Corn was just about in everything in my diet, which meant having to completely change the way I was eating. That meant no more fast food, and it also meant that most things packaged in a box, can, or bag were also off the list. Even the things I thought were healthful contained corn ingredients of some form or another. I started feeling relief as soon as I cut those things out of my diet, and I could tell immediately when I ate or drank something that had a corn ingredient in it.

Unfortunately, I had to move away from the tropical area and back to the grass and trees. At least I knew what made me feel yucky and I am still learning to control it.

About two years after the corn allergy was discovered, I started to feel as if I were eating something else that wasn’t being nice to my system. I went back to an allergist and discovered through more tests that I now had an egg allergy. I had been eating eggs for breakfast almost daily! It was disappointing, to say the least, but cutting eggs out of my diet really has made a difference with the digestive issues and muscle aches I’d been having. Substitutions for eggs were a challenge as well.

Since all of these food allergy discoveries, I would say that it piqued a newfound interest in learning how to eat right. In my next blog, I will discuss in what ways I am educating myself on proper eating habits.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Part I

Shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling well most of the time. After visiting the doctor and coming back with normal blood work results, I was relieved that nothing “bad” showed up, but at the same time I was also disappointed that there was no explanation for my symptoms. The doctor I was seeing at the time diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disorder that I hadn’t ever heard until then and knew nothing about. At the time, there was no internet access or much written information on the topic, but I did manage to find others that had the same problem. The more I learned about this incurable, debilitating disease, the more convinced I was that the doctor was wrong in his diagnosis. Since there was no exact way to test for this ailment, I convinced myself I didn’t have it. In my mind, I told myself there is no way in hell I’m going to give my life to this horrific disease.

Some time during some earlier college years I visited the doctor that had known me since I was born. (His office visits were only $30!) I kept having throat problems with swelling and chronic bronchitis. He shot me up with some sort of steroid, and I found immediate relief with the swelling issues. He suggested that I probably had allergies and suggested that I quit smoking (yes, I used to have that nasty habit!). At the time I had no health insurance so I wasn’t able to get the necessary testing done, but I did quit smoking for good. Shortly afterwards, I moved away to attend a university; in the meantime, my old doctor retired.

Fast forward about five years later. I was a full-time college student and single mom, and I regularly worked out at either the school’s gym or at home. One day at home I was lifting light weights with my arms. As I lifted one arm, I heard a snap that sounded much like my shoulder came out of its socket. It hurt but not bad enough to see a doctor, so I figured I’d just pulled a muscle. But the unexplained snapping and popping continued with each and every joint in my body, along with flu-like muscle aches and hasn’t stopped since 1997. Several doctor’s visits over a few years without any results, I finally had somewhat of an answer three years later.

Another highly controversial syndrome among the field of medicine, fibromyalgia was my next diagnosis. The only problem that I found was that even though the known “pressure points” of fibromyalgia were supposed to be painful to touch on the person, for me it brought relief. Again, I was not sure that I was properly diagnosed, but it was something that I could work with as far as the treatment went. By then, the internet was becoming popular and it was easy for me to find information on the topic.

Massage was a huge relief for the muscle aches. I’d been seeing an excellent but pricey massage therapist who later told me she took insurance. When I learned she accepted my insurance and to find out more about it, I immediately contacted my insurance company and was told that massage is covered if written by a physician as a prescription. I was thrilled! I immediately went to my doctor (who had been trying to put me on pills that I refused to take) and told him of the great news about massage therapy with my insurance company. But he refused to write the prescription! He wanted to shoot me up with cortisone shots and give me more prescriptions. He told me that massage is only a temporary relief, that it may last only about a week and was a waste of time. I was furious with him because we obviously did not see eye to eye when it came to holistic healing vs meds that harm the body (not to mention that they are also a temporary relief and not a cure-all). So I marched out of his office and found a new doctor that believed in massage therapy.

That was just the beginning of beating fibromyalgia.

Today I still have the same muscle aches and joint popping and cracking without any explanation for it whatsoever. I have found ways that relieve these issues, however, and I have noticed what makes them worse. I am also convinced that all of these symptoms are related to allergies and stress.

Backtrack to around my twenty-first birthday. Stress was an understatement of how to describe my life at the time. I was a new mom, going through a divorce, and working full time. My body was still adjusting to the birth of my daughter and my diet consisted of mostly microwavable foods – many with starches and sugars that I now know contributed to many of the health-related problems I was facing. To top it off, I was a smoker.

Go You Chicken Fat, Go Away! (Please Get Out of My Head!)

The strangest things have been happening lately with songs popping into my head at random times. Although most may not find this unusual, it’s unusual to me because these songs are ones I haven’t heard in years.

For instance, this morning I woke up with a song in my head from the fourth grade. Our quad of teachers made students do exercises each morning in order to get us (or them) fit. The tune was “Chicken Fat/The Youth Fitness Song” and it’s one that once heard, you will never, ever forget.

I found that someone had put this song on Youtube. I wasn’t aware of the history of this song. According to WFMU:


The song was commissioned by John Kennedy for his new Youth Fitness Program. A copy of this record was sent to every school in the U.S. with the idea that it would be played over the P.A. every morning while students did calisthenics.

I recall participating in these morning exercises (begrudgingly) and watching all of the other miserable faces following along. For some reason it only lasted a few weeks or so and we stopped doing it – probably a complaint to the administration put a quit halt to it.

So why was this song in my head when I woke up this morning? Was it the Universe telling me I needed to get out of bed and make that chicken fat go away? Or is it because “Chicken Fat” is one of those songs that no matter how many years down the road you will never, ever forget it?

Mammograms Under the Age of 40

mammoA few years ago my cousin died of cancer that took over her entire body. Shortly after, a friend had announced she had breast cancer and went through radiation. My brother announced he had melanoma, and had to go through interferon treatment. I am determined that if I have some horrific disease such as cancer, I will not go through what my cousin did, for one.

I had my first mammogram around the age of 30, because I had a lump-ish thing that turned out to be normal. (I was told it was often caused from too much caffeine.)  My insurance at the time covered it.

Fast forward to last year. There was another issue. I’d been having burning sensations in my chest area, on the upper part of my breasts. It almost felt muscular, but I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t judge what could be causing it. Well, let me back up a bit.

Ten years ago I did something sort of stupid, something that I was always against, but I was caught up in the moment and felt really insecure. I got breast implants. I loved them for about 8 of those years. But then I gained weight and they became tiresome… and heavy. I believe that was the reason for the burning sensation, so on my own dime I got them out. I felt so free and relieved to have this crap out of my body, and I still can’t believe I did it in the first place. My doctor mentioned doing a mammo, but we wanted to wait until I was completely healed. So I did.

Once my 40th birthday was coming into place (three months prior to), my doctor wanted me to have the mammogram. I still had some burning sensation, but not nearly as bad as I’d had while bearing implants. Apparently the doctor noted it on the referral as a “screening,” which insurance does not cover if you’re under the age of 40. It doesn’t matter if your birthday is 3 months, 3 days or 3 hours away – they WILL NOT COVER mammograms under the age of 40 unless there is a legit reason for it. (Because, like every other woman I know, we all volunteer to have our boobs squeezed to death by a machine just because we like it, right?)

I am still fighting with the insurance company, which claims it has no record of why I needed the mammo. I am working with the radiology center, which is the one that told me (after the fact) that it’s not covered if you’re under the age of 40. I said I don’t understand why the age of 40, because I know plenty of people that get cancer or whatever prior to 40, and why do a few months matter??

I am still attempting to contact my doctor (both of us moved) to straighten this out. So now the dilemma continues. Right now, I consider whoever writes these policies are the biggest boobs of all, especially after reading these articles:

http://www.today.com/id/4960650/site/todayshow/ns/today-today_health/t/im-under-how-can-i-have-breast-cancer/#.URm4VKVhqS0

http://www.seattlemag.com/article/best-seattle/top-doctors/breast-cancer-striking-more-women-under-40-ever

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-dehn/breast-cancer-screening_b_1797583.html

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/breastcancerearlydetection/breast-cancer-early-detection-acs-recs

Less Allergies in Hawaii? Not.

OrangeBloss_wbI don’t understand why people think that when you move to certain areas you have less allergy problems. It depends on what you’re allergic to. I just had more tests completed and a new list has arisen, in addition to my old ones:

*oranges
*mustard
*brewer’s yeast (goodbye, beer!)
*molds
*dust mites
*weeds
*mesquite
*eucalyptus (tree, not sure if it’s the same as the plant)
*cats & dogs (no, I will not be giving up my babies)

On a scale of 1 to 5, each of these rated as a 1, the lowest. So it’s more like a 20% allergic reaction. A combination of these things increases it.

The orange allergy explains why my face keeps breaking out. I recently purchased a new line of skin care from Avalon Organics – all include orange. I loved the way it made my face feel at the beginning, but after a week or so my face was breaking out big time. When I applied lotion to my neck I itched until I wiped it off.

Dust mites is something that never showed up on other allergy tests, either. However, I’ve always had a suspicion, because when I’m in a dusty area my face and nose itch. Of course it doesn’t help that Idiot Neighbor is creating more dust.

As far as the cat and dog allergy, the doctor said that frequent vacuuming and laundering will help that.

So between the noise pollution, the new allergies, and the stress of moving in general, I’ve been pretty miserable the entire time here. This is not what I consider paradise.

Goodbye, Cruel World – Sayonara, Facebook (sucks)!

0278615_facebook_sucks_xlargeI gave up on Facebook again. While it’s a great way to keep in touch with people, it’s also a gateway of how people think, most of which I don’t care to know. People that I really want to keep in touch with have my phone number or email address, and for me that’s enough.

The issues of gun control and gay rights in the United States is a big one, but it seems to be an even bigger one to people on the mainland. I don’t hear anyone in Hawaii discussing it, nor do I see anyone posting anything about it on Facebook. (Except for my idiot neighbor, it’s a fairly peaceful island – even with half of the population being military.) Hawaiians seem to be a lot more accepting than mainlanders.

I’m sure many of you can relate to this – you log on to Facebook and have to scroll to find anything decent to read or look at. Lately, I’ve been experiencing ads for things I don’t like on my iphone when I view Facebook. And no matter how I put my settings, they magically manage to change on their own. Half of everything people are posting from the mainland is negative, and most of the time they have no knowledge of anything they are talking about or posting about. Nothing is based on facts, just opinions from Fox News and nut balls like Alex Jones. If one of them told their fans the sky was falling, they’d post it and believe it. So sad.

I decided Facebook wasn’t a very great place for networking or promoting my work anyway, so I left. And I haven’t missed it a bit.

(*On a side note, if I were still using Facebook, I would become a fan of this page.)