Better - Physically
I have gone to yoga 3 times in a week and run three miles four times, played two hockey games and worked every weekday including New Year's. This likely doesn't sound impressive - possibly a total underachiever week for some of you (I mean hell, Lisa ran a marathon today!)- but for me, I've come a long way.
I was thinking about this on Thursday as I struggled to "sink deeper" in Warrior 2. I didn't judge myself for muscles I used to have, but am proud of how far I have come since losing all my muscles to illness over the past couple of years. I am seriously amazed at the fact I have lost all my strength, all my muscles. I had been running and playing hockey consistently for 20 years until the illnesses really took over about two years ago.
Two months ago, I was walking 3, 4, 6 miles slowly but I could only run/walk about a mile at a time. I would only venture to a once-a-week beach yoga class and a once- or twice-a-week restorative studio yoga practice. Now I can run 3 incredibly slow miles - and might be able to work on getting faster if I weren't babying an unhappy calf. I'll take it.
Two years ago next month, I noticed some swelling starting in my ankles and feet. That swelling happened so often and worsened to blow up my feet and ankles and legs to almost twice their size sometimes. I sought help from a vein specialist and had surgery on both legs to solve the blood flow issues - doctor said the blood didn't return to circulate through my heart but piled up in the lower extremities. The surgeries helped but weren't the entire answer.
During this time, I also was having severe intestinal issues - from extreme bloating and distention to constipation that required a prescription and antibiotics to help. Many trips to doctors and many tests later, a gastroenterologist diagnosed me with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth Or SIBO. The doctor kept throwing the meds at me overtime I called. It wasn't resolving the issue.
The fact my asthma was acting up with wildfires and red tide didn't help matters. I continually had to be on steroids and that affected my intestines. A vicious cycle of pain, bloating, embarrassing giant belly, missed work, steroids, antibiotics and constipation prescriptions took over my life.
No doctors were trying to resolve the problems, just treating the symptoms, which is typical - you go to a doctor with a problem, that doctor tries to make you feel better. I researched SIBO, SIBO diets, foods I should avoid. I gave up lactose (even though the lactose intolerance test my gastroenterologist orders was negative). I gave up gluten and sugar. Nothing helped.
B and I started talking about functional medicine doctors. He had done a lot of research trying to help me and we both believed all of my issues had to be related. I mentioned this to my pulmonologist and he thought it a good idea. So I asked around and my friend Lisa gave me a suggestion for a doctor her friend had used.
In May 2017, the new journey began. I saw Dr. Trudy and she said I was totally correct that all my health problems were related. She immediately put me on a protein shake based on the blood work I shared from a recent physical. Then she ordered a lot more blood work - $700 worth. These tests would dig down deep and see how much damage I had going on in my intestines and also what foods I shouldn't be eating - the ones that were hurting me, not just foods I was allergic too but foods I was sensitive to.
Turns out there were 34 foods my body didn't like. Most people look at the list that includes asparagus, all dairy, eggs, honey, ginger, pineapple, fig, brewers yeast and they say - but there's no pattern. That doesn't make any sense. How are green beans harmful? Well, my blood says they are. My body too. The proof is certainly in the results: 25 pounds lost, ability to do physical activity again, no bloating or distention. I haven't been on steroids since August. I am off Nexium and the constipation prescription. I have stopped taking Musinex and am off one of my two steroid asthma inhalers.
Improvement didn't happen overnight - it took discipline and months of eliminating the foods, drinking the nutrient shakes at least once a day, digestive enzymes, probiotics, cod liver oil. I'm still doing this and need to repeat the blood work this month to see where I am now and how to go forward. I may be on these natural supplements for the rest of my life - and I'm ok with that.
I had one set back - pneumonia in July. I never stopped the supplements but my body wasn't trying to heal the gut and instead was focused on my lungs. It delayed the start of trying back foods by a month. I finally started trying foods in October - during the heart-break vacation.
I haven't been terribly motivated to continue trying foods - knowing I might feel awful for days or trigger an asthma attack does not excite me. So it's a slow process. My mom really wants me to try egg whites. I bought some eggs yesterday so maybe this week.
I have a lot of people to thank for the ability to build back strength, to have the energy and the happy lungs to be able to live normally again. B of course was my biggest cheerleader and encourager - it's hard to get over that kind of caring even with his completely selfish departure. Oscar - who tried my shake with just hot water to encourage me to drink it. I quickly realized that adding fruit and juice to it made the concoction more tolerable. So many friends who have put up with my grumpiness. Me - because I have to learn to appreciate me - yes?
New foods tried: black-eyed peas tried on New Year’s Day (doing everything I can to create some luck and prosperity). Seemed to go over ok even if luck and prosperity haven't materialized yet.
Items eliminated and tried:
bell pepper - yes
Sheep’s milk cheese - no
Green beans - yes
Honey - yes
Almonds - not sure. Nothing severe for sure
THE REST OF THE LIST
egg white, yolk, orange, banana, mango, cola, brewer's yeast, asparagus, arrowroot, gluten, malt, wheat, fig, pineapple, blue cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, whey, swish cheese
crab, green beans, casein, cheddar cheese, goat's milk cheese, yogurt, ginger
Running this week: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
Yoga this week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
Jobs applied for:
In journalism - 5
Outside Journalism jobs to pay the bills - 30
Jobs working - 2
Heartbreak days: 82
Last day cried: Saturday (most of the day spent frozen, crying, staring into space, watching bad tv, sad)
I can't believe I didn't cry Friday night when B's incredibly thoughtful and heartfelt Christmas present arrived. I focused on the spirit of it and the caring behind it and enjoyed that instead of being sad he's not here. He's still my person. I want to believe he is coming back. We'll see. I don't know. Part of me thinks I have to get to where I KNOW B and I won't be together. Some mornings, this is my mantra: He left me. He left me. He doesn't want this relationship. He left me.- get that through your head and move on. But that feels so negative and it doesn't really motivate me. Why can't I believe we should be together and work on that idea with him? I obviously can't build my life on that at the moment but why close the door? I don't want to close the door to anything in my life. I'm not sure what's going to happen or what's going to work but I am getting out of bed everyday and getting through most days successfully (except Saturday. Saturday wasn't a success but it was what it was and I obviously needed it).