Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 12: Some More Pieces for the Puzzle..

It's a good thing I started my day off with an amazing breakfast.  Because a couple of times throughout the day I actually wondered how is it possible to learn so much new information in such a short amount of time (have I been living under a rock?) I've also got a million questions and don't know were to start.

Here is a picture of me after the gym, reading a book, stretching my hammy, drinking tea and typing on my netbook.  This is a pretty normal occurrence around here and I got Mark to snap the shot because I thought Andre Lefort's picture was so cute and real.  This is what it looks like around here! 

  But anyway here is my super awesome breakfast and mid morning refuel.

Here's the recip'ish for my Banana bread Oatmeal

1/2 cup GF rolled oats
4 tbsp of Hemp hearts
2 tbsp of Flax meal
1/2 a ripe banana
ground nutmeg (freshly grated)
small handful of walnuts (chopped)
a dash of vanilla

Bring water to a boil in a kettle, then pour 1 cup over the rolled oats, cover up the bowl with a plate and let sit for 10 minutes.  This gives me a chance to get my snack ready, my daughter lunch and put breakfast on the table for my hungry monkey's.  Then I add the rest of the ingredients and enjoy, sometimes if I want a runnier porridge I had unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

I like to start my day off with oats and a form of protein, either it's egg whites or hemp hearts and a couple hours latter I make sure I have another small meal/snack that contains a protein and a complex carb combo.  So today I had a green protein smoothy.  Here is the recip'ish for:

Green Protein Smoothy 

a couple of handfuls of spinach
a celery stalk
1/2 a frozen banana
a couple slices of apples (the kids didn't want them anymore so I used them up)
juice from a quarter of a lemon (and some pulp if you want)
a couple giant heaping tbsp of greek yogourt
my iron supplement Spatone -100% natural liquid supplement
1/2 tsp of matcha powder (it's not really cheating is it - can't be that much caffeine in it?)
1tsp of agave nectar

I was at the Library today and sure I got a few stares because of my green goo! But ah! but who cares.  The best part of the morning was when Luke went into his little 'pre school' reading program (free drop-in... score) and I strapped the little man into the stroller, gave him his snack and went about finding a bunch of books on gluten free cooking and diet.  I also got one on modern Ayurvedic cooking (for fun) and the last two Jillian Micheals books.  I know it's weird but I think I have a crush on Jillian.  When I got home and actually started reading the book Celiac Disease, a Hidden Epidemic and it was so obvious that something is actually wrong with me, I may as well have been swatted over the head with the book.  I had no idea that celiac was an autoimmune disorder or that if you have (like I do) hypothyroidism you are 30% likely to have celiac but doctors never get around to testing for it because they are too busy managing symptoms.

So here is a bit of my medical history: 

At one point in the last couple of years (prior to starting Cymbalta) I was on massive anti-inflammatories for the extreme joint pain I was having. I couldn't grab a knife or plate or even walk up and down the stairs.  The meds were wreaking havoc on my stomach.  Interestingly when I got pregnant with Patrick all the joint pain virtually disappeared and as soon as he was born it was back literally within weeks.  This is about when I was getting alot of anxiety, some of it coming from worry that I wouldn't be able to take care of my 3 kids because I was scared or more like petrified of the pain that I knew was coming...

I had gotten an endoscopy done because of the acid reflux I was having (I ended up having a near cancer scare because of the way that my sphincter looked, but the medication prescribed helped aliviate the symptoms (I was taking Omeprozole) but they never actually fixed the reason for such eroding and the acid reflux.

I was permanently on reactine because of an ongoing unknown allergy reaction.Some of my symptoms included typical hay fever symptoms (stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes and sneezing) and I was also getting random hives.

  Because of the joint pain I was having in combination with hives and some skin rashes (plus a family history of autoimune) I was tested for Lupus and Rhmatoid.  I did have a presence of some lupus factor in my blood work, but the next time I was tested it was back to a normal range.  My mom tells me her numbers are always wakey, that she goes into remition for her autoimmune disorders.  Umm let me see, I was had visited an endocrinologist to see if Lupus was the cause of my joint pain, I had seen a thyroid specialist to help with the joint pain and guess what?? They found NOTHING! Nadda!

So here I was a few years ago, taking tons of medication, barely able to walk to lift stuff.  I had to get an occupational therapist to come to my house a few times a week back then because Mark was working full time and I couldn't take care of the kids unless I learned ways to cope with the pain.  I remember one day I had to call my neigbour to come and get one of the kids out of bed and bring him down the stairs because I couldn't actually grab him with my hands or hold on to him and the banister to get down the stairs.  So the occupational therapist had to teach me how to get him into my baby carrier while he was still in the crib so that I could use my forearms to leaver him out of the crib and then use both hands to hold the railing and sort of side shuffle down the stairs (down is so much more painful than up!).

So you get the picture, I was in pain, I was on tons of meds and then family crisis happens and I spiral into an anxiety ridden time of my life were all I can do is scream at everything and everybody.  This is when my doctor put me on cymbalta.  And it worked!!!  Like a miracle, my joint pain all went away, I started to be able to workout more at the gym and cope so much better with being a parent.  But I also became iron deficient during all this and I was starting to get terrible bloating (someone actually thought once that I was pregnant- when I bloat up I look like I've swallowed a basket ball) and stomach pain, which I was willing to put up with because the alternative was debilitating joint pain and bouts of 'baby rage' (I called my baby blues, baby rage because I was never down!!! I was always up and angry and anxious, never depressed or blue).

So that brings me to now.  I have improved my diet (thanks to Tosca Reno's Eat clean books) so much that I haven't needed to continue taking any anti-inflamatories, acid reflux meds or allergy meds.  It was time to take the plunge and see just how far diet and exercise could actually contribute to my mental sanity and managing my joint pain.  Off the Cymbalta!!!   At around the same time, Lent started so I figure I may as well give myself the best flying shot I have and be even more stupid healthy so I gave up gluten and caffeine.   I've been monitoring very closely how my joints feel because, more than anything I never want to be back at the place I was.  I currently have very stiff and sometime painful digit extremities (finger tips and toes) but I can't be convinced that that isn't from partly over training at the gym  (the wheel in yoga put tons of pressure on my finger tips, and so do lifting heavy weights - or my own body weight).  I might also be in total denial and don't want to face the truth that the pain might come back!

So now, that is why it is so important to me to get to the bottom of this.  For so many years I went along with what the specialists told me (or didn't tell me!) and just kept taking more and more pills to treat symptoms for a disease that was a mystery.  I want to know!  That's it.  Whether I'm celiac or not doesn't matter, I just need to understand why my body is and has been attacking itself for the last 6 years.


  1. Wow, Nat! That's a massive post with so much information in it. I think I'll need to read it over a few times to digest it properly. I'm glad you enjoyed my picture last fall, thanks for the mention in your post!

    It breaks my heart to hear you spent years suffering through useless meds only to find out on your own that you can manage it yourself. I wish it was easier, safer and cheaper for us to self diagnose with certainty instead of relying upon doctors, that although do mean well, are stretched far too thinly, or don't have a well rounded knowledge of human health.

    I'm so impressed by your commitment to better yourself and let it be known that you've given me hope. Hope that once I've got little tykes running around the house I can still find time for me, for my health, for my sanity. You seem to make it all work, and when you recount your days I find myself mesmerized by the sheer volume of stuff you've done, both for yourself and your family. I hope Mark realizes how truly special this gift of yours is. :D

  2. Hmmmm, I want to check out that book too. We have lots of similarities. My mom has celiac, and I'm hypo too. I constantly have sore hips and low iron. I asked for a screening from the doctor, but the blood test is not covered, it's about $110. I decided to skip it for now.

    BTW, where do you find gluten free oatmeal--I didn't think that was possible.

  3. Cara, at this point I would pay anything to find out what would be the cause of so much of my pain. I'm scared to actually have celiac (because that is HUGE and something that I will have for the rest of my life) but the alternative is a life trying to manage symptoms, being on and off anti-depressants/anti-anxiety and never knowing what the future can look like.

    This way I feel like knowing will give me power and control (which you know me... lol... I like!)

    My new go to for affordable health food is the Bulk Food Warehouse in Aldershot (in the Domino's plaza). They have gluten free oatmeal, you can also get it at Goodness Me (on Fairview) but it's more expensive, probably because of the packaging! It is GF because it isn't processed on machines that are contaminated.

  4. Andre, thank you for your kind words. I re-read the post this morning and realized - whoa it is long, so I just split it up a bit. I hope it's easier to read now.

    I think through all this is that I don't feel alone anymore, I'm a glutton for energy. I feed off of so many sources and you and Max have given me more than you'll know.