Category: Reflections and Commentary
It is a good thing when the Blood Type Diet has become so ingrained that I can go on auto pilot. I haven’t thought a lot about blogging or meal planning or recipes in the past two weeks. I’m pleased that the habits I’ve developed over the past 6 ½ years have kept me eating right without any effort on my part. I have stayed alert and energetic and healthy through a stressful time.
My Mom passed away a week ago. When I look back, I realize that she did pretty well in therapy during September, October, and the first half of November. She didn’t regain any use of her right leg. She made a little progress with her right hand and her speech, but frankly not much. However she was remarkably cheerful considering the huge change that took place in her life because of the stroke.
The week of Thanksgiving things began to change. She began to be in pain. She got an infection in her leg that sent her to the hospital. She began to eat and drink less. During December she had good days and bad days. Being an optimist, I focused on the good days, but by Christmas the bad days were outweighing the good.
My Mom has always loved to eat. Even after the stroke, she ate the pureed foods with gusto and pleasure. But after Thanksgiving, eating seemed to cause distress. Since she couldn’t speak she couldn’t tell me what she was feeling. One friend told me that his mother’s stroke caused her bowel to shut down. When she ate there was nowhere for the food to go. That’s one possibility. Nausea from the pain medication is another. Perhaps she had another stroke. I don’t know.
What I do know is that her eating became a point of conflict for us. I pushed her to eat and drink more. She began to enjoy my visits less and less. I reached a point where I realized that if God was calling her home, and her body was shutting down, that I didn’t want to spend our remaining time together in a power struggle. One day I told the aids that I wasn’t coming for meals any more. I said that I hoped they would continue to try to get her to drink, but that I just wanted to love on her.
I would sit by her bed, holding her hand, and chatting into her headphones about the events of the day. She began to smile at me again, and I realized that she knew what was the most important. She passed away very peacefully one morning, and is now reunited with my Dad and in the presence of her dear Savior, Jesus Christ.
Since I don’t keep avoids in the house, I didn’t eat avoids. I would go into the kitchen and think, I haven’t had greens today. Then I would go to the freezer and pull out a bag of collard greens or turnip greens. I would think I need an orange vegetable to go with the greens. Out would come a can of pumpkin or a sweet potato. I was on BTD auto pilot.
Exercise was a different matter. I was so busy that I didn’t think I had time to exercise. But DD was home from college, and she understood my Type O body better than I did. She planned our exercise. She made me go with her to the gym or work out to a tape on the TV. Of course she was right, I always felt better after a workout.
People ask me how I’m doing. Right now I am buoyed by the knowledge that my Mom is not suffering any more. The last 4-5 weeks had been painful and difficult for her. I am comforted by my assurance that she has entered heaven and is experiencing life far more abundant than is possible on this earth. I am very busy with paperwork and the many tasks that have yet to be done, so I don’t have time to be sad.
Physically I feel fine. I think that is because of the auto pilot. I didn’t stop eating. I didn’t over eat. I didn’t eat junk. The BTD has become ingrained. I automatically ate right, and that has been a big help.
My husband and I went to an outdoor Christmas festival with some friends. There were lots of unique gift shops and musical groups. We have come to this event several times. The atmosphere is always festive and the music is always delightful. This year we heard bagpipes, a string quartet, a barbershop quartet, and a Sweet Adelines women’s group.
It seems like the weather is always frigid, and this year was no exception. My husband and our friends always stop for coffee or hot chocolate. I’ve never really liked coffee, and once I learned it was an avoid food for Type Os, I stopped drinking it altogether. I am allergic to chocolate, and milk is avoid, so I don’t drink hot chocolate either. While they enjoy a warm and cozy drink, I’m left out in the cold.
This year as we left the house, I impulsively put a tea bag in my coat pocket. It was a flavor that DD had given me to try – TAZO’s Green Ginger. The label says, “It is a dazzling blend with sweet spicy ginger and a touch of pear.”
We had a lot of fun wandering in and out of shops and listening to the music. Eventually we passed a concession stand and the others ordered hot chocolate. I asked if they had apple cider, but the answer was no. So I asked if I could get a cup of hot water. They looked at me like they thought I was nuts, but gave me a large cup of hot water. I dropped the tea bag in, and a few minutes later I was sipping green tea.
It warmed me up all inside, and the flavor of the tea was as good as the package claimed.
The final event of the night is a candlelight sing along around a large outdoor Christmas Tree. As I stood holding my candle and singing “O Holy Night” I was reminded of how blessed I am. There have been some rough moments this year – some sadness and some disappointments. Yet there is much to be thankful for. My husband is a man of character, my children are doing well in their studies, and the economy seems to be improving. I could sing with all my heart, “O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth…O night divine, O night when Christ was born.
My sweet niece (ok, she’s really my nephew’s wife, but I don’t think she’ll mind if I claim her) brought butternut squash soup to the family Thanksgiving gathering. I love butternut squash. I usually cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it with a dollop of ghee where the seeds were. I had never imagined, much less eaten soup made from butternut squash. It was delicious. Just a little spicy, but not so much that it radically changed the flavor of the squash.
My Mom had the surgery on Monday to take out the screw in her ankle. She had responded well to antibiotics, and the cellulitis was almost totally gone. Breathing treatments four times a day kept her from developing pneumonia. The doctors finally reached a consensus that to send her back to the Rehab facility with an open wound and exposed hardware would guarantee another infection. When the doctor told me she would not be under general anesthetic, but that he would use local anesthetic plus a twilight sleep, I agreed.
The surgery went well, and the doctor was able to stitch the incision in such a way that the original wound is mostly closed.
It was a long day for me – 11 ½ hours at the hospital. When she came out of surgery, I realized I was hungry, but I had already eaten all of my lunch and my snack. The hospital cafeteria was open, but since it was between meals, the serving lines were shut down. There was a salad bar, but I shy away from salad bars during flu season. There were plenty of desserts, but I was resolved to find something healthy. They had fruit, but I had already eaten three servings of fruit. I was about to give up when I realized I had passed two soup tureens several times. One had chicken noodle soup – not interested in that. The other had butternut squash soup.
It was weird – here is a food I had never heard of until a week ago, and it’s in the cafeteria. If I had not enjoyed my niece’s soup so much I would probably have passed this by. But I served myself a bowl, popped on a lid, and headed back to Mom’s room. Oh it was good. Like my niece’s recipe, it was thick and just a little spicy. It soothed my nerves and filled my stomach.
There are three butternut squash soups in the BTD Recipe Center. How had I missed that? They are all a little different, so I guess I’ll have to try them all.
I’m usually the one encouraging friends and family to eat right. They call and ask me about vitamins or what foods might help a certain health problem. But right now, I’m the one getting e-mail saying “Suzanne, make sure you eat right…make sure you get enough rest…make sure you take care of yourself.” For the third time in four years, I am beside a hospital bed in December.
It’s sort of an interesting story…one that may apply to you if you are nearing menopause. My Mom broke her right ankle in 1997. She had surgery and they put a plate and several screws in her ankle. It healed beautifully, and never gave her any trouble. However, her August stroke paralyzed her right side. She can’t put weight on her right leg. She is either in bed or in a wheel chair. The bone began to deteriorate rapidly.
Thanksgiving weekend I got a call from the rehab facility saying that she had a cut on her right ankle. They speculated that she had banged her leg on the wheelchair. They were treating the cut. On Monday she had no appetite and looked at me with sad eyes. On Tuesday she had trouble breathing and was taken to the emergency room. There they discovered that the wound on her ankle was not cut from the outside. A screw from the inside was pushing its way out through her skin.
She is in a lot of pain, and is now on serious pain medication. On Monday my sister and I have to make a decision about whether to take the screw out or leave it in. The orthopedist candidly says that he is not optimistic about the wound healing either way. An open wound leaves her vulnerable to cellulitis and sepsis. The screw leaves her vulnerable to a bone infection as well. Surgery to remove the screw carries its own risks with a 93 year old stroke victim.
I am staying with her at the hospital most of the day. Because she cannot hear or speak, it helps for me to hold her left hand during treatments, and to be her voice to hospital staff who can’t imagine what a vibrant woman she was 4 months ago.
Hence the e-mails from my wonderful family and friends reminding me to take care of myself during this stressful time. The hospital here does not have the variety of vegetables that the previous hospital had. This is like a college cafeteria with a pizza station, a pasta station, and a sandwich station. Their hot lunch on Wednesday was chicken fajitas, rice and beans. It was the best choice available, but not the best choice for a Type O. Since then I’ve packed my lunch.
At home in the evening I am fixing good food for my husband and myself. However, I am probably eating too much. I was about to write that I need to be careful in stressful situations not to overeat even beneficial food, but it dawns on me that my nutritional needs are higher when I’m under stress. Perhaps I’m not eating too much after all.
I’m not getting enough sleep. One night I stayed late at the hospital because Mom was not responding well. Last night, right at bedtime, I received a hurtful e-mail from a bitter and angry colleague. It took a long time to settle down. I’ll try to do better tonight.
I have been exercising early in the morning. I just know that no matter how good my intentions are, I’m less likely to exercise after a day at the hospital. My husband is wonderful. He is at home today doing dishes and laundry.
I mentioned menopause. What I see in front of me, is confirmation of what all the menopause and peri-menopause books say. If a woman over 40 does not exercise - specifically weight bearing exercise – she will lose bone strength. Those e-mails I’m receiving are good reminders to take care of myself. Perhaps there is a woman you should e-mail today and remind her to exercise to keep her bones strong.
I got my seasonal flu shot about a week ago. I didn’t blog about it immediately because I wanted to see if there were any ill effects. There were not. My arm was not particularly sore. I didn’t run any fever, no aches or pains. I felt perfectly normal. I did have a headache three days later, but I think it would be a stretch to blame that on the shot.
I got the shot because of my Mom. The rehab facility has signs posted everywhere warning visitors to stay away if they or anyone in their household has any flu-like symptoms. I do not want to risk exposing my Mom or any of the residents with flu.
On the day I got the shot I actually had an appointment for an annual physical. The day before there had been one news report after another about flu cases in our area. Doctors were interviewed on the radio who were seeing hundreds of flu patients a week. I woke up thinking, “Why am I going to sit in a waiting room with a bunch of flu germ carriers? Why put myself at that kind of risk?” I cancelled the doctor appointment and called a local pharmacy that gives flu shots. They said that they were almost out of seasonal vaccine and if I wanted a shot, I should come that very morning. So I switched my schedule and got the shot.
I am more wary about the H1N1 vaccine. The nasal spray is a live virus. I know I don’t want that. The shot is a dead (inactivated they call it) virus. Right now all H1N1 shots are reserved for high risk groups, so I couldn’t get one if I wanted it. I’ll wait and see what, if any, side effects turn up from the shot.
I heard one doctor interviewed on the news, who said that next year’s seasonal vaccine will include H1N1, but it will be a dead variety, and will be more thoroughly tested.
Whether you decide to get vaccinated for the flu or not, I strongly urge you to stay at home if you have any flu symptoms. There is nothing you have to do that is so important that it gives you the right to expose someone else. If people exercised common courtesy by keeping their germy hands off of shopping carts, and door knobs, it would go a long way toward slowing the progress of the disease. Stay home instead of going to a concert, movie, or even a church service. Get a friend to pick up children from school.
Sorry if I sound irritable, but I am tired of standing in line with people who are hacking and wheezing! I have hand sanitizer in my car, and my hands will probably be chapped all winter from the alcohol.
A few days of rest and self imposed isolation would not only protect others, but it would give the flu patient’s own body a chance to rest and recover more quickly.
No matter how good the BTD is, it cannot cancel out the normal aging process. I see this in myself as I struggle to maintain my muscle tone in my 50s. I see it even more dramatically as my 93 year old mother tries to regain movement in her right side after her stroke.
DD does a morning Bible Study from a book by Sarah Young called Jesus Calling. The author quotes scripture passages, and then paraphrases as if Jesus were talking in first person. I’m conservative about how people translate the Word of God, and am normally suspicious of personalized translations. But DD sends me excerpts that mean a lot to her, and I have to admit that Sarah has done an excellent job in her book.
DD sent me an excerpt this morning with a note that it had depressed her. That is because she is 20 years old, and thinks that she will always have the beautiful body she has now. I read the same passage and am greatly encouraged. Life on earth is a prelude to a far greater life in Heaven with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A life where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more aging.
I follow the BTD, NOT to live forever here on earth. Who would want to do that? I follow the BTD so that I can live the most energetic and productive life here that I can. But truly abundant life – that is still to come.
Here is the quote that depressed DD and energized me.
“I am your living God, far more abundantly alive than the most vivacious person you know. The human body is wonderfully crafted, but gravity and the evitable effects of aging weight it down. Even the most superb athlete cannot maintain his fitness over many decades. Lasting abundant life can be found in Me alone. Do not be anxious about the weakness of your body. Instead, view it as the prelude to My energy’s infusing into your being. As you identify more and more fully with Me, My Life becomes increasingly intertwined with yours. Though the process of again continues, inwardly you grow stronger with the passing years. Those who live close to Me develop an inner aliveness that makes them seem youthful in spite of their years. Let My Life shine through you, as you walk in the Light with Me.”
I was feeding my Mom her dinner in one of the common rooms and the television was on. I heard the word stroke, and started to pay attention. An ad was on, that listed risk factors for strokes: high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, and age. I looked at Mom and said, “Well, except for age, you didn’t have any of the risk factors. She grinned and shrugged her shoulders.
I have learned a little about stroke in the month since Mom’s event. First I went to the BTD Encyclopedia where I learned that there are two kinds of stroke - ischemic stroke when blood flow to the brain is impaired by the blockage like a blood clot and hemorrhagic stroke which is a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. The Encyclopedia says that Type As have a higher risk for ischemic and Type Os have a higher risk for hemorrhagic.
I did a little more research on the internet and learned that 80 – 85% of strokes are ischemic. Family history is also a factor. Neither of Mom's parents ever had a stroke, though one of her sisters did.
In the hospital, after Mom was identified as a stroke victim, they immediately put her on aspirin and a blood thinning shot. She is Type O, and I wondered if that had been the right thing to do. I have since learned from her doctor at the Rehab Facility, that her blood work indicated that her clotting factors were out of balance. He tested her several times a week until he got the right levels of medication. He has not put her on blood pressure or cholesterol medication, so evidently those readings are still normal, as they were before the stroke.
Mom is a Type O, but evidently she had an ischemic stroke anyway. It makes me wonder why.
I remember when Hall of Fame Blogger Sharon had a stroke in 2007. She also had minimum risk factors, and she followed the BTD a lot closer than my Mom did. In one of her final blogs, she also wondered why.
Square Peg Guy sent a comment on the blog about my latest cholesterol report. He is type O, and he wrote about the things he’s done to try to reduce his cholesterol naturally. He added, “I've never been able to get my total level below 250 without Lipitor, which I was on for a few years, “and ended his comment with “I wonder if it even matters?” I published the comment, but it has haunted me because of the experience of a friend at church.
A year or so ago, we got an e-mail from C’s wife. C was in the hospital. He had had a heart attack, and would be having multiple bypass surgery. She asked for prayer. This was a shocking e-mail because C is relatively young, probably in his late 50s. He exercises moderately and is not over weight. He is also a Medical Doctor.
The surgery was successful, and eventually they told us the whole story. They had gone on a trip to the mountains. C had noticed shortness of breath, but had blamed it on thin mountain air. A few weeks after they got home, he had unmistakable heart attack symptoms, and went to the hospital.
I said, “C, you’re an MD. I have to assume you get your cholesterol checked. Was it ever high?”
He admitted that his cholesterol had been high for quite a while. He said that as a doctor, he saw all of the statistics. While most people who have heart attacks have high cholesterol, not all people with high cholesterol have heart attacks. He made a decision not to take the medication. He ended by saying that he was now taking cholesterol medication and would be for the rest of his life.
Like Square Peg Guy, C is Type O.
I am not a medical professional – I’m just a volunteer blogger, trying to make the BTD work for my family. But I would give this friendly advice to Square Peg Guy or anyone else with consistently high cholesterol. If you can’t get your cholesterol down naturally, and you don’t want to take cholesterol medication, at least have some further tests done. Find out if you have a buildup in your arteries. Get an EKG. Repeat the tests often enough to know if there are changes. Don’t wait until you have shortness of breath or worse. Don’t ignore the fact that you are at higher risk for a heart attack because of your cholesterol.
I wanted to avoid being on medication if I could. I was successful in bringing my cholesterol level down. However, while my husband’s cholesterol dropped on the BTD, and he reduced his dosage of cholesterol medication, the level has not gotten low enough for him to get off of it altogether. There is nothing to be ashamed of about that.
It seems to me that there is a natural tendency for cholesterol levels to drift higher and higher every year as people get older. I haven’t read this in a study, but I talk to people whose cholesterol numbers were nicely balanced when they were 30 years old. However, the numbers were moving upward by 40 and in the warning zone at 50. By 60 they are on statins.
My own cholesterol numbers were drifting higher when I started the BTD. There was a marked improvement when I first went on the diet. But the last two years they had started to drift upwards again. My ratio was still good, but my LDL drifted above the high mark for the first time ever.
I wrote a blog in April about what I was changing in my diet to try to stop the drift.
I am thrilled to say it worked. Here are my numbers from my July cholesterol test.
Total Cholesterol: 215
I am not at all concerned about a total cholesterol number 15 points over the 200 level when my ratio is so good. My total cholesterol reads high because my good cholesterol is so high.
Prescription for the future:
Stay on BTD.
Stay on Niacin and Vitamin B6.
Maximize cholesterol lowering foods like grapefruit.
Never neglect exercise.
Don’t get complacent. The tendency to drift will surely continue. Like all forms of aging, it is the result of living in a decaying world with a body irrevocably marred by sin.
I’ve followed the Blood Type Diet since 2003, and I’ve written this blog since 2004. Clearly I think the BTD matters. I’ve talked to friends and total strangers about the difference it has made in the way I feel. There should be no question in anyone’s mind that I know the BTD is important.
I’ve blogged on many occasions about restaurants and certain social situations where it is difficult if not impossible to eat right for a meal. I have advised to always be kind and gracious, never to be offensive, and to do the best you can in those complicated but brief situations. The real evidence of how much you believe the BTD is not your public posture, but what you eat in the privacy of your own home. If you eat right at home, an occasional avoid in public will do you no harm (unless of course you are celiac or have serious allergies – obviously I’m not talking about that).
But there are three circumstances when the BTD doesn’t really matter. All of those are when the desperate need of your body for calories trumps everything else. Poverty is one. People who are starving don’t think twice about potatoes in the soup, or avoid foods in a care package. Prison is another. People imprisoned or in concentration camps, may care about what they eat, but they have no leverage. They must eat what is set before them in order to stay alive.
The third is the condition my mother is in right now – critically ill. Sure it would be better for her Type O body if she ate only beneficial meats, vegetables, and fruits. If she did, it probably would give her a better chance of recovery. If I requested it, the rehab center would take away her dessert and give her double portions of meat. But the pleasure foods keep her eating, and she is as desperate for calories right now as the poorest of the poor. If a few spoons of ice cream in between the spoons of pureed meat keep her opening her mouth for more, I’ll feed them to her.
She has trouble swallowing, and liquids give her the most trouble. We have to mix a cornstarch product into her drinks to make them a honey consistency so that she doesn’t choke. Do you think I am worrying about cornstarch as an avoid? Absolutely not. She must have fluids to survive, and choking on organic pineapple juice or pure spring water could give her pneumonia. The thickener in water must not taste very good. She would rather have orange juice or cranberry cocktail. Guilt free, I spoon those juices into her mouth.
DD is home for Labor Day weekend. She went with me last night to visit her Granny. When she saw the menu she raised her eyebrows as if to ask, was I really going to let Granny eat all of that? Some of the people around her refused to eat any of their dinner last night. There is not an avoid so bad that I would not use it to keep calories and fluids going into her body. She relished the thickened milk stirred into pureed brownie. There will be time to improve her diet later on. Right now she has to have calories, and the will to work with her rehab team.
Since Friday my Mom has had an infection, a fall and a stroke. Her life has turned upside down and mine along with it. Last week she was cooking her own meals, doing her own grocery shopping and talking about finances and the grandchildren. Now she cannot move her right arm or leg. She cannot speak. But she can think. She is very much aware of what is happening to her and there is a frantic look in her eyes.
I have been with her since Friday. I spend the days in her hospital room. The timing on starting my own business was providential. I can sit here with my laptop on the hospital’s wireless network working just as hard as if I were at home. Later this week we will be moving her to a nursing home/rehabilitation center near where I live. She is not going to like this one bit.
I wrote a blog about hospital food nine months ago when my Dad was in this same hospital. This time around is even harder because I am alone. Last time Mom and I went to the hospital cafeteria together. Last time we went home together after a day watching him.
The first night I went to the cafeteria confident that I could get a good meal because there were so many vegetables when Dad was here. What a disappointment. They had baked chicken. But the vegetable choices were fried jalapeños, rice, mashed potatoes, fried corn and broccoli. I took the chicken and broccoli. How can that many starchy, fried items pass for vegetables?
Since then the vegetables have been much better. I have been able to get plenty of beneficial food. My stress level is high. This is more responsibility than I want, but it is a labor of love I am willing to bear. I get up in the morning and exercise first thing. Then I have breakfast, do my Bible study, and get a shower. I’m as ready for the day as I can be.
Lunch and dinner are meats and vegetables - as many beneficial as possible. I have a bottle of green tea that I sip throughout the day. Sleep is the hardest. When I get back to the house there are chores to do. The chores are therapeutic, to tell the truth. I need the comfort of routine things that have a predictable outcome. But that sometimes means I’m late going to sleep. I told DD to hold me accountable and call me to make sure I’m getting ready for bed at a reasonable hour.
I wrote a minute that I was alone. That is not really true. God’s presence is very real in hard times, perhaps even more than in good times. Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The Psalmist wrote that the Lord, who is our shepherd, would walk with us through the valleys of shadow. Don’t let the sun go down today without calling someone close to you – father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister. Tell them you love them, especially if there is anger or estrangement between you. I will hug my Mom and tell her I love her before I leave her room tonight.
Partly because of the more relaxed vacation schedule and partly because my Honorable Husband turns on the news as soon as we walk into our hotel room, I have been saturated this week with Obama’s health care and tax plans. My forefathers fled to the United States to find freedom. One of my great grandfathers came here from Ireland during the potato famine looking for economic freedom. Another set of great great grandparents were Huguenots, and they fled France looking for religious freedom. Other ancestors were willing to face many kinds of hardships in order to have the opportunity to be the best that they could be. Now we have a president who is trying to pass legislation that will redistribute wealth, destroy incentive to achieve, and deny health care to the elderly and the chronically ill. It frustrates me, and I feel powerless in the face of the onslaught.
Sometimes I think that I could be like my ancestors and boldly go to a new place that offers freedom and opportunity. I was especially thinking about that today when we toured the US Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. I had expected to find lots of information about past space flights. What I hadn’t expected was to learn about the plans underway to return to the moon and send a manned mission to Mars in the next decade. We saw models of the newly designed space craft and learned about the obstacles that must be over come to stay on the time schedule.
Will there ever be settlements on the moon or on Mars? If they were looking for volunteers to go, would I take the risk? I had fun fantasizing about such things until we went through the exhibit on what it’s like to live in a space station. Since you are weightless in space, and there is no up or down, when it’s time to go to sleep, you are zipped into a sleeping bag like thing and hung on the wall. The only live plants are those being grown in plastic containers for experiments. The astronauts have plenty to eat, but it doesn’t look to me like real food. It is certainly not BTD complaint. Establishing a basic camp on the moon or Mars is within the scope of my imagination, but a settlement large enough to begin farming is not even on the horizon. Conditions on the moon and nearby planets are way too hostile for those of us who want healthy, natural food.
I guess I will be staying here in the US. That means I have to redouble my phone calls and letters to Congress and the President, opposing nationalized health care and confiscatory taxes.
Space may be hostile, and Washington DC may be hostile, but we found a warm welcome and a delicious meal at the home of some friends in Birmingham. The wife is Type O and her husband is AB. They have five children, so they have all of the blood types. The wife has a friend at church who follows the BTD. She had lots of questions for me about why I was so enthusiastic. The meal was meat and lots of vegetables. All of us found an abundance of beneficial food.
I am at my Mom's house this weekend, and I read a column by Dear Abby that could have been written about someone on the BTD. Here is the letter, written by a mother and grandmother who Abby nicknamed Stumped.
"Dear Abby: Over the past two years my daughter and son-in-law have lost a lot of weight. They as well as my grandsons eat very little and don't like having to order food. My problem is not knowing how to celebrate without food. When I think of holidays, I think of a family meal. Any ideas?"
This is the other side of the coin, and I think that those of us on the BTD need to give our friends and relatives a little help. I can imagine that the writer of this letter has been brought up to think of food as a way of showing love. She shows people she cares by preparing a large (and probably delicious) meal. She doesn't know how to say "Happy Birthday" without a cake. She doesn't know how to say "Merry Christmas" without candy, and she doesn't know how to say "Good Morning" without bacon.
In her mind, when the daughter and the grandchildren reject her food, they are rejecting her as well and they are spurning her love. There are a lot of people out there like Stumped, and they aren't all mothers and grandmothers. Some of them are friends and neighbors.
They aren't going to want to hear a lecture about diet and exercise. I'm guessing that Stumped, after years of celebrating with food, is probably overweight herself. Seeing her daughter's family looking fit makes her feel guilty. They do deserve some kind of explanation. I've started saying, "I don't eat bread because it upsets my stomach." It's true, and it's brief. Plus, it's hard for someone to come back and insist that I eat something that I just said would make me feel bad.
I often volunteer to bring something to a celebration meal. That helps the hostess, and it helps me too because I know that there will be something that my family and I can eat with enthusiasm.
Abby had some good ideas. She urged Stumped to think of activities other than food. She suggested a movie, a sporting event, or a hike. She suggested bringing along healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables. There are no guaranteed solutions. I can just imagine Stumped showing up with a bag o orange slices for a family of Type Os and Type As. That would be a disaster!
If you have a technique that has smoothed things over with someone like Stumped, I hope you will add it as a comment to this blog. I don't want to jeopardize my health, but I do want to be aware that there are lovely people on the other side of the coin who haven't discovered the BTD...yet.
Patella femoral pain syndrome. I now have a name for my knee pain. SS took a course in joint dysfunction in the spring. He asked me lots of questions during the semester about what hurt and what didn’t because he was wavering between two knee problems that have similar symptoms.
The good news about Patella femoral is that it rarely, if ever, requires surgery, and it is the least debilitating of all the knee problems. The bad news is that it is the slowest and most difficult recovery.
If I have been sitting for a long time my knee hurts when I get up. However once I’m moving around, I feel little or no pain. My knees hurt going up and down stairs, particularly if I don’t keep my toes pointed straight ahead. (I am SO glad we built a one-story house.) It doesn’t hurt to run, swim, or ride my bike, but exercises that involve lunges are very painful. Not surprising to me at all is that it is aggravated by poor arch support and the tendency to pronate.
In May SS gave me six exercises to do. He said that with some physical therapy, you have to push through the pain. Patella femoral is not one of those conditions. He said that if any of the exercises made my knees hurt or pop to stop immediately. Two of them caused pain, so I just did the other four until he came home last week.
He watched me do the exercises and said my form was good on all but one of them. Someone will have to spot me on that one until the muscle he is trying to isolate gets stronger. The two exercises that hurt were for my quads. SS said that strengthening my quads is the single most important thing to do. He modified those two exercises in such a way that I’m working my quads, but not hurting my knee. Other muscles that impact Patella Femoral are abductors, hip external rotators, hip extensors.
It was gratifying to me as a Mom to watch him work, and to see how his manner was both firm and gentle. He found it helpful to spend an unlimited amount of time watching me move and modifying the exercises. He says he never gets to spend that much time with a patient in a clinic situation. I’m probably biased, but I think he will make a wonderful physical therapist.
He tells me that inflammation is not a factor in Patella Femoral Syndrome. I would concur that there has been no swelling or stiffness in the joint. However, since inflammation is such a big issue for Hunters, I can’t help wonder if there isn’t some low level of inflammation that contributes to the pain. Or perhaps physical therapists and naturopaths use different definitions for inflammation. I’m going to look into inflammation protocols.
What I am most curious about is which came first – the chicken or the egg? Or in my case - did arch problems cause my quad to deteriorate to the point that it couldn’t support my knee cap, or did weak quads and hip muscles cause me to walk awkwardly and affect my feet?
I suspect there may be a genetic component to this problem. My father told of his army days when he was marching across Italy and his feet and legs hurt so bad that he thought he couldn’t take another step. He stopped by the side of the road, stuffed dry grass under his arches, and felt immediate relief. My Mom’s knees hurt if she sits for too long. The pain has caused her to stop attending both Sunday School and church. It’s just too much sitting.
I’m hoping that if correct the underlying muscle weakness, I may find a permanent solution to both my knee and foot problems.
You probably know more about my knees that you ever wanted to know. I got off on this tangent because of a thread on the Forum. DD and I have tried some new recipes, and I’ll get back to blogging about beneficials and avoids next time.
We have had our nephew and his family visiting for several days. We’ve been doing a lot of swimming and walking. I get in a rut at times – routine house hold duties, job hunting, computer chores. Sometimes I forget that we moved to the Hill Country in part because of the many opportunities for outdoor exercise. We have had a lot of fun with our company, and every day has been filled with physical activity. But it did distract me from blogging and delay the second part of my experience with foot, knee, and hip pain.
After Fred died, I tore apart one of my shoes and tried to copy what he had done. I could never get it exactly right. Some days my knees would feel good; some days they would hurt. I tried department store variety arches, but they did not help. I talked with several people about getting custom orthotics made by a podiatrist, but they were made of hard plastic, rather than the comfortable soft material Fred had used. I called dozens of shoe stores, but no one could give the kind of personal service that Fred had always given. They didn’t have his compassion, his work ethic, or his knowledge.
Eventually I found a shoe store – a national chain called Foot Solutions – that sold several brands of soft arches that were a much higher quality than the department store brands. They measured my feet and recommended Lynco arches.
There were advantages and disadvantages to Lynco arches. They worked really well in athletic shoes, but not in dress shoes. They gradually compressed so that they didn’t provide the support, and had to be replaced. That would have been fine, except the changes were very subtle, and I didn’t recognize them until my knee began to bother me again. Then I would look at the bottom of my shoes, see that the heels were worn down. Then I would remember to buy new shoes and new arches. It would take several weeks to feel right again.
While the Lyncos kept me pain free most of the time, they weren’t perfect. Sometimes stairs would bother me. I learned to use the T-Tapp technique of “No Duck Feet”. If DD and I did an exercise video with lunges, my knee would begin to hurt and continue hurting for several days. But I could hike, run, ride my bike, and do all normal activity quite comfortably, so I didn’t worry.
I began having a little more knee pain last December. I should have recognized that I needed new shoes and arches, but I missed the signals. Instead since SS was home from Physical Therapy School, I asked him why my knees hurt when I did lunges. He did some measurements, and had a theory about my knee pain. He gave me some exercises to do. The pain got slowly worse until February or March when I looked at the bottom of my shoes, saw how badly worn they were, and exclaimed, “Oh that’s what’s wrong.” I got new shoes and Lynco arches. Yet for some reason, the pain did not go away as quickly as it had for the previous 10 years.
I was better. I was not uncomfortable for most of the day. But something was still not quite right.
I had heard radio advertisements for a store called Ideal Feet. They claimed that their arches would make your feet feel better in 10 minutes. I went in and got measured. Their arches are more expensive, but they do not have to be replaced. If they stop working, the company will replace them. They have arches for athletic shoes and dress shoes. I believe they are helping, though I still can’t do lunges.
In the meantime SS took a class in joint dysfunction this spring. He called several time to ask questions about symptoms. He has put a name to my condition. I’ll write the last part of this blog about knees next week.
Book Babes (a neighborhood book exchange club) met at my house this week. It was fun to get out the nice dishes and tablecloths. I don’t get to use them often in our casual culture. It was just too hot to brew coffee. I made green tea with peppermint, peach juice, and regular black tea. I sliced fresh fruit for a platter, and I made a walnut torte.
The ladies really liked the green tea. They also liked the walnut torte. No one could believe that it was made entirely without flour of any kind. In the course of answering questions, I wound up explaining how I got started on the Blood Type Diet. One lady had a sister in law who is on the diet. The others had never heard of the BTD. They were fascinated with the concept until I said that the two worst foods for Type Os were wheat and dairy.
One lady blurted out, “ I couldn’t live without cheese.”
This, I think, is the difficulty with mass acceptance of the BTD. A part of the world is so used to abundance and affluence that they can’t imagine depriving themselves of a food they like, even if it would improve their health. Another part of the world is so poverty stricken that they are trying to get enough calories to fend off starvation. They can’t afford to worry about avoid foods; they just need food.
This blog about dental fillings is not intended to be controversial. Neither is it intended to cover both sides of the argument. I am relating a fascinating conversation that challenged my preconceived ideas about dental fillings.
Some months ago I noticed that I could feel, with the tip of my tongue, something sharp on one of my back molars. The tooth didn’t hurt, so I waited until my next regular dentist appointment. The dentist told me that I had chipped a tiny piece off of one of my silver fillings. “I guess that means you’ll be replacing it with one of the new safer fillings,” I said. I was not prepared for the vehemence on his reply. For the next 30 minutes, as he worked in my mouth, he gave me the other side of the story -the side you don’t get from the internet. When he finished with me and started work on DD, I got out a notebook, and made him go through it all over again so I could take notes.
I’m glad that I didn’t have to make any decisions that day. The dentist removed the sharp piece that I could feel with my tongue, and assured me that the filling itself was still well seated and didn’t need replacement.
I think the best decision is for parents to make sure their children eat healthy low sugar foods so they won’t get cavities. Then they won’t have to make difficult decisions about fillings at all. The rest of this blog is what my dentist said to me that day.
“They can’t prove silver fillings are harming you with real science. If they could, there would be ten lawyers in my waiting room right now, because there are a lot more lawyers than dentists.
“If you compare the mercury that gets into your body from fillings to the amount in foods you eat every day, you would find that there is more available mercury in a can of tuna fish. Scientists agree that silver dental fillings leach mercury into the mouth. But hundreds of studies show that the exposure is from 1-3 micrograms per day. One can of albacore tuna contains 52.7 micrograms. Chunk light tuna contains 27.2 micrograms.
(Suzanne notes: The EPA safe level is .1 microgram per kilogram of body weight per day. The Food and Drug Administration reference dose is 0.4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. The World Health Organization set the level of mercury consumption considered safe at 1.5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. For my weight my safe level would be EPA - 5.76 micrograms per day; FDA – 23.04 and WHO – 86.42. Back to my dentist’s comments)
“If you look at the mercury that gets into the environment if you break one of those new light bulbs, you are talking about much more serious exposure. Read the precautions on how you are supposed to clean up your house if one of those spiraling bulbs made with mercury vapor drops and breaks.
“I’ve been in practice for 30 years. I’d say that 2% to 5% of my time is spent replacing work that has already been done. I can tell you that silver lasts longer plastic. I have a patient who is 80-years old. She got four silver filling when she was10 years old. They are still in good shape. A silver filling doesn’t fail. Sometimes the tooth around it fails, but that’s rare. Sometimes they break if they are too big and should have been crowns. Plastic however needs to be replaced after 10 - 15 years.
“A silver filling costs about $100. Plastics; $130. Insurance allows both. A dentist makes a lot more money on plastic. They can charge more when they put them in, and in a few years they get to charge again to replace them. Plastic may be the best esthetic choice, but it’s not the best choice for safety or money.
“Plastic is very technique sensitive. The guy who graduates last at dental school can put in a silver filling that will last long time. Not so with plastic. It has to be done right or it will fail even sooner.
“Why would I want to harm my patients? I could make more money with plastic. It’s not what goes in your mouth that hurts the environment. It’s what goes down the drain in industrial usage.
“There was a TV reporter who got all worried about her 12 silver fillings. She decided to have them all replaced with plastic, and she did a report on the experience. After it was over, she talked on camera about how much better she felt. The irony is that the greatest exposure to mercury is when the filling is being put in taken out. When it’s just in your mouth, there much less mercury exposure than you get from food. Baby boomers who got one to two cavities per year filled when they were growing up received a small exposure each time. However, when they took out her twelve fillings in one day she got a large exposure.
The dentist has much more exposure than any one patient. I’m standing here breathing vapor. Yet statistically dentists have lower rate of MS than general population. They keep trying to prove that silver fillings are dangerous, but the proof just is not there
I went to a continuing education seminar at the San Antonio Dental School. One of the speakers was promoting tooth colored fillings hoping to get the school to move in that direction. During the question and answer session, I said I wanted to ask a question about safety. He thought I meant the safety of silver fillings and interrupted my question to say that there was lots of research that proved silver was safe. He was not promoting his product by questioning the safety of silver. I said that he had misunderstood my question. I meant had there been adequate studies on the safety of plastic fillings. He looked surprised, then admitted that he had not seen any research at all. As far as he knew, plastic fillings had not been studied for safety."
I have always tried to find good watermelons by patting them and listening for an echo. Sometimes I would pick a good one, but sometimes I got a dud. Usually I wait until June to buy them, because early watermelons can be flavorless.
Watermelon is super beneficial for Hunters and Gatherers, and I’ve been longing for one. Somewhere I read that the best watermelons have a large yellow spot where they rested on the ground. So I decided to buy a May watermelon. I didn’t thump or pat. I picked the one with the biggest and brightest yellow spot.
It was fabulous: sweet, crisp, and full of flavor. I will have to see if the yellow spot hint works every time.
I read an interesting statement today by CS Lewis, “Niceness is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up nice; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world. For mere improvement is not redemption.”
If everyone recognized the wisdom of the BTD, and began to eat right, it would make them feel better. But eating right will not change a person’s heart. While pointing people I meet to a better way to eat in a good thing, it is far better when I can point people to the loving God who created them and who longs for them to repent and turn to Him.
I’m reading a fascinating book called “The Screwtape Letters.” The author talked about the Blood Type Diet in the chapter I read this morning, though he couldn’t have known it, since the book was first published in 1942.
He started by recognizing that God has built into us natural desires which are good because they make life pleasant and possible. We need to eat; we long for friendships, and we appreciate beauty. One of the tactics of the devil is to take that innocent enjoyment and exaggerate it until it becomes perverse and harmful. An obvious example is how the natural desire for intimacy in marriage has been twisted so much that it has led to infidelity and immorality.
God made us so that change is pleasant. We enjoy the differences in the seasons, the diversity of personalities, and the thrill of travel. We also enjoy variety in the food that we eat.
The author grabbed my attention when he began to use food as an example. God never intended food to become an end in itself, he said. When it does, it can become the sin of gluttony on one end or an eating disorder on the other. This was particularly interesting to me, and as I thought about it, I expanded it, adding some of my own conclusions.
God himself built variety into food making it sweet, salty, sour, or bitter. Then he added all of the distinctions that fragrance add to taste. This is good, but where there is something good, there is fodder for the devil.
Sugar, and the sweetness it gives, is pleasing to the taste, but modern transportation and food processing have led to sugar addictions. We have an insatiable desire for sugar that, if it is unchecked, leads to disease. The same holds true for salt and fat.
Because our bodies are different, a food may be good for some, but bad for others. The beneficial and neutral food lists are long and filled with diversity. Yet how often do I read about unhappy Type Os who can’t make themselves give up wheat, or disappointed Type As who think giving up shrimp is unfair.
The author writes, “The pleasure of novelty is by its very nature more subject than any other to the law of diminishing returns.”
The quest for a new recipe can be good, and a new combination of tastes is exciting. But as I look at commercials for food products and restaurants I see what the author is talking about – an insatiable desire for change. On the Forum (and even around my on dinner table) I hear that food is boring.
I have examined myself this morning, asking to what degree has my innocent enjoyment of change been converted it into a demand to constantly have something new. Am I satisfied with the bounty that God has provided, or do I let my mind wander into the areas that are forbidden fruits? Am I contented or complaining? The honest answer, of course, is a little of both. The revelation to me is that to the degree that I am complaining, I am allowing my enemy to manipulate my mind and distract me from the goodness of God.
Those of us who are interested in diet and nutrition are more attuned to little changes in our bodies. That goes doubly for people who frequent sites on the internet like the BTD website. I like to think that if something was seriously wrong, I’d notice it early. I’ve noticed several changes since Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My cold sore came back. Because they are caused by a virus, once you get one, you have to watch out for reoccurrences for a couple of years until they run their course. I thought I had beat mine into total submission, but I had to fight it back again.
One day I bumped something with my hand and it hurt. The knuckle on my ring finger was tender. I thought I must have jammed it, but when the pain persisted for two weeks, I had to face reality that something was going on with my joint. Not good. This on top of my knee pain made me feel really old.
My hemorrhoid returned. I have had good results with home remedies for hemorrhoids, but this time nothing worked. I relented and got an OTC preparation. It contained cocoa butter, and caused an allergic reaction. That was terrible! I went to the doctor who prescribed a cream. I don’t like being on prescription medication, but I had to have relief, and the cream worked fast.
Worst of all I started having a pain in the middle of my chest. It was similar, but not identical to the GERD pains that I had before I went on the BTD. After six years had the BTD stopped working? One day it hit so hard when I was walking that I wondered if I was having a heart attack.
I started thinking, and trying to figure out what was going on. The cold sore was definitely stress related. I’ve been under plenty of stress since Thanksgiving, no doubt about that. I wrote a blog in 2006 about the “Life Change Events Study” that calculated how changes in life – whether good or bad – predisposed someone to illness. When I wrote the blog, my score was 190. I calculated my total again. Now it is 400. (Here is a link to the point list http://www.dadamo.com/B2blogs/blogs/blog1.php/earlier-blogs/suddenly-sick )
I started to look at the other problems. Adelle Davis calls arthritis “a disease of adrenal exhaustion.” The stress connection to joint pain is obvious. What about the hemorrhoid? I’m not constipated, and I’m not overweight, and I’m certainly not pregnant. Those are the three main causes. I thought about the cream that the doctor prescribed – it was a steroid cream - another connection to stress and adrenal fatigue. I read the BTD Encyclopedia anti-stress protocol and began to implement it. I also added extra B Vitamins.
That left the chest pain. I have been so careful about avoids – especially wheat and dairy. I did not want to believe my stomach inflammation had returned in spite of the BTD. I didn’t want to believe I was having heart problems either. I was getting scared.
Early one afternoon I realized that I hadn’t had any chest pain all morning. I had eaten the same thing for breakfast. I had followed my usual routine of working at the house and putting in job applications. I had eaten a big lunch. My mind was racing, looking for the key. As I cleaned up, I found my supplement box on the coffee table. My husband and I had enjoyed dinner and a movie the night before. Because I had neglected to return the box to the kitchen table, I had forgotten to take supplements that morning. I popped the whole handful in my mouth and swallowed them with a gulp of water. I could feel them all go down together, small tablets, capsules, and large tablets tumbling over each other until they hit the sphincter muscle between my esophagus and my stomach. There they stuck. I swallowed more water. I ate some dried fruit. The pain in my chest started. At that moment I knew, my heart was fine and the BTD was still working.
I realized that I had started taking glucosamine (a really big tablet) for my knee. In addition I took lysine for the cold sore, B Vitamins for the joints, rutin and bioflavanoids (another big tablet) for the hemorrhoid, plus bromelain for inflammation. I was taking more supplements than usual, and larger ones at that. Now when I take my supplements, I take them early in a meal one at a time. I eat a bite between pills. They don’t get stuck. They slide through just like they are supposed to.
I’m still stressed. I can’t change the circumstances in my life, but I can respond better now that I’m aware of what the combined stresses are doing in my body. I’m thankful that my awareness of problems when they were small will keep them from becoming big issues. Most of all I’m relieved to know that it’s just stress. I’ve got work to do, but I’m not scared.