Category: Melissa's Earlier Blogs
For a moment today the last 8 months of my life, doctor appointments and tests, flashed before my eyes and I wanted to say like Homer Simpson: "D-Oh!" Then I laughed and felt hopeful and relieved.
Here's the scoop. As I mentioned, I went to a gastroenterologist a couple months ago and he did some tests for nutrient absorption. One of those tests came back a little bit off, but he said it was nothing to worry about.
Today, with my glucose tolerance test results in hand, I went to an endocrinologist in the same building. He took one look at the test and said they did it all wrong, and even if it were right, it doesn't explain my symptoms. So it appeared I had come to the wrong doctor, for the wrong reason. But then he saw the test results on his computer screen from the gastro's tests, and turns out it looked exactly like something he sees almost every day in his specialty.
The first real numbness I had was in my lips and face, and diabetic neuropathy usually doesn't start there, but a test result from the other doctor explained everything. Hypocalcemia starts in the lips and face, and I have a vitamin D deficiency, which causes hypocalcemia. The active form of vitamin D is within normal limits, but the stored form is less than half what it should be, and in light of my symptoms, that's not something to be dismissed. (I was a little surprised that the tests would be of such interest to him, until I remembered that vitamin D is a hormone, and building block for other hormones, so an endocrinologist would know a lot about that one). It was all kind of a happy coincidence (or a message from the universe, fate, God's hand) that I went to the same network for both doctors and the tests were in his computer staring him in the face. He might have ordered the tests and figured it out, but this sped up the process and eliminated some "if"s.
I could be upset about it taking this long when I've been asking every doctor in town to test my nutrient levels... frustrated that I didn't figure it out (though I do remember reading a bit about it somewhere, it wasn't the complete info to tell me to really look into it)... or disappointed that maybe I was a bit of a hypochondriac about it all. I'm too happy to feel any of those things though, I was ready for some good news and I got it!
I believe that there's a reason for every problem, and something important to learn from every trial. I've learned tons of lessons from all this, and I'm happy that apparently I've learned what I was meant to learn, without something really big actually hitting me. I've been dodging diagnostic bullets, and was merely hit by a water-gun.
Of course, time, results, and a few more tests will tell if he's right, but it sure makes sense. I did feel better when I took my vitamins, got exercise (sunshine), and ate right...just couldn't pin down why until now. It all comes back full circle to celiac disease, malabsorption, and the results of some restaurant roulette I played earlier this year.
I also feel much better when I eat like a diabetic, or like a non-secretor should, so I'll stick with that too. Maybe I will enjoy a little of my compliant thanksgiving risotto and blueberry pie afterall though!
That's something to be thankful for! Oh...another thing to be thankful for is that I fit into my jeans again...the jeans I wore before I was pregnant...I've lost about 20 pounds now! Scared straight when it comes to diet can be a very good thing.
I picked up an interesting little cookbook at the library "Forbidden Fruits and Forgotten Vegetables" It doesn't have a ton of recipes, but they are fun and plenty of O beneficials are featured in it.
My first recipe I tried was for an Italian peasant soup with Swiss chard and dandelion leaves. It's simple, once you get the greens good and clean, you just put them in a big pan with the water that clings to the leaves, cover tightly, then heat on medium for 15 minutes, add liquid (it calls for water but I use chicken broth) and simmer for 30 minutes or so until tender. That's it! Simple. Then to serve it, the suggestion is to brush some Italian bread with olive oil, rub a fresh cut clove of garlic on that, and pour the soup over the top. I found it also works to rub the bowl with olive oil, or mince some into it, and drizzle olive oil on that.
I've taken to just tossing beneficials together, and given enough vegetables, garlic, onions, and spices, it usually works out really well...better than I usually expect.
One of my convenience foods is roasted/dried garlic and sea salt in a grinder (from Costco) for a quick bit of garlic. I love the stronger flavor of fresh garlic, but this is certainly easy and good. Add that to lemon juice and olive oil and you've got a simple salad dressing. Add taco seasoning to that (look out for avoids and fillers in these! I use Gluten Free Pantry's version), and you have taco salad dressing.
Another convenience is to cook up a large stockpot full of broccoli at once, taking care not to overcook it, and use that throughout the week. You leave it crispy enough that you can toss it into foods as they finish cooking and it won't overcook. That way there's no excuse to leave out the vegetables from your meals. This is now what I consider my staple food, where I would have used rice or bread, I now use broccoli. It works, and leaves me with a lot more energy than a grain would.
An indulgence that I've found to be worthwhile is a high quality olive oil. Cook's Illustrated reviewed these in the recent issue, and I was happy to see the one I bought was one of their recommendations 'Nunez de Prado' from Spain. There were two others they recommended highly, one wasn't too expensive. If they seem expensive keep in mind that you'll only use small amounts at a a time to drizzle on top of foods right before serving...it's not for cooking. I don't drink wine, so I can put some of my connoisseur money into olive oil ;-) The flavor and scent is amazing and it really enhances every beneficial food I've put it on. If you're worried about that broccoli getting 'tired' this will wake it right up!
I also took a chance and bought some green tea from costco, it's made in Japan so I figured it might be ok. It's no Mr. Itaru's, but it is actually pretty good. It maintains its green color like green tea should. The benefits of green tea on diabetes and diabetic neuropathy are remarkable, as well as its protective effects against cancer, so I drink it for medical reasons...can't say I don't enjoy it a bit though, even without sweetener.
I've learned new appreciation for the phrase "I don't feel good" when I literally don't feel things right. I'm also learning to make an improved lifestyle simply a part of my life, instead of stop-gap measure until a goal is reached, instead of a temporary struggle. I'm sure I'll get there eventually. Just like bad health choices can add up over time, good ones can too, and just as you can damage your health in a short sequence of choices, you can also greatly improve it. That is what beneficials are for! Embrace the foods that God designed for YOU, and recognize junk as what it is, and accept that others have different foods that were designed for them.
I am feeling better lately, BTW. I've been exercising to my current limits, by pushing a stroller with one or two children in it up steep hills. It's a good workout that gets the blood moving, and makes me a little sore. I've just been doing it every other day because I don't want to overdo, but I already have more energy and my moods and numbness have improved.
So my neurologist has yet to decide if it has anything to do with my neuropathies, but the test did show impaired fasting glucose, a type of prediabetes. It can cause neuropathies, just like diabetes, so it's certainly the prime suspect. I've had high fasting glucose before, and though I'd slayed that dragon, but prediabetes isn't a dragon that stays down if you turn away from it and forget. So... I need to really get on the bandwagon. Better compliance diet-wise, and definitely more exercise, are both needed. I need to become a work-out-maniac, I've been neglecting that far too much. Lean muscle mass is the goal, and I'm sure it will give me results. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions in my comment box! I haven't had time to reply to all of you personally, but I appreciate every thought.
It certainly explains why I've had symptoms soon after meals, even if they were compliant (just a bit heavy on compliant carbs). So I think that's it.
Now I'm waiting to hear what else my neurologist wants from me. Will that be a solid enough diagnosis to avoid the lumbar puncture? I certainly want to avoid that! Prescription medications will certainly be put on the table, but yikes, the one for diabetic nerve pain is an antidepressant, and I don't even have nerve pain at this time. My symptoms have gradually been improving, with setbacks here and there, which were self-imposed by my self-medicating with food, but I'm slowly getting better...much better from back when it started. Lose another 10-20 pounds and maybe I'll feel much better.
I've been exploring why I self-medicate with food, and finding that the more I avoid doing so, the better I feel emotionally and physically...so it kind of doesn't really work anyway! I remember writing in my blog once that I ate some corn because I wanted to feel that numbness...I meant emotional numbness, but it wasn't far from the physical truth. There are many things in my life that I want to change, so right now I'm going to get off my duff and move my feet up the street. My son would love to go for a walk, I'm sure of it.
Hey I have another T-shirt idea: "Somewhere, lurking on your plate, there's a lectin with your name on it!"
Anyway... I still don't know the results of my glucose tolerance test, but the doctor's office won't give them to me over the phone. Hmmm. I've been re-reading the health library diabetes book and did find a few things in it enlightening.
For instance, it states that insulin resistance can damage your thyroid. I've had thyroid trouble for 12+ years, but this year my TSH number doubled in a matter of 3 months, so that is suspicious right there. It also states that the cutoff point for pre-diabetes is 100 for fasting blood glucose, I had thought it was 110 and I had just missed the cutoff back in '99, but apparently I qualified for prediabetes, especially considering my high cholesterol and triglycerides at the time. It all came down, but I'll find out if this last pregnancy weight-carry may have pushed up the glucose again. Maybe I just have no room for error, that's the essence of being a non-secretor, isn't it?
The other interesting thing is how many lectins interfere with insulin, the main ones being wheat and corn. Wheat had a lot to do with my problems years ago, and I have noticed that any bit of corn, or indulgence in some other lectins, does make my symptoms worse...whether or not the food is high in carbs/glucose. Maybe that is at the root of some of my problems with corn, as well as the nation's problem with corn syrup!
I can tell you that I'll be a bit angry if it turns out to actually be diabetes...I eat better than most people I know and even those with the worst diets don't get diabetes until their 60s. Genetics can bite you sometimes, but then, it could be a whole lot worse! Life isn't meant to be fair or easy, and there are good reasons for that, yet my life is good.
Wow...did I just say that in October? I'm doing pretty well with my SAD this year I guess, this is my worst time of year (which is a bit unusual, but hey, that's me). So far I'm just a bit emotional at times, and having trouble with carb cravings...but not really sinking like the old days. I've still managed to get some things done, I finally cleaned out the garage! I'd like to do so much more, which is an unusual sense of ambition for this time of year, there are just many things I'd like to improve and change in my life. I'm crossing my fingers (and moving my legs on daily walks) in preparation for the next few weeks after the time change. It feels like constant jet-lag, but not a black hole.