Friday, November 30, 2007
In sum, I still feel like crap, but apparently it's not my thyroid this time, and it wasn't my thyroid not long ago when I told you it was crashing again. The doctor thinks it's my adrenals, and he's running more tests, and has put me on over-the-counter DHEA in the meantime.
You know what's kind of funny/not funny about being chronically ill? In the beginning, I really had that Rocky theme song going on in the back of my head. You know, like I was gonna fight it, tackle it, defeat this thing, and who needs your stupid drugs anyway! But then, as I realized that it wasn't going away, the Rocky theme gradually faded, and there was actually no music, just profound silence for awhile, and the I-don't-want-your-stupid-drugs attitude changed to I'm so sick of feeling like crap I'll take anything. Battery acid? Sure, give it here! DHEA? Pfft! Whatever! Frugivorous diet? No problem! You know, you just get desperate after awhile. And I'm about 18 months into this now. But I do feel slightly -- ever so teensy weensy slightly -- encouraged today -- and is that the Chariots of Fire theme I hear in the background?? I guess I'm in for the long haul ...
Of course what all this really means is that I don't really know what I'm talking about, or what I'm feeling, or how to interpret what I'm feeling. Still, the doctor should have at least called me back when I called him saying I felt awful and needed an appointment. It's all a complicated picture, because I do apparently have two imbalances, with my thyroid and adrenals out of whack. And I did have a dosage increase on the thyroid meds about two months ago, so I can't say this is all related to my attempts at the 811 lifestyle. Still, the doctor has lowered my dosage of thyroid meds -- whoo hoo!, and I never thought I'd see that day. I was on 100/112 mcg on alternate days, and he's put it back down to 100 every day now, which is an improvement. Yet now I understand what hyperthyroidism feels like, and if I'm to get over this on the 80/10/10 diet, I'm going to feel it for awhile as my dosage is gradually decreased.
It's 5 a.m. and here are my blood results
Lest you think that having hyperthyroidism feels good, let me tell you that it's 5 a.m., friends, and I can't sleep worth a darn. Really need that sleep too. I'm exhausted, but my pulse is racing slightly (86 at the doctor office yesterday) and you just can't sleep through that kind of nonsense. One thing that came up yesterday in my appointment is that I had a really strange night last week where every time I would lay down my heart would kind of freak out and start beating like da ... da ... da ... dadadadadada ... da ... da da da ... anyway, hard to capture in writing, but you get the point: Normal heart rate for a few beats, then like 120 bpm for a few. Kinda scary. Thought about going to the hospital, but then it calmed down, so I didn't worry about it. Turned out it was the over-dosage of thyroid hormone. Look at these numbers:
TSH-ICMA: .06 uU/mL (yes, that's point-OH-six, not point-six)
T-3, Serum: 188 ng/dL
T-4, Serum: 10.3 ug/dL
Free Thyroxine (by Dialysis) (no idea what that means!): 1.54 ng/dL
Testosterone, Serum: 20 ng/dL (yes, girls have it too!)
Bioavailable testosterone, S: 2.3 ng/dL
Bioavailable testosterone, %: 11.7
SHBG (IRMA): 116 nmol/L
Cortisol, Serum or Plasma: 4.5
I don't pretend to know what all these numbers mean, but I thought I'd publish them in case they mean anything to anyone else. What the doctor said is that my thyroid stimulating hormone is now low (meaning my thyroid doesn't need to be stimulated because I've got too much hormone circulating from the meds), all my thyroid hormones themselves are now high, and my adrenal hormone(s?) are in the low-normal range.
And now back to 80/10/10 ...
... but not today. I'm off on a romantic getaway to Portland today, returning on Monday. First time I will have been away from both my kids for longer than about a night. It will be strange, but I'm looking forward to it. Still, this trip has been one of the things that was actually weighing on my mind when I was doing 811, because we're going up there with a couple friends, and I really couldn't figure out how I was going to be going to restaurants and all that without feeling completely deprived. So after I fell off it, I finally gave myself a break and have decided that this truly is my "last hurrah". When I told Gary that he said, "You've had sooooo many last hurrahs you could have a marching band!" ... to which I had to laugh. He's right, you know, but all I can do is dust myself off and start over. I wrote a letter to my family about my decision, which I sent yesterday, so it's official: Tuesday is the day, and I have no intention of looking back. I'll be offline for a few days, until then, and I'll show you that letter when I get back.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
One person, nay, group of people, who have so inspired me recently in trying to cultivate positive attitude are Kris Carr and the folks who comment on her Crazy Sexy Cancer blog. Kris Carr herself is amazing, and has seemingly spawned this groundswell of positivity in cancer circles after coming out with her groundbreaking documentary on TLC, Crazy Sexy Cancer. She's a cancer SUR-VI-VOR, and I think she, for one (and there are so many others) truly shows what dealing with illness is really about. She's blogged and spoken about how getting past the "please, make it go away!" mentality really jump-starts the true emotional healing and growth that come from dealing with illness. And she's so right. I can't say that I've come as far as her, but I'm on the same page. It's a process, not a destination ... whether it's illness or life, really.
Where I am on 811
So I haven't gotten fully back on track (but I WILL BE SOON ... READ ALL ABOUT IT!), and haven't fully tried yet per se; because I recognized that I have deeper emotional issues to deal with. There's a phrase in financial management: Pay yourself first. I realized -- on Thanksgiving Day, no doubt -- that there is a similar phrase in life management: Love yourself first. I wasn't heeding this. I was getting so mad at myself for feeling what I was feeling. I was having no inner mercy, and it wasn't working. There are also some physiological issues I need to deal with too, such as stretching my stomach for all that fruit, which brings me to ...
... It's a record!
This morning I ate 15 clementines in one sitting. Maybe that's nothing to you veteran 811ers, but it was truly a record for me. I asked my 4-1/2 year old how many tangerines he thought I could eat and he put 16 in a bowl. I said, "Well, that's sure a lot of tangerines, but do you think I can do it?" He had a ball peeling them and cheering me on in our homemade competitive-eating competition. There were a couple halves I had to spit out because they were over-ripe and made me gag (does this happen to any of you??), but I actually did it, so I made it to, say, 15. Probably could have managed a few more, but torture was not on my morning agenda. Which brings me to ...
... Does anyone else out there watch the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest besides me??
I know, I know: It's ABSOLUTELY BARBARIC! Couldn't agree more. But somehow every year I get sucked into the sheer shock of it, and end up watching it. It seems I find out about it always by chance at the last minute. The last one was actually fairly recently -- a few months ago maybe? But especially this last time I watched it I thought: We have GOT to get 811ers going against these competitive eaters (Doug Graham/Takeru Kobayashi/Joey Chestnut, you game??) in a fruit-eating competition sponsored by ORGANIC FARMERS, not Nathans! Now maybe I'm totally crazy, but I think it would be a really fun way to bring attention to not only organic farming, but also to raw foods. And maybe the 811ers would beat these guys, what with their big, stretchy stomachs -- who knows?? We'll certainly never know if Doug Graham could eat more hot dogs than them since he obviously wouldn't, so they're gonna have to come to us! Tee hee! Of course, the whole idea of competitive eating could very well go against the cardinal rule of "just getting enough" of something, but it's still a fun idea that makes me laugh inwardly.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“I can totally relate to what you wrote about eating raw (fruits). I love fruits though. But even though I love fruits, when I’m hypo, I find it very difficult to eat them and prefer the cooked foods. It’s a catch 22. If I’m feeling well I can eat raw and love it. When I feel bad (hypo), I can’t stay eating raw. Maybe if and when you can get all your hormones balanced (including your adrenal glands) you may find you’ll enjoy eating raw. In the mean time you’ll have to do whatever it takes to feel the best you can.”
I would never wish this problem on anyone, but at least I'm not alone in the world in having to deal with it. To top it all off, I've been desperately putting in calls to my doctor's office to try to get my dosage sorted out before I take a serious nosedive. I know my levels are off and they probably have been for a month. But it appears it wasn't important enough to my doctor to even warrant looking at my lab work -- let alone call me back -- before he left for the rest of the week. At least he'll have a nice Thanksgiving. I've been calling since last Friday. I need a new doctor.
Getting off 811 hasn't helped one iota (duh!). Nothing helps. So I just need to put one foot in front of the other and eat some fruit I guess. I don't know that tomorrow is the best day to force the issue though. Maybe Friday.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The other thing -- the real clincher for my decision -- is that all is not rosy with my endocrine system. Although I had thought that my worsening the last time I stuck this thing out for 10 days or so was due to a missing dose of my thyroid meds some time before, now I'm not so sure. Although I feel good in some ways -- clearer (but still bad) skin, feeling strong -- my energy has been plummeting once again. My feet, hands, and now forearms are cold, like there's no circulation there anymore. I'm having to sleep in progressively more blankets every night. It feels like a slow death, and like this "perfect diet solution" just isn't. Once again, I'm getting worse, not better.
One theory is that this diet is lacking in some essential nutrient that is out of balance in my system. Well, maybe not that it's lacking per se, but it's lacking in the amounts that I need it, due to my imbalance. But it could have nothing to do with that. It could be simply that nothing I do, NOTHING, will even touch this thing, that I'll just have to deal with this constant downward spiral for the rest of my life. Sounds depressing, but I have to accept that possibility. The one other possibility is that it's the coffee that's having a bad effect, but I actually kind of doubt that that's it based on past experience. Still, it's something I might try.
But back to the hatred of fruit, I really can't figure out how to get around that one. The just eat more idea kind of backfires here.
In case you're wondering, I had a low fat cooked vegan meal of stir fry, brown rice, and tofu, and enjoyed it immensely. It sure beat bananas, for the meantime.
Where to go from here???
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Today I was so fed up with it that I went down to Berkeley Bowl, the neighborhood produce market, to see what they had. I did strike gold in that they had ripe hachiya persimmons 3 for $1, so I bought about 18. I tied the two bags of them onto the side of the stoller and walked home. By the time I got home about a quarter of them were oozing all over the bag, and I picked out the smooshiest ones and sat down for a feast with my two-year-old. He's learning English, you see, and this was a perfect opportunity to practice the word "mess", which he said about 20 times. (He didn't actually eat any of it, just played with it, and had a ball!) I can't eat many of those things. About four was all I could manage, which kept me for a few hours. I was stuffed.
The bad news it that I feel like garbage now, thanks to that time of the month. Looks like my absence of cramps last month was just a flash in the pan, at least for now. What with that, I must say that when you're not feeling well, it really ain't easy eating all that fruit. You know, I'd just love something quicker right now, that requires less chewing, that's heavier faster.
As for the cravings, they're coming and going at this point. Generally speaking, the last few days I've just had the constant slight-annoyance factor, like I still don't really like this, but it's not so awful that I have to do anything about it anymore. Still, there are occasional moments when I get slammed with a sudden, overpowering craving for something, but thus far -- in recent days anyway -- they have passed almost as fast.
Sarah, of the 811 blogosphere, commented recently that I need to eat more fruit. Point well taken, but I would also hope that I can one day get to the point that, no matter how hungry I get, I don't want to eat garbage. Filling myself up on some kind of fruit, whatever that is, will not change the fact that at this point when I'm hungry I still crave anything-other-than-fruit. Sarah's right though, and I really think she needs to have a stern conversation with my bananas and persimmons!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The persimmons are just killing me lately! They are the laziest, most stubborn fruit I have ever seen in my life! I swear all they do is just sit on the windowsill, casually soaking up gallon after gallon of sweet sunshine, absolutely refusing to ripen. I have about 40 of them, all over the place, and I get like one ripe one a day. What a joke! I'm going to starve at this rate! I think the persimmons need some coffee too: Speed them up a little, you know! They have a cruel sense of humor too, because they taste so good when they're fully ripe. I guess that's why they're orange and come to life around Halloween time, sick things!
Speaking of the cruelty of persimmons, I forgot to mention that I think my last post was actually made possible by this slow ripening, as the persimmons I used were not at their most luscious, gooey, smooshy stage, but just before this stage, therefore more starchy, thus providing the gelatinous, adhesive quality so crucial to childhood fun.
I've been having some issues around fully letting go of condiments, in the form of something, anything! on my evening salad. I've been doing about a tablespoon of olive oil usually, plus maybe a dash (very small though) of balsamic vinegar or nama-shame-on-you (that's nama shoyu -- unpasteurized soy sauce -- to the unitiated). But I have to say that I'm making huge progress, so I'm really trying not to get too hung up on my "imperfections", as I do feel I'll be able to either work on this actively at a later stage, or it will just come naturally. You must remember that I cook for my family, and then sit down and eat my salad (joy of absolute joys!), smelling all their culinary delights all the while. Last night, for example, I made homemade vegan tacos, by taking a gluten roast I had made the other night, putting it in the food processor to make "taco meat", then adding Mexican spices and cooking that. I made homemade tortillas too. As you can guess this all smells absolutely disgusting! No, honestly, I wasn't quite as sucked into the gorgeous smell of it as I would have been a few days ago, so I was able to just let it go.
I am reareading the book The China Study. If you haven't read it, it's a must-read. It's not about raw food, per se, but about the benefits of a plant-based diet. I have decided that although it's unrealistic for me to turn my whole family into staunch raw foodists -- which is not my intention or desire right now -- I do think veering toward veganism is a must. Not necessarily a thou-shalt-not-ever kind of veganism, but a this-is-what-we-do-in-the-home kind of veganism. Gary, my husband, is not such a cheese freak anyway, so it really wouldn't be too difficult with a small amount of effort and creativity on my part (need a vegan cookbook, for one: Any recommendations??).
Off to graze on some bananas ...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
That fostered the idea of making fun shapes for kids -- desserts, if you will -- out of blended fuyus. I made these two lovely creations (photo above) using sand molds. You could also do something with cookie cutters. I also added some cinnamon and a tad of honey, but plain-old persimmons work great too.
Yesterday, despite this kitchen creativity, was a difficult day. At one point I thought I just couldn't take it anymore, and was literally counting minutes, looking at the clock, thinking, "Can I make it another minute?". This was not, as you may have guessed, a strategy which brought me much relief from my cravings. I just wasn't feeling satisfied. I did end up having a whole avocado on my salad in the evening (the alternative would have been something like pasta, I figured). I still felt like I had a bottomless pit for a stomach, and was quite irritable. Then I added a couple bananas, a few plums, and some dates to my meal, and, hallelujah! then I felt passable, making it through the night.
Today I've felt pretty good. My good moments still are not necessarily a walk in the park: I don't want to be eating fruit at meals, I really don't, but I'm glad that if I eat enough of it my my mental chatter seems to soften slightly.
I really want to make it through the initial withdrawal this time. It's a doozy. I have never in my life actually not had food cravings, so it's hard for me to imagine what that might be like. I would love to get there, and I'm trying as hard as I can right now to pay the price of admission.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I managed to come down with a cold yesterday, nonetheless, the same one my kids have. However, it came on last night and is practically gone already, at 2:00 the next day, so I really can't complain. I will post sometime about my thoughts on the germ theory that so many raw fooders reject.
I've been doing a ton of reading on the notion of food addiction. As I've said before, I think I'm definitely addicted. The FA meeting I attended last week inspired me to think deeper about the culprit being refined carbohydrates, and I do think that this is part of the equation, but not the whole story. What do I crave? Cheese, cheese, more cheese, yogurt, pizza, paneer (that's Indian cheese!), fried things at restaurants, and did I say cheese? Mostly fatty stuff, heavy on the dairy. Now, if I'm eating sugar, I do build up a craving for it fairly quickly, however, it also passes fairly quickly when I lay off it, so I don't see this as my personal biggest downfall. So what's the explanation?
This is where it gets really interesting.
I read this book last week called The Anatomy of a Food Addiction by Anne Katherine, MA. While I didn't find the entire book useful or relevant to me personally, I found her summary of the addiction process very enlightening. Here is a summary of the some of the various theories of food addiction, which I gleaned from that book:
- The ingestion of carbohydrates raises blood sugar, which raises insulin level, which causes an artificially high level of the amino acid tryptophan to cross the blood brain barrier. (The insulin causes the other amino acids in the food to enter the muscles, instead of crossing the blood brain barrier, as would normally happen, thereby allowing more tryptophan to enter.) Tryptophan in the brain causes the release of serotonin, which makes you feel groovy. All that cheese I love is high in tryptopan, and eating it in conjunction with carbohydrates can cause this effect. Now, what I think is so interesting about this theory, from an 811 standpoint, is that the high levels of fat, according to Dr. Graham, also would raise the blood sugar by trapping the sugar in the bloodstream, thereby causing the same end result -- feeling groovy. Maybe this is why I crave fat, and especially dairy. Furthermore, higher blood sugar has also been shown to increase the number and sensitivity of brain opiate receptors, so maybe it's a roller coaster that once you're on, it's hard to get off (especially if you're a sensitive type like me and you like to feel groovy). That's why I HATE THIS withdrawal so much I guess. :-)
- Another interesting factoid is that eating sugar/starch triggers the secretion of beta-endorphins, which stimulate appetite, which cause you to eat more sugar and starch. And on and on. Your body becomes dependent on these opiates. Hence the FA meetings. Dr. Graham would definitely say you don't become dependent on anything bad for you, and, technically speaking, he's right. But, your mind -- in a non-thinking, chemical kind of way -- sure can make you THINK your body's dependent on them, and who am I to argue with beta-endorphins after all!
I have to admit one thing though: I have not been fully abstinent since my last post, as I think I fell off for a day or so after. But I'm abstinent now, and have been these last 5 days, according to my getting-closer-each-day-to-811 rules (described in previous post). Furthermore, I don't feel as crazy as I did those first 10 days. I think what happened there, as I theorized at the time, is that missing one dose (yes, one teensy dose) of my thyroid medication really whacked me out for a few days. I can't do that right now. (Hopefully some day I'll be able to miss 365 doses without a hitch.)
I went to the Richmond Farmer's Market today and bought 13 pounds of fuyu persimmons for $1/lb. (As I was paying I saw another stall that had them for $.50/lb. Oh well!) I've been eating them like crazy. The also had plums and I bought a bunch of them. I should be pretty set for the next few days.
Friday, November 2, 2007
I came home and told Gary, my husband, and, after he joked around a bit about how a "yoga competition" was such a contradiction of terms ("Not according to Bikram," I said), he said he thought I should do it, that it would be good for me. We talked about it and agreed that if I'm going to consider it I should start going to class every other day for the next few weeks, and then build up to every day. Now I haven't decided whether I'm definitely going to do this or not, and I think to some extent it's dependent on what my body says over the next few weeks, as I'm still nursing some ligament/tendon "issues". I need to find out when the last day is to register for the competition. It's food for thought though, and it's definitely piqued my curiosity.
I ordered Doug Graham's On Nutrition and Physical Performance and, interestingly, that arrived yesterday, outlining step-by-step how to achieve maximum physical performance and recovery, just in time for me possibly needing to achieve maximum physical performance and recovery. (Funny, that!)
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I went to a Food Addicts in Recovery (FA) meeting the other night. It's a 12-step offshoot of Overeaters Anonymous (OA). Some years back I went to FA meetings for a month or two. I had an unbearably atrocious sponsor and just felt crazier and crazier as the time went on, so I gave it up. I also have some minimal experience with OA, which seemed to be a group of people who couldn't deal with life, but who wanted me to put all my decisions into their hands (yeah, right!). I have been cynical to say the least about 12-step programs over the years, FA and OA included. However, it is very clear to me that each of these programs works for some, as far as helping people to release the grip on their food addictions. From what I have personally witnessed, FA has a much higher success rate than OA. I attribute that both to a very simple, clear-cut food plan as well as to FA's close-knit community.
I went to FA the other night without the intention of getting a sponsor or following their food plan. I went to gather information, namely, what it is that's working for these people. I didn't get a chance to speak to too many people myself, but I do have some more solidified ideas of what works after hearing people speak during the meeting, namely:
- A defined notion of abstinence. (The definition of an "ideal raw food diet" varies amongst raw enthusiasts, even in raw sub-genres, i.e. 811ers vs. "eat-anything-as-long-as-it's-raw-ers" vs. fruitarians, etc.)
- A community of people who have similar feelings and behaviors around food. (I haven't found this in raw circles yet, but, rather, a spectrum of behaviors/beliefs about food, some of which I agree with, some of which I find highly suspect.)
- A support system within that community. (I have not always found the raw community supportive; not that it doesn't exist, but the support is not systematized/defined.)
- Continued reinforcement of the positive behavior in the form of community meetings. (Doesn't exist due to the above.)
- Having another person (sponsor) who you commit your program to. (See above.)
- A daily meditation/spiritual practice/quiet time. (Ok, if I haven't always done this, that's my fault! :-) )
I spoke to a wonderful friend of mine this afternoon who is in FA, and who has been abstinent in that program for over five years. She has given me some supportive insight, which has helped me to define my own abstinence (in the absence of a systematic support system to do it for me):
- Unlimited raw fruits and vegetables, eating no more than 4 times per day.
- A daily caloric intake of at least 1800 calories (may go down if I get smaller). I have a problem of not eating enough when I'm eating 811.
- Limited fats (1 handful of nuts, 1 tbsp oil, or 1/2 an avocado).
- Black tea and coffee are ok for now (my biggest problem is with food right now, and I need to get past that first).
P.S. That cheese I was eating a few days ago was gross!