Monday, February 17, 2014

Starting the GAPS diet, Part 2: Things that Ail Me

In Part 1, I talked about my chronic anemia, of which my doctors can't find the cause. I also said that my anemia is only one of my issues. Now I'll tell you a little more, so you might fully comprehend what drives me in this undertaking.

My typical day starts with me dragging myself out of bed around 7am. The chickens need feeding, and even though I want to sleep for another two hours, I get up.  I stumble around. Not from lack of sleep, but from lack of balance. I just can't seem to put one foot in front of the other without swaying this way and that. My body compensates most of the time, but occasionally I will run into a wall, fall over when putting on my shoes, or tumble into the foot of snow that graces my property right now.

Before GAPS, I would come in from feeding the chickens and get a cup of coffee. Decaf, because I have to take my anti-seizure medication and it doesn't go well with caffeine. No breakfast for me, because 9 days out of 10 I feel nauseated. I help my kids with their school. By 11am, my body is screaming to lay down. By 11:30am, my brain starts having trouble processing. Sometimes it takes awhile to translate sound into words when someone speaks to me, and I sit there staring like an idiot trying to figure out what has been said. If I see "call…" on my to-do list, I get anxious, because not being able to see someone when they talk to me makes it that much harder. Yes, my hearing has been checked several times - it's my brain that isn't working right.

On a good day, I'll try to get some chores done. On a bad day, I'll be laying on the couch by noon, desperate to take a nap. Somewhere in there I eat breakfast and lunch. By 1pm, I have to nap. And this nap can go on for two or three hours… and I won't feel better when I wake up. I have my second cup of coffee - caffeine this time, or else I won't make it through the next few hours. I help my kids with school if they need it, try to get some housework done, and think about dinner. My wonderful daughter makes dinner a lot, because I just don't have the strength. Literally, some days I can barely lift my arm above my head (one reason I rarely blow dry my hair anymore). At dinner, I sit in the chair that's against the wall on one side, and lean on the wall. My posture is shot because I just can't seem to hold myself upright. And after dinner, I just want to sit and do nothing. Not even play a card game with the kids.

Then it's time for the kids to go to bed.  An hour later, my husband goes to bed. And I sit up. Not because I'm not tired, but because all the stimulation of the day makes me desperate for a quiet hour alone in the evenings.

All that is if I am home for the day. When I have to go out, everything is worse. One day a week we have an all-day outing (for school) that includes 90 minutes of driving each way. Those days I am so wiped out by the end of them that I can't do anything that evening or half of the next day. Even "going to town" to run errands is exhausting, and I frequently cut the list short because I need my remaining energy to make it home without falling asleep.

I hope this paints a good picture of the full weight of the word exhausted for me. Debilitating is not an overstatement. So if this way of eating increases my energy levels and my iron absorption, I will call it a success. But as I said in my first post, every system in my body has problems. My symptoms range from minor annoyances to incredibly painful. I go through periods of time when only one or two things are bothering me, and then periods of time when a myriad of things are happening at once and grind my normal life to a stand still.

My problems include a myriad of digestive issues. Being a lady, I won't elaborate on this too much, but suffice it to say I have most of the symptoms of IBS and then some. Along with that, I have been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, which is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the bladder. Basically, I have symptoms of a mild bladder infection (but no infection) all the time, with periodic flare ups of more intensity.

My reproductive system is all messed up - also something I won't elaborate on except to say I  have chronic pelvic pain and I get every PMS symptom known to man. I have also been diagnosed with Endometriosis.

My skin is excessively dry, itchy and pale with frequent unusual random rashes. When I am going through a "down" period with my health, my face takes on the depressed pallor of death warmed over. There is a strange problem I get on my right foot. Both the skin and nervous systems systems are involved, but it is still undiagnosed after 18 years of periodic flare ups. Even after a biopsy, the doctors couldn't tell me what it is. What I do know is that it is incredibly painful, to the point where I can't walk on it and can't have even water touching it. This is my one ailment that I usually end up taking pain medicine (Ibuprofen) for. Recently I figured out a way to describe how it feels: like my foot is on fire and has a migraine at the same time.

Then there are my neurological problems. Inability to concentrate, memory lapses, migraines, sensory hallucinations (manifesting as migratory intense pain or burning sensations, but different from my foot), Restless Leg Syndrome, and Temporal Lobe seizures, as well as being easily overstimulated. All these things are exacerbated when I'm tired, so periodic bouts of insomnia make life exponentially worse. Mood instability and anxiety also make the list… lately with a disconcerting increase in frequency.

All of this is why I'm so desperate to do something to help my body heal. I've given modern medicine its chance, and it has failed me in many ways. It's important for me to reiterate that I have sought medical help. Some of my past symptoms led to being diagnosed with a brain tumor. I've also been diagnosed with a seizure disorder, and, as I mentioned, Endometriosis and Interstitial Cystitis. I feel confident going into the GAPS diet fully understanding that I do not have any life-threatening medical problems right now. If you're reading this and you have medical problems you think the GAPS diet might help, see your doctor if you haven't. Trying to get a diagnosis, even if ultimately they can't give you one, at least gives you a place to start.

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