Update: I got the test results back AND found some surprising things in prior test results that my doctor didn’t catch or didn’t tell me about, things I didn’t discuss in this post because they kinda came out of left field. A twist I wasn’t prepared for. As it turns out, I tested as having high oxalates in 2008 and I didn’t know until I requested copies of old blood work. Click here to read the update.
My current list of health challenges shows auto-immune, hormonal problems and systemic inflammation. I suspect my detox pathways are overburdened. I’m currently dealing with thin hair, vertigo, brain fog, a lack of growth hormones, thin skin, vision problems, a red ring around the back of my throat and what I suspect are thyroid symptoms, among other things. In the past, I was diagnosed as having PCOS and being pre-diabetic. I’ve dealt with mercury poisoning and celiac disease.
In 2007-2008 when I turned myself around after celiac disease almost killed me, I healed my gut to the point that I no longer had digestive symptoms. I even healed my cavities. But I didn’t heal my metabolism.
That work begins now.
Just going paleo has given me energy back, going grain-free has stopped the thyroid pain and constant tenderness and appears to have relieved the swelling I had in my thyroid. I need less sleep, I have more energy, my head is clearer. But it hasn’t resolved all of my health issues. That laundry list above is still very bothersome. Yet I push myself to continue, to go and to do, despite it. For my long-term health, it must be under control and these problems must resolve.
Why I Am Metabolically Broken
You can read my story to get the background. When I wrote that post, most everything had resolved and I was doing well. I did do well for a time, my body leveled out and I was able to resume normal life. I was a normal weight, I had chelated enough to beat back the heavy metal symptoms. Then abnormal hit again- I had an unexpected pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage. That kicked off a flood of hormonal problems which just spiraled. I believe I had metabolic problems during that time period, but they were minor and easily controlled- I was able to overcome them. I tend to push myself despite my limitations and that can be a downfall.
Basically, I believe I was born metabolically broken and some of the events in my life only made the problem worse. Conceived and raised on a brownfield, premature birth, fed soy formula, very early menarche, high carb diet, constant rounds of antibiotics, mercury exposure, birth control pills instead of working to resolve PCOS symptoms, a family history of auto-immune diseases. The list goes on.
In 2006-7, when I was so ill, so sick, I only consumed 800-1,000 calories a day. Why? It was all I could get down and keep down. I had 24/7 nausea and vomited and had diarrhea many times a day for over a year. I suffered from chronic dehydration. It totally messed up my metabolism and my endocrine system even further than they already were. My hair started thinning. Cuts and scraps wouldn’t heal. At one point, I accidentally fell down the last few steps of our steep staircase and skinned my knee on the way down. It took months to heal. I still had an ugly, dark purple scar there a year later.
I had a one year old and a three year old. My priority wasn’t feeding myself, it was getting them fed and keeping them alive while minimizing how much I had to suffer through puking. Yet my poop was normal beginning in 2007 and through that time period I had no digestive symptoms. My reaction to gluten gradually disappeared. Even though I eat a normal amount of food now and take in plenty of calories, and have for about 4 years, my metabolism is still messed up. But I still don’t have any digestive symptoms.
I’m learning through this process that healing your gut isn’t enough. Great digestion doesn’t always translate to great health. You can also have other problems that aren’t controlled solely by nutrient intake. Eating a real food diet alone won’t heal everything. You can be born with metabolism problems or you can develop them. You can have a gene activate and cause issues. Your detox pathways can be functioning sub-optimally. You can have exposures to things in your environment beyond your control that cause negative effects. What goes into your mouth isn’t the end-all and be-all of health.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Up until now, I’ve been rather vague about what’s been going on with my health, as I wanted to get the test results back before saying any more publicly in case we were wrong. We expect the blood work to be back next week. But you know, even if the test results show that I don’t have what we suspect, I do have celiac disease, which is auto-immune. So while we wait for test results, I’m going to go ahead and do what I believe my body needs- another round of elimination and challenge to see if I’m reacting to anything else.
I’m going on the paleo auto-immune protocol (PAIP). I really hate that I have to resort to an elimination diet again, but so be it. I will focus on making sure I’m taking in enough calories, and I will also eliminate all sweeteners for a time period to see if they’re a problem for me. I will work on tight blood sugar regulation.
In the last two weeks, I’ve read articles from Stacy at Paleo Parents, Jimmy Moore and had long conversations with my nutritional counselor, Lydia of Divine Health and talked to some other real food bloggers and paleo folks who are struggling with various auto-immune issues and also looking for answers. I believe this is the right path for me.
I Am Not Alone and Neither Are You
I know I’m not alone in this boat. I have multiple blogging friends and multiple readers who are struggling through auto-immune disease. I know I am not alone. I’m being so public and putting myself out there because I know you need the support and the community just as much as I do. So I’m going to begin by blogging my meals every week so you can gain inspiration. I hope you will consider leaving your meals every week in the comments here or Facebook and we’ll provide support and encouragement to each other.
Every day on Facebook, I will post what I ate for that meal, and try my best to include a picture. Click here to join us on Facebook. I’ll do a weekly recap here with as many pics as I can do.
If you are facing this, I want you to know that there is support out there. There are Facebook groups and other bloggers finding their way, too. In the coming weeks, I will be linking to them, their stories, their meals, their posts. I will leave a trail as I find my way as these folks have been so helpful to leave a trail for me.
The Paleo Auto-Imme Protocol
First up will be the food, of course. I will first go completely paleo, then I’ll slowly eliminate foods as I work my way down into the auto-immune protocol (AIP). I will hold the protocol as long as I need to, then I will begin re-introducing foods.
As I understand it, the PAIP is the paleo diet that goes into an elimination diet that removes all pro-inflammatory foods and foods that commonly show allergenic/intolerance potential while encouraging anti-inflammatory foods. You wait until your body is re-set, then you re-introduce those foods one at a time to look for reactions. If you react to something, you stay off of it until you no longer react.
At this point, I plan to eventually eliminate:
Sweeteners of all types, including natural sweeteners such as honey, dates, etc…
Seeds (including spices, coffee and chocolate)
Nightshades (including pepper-based spices)
Beans and Legumes, including peanuts and guar gum
Alcohol (I don’t drink, but this might mean I can’t use things like extracts)
I will also continue to avoid avocado and kiwi (and latex) due to my anaphylaxis reaction to them. What does that leave? Meat, fish, poultry, some non-starchy veggies, coconut oil, bone broth, organ meats. Once I’m back to baseline, we’ll challenge foods, one at a time.
It’s important that it is understood that this is only a temporary diet to help me find and remove intolerances. It wouldn’t be healthy to permanently remove all of these foods from your diet. It’s an elimination diet to give my body a chance to re-set and then we add things back in, one at a time, to find out what causes inflammation, aggravates the auto-immune problems or the like. If it’s a problem, it goes back out and we re-visit it again later. If it doesn’t pose a problem, it stays in.
Planning the Journey
I will slowly drop one category at a time. In addition, I wish to go to 70-100 grams of carbs a day again. I also want to do a time where I am off of all sweeteners for a while, to see if it makes any difference in belly bloat as it did for Stacy at Paleo Parents. So I’m not going cold-turkey all at once. I’m working into it slowly.
I am currently gluten-free, grain-free, bean-free and mostly fruit free. I don’t drink coffee. Next week I will eliminate peanut butter so I am legume free and soy will go, too. Currently, I’m only having organic tamari once every week or two.
I will consume bone broth daily and do what I can to increase my organ meat consumption.
I will also need to return to exercise. I do T-Tapp. I will log off of my computer at 9:30 each night and be in bed at 10:00. I will aim for 9 hours of sleep a night, but if I wake up on my own, then I will accept less. I tend to only sleep 8 hours when I’m grain-free.
I will do what I can to reduce stress and my work schedule. That will not be easy considering that one of our new kittens, Jasper is dying and that Chloe, the other new kitty, has likely contracted the infectious peritonitis from him. I expect we will have to put him down very soon. She will live with us as long as she is well, then we’ll have to put her down, too, as apparently there is no cure for they picked up at the shelter before they came home with me after Christmas. The vet said that she will likely die before she is 2.