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State of the Katje: health edition

Our health club offered a challenge for the month of December: if you do 25 workouts, with 20 check-ins to the club, you earn a free month. For Bill and I, that's $150, and definitely worth the effort, so we both committed to doing it. Of course, I got a two-week lung infection starting Dec. 1 (I'm STILL coughing from it, but the fevers, etc. are done), and Bill came down with something right before Christmas, and so not every workout was balls-to-the-wall, but we DID IT and I'm so proud of us!

I started using kratom a few months ago, and while I try not to do it daily (both to keep my resistance low and to prevent undue stress on my liver), I do use it several times a week and find it to be extremely effective for my spinal stenosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia pain, especially on the bad barometric or extra-cold days. I find that it lasts longer and costs about a fifth of what the pain doc prescribed, plus it's non-addictive. (If you're curious and want to try some but don't want to commit to a whole order or worry about making your own capsules, let me know; I'm happy to share some with you.)

A few years back, I was told after a blood test that I was pre-diabetic and should keep an eye on my blood sugars. Both of my parents and several of my grandparents had what was then called geriatric-onset diabetes, so I figured it was likely to be an issue eventually. For the last year or so, I've been experiencing bouts of morning nausea, and that turned out to be caused by a blood sugar boost that the liver naturally produces daily between 2 and 8 a.m. (it's called the Dawn Phenomenon, a type of glucogenesis your body undergoes daily so you have enough energy upon waking up to go get food). But if you don't have the insulin to process that glucose, it builds up in your blood and makes you feel crappy. It's hard to wrap your head around -- how can your blood sugar go UP while you're asleep? -- but it was yet another sign that I'm having insulin issues. I am still having panic attacks with relation to needles/blood tests, but after a good long think, I decided to just start treating myself as if I were already diagnosed as diabetic. I got myself set up with a blood glucose meter to track things, and sure enough, I'm still skating in the official pre-diabetic range.

By far, the best non-invasive/non-pharmaceutical treatment I could find was adopting a low-carb/high-fat (LCHF) diet. It's a method of stabilizing blood glucose without insulin or other drugs, and when I stay on it, it works really well. Of course, the holidays are such a great time to avoid carbs and sugar... but since I was already gluten-free, making the leap to low-carb wasn't really all that much of a sacrifice. I had one very high blood sugar event at Thanksgiving (entirely my own fault... gf pumpkin pie, two kinds of ice cream, and boozy eggnog, all homemade and eaten on an empty stomach. I was too sick to even remember to test my blood sugar before I started puking, but I sure wish I had). Now I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how to keep going in a way that will protect my pancreas' remaining beta cells, so that I won't see a true diabetes diagnosis for years yet (if at all).

Between the almost-daily non-weight-bearing exercise, the kratom, and the LCHF diet, I'm starting to feel pretty optimistic. The Friday before Christmas, I walked almost two miles around the botanic garden and while I was tired afterwards, I didn't have nearly as much back/hip pain as I usually would have had after such an effort. I know that none of my chronic progressive conditions are really entirely reversible, but they can all be slowed down, and I think I've hit on a good mix of therapies to do that (I've also committing myself to a daily meditation practice). It's a lot of work, it's not cheap, and I feel guilty for using up so much of my family's time and resources on myself, but I'm feeling better about my health than I have in a long, long time.

The only fly in the ointment is that I'm a little annoyed with myself that I'm hoping to lose weight with the LCHF diet (many people do indeed drop a lot of weight once they adopt this way of eating). I KNOW the numbers on the scale are just number, that my worth has nothing to do with my size or shape, and that what matters most are my health-related metrics like blood pressure (always in the 110-120/60-70 range), blood glucose levels (currently running a little high but slowly dropping, though still in the prediabetic range), edema (almost none this year!), headaches (getting rarer and almost always associated with large barometric pressure swings), and fibro/psoriasis flares (I had a pretty nasty one right after the election, but otherwise relatively stable). I did lose a bit when I started the gluten-free diet, but haven't lost more than five pounds in the month and a half that I've been on the LCHF diet. I just need to stay off that goddamn scale at the club...

OK, one more whine: I've had three gallbladder attacks in the last two months, as well. My mother and maternal grandmother both had emergency gall bladder surgery when they were in their 50s, so again it's not unexpected. I did find an amazingly cheap, simple, effective treatment, though... apple cider vinegar! Two tablespoons in water or juice knocks the attack out in under 30 minutes (untreated, it continues for two or three days), so I'm absolutely thrilled I have that tool in my toolkit now. All three attacks were from fatty beef, so I'm dialing that way back (it's a challenge because we got an Instant Pot and I want to make beef stew or brisket every day!). But I have a feeling that yanking it might be on the horizon...

I'll do another post on more general life issues in a bit... thanks for reading!


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:31 am (UTC)
I am really happy that you are finding some relief. It sounds really promising and encouraging.

Thank you for sharing some details, maybe useful.

Super impressed with your dedication to the gym, and relieved that it is helping you. Nice to hear.
Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your kind words. It would make me so happy to know that some of my efforts may help someone else in the same boat, so please let me know if you have any questions and I'll share my resources gladly!
Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:59 am (UTC)
A fandom friend of mine started doing the LCHF thing a year or two ago, though I think she called it a ketogenic diet? Sounds like the same thing, though. I can ask her for resources if you like, I know she cooks a lot so she might have recipe recs.
Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:52 pm (UTC)
Yes, they are basically the same. If she's up for sharing, I'd love to hear her favorite sources/recipes!

I've been meaning to connect with you about the blood glucose issues, since you now have a pretty solid family history of it. Not sure how it would work with a vegan diet, but if you're not yet seeing your sugars rise, it's not a big deal. But I do wish I'd started to dial back the carbs at an earlier date, and now that you know about it, maybe you'll have a chance to head it off at the pass.

Love you! xoxo
Jan. 3rd, 2017 02:43 pm (UTC)
It's good to hear from you, and I'm glad you're finding new ways to take care of yourself. *hugs*
Jan. 3rd, 2017 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, M! You are one of the reasons I'm still here on LJ, even if I don't post much... I've got a bit more navelgazing to offer in the next week, so stay tuned! xoxo
Jan. 5th, 2017 12:48 pm (UTC)

This is great. I am slightly younger but I have many similar health issues. It is inspiring to read about the options for managing as time goes by. Thank you.

Jan. 6th, 2017 12:15 am (UTC)
We are living at an amazing time. Fibromyalgia, which only a decade ago was considered a pretend ailment, now has some solid research documenting and supporting our experiences (not sure if you have fibro, but many other autoimmune issues are receiving good attention as well). Hang in there, don't deplete yourself unnecessarily, and stay tuned... I think things are going to get better for folks like us in the long run!
Jan. 9th, 2017 10:34 pm (UTC)
Catching up late on these posts, but I'm glad to hear it all and look forward to the rest of the series. I am so glad you've found stuff that works for your health, because I know for a while there you were dealing with a ton of pain. Happy to hear good news!
Jan. 11th, 2017 01:15 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad to see you're still here, as well!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 27th, 2017 09:25 pm (UTC)
Good to hear from you! Package will be on the way soon! xoxo
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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