Still Figuring Out My Vision for 2015

Remember that "New Routines" post a few weeks back? Yeah, I definitely got too goal-happy, plus sick with the FLU! Ugh! So, so much for that. I am going to get my exercise-loving groove back but we'll focus on one thing at a time. More to come on that.

2014 was one of the best years of my life, if not the very best. So many great things happened that brought me so much happiness. I would be remiss (or in denial) if I were not to say that in terms of my health, I was very lost last year. I have had moments of clarity, moments when when I felt great, but honestly, all the times I can remember my body feeling good happened between May and August, which coincidentally are the hottest months of the year.

Between December and March I started one medication, that just did not work. I started a new medication in April, which I am still on, and truthfully, I don't think I have ever felt that this medication had improved my symptoms. Fortunately, I have never experienced any side effects so it would seem, no harm, no foul. Those summer months I thought I had it figured out. I was staying active with both high and low impact exercise, eating well, had more energy, it was great.

Then labor day weekend, my right hand started to hurt so bad that I could barely turn the key in the ignition. I got put on a steroid and we upped my medications. The pain got significantly better but never went away entirely and the palm of my hand has been swollen ever since. Not to mention now my left hand, left elbow and both knees. In November, my doctor, being concerned about permanent damage and quality of life, suggested we start looking a biologic agents and prescribed me Enbrel. After consideration and pre-authorization from insurance, I started the weekly injections in December. Still, I do not feel like there has been improvement.

So, I have been trying to reflect and figure out my next steps. I came down with the flu the first weekend of January and have just been in a holding pattern since then. We leave for our honeymoon on Friday (woo hoo, here we come Punta Cana, Dominican Republic!!!) so obviously starting some new thing before we go would be a total wash. The only thing I am doing is abstaining from alcohol until we leave because I drank either wine or beer Wed-Sat this past week and let me tell you, Sunday was not a fun day... so I will reserve the drinks until we are in 80 degree weather and try it out again.

I have decided that my next step (in addition to seeing if this regimen of Enbrel and Methotrexate is going to start kicking in) is to do an elimination diet. So, starting February 1, I am going to be following this.  I have been reading and learning about so many different "diets" I should try that I am finally, once and for all, going to go through a rather strict, 3 week elimination diet where I only eat foods that are typically non-allergenic. I have thought about getting another round of allergy testing via a blood test, but generally the physician would prescribe an elimination diet with journaling how I feel so instead of spending the money, I am going to do it myself.

I feel like there are two camps related to autoimmune disorders. First, there is the plant-based whole foods (PBWF) diet, which is what I have been following for the most part of two years. I say the most part because I do have healthy fats in my diet (avocado, coconut oils, nuts and nut butters) and I do eat fish (again fatty fish like salmon and tuna). I feel like overall it has served me well. I have kept my weight off, had less digestive issues, sleep well, have good skin (no rashes, rare blemishes), and I have stayed fairly well overall. The other camp, which is almost completely opposite of PBWF, is paleo, specifically the Auto Immune Paleo (AIP) protocol. This diet focuses on grass-fed, organic meats, no grains, no legumes, and no night-shade vegetables. These two diets have some similarities, like almost all fruit is fine, most vegetables (except nightshades like eggplant and potatoes), no dairy, no eggs, and generally no alcohol or caffeine. They also both promote this turmeric tea, which I do think helps quite a bit with pain and inflammation.

So I have been asking myself for the last 6 months or so, do I change what I am doing? Am I "doing it wrong"? Ultimately, this leads me back to the elimination diet. I truly believe there is no "right" way to eat. I think there are SO many factors to consider: gender, geographical location, health status, genetics, etc. that there can not be a "one size fits all" answer to this. The only caveat to this is that a diet that is void of plants and full of sugar and fast food is not a diet that works for people. It will eventually lead to weight gain and health problems. Some people can get away with eating that more than others but in general, home cooked meals with something that grows from the ground is necessary in the human diet.

So after 3 weeks of eliminating everything that could possibly be causing me to have a leaky gut, I plan to gradually re-introduce things like corn, soy, legumes, wheat, nightshades (please oh please let potatoes not be a culprit), and maybe alcohol??? I think by that I plan to introduce liquor, then wine, then beer. See which ones causes the worst symptoms. I married a brewer, saying no to alcohol for the rest of my life is not really something I ever planned to do. But hey, there are pregnancies and breast feeding in my future so maybe I can just start practicing saying no.

So, January was pretty much my month for giving my medications a chance. Next month we'll try food. March might be the month I look at trying some supplements. My aunt and cousin are planning to discuss DoTerra supplements with me and maybe I will look into probiotics too. One thing I have decided is 2015 is going to be the year I figure out what makes me feel my absolute best so I can be my best to my husband, my family, my friends and my work, not to mention my dog who doesn't get walks when mommy doesn't feel well.

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