This is to log the extraordinary journey of health reform I have been making in recent times. If reading about the ailments of others is tedious, skip this one! I hesitated about posting it because it seems rather personal, but as the issues touched upon here affect a great many people, I thought it might be useful reading for some who may be struggling with the same challenges as I had.
Here follows an inventory of the problems I had, the action I have been taking, and the results I have experienced.
Anxiety and depression – everyone knows what those are; no need for complex explanations! The effect in my life has been to create a more and more limited sphere of possibility, with a morbid dread of offending people and an unwillingness to socialize. By temperament I seek quietness and seclusion, and that’s a necessary discipline for writing anyway; but with anxiety and depression it’s as though I find myself suddenly tipped over from what is the range of emotions naturally belonging to my own temperament into a seized-up state of mind, feeling both paranoid and terrified a lot of the time, and having nothing to offer but negativity and criticism.
Fibromyalgia – this is one of those ‘the doctor has drawn a blank in attempting to diagnose you but recognizes that your body is filled with pain’ conditions. What I had was inflammation pain in my legs, and more recently my hands and arms. Sometimes I also had joint pain in my hands, elbows and neck. The inflammation pain in my legs got unbearable when I went to bed at night; and more and more frequently I was relying on painkillers to get to sleep. If anything then woke me (and I sleep very lightly), I just had to live with the pain and could not easily get back to sleep or stay asleep. I had every test the doctor could run, and fibromyalgia was what she came up with. I also had problems with my feet: when I had been sitting or lying down for a while, when I had to stand and start walking, they were very painful and tingling, so that I could walk only very slowly and it was hard to put weight on them; this being most pronounced first thing in the morning.
When I consulted the doctor about this because the pain became exhausting and overwhelming, she investigated thoroughly, but could suggest only fibromyalgia or possibly hormone related difficulties: she said I was 'profoundly menopausal'. I took for some months the lowest possible does of HRT, and it did alleviate the pain tremendously: but I also gained a stone in weight and, as the medication accumulated in my system I began to notice a psychological effect - as though the drug itself had a personality overlaid upon mine. I didn't like this, so stopped those meds, and in due course the original problems returned.
Fluid retention – I had this in both ankles permanently.
Tonsils – I was worried about this as I thought it might need surgery. My left tonsil was much enlarged so that I felt as though I had a lump in my throat all the time, food kept getting trapped in it, and I had a bad-smelling exudates and lumps of stuff in my tonsil. Both tonsils had what appeared to be a number of cysts.
Acid reflux – this was a constant problem. I had to sleep propped up in bed, and every time I bent down I had this searing pain in my gullet, and often when I wasn’t bending down, just anyway there’d be this intense burning pain all the way up my gullet.
Weariness – I felt absolutely exhausted a lot of the time.
EMS – the link here is to a very sceptical Wikipedia article. I have chosen that one rather than a more sympathetic one, to make clear that I do understand many people dismiss this as fanciful. It’s not. I am one of those people who stop watches and who is very sensitive to radiational fields. The other night, awake at 3am and not at all sleepy, but not wanting to disturb my husband, I felt lonely. I cupped my hand around his elbow without actually touching it, so I wouldn’t disturb him but could plug in to his force field. I could feel the power of his electromagnetic energy travelling through my hand up my arm to a few inches above my elbow. If I have to speak on a cell-phone for more than a very few minutes, it sends intense pain along my jaw. If I use a cordless phone the energy is very intense and uncomfortable where I hold it to the side of my face. If I have my laptop actually resting on my lap it causes intense pains in my legs. When my daughters were children, I had to stop giving one of them a goodbye kiss when she left for school in the morning, because we would both get electric shocks. When I get out of a car, I have to shut the door by pushing the window, or I will get an electric shock. When we had a microwave oven, once the food had cooked, when I opened the door and reached in I could feel the intense tingling of the energy in my hand.
Weight issues - I was three stones overweight.
So I did a number of things to tackle these problems.
We acquired WiiFit, which is immensely helpful: good for weight loss, good for mood, addresses the weariness, creates alertness, energy and wellbeing. That was an excellent move.
I got a laptop table, and stopped working with my computer on my lap. That stopped the pains that came from working with the laptop actually on me. I can still feel the energy in my hands while I am using the keyboard but, so far at least, that is not a big problem.
I read what Christiane Northrup (and here)had to say about soft tissue pain, and concluded it came from too much sugar in my system. My whole adult life I have used refined carbohydrates as self-medication to combat tiredness, lift depression and create artificial cheerfulness. Every time I ate most days would include some thing with sugar in it. I took this in but didn’t do anything about it. I have read about the connection between sugar and emotional instability, but my physical addiction to sugar caused me to believe that without it I would be depressed and unable to cope – I had underestimated the extent to which the sugar caused the troughs corresponding to the peaks in the first place. I think I underestimated this in part because the sugar hit comes right after eating it, whereas the crash is at some remove in time so less obviously associated: I formed the impression that the trough was my normal state and the peak was the alleviation (rescue) conferred by the sugar; whereas in fact they were both sugar-related but it was hard to tell that because I ate sugar all the time. Most people do, even the ones that don’t think so. Cold meats are usually bathed in sugar, pickles, sauces, most processed foods, breakfast cereals – nearly everything most people in the Western world eat has added sugar. So if you ask people if they eat a lot of sugar they think they don’t, because they only count things like chocolate bars and sugar in their tea. They don’t realise that the cold chicken they bought at the supermarket had been bathed in sugar, or the packet of wholemeal ‘health’ cereal they ate had added sugar.
I found by experimenting and observing that oily food, spicy food and acidic food were causing the acid reflux pain. For some time I had not been able to eat citrus fruits, because they gave me such terrible pain and made my tongue swell.
I started to feel very worried about my tonsils, knowing what a horrendous operation a tonsillectomy is for an adult; yet reading around suggested that chronically enlarged tonsils should be removed. This actually proved to be the turning point. Very anxious and afraid, I did a lot of reading about tonsilloliths and tonsil enlargement and exudates, and came across one author who said this is a dietary problem and the cause is dairy intolerance. She said if all dairy was eliminated permanently from the diet, the problem would simply go away and not come back. I followed her advice, and it proved correct.
Having stopped eating ALL foods containing dairy, and being uneasy about eating meat (because of environmental issues and compassion issues), I decided to try being vegan (a familiar road for me that I had walked a little way on previous occasions).
Then I began to read about macrobiotics (also familiar, but seemed like too complicated a path before now).
I read that the nightshade family of plants (that includes tomato and potato) contains alkaloids that may contribute to joint pain.
So just a few weeks ago at the beginning of 2010, I began (experimentally and ineptly) following a macrobiotic diet.
Almost all the inflammation pain in my body has gone – joints and soft tissue.
I no longer suffer from acid reflux. On the couple of occasions I have eaten off-limits food, the pain returned.
When I go to bed at night I no longer have to sleep propped up for the acid reflux and with my feet propped up to alleviate the pain in my legs. My body feels just comfortable and normal and relaxed.
I have lost about 8lbs (2.5 stones still to go!).
The joint pain in my hands, shoulder and neck has gone.
The oedema in my ankles is minimal now.
The problem with my feet when I go from lying/sitting to standing/walking has diminished to the extent that it is no longer a problem.
I have lost the weariness but without becoming all hyped up. I have settled to a state of mind which is more peaceful, more relaxed, less volatile, more positive and more sociable.
My tonsils have gone down to the extent they are no longer problematic, and the tonsilloliths are being slowly eliminated.
I feel well, move more easily, feel calm, and have no pain anywhere. I sleep peacefully and comfortably.
It is my intention to stick to this diet for the rest of my life.