Fighting to Persevere

I’ve mentioned how poorly I was feeling before.  Here and on social media.

I downplayed it.  If you know me, you know I tend to downplay things.

I was at the point where I was counting spoons to see what I could and couldn’t do through my day.

I called off work one day a few weeks ago because I woke up in the middle of the night in pain and wasn’t able to get back to sleep.  Nor was I able to stay standing while fixing my breakfast.  I didn’t have the spoons for the day.  I took the max dose of ibuprofen (800mg) after calling in and went back to bed.  I spent the better part of that day and the next doing nothing but laying on the sofa with my feet elevated.

Just the day before one of my managers was telling me I needed “to get healthy” because there was a big load of work coming up.  The irony is I’m probably the most health minded person there even if I’m not healthy right now.  I had these reactions running through my head when he told me I needed to get healthy.

Are you fucking kidding me?  Do you realize who you’re talking to?

I’m never going to be healthy here. 

You selfish bastard. 

I just want off my feet! 

Stop talking already! 

Let’s go back to “I’m never going to be healthy here.”  When I realized how true that statement was, I knew something had to change.  Either I get to the root of this problem and figure it all out or I quit my job.

I kept all this in mind for my doctor’s appointment.

Pain, inflammation, heart palpitations, problems sleeping, mood swings, fatigue, being so tired I was falling asleep on the sofa if I wasn’t vertical, feeling like I re-sprained my wrist.  I thought that my thyroid was going haywire.  I was at the point that I felt like I was hitting the same rock bottom that I hit before.   I was crying because I felt so horrible, yet I kept pushing myself to do more than I should have and still not give in.

My life was like this again…

The Saturday before my appointment, I was awake mega early again due to pain.  This time along my pelvic bone on the left side.  This was new.  I couldn’t go back to sleep and I eventually got up and started my morning routine.  When I got to work the same manager that told me I needed to get healthy was asking me how I was doing.  I told him, “Not well.”  Then I explained being woken up by pain when he asked.  “Are you going to the doctor today?” he asked.

At this point it was creeping towards noon.  My doctor is not in on Saturdays.  I probably could have driven myself to an ER instead of work that morning, but I was trying to hold out.  I was incredibly irritable from lack of sleep, pain, and generally just tired of being sick all the time.  It took all I had to not just reach out and give him a wake up smack.  He is a really nice guy when he’s not so focused on the bottom line, but I knew he was thinking in the back of his mind, Oh no, we can’t get even more shorthanded so close to the holidays.

I started thinking again, I’m never going to be healthy here.

You might be wondering, then why not quit?  That’s the easy thing to do.  I’m a person who feels bound by loyalty.  I am not bound to the corporation.  I am loyal to my co-workers and my team leader.  If it weren’t for the ones that make it worth being there and laughing with, I would have left long ago in search of something else.

I went to my doctor last week Tuesday, starting with my chiropractor and moving on to my integrative doctor.  I didn’t rush through my progress note to my doctors to let them know what is going on.  In previous months, by the time I saw them, I wasn’t feeling nearly as bad as I had this last month or even as bad as I did when I went in after being off work for nearly 48 hours.

For the first time my neck adjusted better than it had in months.  I have a stiffness that settled in months ago and would not adjust for anything.  Normally, my chiropractor jokes about me starting without him as things start popping back into place while he’s getting me into position for the adjustment.

My doctor sat with me and reviewed everything I wrote down.  We went over the Stress Chart they have in every room and discussed where I was on the chart and the cause of my stress.  Work.

My wake-up call

I never thought I’d hear the words, adrenal fatigue, coming from a doctor of mine and directed at me.  But, it explained everything.  It explained why my plantar fasciitis was getting worse no matter what I did to help it along.  Icing my feet after work, stretching them out, rolling them over golf balls.  My feet were just getting worse and worse.   I thought the inflammation was what was driving everything.

If you aren’t familiar with adrenal fatigue or even what your adrenal glands are or what they do, let me do a quick summary.  Your adrenal glands are responsible for releasing epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol when you are under stress.  Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline.  In my case, my adrenal glands were working overtime to pump out cortisol while at work because of the stress I was under.  This resulted in my cortisol levels being all over the place rather than high in the morning and steadily dropping throughout the day, which explains the sleep problems.  When there is too much cortisol running through your body, your body turns on the inflammation response and poof…inflammation!

I never plan anything after my appointments with my chiropractor and integrative doctor.  I don’t want to completely undo everything they just did and I want my body to be able to accept the adjustment and acupuncture and get maximum benefit.   I spent the rest of Tuesday on the sofa.  As my body adjusted, I felt more and more exhausted.  I just wanted to sleep for months.  Or at least sleep until I was better.   I think getting an answer gave me finality and my body just wanted to shut down and say, it’s okay now, let me do the work to make it better.

I felt the same the next day, but slightly less irritable.  Baby steps.

I talked to the manager responsible for my scheduling, who happens to be the one who told me I need to get healthy.   I explained my diagnosis and that I needed my hours cut as I recover.   He agreed to meet my needs, which I fully expected.

By Friday, I was feeling light at work.  Less stressed.  I kept my focus on my tasks and if I happened to get called away to answer a call on the other side of the store, or get carts outside, or help at the registers, I went without all the negative thinking in my head that fed the stress.

Baby steps.

Here I am, Monday.  I’m still sleeping like crap.  I was awake well before I needed to be this morning.  I laid in bed for a while before finally getting to it.  Grocery shopping.  Housework. Yes.  I finally cleaned today.  I still have clutter going on, but I cleaned my bathroom, swept, mopped, vacuumed, and dusted.  Still baby steps, but it was something I couldn’t do a week ago today.

I’m moving forward and moving slowly.  I’m running on my time and to the beat of my recovering drum.  I’m reminding myself not to push myself too much or too far.

I persevere.

Body Mind Spirit

This is what I see when I arrive and leave the Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine

My body is reacting to something.  I am trying to figure out what it is but if I went by what I feel like, I would think I’m getting glutened.  Which I know isn’t happening.  I am changing things one by one to see what helps and what doesn’t.  So far, coconut has helped the most with the rashes, itchiness, and flaky scalp.  These symptoms haven’t been much of a problem since going gluten-free.  With the exception of the rashes I had earlier this year.

There is also muscle fatigue and overall general fatigue.  The kind where I’m coming from work and not wanting to do anything other than sleep.  There are nights where I end up crashing on the sofa before bedtime.  Some heart palpitations.  A lot of inflammation.  So much inflammation my plantar fasciitis is in a constant state of swollen pain and nothing helps.  Nothing.  Not icing, not stretching, not rice, not golf balls, not yoga.  It’s quite frustrating because I know the inflammation is driving the fatigue.

There is a constant state of chaos and stress right now at work with a major store remodel in progress.  In one night, it is possible for a project I’ve worked on for days to be completely undone and have to be re-done.  Things are in a constant state of flux and answers are hidden away somewhere.  Probably in the disaster of a fixture room in which I always feel like everything will come crashing down on me if I move just one thing the wrong way.  There is also all kinds of crap in the air.  Dust, paint fumes, chemicals, sawdust.  Who knows what else is lurking in the air.  I could blame it all on the remodel, but a lot of the symptoms started before anything was touched.

We leave for Los Angeles on Thursday.  Time with my best friend and her family, whom I haven’t seen in nearly three years.  A football game on Saturday for my alma mater.   The promise of a beach and other friends from long ago.  The possibility of a musical at The Old Globe Theater if Chaz agrees.  

I’m hoping the time away will help me at least narrow down what is setting my body off on this massive reaction.  That way, when I get back and see my doctor the week after, I can present her with my findings, leaving the potential for the amount of testing low.

You see, the practice she is a part of practices what they call Transformational Medicine.  It combines integrative and functional medicine and they take everything into account when making an assessment.  It’s not just about what’s going on in your body today, but yesterday, last week, last month, and last year.  They consider stress, nutrition, metabolic function, immune system, hormones, and your body’s alignment.

I’ve been going to this practice for a year and a half now.  I get acupuncture, chiropractic, and the occasion energy healing when needed.  It’s not covered by insurance, but worth every penny because not only can we head things off before they get ugly, we can prevent.

I look forward to my appointments.  I know they will listen, take care of me, and I’ll be relaxed throughout my time there.  What doctor’s office plays music you normally only hear in posh spas?  That’s right.  Mine.

The founders of the practice, Steve Amoils, M.D. & Sandy Amoils, M.D., recently released the book, Get Well & Stay Well.  They share their journey of learning other types of healing after finishing medical school and how transformational medicine works.  It’s a great book even if you have no clue about alternative medicine and want to learn more.  For those of you who are familiar with alternative medicine, you’ll see how combining the different practices along with Western medicine can benefit you.

I may not find all the answers at my next appointment, but I know I’ll feel better when I leave.

 

The Accidental Glutening Overdose

Count 'em. 12 vials!

I have been using my slow cooker a lot lately.  It’s helped with managing my time and not feeling that rush of needing to make sure dinner is ready.  Or rather, getting it all in early so I can relax later on the days I have to work later.

A few weeks ago, everything I had planned for the week came from Stephanie O’Dea’s Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.  With gluten-free and dairy-free adaptations.  For  my Meatless Monday dinner, I made her Bean and Cheese Burrito Casserole.  I was going to make it without gluten-free tortillas and without dairy-free cheese.  Then I realized I’d really just be eating beans and tomatoes.  I’m not fond of Daiya at all plus everything is processed so I don’t even buy dairy-free cheese.  I decided to try Rice Shreds by Galaxy Nutritional Foods since I hadn’t tried it before.  I also bought Food for Life’s Brown Rice Tortillas.  I don’t buy these often because every time we’ve tried them for wraps or whatever, they fall to pieces.  Since this was a casserole recipe, falling to pieces would happen while cooking and that was okay.

I used about half the package of the tortillas for the recipe and the rest I ate throughout the week with breakfast or snack.  I also ate most of the leftover casserole.

That week, I wasn’t feeling so hot.  I was fatigued and tired all the time.  Plus, the inflammation of my plantar fasciitis flared up and really won’t settle down no matter how much icing, stretches, etc. I do.  Rest assured, I know what to do for plantar fasciitis and I have been doing it as well as making sure I’m wearing my orthotics even when I’m not at work.  The inflammation just doesn’t want to go down. It felt like a glutening, but I couldn’t think of anything I could’ve had that had gluten without me knowing about it.  I didn’t think anything more about it and went on just feeling fatigued.

Then, the day after I found out about my friend passing away, Shirley (gluten-free easily) posted this gluten-free alert.

Bingo.

Yet another reason to avoid gluten-free processed foods.  You just never know.

Had I gone to the Hematologist after I discovered the repeated glutening from one product, I would have asked him to run some tests.  Oh, well.

Several weeks later, I’m still fatigued.  When I wake up, I’m already so tired I just want to stay in bed all day.  My feet still get extremely swollen even after a short time on them.  I will be glad when this gluten gets out of my system.

On the brighter side, my visit to the Hematologist on Monday for a finger stick comparison from the venipuncture tests confirmed my platelet count was not as low, confirming his and Dr. Cuz’s suspicion that it was lab error.  However, I am on the borderline for Alpha Thalassemia, a genetic disorder that causes a reduction in hemoglobin production.  If I do have it, he believes it to be the true cause of my anemia.  Weakness and fatigue are also a symptom.   One of my relatives informed me later that day after sharing it on Facebook and Twitter that she has the traits for it.  Sticking that one in my pocket for my follow-up when he retests me to make sure.

Exciting times, yeah?