Thursday, February 16, 2012

Diet changes for GI symptoms

So, about a year ago, I started a diet to lower my cholesterol. It totally worked. In two months, my cholesterol went down by 40 points. The biggest change was that I stopped eating desserts and added sugars. Here was my usual daily diet for the last year:

Cheerios and Fiber One with Lactaid skim milk
1 banana
1 red pepper
sandwich with natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread
1/2 Chicken breast
Brown rice
Snack: Organic graham crackers

That was it. I also lost about 20 pounds. I can't seem to keep much weight on without dessert.

Anyway, after my GI symptoms really flared up in January, I went to the gastroenterologist. I found out nothing, of course. So, I managing my symptoms with a new diet. It's based on the Eating for IBS diet and the FODMAP diet, in case you're interested.

Now, I'm eating this every day:

Cheerios with unsweetened almond milk
2 brown rice cakes with natural peanut butter
1 banana
1/2 chicken breast
Brown rice
cooked carrot shreds
Snack: organic oat cereal

So, this diet has relieved my severe symptoms for the most part (bloating, abdominal pain, and partial obstructions). But I'm not sure how it will affect my cholesterol. I also don't feel like I'm getting a lot of really nutritious foods. The hardest things to cut out nutritionally are wheat and various FODMAP fruits and vegetables. I can experiment with other foods to see if I can tolerate any of them, but so far, it hasn't worked. And I want to avoid GI symptoms, if possible.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Okay, so I was awake for much of the night due to a severe migraine. I had symptoms last night that were probably precursors to the migraine, including a visual aura, which I don't usually get. But I had gone 5 days without a migraine previously, which is an improvement.

Now, today, my severe GI symptoms are back, despite my strict diet. I called up the GI office, and they've decided to treat me for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), even though I cannot afford to get the hydrogen breath test to diagnose it. The treatment is simply 2 weeks of antibiotics. Assuming I can tolerate the medication, it's a simple thing to try. They're even going to give me a sample of the medication, so I don't have to pay for anything. If this doesn't work, I'll have to have an abdominal x-ray done next to check the state of my intestines.

I'm going to be very impatient for these two weeks of antibiotics to see if they are helping. The pain is so severe sometimes, I don't know how I can avoid the E.R. I am glad to be trying something. I can't go to the office to pick up the meds until tomorrow, so that's when I'll start the medicine.

For now, I have peppermint oil capsules, a heating pad, and abdominal massage as my only treatment for this severe pain.

Like I said, it is always something...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Rough Day

Well, I'm posting again, so soon, because things have been really hard.

My mood has been low for a few days.

My energy level has also been low--this often has a direct effect on my mood. Literally, I can feel completely hopeless, then take some caffeine, and switch to a very positive mood. This leads to a very up and down life, though.

My body hurts today, a lot. My head hurts, not quite a migraine, but very sensitive to light and very achy. I can't even look at the screen as I type. My muscles all over my body hurt today. I don't know what I did to deserve that one. My knees are particularly painful today, as they are hurting all the time, not just when I'm standing. I'm feeling very nauseated with abdominal fullness and pain, as well. I followed the diet pretty strictly today, so I don't really know what I did to deserve that one either.

A very smart commenter on my last blog post mentioned that perhaps my GI symptoms came on as a result of the new migraine medication. I thought this might be it, but then I remembered that these symptoms actually started several weeks before I started the medication. Also, the pain seems to be very reactive to particular foods, with the exception of tonight.

In addition, my POTS has been particularly troublesome today. Lots of dizzy spells, head rushes, feeling easily out of breath, and chills.

I haven't been sleeping well, which doesn't help with these symptoms. I have a lot of trouble getting comfortable at night. Then, when I fall asleep with pillows carefully arranged to support my body, I inevitably move into a painful position with strain on at least one of my joints while I sleep.

I think I'll go to bed early tonight, although that could make me more restless during the night.

As always, my health is very full of ups and downs, and I can recognize that this is just a down time. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with while I'm in it.

It's hard to keep working each day and put on a cheerful smile when I'm feeling so low. I finish one day of work but immediately start dreading the next.

And yes, I'm considering seeing my psychiatrist, but I will try to give it a little longer...or I may call him tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Health in Flux

Everything seems to be constantly in flux. I have one health crisis after another...often several at a time. Here's what I've been dealing with lately:

-Frequent, chronic migraines. I'm seeing a headache clinic for this and experimenting with new medications. No more Topamax (i.e. Dopamax--makes you tired and dumb). Trying Lamictal for prevention and experimenting with Relpax and Tramadol for breakthrough migraines. I'm also in physical therapy. The PT involves a technique called dry needling. I've been very interested in trying this treatment, but it can take some time to work, so I'm being patient. The visits are a bit painful, as a small needle is worked deep through my muscle contractures. But it's nothing I can't handle. About a 5 out of 10, I would say.

-Severe GI problems. I've had some severe abdominal cramping and bloating. I've had to return to the "Eating for IBS" diet, along with a new one called the FODMAP diet. My symptoms are much better with restricted eating, but I'm sure this diet isn't great for my cholesterol, because it involves a lot of simple carbs and very little fruits and vegetables. Hopefully, this will be temporary. When this problem first came on, I had to be checked for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The pain in my abdomen was very severe, and I could feel my pulse like a second heartbeat in my stomach. I tested negative for this, which is good. I was also tested for Celiac Disease, which runs in my family. I tested negative for this, too, which is good. It just means that I need to manage these symptoms with diet and supplements, because the doctors don't know how to help me without more of a diagnosis.

-EDS pain. My joints hurt, more often, and more severely than usual. In particular, my knees, hips, and shoulders are the most painful. There's not much to do for this. I do wear knee braces when needed to help hold things together. There's usually no actual joint injury. Just joint pain due to the joint being too loose.

-Fatigue. This has been in flux. Some days, I thought I was doing a lot better, but I seem to have come back down. So, no real progress for this. My only treatment is caffeine pills, cause Provigil is too expensive. It also seemed to stop working after a while.

-Muscle fatigue. This is a new one. Due to EDS, my muscles get sore very easily. Unfortunately, the day after using a muscle, I'm experiencing muscle fatigue, where the muscle stops working. Nothing to do for this except rest. Most often this is in my hands or forearms. At times, I drop things frequently as my muscle gives out. I can't seem to crochet anymore due to how quickly the muscle becomes fatigued.

-Sleep. I'm always tired. But I'm having trouble sleeping through the night. My sleep is often restless with multiple wake-ups. I need extra sleep since the quality of sleep is poor. I would do well with an afternoon nap, but my current lifestyle doesn't allow it.

-Mood. As always, with many health problems waxing and waning, my mood seems unstable lately. I just have days when it all seems impossible and pointless. I just feel so hopeless. It doesn't seem right, since I've been able to make so much progress in the last few years (no wheelchair, much less time in bed, starting to work a few hours a week...). But it's all so hard. Every day is so hard. It's an ongoing problem for me. Every day is such a challenge, that I just get discouraged. I know that life will never come easily to me. Some things get better; some get worse. So unpredictable. But at the same time, it feels so much the same. Always fighting some new symptom, or returning symptom. Always trying to pull myself through another day. Trying to smile enough to not be completely unpleasant to be around. Trying not to cry about it too often. I do have supportive people in my life. But if I lean on them all the time, it wears on them a lot.

-Coping. Other than that, it's just dealing with life. Cooking. Housework. Part time work. Loneliness. Trying to keep it all together. It's so overwhelming at times. And it's hard to keep up the appearance of being healthy, happy, and normal, when everything seems to be falling apart.

That's the update. Thanks for listening.