mamagotcha: (otter)
[personal profile] mamagotcha

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!
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