Saturday, February 29, 2020

Trending up...

Our weather's warming again.  It's kind of early, but not by a lot, and I don't mind that much.  Last year was...really late. 

One thing it's not is dry.  Not even trending dry.  Maybe a little dryer than last year, but that's because it's not been raining absolute buckets every time it rains. 

(Local farmers might want to look into planting rice in low-lying river bottom fields...they're wet enough for it!)

This bodes ill for the Corona virus mess.  Typically, Americans get sick in the wintertime.  We're crammed together indoors, getting less sun (i.e. vitamin D--the immune system booster), and many are further compromised by other illnesses (colds) or depression.* 

That said, spring is on the way; amounts of sunshine are climbing, and people are starting to come outside and clean up their yards from winter dropping dead branches all over the place while it was too cold to go pick them all up.  And people are spending less time going out and shoe-horning into stores or movie theaters because they're bored, and it's too cold to go out and do what they'd rather be doing (whatever that is, from sports, to just sitting out in the sun with a good book). 

To be honest, I wasn't that concerned about it to start with, for several reasons.  Yeah, a few thousand people in China have died from it...out of more than a billion people total (I think China's estimated population is 1.7 billion). 

And it's...China.  Their sanitation is...lacking.  And they don't bother washing their hands (not sure if they're provided soap and paper towels in public restrooms, even.  Or toilet paper.).  And they don't give a rat's ass about air quality.  And the majority of them smoke like chimneys.  And they cram themselves together like cattle, even when they're not in public transit.** 

Americans are...different.  We're germ-phobes to the point that the rest of the world mocks us.  We don't like being around people with body odor, because we assume (rightly or wrongly) that they're dirty, and further assume that that could affect our own health.  We don't like being crammed in tight with people, don't like others breathing on us.  We have the largest personal space bubble in the world...and this virus is spread through coughing on each other, sneezing on each other, and wiping germ-y hands on each other.  Which we just...don't do, once we're out of Kindergarten. 

But, as the weather trends warmer, days lengthen, and flu season ends, I think the risks of the current panic du jour will mitigate, fade, and eventually disappear, just like bird flu, swine flu, ebola fears, zika, and all the other virus panics did.  

*Depression--whether seasonal affective or chronic--buggers your immune system all to hell, at about the same level it's doing your emotional state and brain chemistry.  

**The Chinese do not share America's preference for a large personal space bubble.  I don't think there's another country in the world that has as large of a demanded social buffer between individuals.  

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hey, neat!

So, the doc's been concerned about my blood pressure enough to prescribe two different things, now.  Neither worked well (as in, there was maybe a 5 pt bp drop, maximum--when I needed a 20 pt drop), and both had...side effects.  The first one was a diuretic, and pushed my already-low blood sodium into concerning ranges, even with me increasing my salt intake.  The second was a calcium channel blocker that caused a headache that acted like a migraine, but didn't respond to any of my usual anti-migraine tricks until the bp med wore off. 

I got the celery seed extract in the mail last Friday, and started taking it Sunday after I started feeling better--75mg 2x per day.  I researched it hard, looking at side effects (none listed), and drug interactions (interacts with levothyroxine by reducing what the body can absorb/use, but everything does, so I take it no closer than 4 hours after I take my thyroid meds). 

And my blood pressure did what I wanted it to.  It went down.  Significantly.  I had a follow-up doctor's appointment on Tuesday, and my blood pressure was smack-dab in the normal range.  Even with the frustration of having to have the appointment in the first place--I'd been called back because the doc hadn't paid attention to my chart and/or forgot and/or missed something.  And then the doc didn't bother to show at the appointment.  The NP that showed up to deal with me forty minutes into the appointment was quite nice, and I don't have to go back. 

So far, I'm not noticing any side effects.  Not even the threatened muscle cramps that the diuretic caused. 

I'm also back to taking the turmeric/curcumin (500 mg 3x per day for the rest of the week) and fish oil (1x per day--really high levels of DHA/ARA per capsule, and also includes 2000 IU of D3).  Standard, daily pain levels caused by inflammation are tolerable, at this point.  I can close my hands all the way, instead of having the joints where my index (and now middle) finger meets my palm freeze up.  My major, weight bearing joints are working better, too, and putting up with my yoga routine well enough that I was able to double my reps (2 reps of 12 flowing poses, 2x per day).  My joints feel a lot more stable, and hurt less.  And my energy levels aren't particularly impacted by the yoga. 

My balance is still off, but I'm still congested from last week's bout with the flu.  And it always hits me in the ears, really bad.  As in, my ears are so congested that my hearing is affected, and my balance is just...wonky, at best. 

Funny thing...I'd been trying to achieve several things for several years--lower pain levels, higher energy levels, feeling human.  I'd tried generic levothyroixine, Tirosint (which worked a lot better than the cheap tablets), Aleve, aspirin, Anacin (worked better, but could only take it in the mornings), Meloxicam (worked wonders, but couldn't take it often).  None of the above really helped significantly, or for as long as they should have.  Like they do for most people.

Currently, I'm taking NP Thyroid (desiccated porcine thyroid gland), turmeric/curcumin, fish oil, and now celery seed extract...and things are starting to turn around.  All of these things are fully natural, and unlike the pharmaceuticals listed above, they're working. 

My body is seriously weird. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Feeling flattened

I'm pretty sure that the flu has marched through our house with great big, stompy feet.  First the imp (as I said--but he recovered really damn quick), then Odyssues (he took longer, and still isn't feeling fully recovered), then me.  And wow, did it kick my ass.  No, I'm still not recovered, but I am better. 

Odysseus went to work all week last week.  I...couldn't really get out of bed after Tuesday.  And I fought a holding action against the mess, trying to let the fever do its thing, without letting it go too high (as in: trying to avoid taking Tylenol unless it went over 104.5...which it did a couple times).  And the imp's broke in about 3 days...Odysseus's took about 3.5 days.  Mine hit Monday, and it didn't break until yesterday (Saturday) morning, early.  And kept going higher than either of theirs did. 

I do feel better.  I don't feel like my entire body's been sandblasted anymore.  Nor do I feel like somebody took a baseball bat to my back from shoulders to hips.  No, now, I just feel like a cooked noodle: utterly limp and weak and shaky. 

But I am over it, and on the bright side, it took 8 lbs off of me. 

I'm glad it's done.  I've just got to focus, now, on getting back into working order.  Because I've got stuff to do this week, starting with paying enrollment fees to the kids' school and paying into their lunch accounts, continuing on through a followup with the idiot cardiologist that forgot or missed something in my chart on Tuesday, and finishing up with trying to get caught back up with the house for the rest of the week.  There's not as much as there could be--the pixie spent Friday bored and cleaning her room and the kitchen. 

I'll get there. 

I did get some confirmation of a few things last week: I couldn't take the things I'd been taking in place of NSAIDs--the turmeric, and the fish oil caplets--because the flu came with sinus drainage-induced queasiness.  Before that, I'd noticed that I'd been moving easier, and that my pain levels had dropped in the week I'd been taking them.  Well, I had to go back on them yesterday because my resting pain levels had climbed again.  Yes, the difference was noticeable--I'd gone from a 4-5 in resting pain levels down to a 3 or so, and I was able to close my hands all the way, even on bad days.  I'm back to a 4-5 without them for less than a week. 

I also found, last Monday, that I can't take the second blood pressure med the doc tried putting me on.  It gave me a nasty headache that acted like a migraine in some respects, but that none of my tactics for reducing migraine pain worked for.  NOTHING helped. 

So I did some further research, and found out that celery seed extract might--might--do some good as a hypertension remedy.  But that it also will help with some of my other issues--the inflammation, for one, and some that the oral contraceptives had been handling for me for the major thing--so I ordered some.  We'll see if it does anything for me.  I can already tell that I'm not having any side effects from it. 

But yeah.  Right now, I'm trying to not worry about it.  I may be up and in the living room for the first time since Tuesday, but I'm still feeling beat flat.  Recovery is, I can tell, going to be slow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Oh...ffs, can't I catch a break?

Last week.  Monday.  The imp came home from school, and crawled in my lap--which is unusual for him.  I noted he was warm, and grabbed the thermometer to check.  Sure enough, he had a fever.  And complained about being achy.  He was quiet all day Tuesday, and was feeling a little better Wednesday.  Thursday, the fever came and went.  So he was out of school all week last week.  I'm thankful that a couple of those days were snow days. 

Thursday, Odysseus caught it.  And was bad enough he called in sick Friday, and didn't really get out of bed at all.  Nor Saturday, much.  Sunday was better, but still not good.  He was able to go back to work Monday.

I started coming down with it Monday.  And it was really bad yesterday, and has been worse today. 

And this is following on the heels of a ME/CFS attack. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


The blood pressure 'scrip raised my cholesterol.  And dropped my sodium levels from barely below normal to reason for concern, despite me eating more sodium. 

So.  That's that.  I'm off of that one.  I've got the rest of the month before I go see the doctor again. 

I've been doing research into cholesterol.  I'd read, like two years ago, that blood cholesterol was only barely affected by what you eat (like, 15% of your total number).  I've also read, more recently, that there isn't the link between cholesterol and heart disease that the researchers originally thought there was, and that statins are only really beneficial if one has already had a minor heart attack--they definitely do prevent another. 

The other thing I'd read is about the prevalence of side effects.  And the potential for those side effects to cause cognitive degeneration, or personality changes, or psychological problems. 

And then, I started looking into what cholesterol is, and why it might be elevated...and I think I know what's going on. 

Your body uses cholesterol as a healing building block.  Higher levels of inflammation (joints, injuries, cellular/mitochondrial issues) trigger the body into making more cholesterol to help heal the issue.  Cholesterol is also used by the brain as both nutrients, and re-building damaged/aged cells in the brain.  People with TBI would, I'd imagine, have higher cholesterol than if they didn't have a TBI. 

Guess what?  I have high levels of inflammation.  I have had high levels of inflammation (both ankles, both knees, both hips, and in some joints in both hands) for several years.  And up until Christmas, I was taking oral contraceptives (which raise both blood pressure and cholesterol), and a ton of anti-inflammatory drugs.  Since Christmas, I've dropped the artificial estrogen, and dropped the aspirin (GERD--caused by too much of it). 

I am seriously irritated with the medical profession, at the moment.  They're freaking out over the symptom without a thought wasted toward looking for the cause (chronic systemic inflammation), much less treating it. 

So, like with the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...I'm looking into what I can do to treat it.  Hopefully without exacerbating the GERD. 

So far, it looks like my options are NSAIDS (not so good--remember the GERD), an anti-inflammatory diet (already on what works for me), losing weight (trying--should be easier without the birth control, since it put fifteen pounds on me just by itself), and exercise (that one's really tough with the ME/CFS).  Or turmeric, but the jury (read: FDA) is out on whether that actually works or not. 

My experience says it does, and research says it could help with GERD healing.  So, I've started in on turmeric/curcumin at 1500 mg/day for a week to build it up in my system, then backing off to 500 mg/day.  I do know that it does make it easier to move--as in, my joints aren't so stiff--when I have it built up.  Whether that means it's actually working as well as an NSAID I can't say.  The NSAIDS never increased joint flexibility for me, just reduced my pain levels from almost-unbearable to manageable. 

I tried adding more legumes to my diet, but that really didn't work for me--made the ME/CFS brain fog and exhaustion flares worse, and made the daily joint pain worse.  Also added gut pain to the equation.  So, I've backed from 3 servings a week to 1-2.  I know from experience that whole grains do that to me, too.  I also tried adding oatmeal to my morning routine, but according to my blood work, that was also a no-go: it took my blood sugar from the normal range into the pre-diabetic range. 

I tried going for easy walks (shopping) more than once a week.  That triggers ME/CFS flares badly enough I can't get anything else done, so that's yet another no-go.  

I have also started doing yoga again, for 5 minutes, 2x per day.  My right knee, in particular, doesn't like one of the poses I use, and my hands don't like two of them; however, it's just pain, not increasing damage, so I'm ignoring it.  It isn't triggering ME/CFS flares, so I'm cautiously hopeful that it won't if I'm careful.  It should build muscle mass which should help burn fat mass and help both support the lower inflamed joints and reduce pressure on them. 

Hopefully, what I'm doing that's working for me will help reduce the inflammation...and the cholesterol, which the doctor is really panicking over, even if I think she shouldn't.  Hopefully, it will eventually reduce pain levels, and maybe even my blood pressure with it.