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Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Certain Frustration

I’m a little frustrated right now.

I don’t think I ever posted about my last trip to the knee doctor.  Before my vacation, I went to both my knee doctor and my pain doctor.  Firstly, I wanted to get injections in my knees to help them feel as good as possible for the trip to NYC, since I knew there would be a lot of walking.  Secondly, I wanted to ask my pain doctor to put me on a round of steroids for the same reason, which he did.

It had been a while since I had been to the knee doctor for my knees (he also treats my shoulders – which have pretty much gotten well, by the way).  He wanted to do new x-rays.  Below is the x-ray of my left knee.  He said, obviously that was why my knee was hurting and that I need a knee replacement.  Whenever I want to do it, but I need one.  (I don’t plan to do it anytime soon.)  My right knee hurts from radiating pain (sciatica) and also a little arthritis.  So I had injections in both knees and it helped immensely.  My vacation would not have been nearly as enjoyable without the help from the steroids.

A week or so after I got back, the radiating pain started to come back with a vengeance.  It travels down my right leg and the place it hurts the most is my right knee (exactly in the same place where my left knee hurts, but for a different reason).  Now the radiating pain is starting to go down to the back of my calf and sometimes all the way to my foot.  I assumed I was having a flare-up from all the walking on vacation.  I still hope that is the case, but it seems to be getting worse instead of better.  It feels like the progression before I had back surgery last year.

Incidentally, last year (actually December 2013) I asked the doctor to put me on a round of steroids to help me get through my move.  It helped a lot, but I am quite sure I did much more lifting than I should have because of it and it was downhill from there and that led to my back surgery in February 2014 (although I would have gotten there eventually anyway).  So maybe taking a steroid to help you do something you couldn't otherwise do is not such a great idea (although I don’t regret it this time, in one way, because of my vacation).

The sciatic pain was so bad yesterday when I got up that I could barely walk to the bathroom.  I stayed home and iced my back and my knee and stayed off of it (although not completely sedentary because they tell you not to do that).  I have slept in the recliner the 2 nights before that.  It is still not quite as bad as it got in 2014 (but I surely don’t want it to get that bad).  At least I am able to sleep and I don’t have the electric shock kind of pain that often brought me to tears.  (But I fear it is coming, if this does not let up.)  I wish I could go get another knee injection, but I can only do that every 3 months.  Still have over a month to go.  The sad part is, the knee that needs the knee replacement is carrying the brunt of the load right now, since the radiating pain hurts a lot worse.  That can’t be good for it.  I take stairs one at a time, stepping up with the left leg, the one needs the knee replacement.  If things do not turn around soon, I think I will be headed to the same kind of surgery as last year, this time on the right side.  (Why they did not do both sides then, I don’t know.  My MRI showed severe “pinching” of the nerve on the left side and moderate on the right.  But they said when they got in there, impingement was much worse than they thought, so that was probably true on the right side too.

Here is the big part of my frustration.  I was so excited after reading Wheat Belly and Grain Brain (still getting through that one), and after getting wheat out of my diet, my headaches are all but gone!  That is exciting!  But now I have this to deal with again.  I JUST WANT TO FEEL BETTER.  I want to be normal – able to walk my dog, do some reasonable exercise, etc., and get out and enjoy being with people.

I know there are still improvements to be made the longer I am wheat-free.  Inflammation should decrease and weight loss will help.  I got a little free booklet from the author of Wheat Belly about helping the process along after getting wheat out of your diet.  This quote explains a little:

"Remove the destructive effects of wheat, and the body needs to readjust. It needs to transition to this new wheat-free lifestyle, to heal the wounds caused by years of consuming something so disruptive to gastrointestinal, metabolic, and hormonal health – it may not occur immediately and may require some additional efforts to get underway.”

He recommends five supplements, which I have ordered (and one I will pick up at Costco as soon as I get a chance to go):  A probiotic, Vitamin D3, an Omega 3 supplement, Magnesium Malate, and Iodine.  He has certain requirements for each, so I can’t just go to Wal-Mart and get most of them.  And I was looking for the least expensive way to get them.  I received 2 in the mail today and have gotten started on them.  Incidentally, he does not sell or make money from the supplements, so that is not a gimmick.  And most are widely known as being beneficial.  You only have to take the probiotic for 4-8 weeks, to rebuild beneficial flora wheat has destroyed.

I have not even weighed in a while.  Weight loss has not been at the forefront of my thoughts lately – feeling better has.  I do know I have been kind of puffy, so I don’t think the weight would be accurate and I don’t want to discourage myself.  The supplements should help with all this.  I am still healing.

I had begun to try to get off drinking SF Monsters, but decided to put that on hold.  There is another part of my diet that needs more work right now and that is that I am eating too many sweets, even if made in a healthy way.  I have to get that under control and I don’t want to try to do too much at one time.  I am just requiring myself to drink all the water I am “supposed” to, even if I do have a Monster here and there.  I know they are bad for you and I will get off of them, but I think the sweets thing needs more attention right now, especially to move weight loss efforts along.  My carbs need to stay pretty low for weight loss.

I am also working on getting more vegetables in.  I will probably be eating a lot of main dish salads (although I don’t want to wear myself out on them).  But it is an easy way to get plenty of veggies in with protein and healthy fats.  Also, with my mobility being so challenged right now, if I can have some things pre-prepared, that makes for easy meals where I don’t have to be on my feet so much every day, cooking and then cleaning up.  I think those two things will help weight loss along, along with the supplements helping my body release the fat as it should.  I can tell some difference in my clothes, so I know I am making some progress.  I just want to stay away from the scale right now.

Guess I will close now and get this posted.  I keep writing posts and not getting them posted.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Withdrawal Struggles

It's been kind of a rough weekend.  I just haven't felt that well.  I have had 3 days off of Monsters, began to get a headache last night, but held off drinking one, but had a pretty bad headache not long after I got up this morning.  I finally decided to drink one (sometimes you have to wean rather than go totally cold turkey).  I got another moderate headache this evening and then got to thinking, maybe it wasn't caffeine after all; maybe it was my "old" headaches coming back.  I had some dinner (such as it was, but on plan) and it went away.

My sciatic nerve on the right leg has still been pretty flared up, although it seemed a little better today.  Not enough to get out and do anything, though.  There was one point where I just wanted to have a good cry.  Not because it was that severe; I was just frustrated.

It started to bring thoughts:  "I felt so good when I first started doing this; why am I not feeling so good now?"  "This isn't working; I should be better by now."  Etc., etc.  However, from what I read, the way I am feeling is quite typical.  You have withdrawal symptoms, some people more than others.  You also have withdrawal from caffeine, some people more than others.  It all depends on how the wheat was affecting you personally and how long problems have been building.  Caffeine withdrawal can also depend on how much you have been ingesting each day.  In my case, I have been drinking 2 a day, sipping on them my whole work day, for quite a while.  So it makes sense that it might take a few days to get through withdrawal.  I guess the same thing holds true with wheat withdrawal. The one area I continue to have continued relief is the headaches.  Except for the last 2 days (and I am quite sure it was caffeine), I have had almost no headaches.  And when I do, they are light and don't last long.  Usually when I eat something (the right thing), they go away.

So, even though I had fleeting thoughts that this isn't working, and some of the symptoms I am going through are not very pleasant, I know I am on the right track and just the relief from headaches is worth it all.  But I do hope I begin to have less all-over aches and pains, my increased energy returns, and even though it may not be related, I hope this flare-up of sciatica lets up so I feel like getting out and doing more.

I'm writing this because if anyone reads my blog and decides they want to try what I am doing, I want them to know that there is some difficulty and discomfort involved when you get going with this.

Funny, the one thing I have had little of is craving for wheat.  I had a big sugar craving yesterday, and made it through without doing what I was tempted to do, but it was strong.  I am still doing some more tweaking on my eating -- for maximum weight loss and logging how things affect my blood sugar.  I have decided that my sweets, for now, need to be fruit-based.  Either pure fruit or fruit with some whipped cream.  Let me qualify that by saying that I don't intend to make eating sweets (the kind I have been hooked on my whole life) a part of my diet in the future.  Maybe once in a blue moon, but there are healthy sweets I can make; I made some ice cream using pure maple syrup and it was delicious, but I need to have that under more controlled circumstances.  I went overboard with it.  I need to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, breakfast lunch and dinner.  All of this requires a lot of preparation, cooking and, consequently, cleaning up.  That is where a lot of my time is going.