My Latest Health Challenges

Twenty-five years ago I couldn’t believe I was hearing the things I heard women discuss in the beauty shop right there in front of God and strangers and everybody. They discussed their bladders like they were discussing their hair, which is what I thought we were all there for. Well, all I’m going to say about mine is that it gets to go to a urologist and the antibiotic I had to take a few months ago and a couple of times since has caused some problems.

We have discovered that I’ve had Candida over-growth for years and I didn’t know that; I’d never mentioned the symptoms I was having to a doctor. We also didn’t know I was gluten intolerant until last fall when I went to a new doctor. A couple of months after coming off gluten I was really beginning to feel great. A month later I had an amazing energy level. I went from wondering how on earth people got up out of bed and went to work every day, to just about going into orbit over the joy of how good I felt and how I could do so much more and do it with energy. I won’t discuss the private stuff, but my hair (the thing I thought we were in the beauty shop for and which had thinned considerably over the past few years because of gluten intolerance interfering with absorption of nutrients) started growing back. I even have hair on my legs again; I thought it was gone because of age. I guess I’m not as old as I felt. Or, maybe getting old isn’t supposed to take one’s energy away? God willing, I expect I’ll find that out one day.

At this point, with my newly unscrambled brain, I went to the doctor about these other symptoms. They were mild at the time. In checking things out it was discovered that I had a bladder problem and had to take the antibiotic – the one that started this mess. After two days of the medicine, my belly bloated back up again like it used to be and the real trouble began. Oh, and yes, I was taking a probiotic , so who knows how bad it would have been otherwise?

In the meantime, we tried a variety of medications to clear up the Candida. Nothing was working; it only helped until I came to the end of the prescription, then my nurse practitioner would try something else. I was also taking supplements that I showed to her and had her approval. There is some good stuff out there for this, but I don’t want to take things like that without medical advice from someone with a degree. There are a variety of yeast (Candida) diets out there and I picked a pretty strict one to follow, again letting my nurse practitioner know what I was doing.

I’m not sure how long I was on the diet before I noticed an acidic smell that I’d never smelled before and it was coming from me. I thought it was because of one of the supplements and I quit taking it. I should have gone to my NP and told her and let her decide what it might be. I guess it’s hard to think straight when you’re hungry. I’d been on the diet for a month and when I started adding foods back, I kinda’ went nuts on biscuits and other carbs. I needed some energy! I had no stamina. I quit the supplement and added back carbs at the same time and didn’t know what I know now.

What I know now is that the smell was not from the supplements. It was from going on such a low carb diet. My body was going after muscle after it ate up all the fat I had. When I dropped under 100 pounds I sort of freaked out. I didn’t eat biscuits all day, but I sure have been eating and eating and trying not to spend too many of those calories.

I talked to my NP yesterday about the bladder problem and the yeast problem. That is how I get to go to a urologist and also, (YEA!) a nutritionist so we can build me back up. Most likely the yeast has messed up my intestines so much that I’m not absorbing enough of what I’m eating and that is why my hair is falling out again. A nutritionist can help me get the balance right so the Candida can starve instead of me starving, and also get me on the right supplements to build my muscles back up. I want to be buff.

So why, if I’m so private that I won’t discuss this in a beauty shop, am I writing about it here? Well, I’m not telling you details, am I? Nope. Not this shy violet. I’m telling you enough so that you will know that if you think you may have a gluten problem, don’t wait too long to get it checked out. Yeast over-growth is common with folks who are gluten intolerant. The other thing I want you to know is that if you are trying to treat a yeast problem, or gluten either for that matter, don’t try to doctor yourself. Even though there is a lot of info and there are a variety of products to help, it really does take medical supervision. You can see from what I’ve written how dicey this can be, and I’ve had supervision. And don’t pay too much attention to what you hear in the beauty shop.

Just a note about the supplement: Early last month, I emailed the company and asked if anyone had ever reported such a problem and they said they had never heard of it. I started taking it again and the only times I’ve smelled the smell is when I’ve dropped too low on carbs. Oh, and I’ve gained back a couple of pounds the past few weeks, so I’m over 100 now.

ADDENDUM: I’ve been reminded if you are gluten intolerant, you can’t eat it for decades and have everything be OK in a week;  it can take 3-5 years for gluten damage to heal. I’ve also read that sometimes, it doesn’t completely heal. Whether the problem is gluten damage or Candida damage or both, or whatever, I’m sure looking forward to getting well.

SECOND ADDENDUM: It was discovered that I had been eating almonds and almond butter that were “processed in a facility that also processes wheat.” This is why my hair was falling out again; it wasn’t caused from yeast damage. Once I quit eating those things and started watching labels for things processed near wheat and eliminating those things, my hair started growing back. I now have hair that is three different lengths because of gluten problems. Also, my hormones have been corrected, along with DHEA and I’m gaining weight back. Please do see a doctor if you are having similar problems. If you get one that doesn’t listen to you, or tells you that your tests are clear and you don’t have a gluten problem, then maybe they don’t understand non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. I’ve heard that some don’t, so find one who does and get some help.

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To the Point of Tears

“Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville…”  That song has been popping into my head off and on for days now. It’s not a broken heart problem, and I can’t have a Margarita, but I’ve got the “wastin’ away” part down pretty good.

Last night I was watching Survivor and noticed how skinny the contestants are lately. I’ve been dropping weight for months. First, I lost a few pounds before having to go gluten-free, then lost more afterwards, and I’ve lost one more in the past couple of weeks after having to make some other temporary dietary changes in an effort to deal with a temporary situation. When I saw the contestants’ bones sticking out, I thought that at least I’m not that skinny.

Later in the evening I checked my back with a mirror. Uh, oh. My spine and my shoulder blades are becoming prominent. So are muscles, not because I’m so strong, but because there is no fat to go between the muscles and the skin and the bones. I decided I look like the Survivor contestants looked last week. It’s kind of scary to see that and think of how my blood pressure has also dropped. I need to look up normal blood pressure for a 12-year-old. That’s probably what mine is right now.

Last week is when this really started to bother me. I was in the grocery store in the produce section, of course, piling veggies into my buggy. I felt like someone was staring at me. I glanced over in the direction of an elderly lady who appeared to be concerned. I imagined that she was thinking, “Why is that woman so skinny? It’s not nice to stare. Is that all she eats? I shouldn’t be staring. What is wrong with her? OK…quit looking at her.”  I’ve never had anyone do that and it really made me feel self-conscious.

I’ve already gone out and bought smaller jeans and slacks. My others were about to slide off. I thought I’d be Grandma with her pants on the ground on the  grocery store parking lot if I didn’t do something. So, I went one size smaller. That was about a month ago and now those jeans are too big.

The day I bought the jeans I also tried on a pair of slacks. I told my friend if I gain one pound these pants won’t fit, so I didn’t get them. I’ve lost a few pounds since that day, so I went back to the store and the pants were still there. I got them. They are a bit loose on me now, but I got them. A friend told me that her mom, who is gluten-intolerant, went from a size 6 to a 0, then up to a size 2. If I come in at a 2 when the dust settles here, I’ll be happy. The pants I just bought may not fit any more, but that will be fine with me.

This morning I was telling my husband my observations about how I stack up against the Survivor contestants’ skin and bones and I started crying a bit. He was surprised by that. It’s not something that I do very often. I don’t think he’ll tell me I look like a starving person in a third-world country any more. He did ask why I’m losing weight and he’s not and he eats pretty much the same things I do. I told him, “Beer and pretzels.” Plus, other things he can eat that I can’t like bread and cheese, but I had to pick at him a little bit.

I have to say, because I’m trying really hard to be thankful always, that we are both glad I feel good. I have lots of energy and it lasts all the way through the day and on into the evening. It’s so nice not to be dragging a protesting body through life any more. I reckon I’ll get used to being skinny. When I was 12, I was this size and my friends called me “Twiggy.” I guess I’ll be thankful and start thinking groovy thoughts and all will be well.

ADDENDUM, April 27, 2012: If you are considering going gluten-free as a weight loss plan, I wouldn’t recommend it. My weight loss started before I came off gluten. My nurse practitioner said what is happening with my body getting skinny is a result of the changes to the body caused from intolerance. I eat like a Hobbit. (That means I stop often to eat a small meal no matter what I’m doing.) It’s not caused from my diet.

When a person quits eating gluten, it’s not a matter of just buying processed gluten-free products to take the place of processed foods that have gluten in them. After all, Coco Puffs are gluten-free. Fresh and frozen foods are the best bet to get the most nutrition from what you eat. Getting proper nutrition can help with weight loss. So, as they say, shop the perimeter of the store and go to the middle for dried beans and grains.