Monday, August 27, 2012

Leaky Gut Syndrome

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor.  What I am typing is my understanding of my own health based on what I have learned though others.
Even though I've had a poor evening and morning, my day has majorly turned around and I feel the most positive I have in a long while.

I saw my new Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Dr. Tricia Paulson, ND of Osceola Naturopathic Clinic this morning.  What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the body has a phenomenal ability to heal itself when placed in the right environment. Naturopathic practitioners therefore do not treat disease or symptoms, but treat the individual.Everyone has their own unique combination of underlying contributors that has caused their now symptoms or disease. Once the root cause is discovered and treated the body can return to health.Naturopathic treatment includes 4 main modalities:
  • 1. Diet and nutrition (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients)
  • 2. Exercise and physical modalities
  • 3. Botanical medicine
  • 4. Homeopathy
With the use of any combination of these modalities, comprehensive treatment plans are designed that blend the best of modern medical science and traditional natural medical approaches to restore health.
I learned a lot about my health and how to treat it during this morning's appointment.  The doctor is concerned about my adrenal system, so I am taking some new steps to support it (supplements along with working on my sleep and diet - poor Calvin crying more is so hard to take but I have to prioritize myself right now, I hope he will forgive me ;)  *taking NeuroScience Calm PRT and TravaCore

Next, I am also focusing/working specifically on my digestion.  So, I learned that when one takes magnesium for constipation (sorry, it is gross) it should be citrate, NOT oxide.  Well, I got home and all my mag supplements are oxide, even a brand I was surprised by (not surprised with the bottle I bought at Target).  AND, if it is with calcium, it needs to be a 2:1 ratio of mag to cal.  Okay, next?  I am continuing to take Betaine HCL.  This I started in June and it was helping, then not so much.  Well, I hate to say it, but the doctor confirmed with me, the brand might be a problem.  NOW brand products...So I switch to Metagenics as well.  Country Life has been okay and I did also like Integrative Theraputics (the brand that had the mag oxide that was surprising...).

I will be upping my Recolonize 1 (probiotic of choice for now) to 2 per day, vs 1.  I will continue with some of my other regular supplements and adding a new one called R 192 along with one by Metagenics: Endefen.

As far as Leaky Gut Syndrome, what that is is basically the tissue of my stomach, that is typically made up of plump cells pushed together tightly, like grapes, are more like raisins (i.e. not pushed together tightly).   Either way, when foods are digested some molecules will seep through, into our bloodstream.  Normally, if the molecules are tiny enough to seep through a healthy lining our immune system is not spiked in to action because it is so so small.  However, if there are larger gaps due to the large gaps caused by grapes shriveling up into raisins, then larger molecules seep through into your blood stream and your immune system does not like that.  Then we have reactions at any level (skin, bowels, emotion/brain, etc)   This happens because of things such as parasites (not the concern at this point), antibiotics, and candida yeast overgrowth, to name a few (poor diet has got to be a contributor).  Looking at my HGg food sensitivity test last year, along with a long list of symptoms and illnesses, Dr. Paulson has little doubt I have a candida yeast overgrowth and a leaky gut.

To get my gut repaired I will be on a 3-4 month program that includes this level 1 with the supplements AND a candida free diet (tough!) plus antimicrobial treatments in 16 days from now.  Calvin will be weaned by then.  He cannot be nursing.

The antimicrobials will destroy the cells of the yeast, releasing toxins into my system to be cleared.  They like fat and would go to breast milk.  I am sad about this in many ways.  However, I am at a point in the road that I have to decide to take care of myself or suffer.  My choice is pretty clear to me.  I can do this!

The doctor said my anxiety and stress along with memory loss (it has been bad) and some other symptoms (including ear ringing for the past 4 months) can be attributed to my poor stomach.  My poor stomach dates back to before I have memories.

I have a sulfa drug allergy and she said that right away after reading that she suspected Leaky Gut.  That, coupled with many ear infections and strep treated with antibiotics and symptoms such as major acne and anxiety are signs that point her to this as being my problem right now!  I am grateful it is not too serious at this point (I don't think anyway) and that I can treat it in a natural, healthy way.  Who knows, maybe life won't feel so overwhelming once December rolls around.

Large Stressor

If you ask me, there's more than one Large or Small Dipper.  On a night this bright it's pretty darn obvious.  Sure, maybe they don't spill in to one another, but that's not exactly the point is it?

I'm not sure I've ever seen stars so bright.  Truth is, usually I'm sleeping as I should be right now.  But my anxiety is through the roof!  I may as well lay outside under open skies.

Turns out I've totally and completely minimized my stress level.  'Duh' you may say.  It's always easier to see things when you're not the one covered in the slime that coats your own life.

I hate to sound so dramatic.  Like drama is all it is.  That's the problem.  I've minimized it all cuz it sounds like a crap load of drama.  But the way my health is crashing in on me, like a shooting star, or maybe meteorite, it is hard to ignore.

After some events that have lead me to believe stress could be the only cause of my stomach issues, I looked up 'stress' in the A-Z medical guide that resides on the shelf among a dozen or so other books kept after Joe's nutrition master's.  I honestly did not expect there to be a section specifically edited out for me.

I was almost laughing inside, thinking "yeah, I'll just look up 'stress'".  Sure shit, there it was.  One paragraph in and my fears were only solidified.

Stress of course can develop from the physical state as well as mental and emotional.  Well, what if a person were to have them all?  I guess disease would set it.  Adrenal and nervous systems kick in or shut down.  Fight or flight, really.  My body has been so stressed it's doing both.

My adrenaline is the only thing that got me through last fall, winter, spring.  Hell, it's been what has been surging through me since that damn ultrasound 2.5 years ago.  Who goes in for an ultrasound and hears their baby's heart is severely compromised and just goes on functioning like they did pre-children?  Then, top that off with "your son has Down syndrome".   I felt the death of a child and a crashing halt in the life I imagined 20 years down the line.

Again, I've minimized it.  Yeah, it's manageable and maybe I've made it look easy.  Stressing over getting your child to eat is not easy.  Having weeks of hospital stays 1 hour away is not easy.  Feeling the pressure to do EVERYTHING you can for your child is not easy.  Wondering if every cold will turn in to pneumonia is not easy.  Getting up multiple times a night for 2 years is not easy.

I'm not sure what to do.  What I do know is that my stomach was at its best last week when I was bound to a cabin with relatives and no internet or phone service or list of 'to-dos'.   Literally hours after stepping foot in my home my stomach was large and in great discomfort and has been since.  And, I can't sleep.

I start work on Wednesday.  I know why I'm stressed.  I sit and pray.  I love my job but I don't love my stress level.  I want to live a healthy life.  Hopefully one fairly long.  And I'm not an idiot.  This is not getting me there.

My gallbladder screens came back normal; really is good news.  I can't seem to get the 'specialist' to feel my sense of urgency.  I am seeing another doctor tomorrow.  Well, today I guess.  She is planning on putting me through a gut repair program for the next 3-4 months.  She has worked with many people in my position.  She, along with that medical guide, can explain, scientifically, why my digestive system is going to hell in relation to the stress load.  Maybe I can write about that another time.  I'm going to either run or sleep, but at this rate I'm guessing it will be run....which stresses me out more because the sleep aspect is so important (and why we are letting Calvin cry it out 2 nights in a row now - I am up because Evan came to me asking for water).  Writing is my attempt at 5am stress relief ; *sorry if it turns anyone off.

*I am reading Jodi Picoult's House Rules.  It is completely awesome.  It is about a boy, 18, with Asperger syndrome.  If you have not read it I would highly recommend it.  Jacob, the boy, mentions in there about people like him having a hard time empathizing with other people but comments about people who overly empathize or emotionally connect and how that is debilitating as well.  It is.  I worry a lot about what other people feel and think.  That is the main reason I have a hard time quitting my job, or making many decisions for that matter.  I found that interesting and related to it.  Maybe it is disabling for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gross Motor Explosion!

Litterally as I was composing the previous post:

He has never walked with this like this!

Ah, soooo proud of all three boys working together :)

Highs Are Higher

There's a saying in this world of disabilities: The lows are lower and the highs are higher.  So so true.

I was excited when Evan and Nolan did this but with Calvin?
Proud, thrilled, hopeful, grateful...

This kid is exploding and his big brothers are truly his biggest motivators and teachers.  You see Evan showing Calvin how to stand here.  Evan has been doing that for a couple of weeks.  And it paid off!  Yay!  I think walking will be next.  Maybe by Thanksgiving?  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

10 years of marital bliss

10 years ago I married this man. 

It is hard to believe, then I think about everything we've been through and 10 years does not feel long enough.  

I said I was going to share a story, or rather analogy or our cherry blossom tree.  We received our tree on our wedding day from my now sister-in-law, Candy.  (At the time Candy was not with my brother, but this was the night they developed eyes for each other! )

Joe and I were building our home, so a tree was a thoughtful and exciting gift.  We planted it out front, with a vision of what it would look like in the future.  

Our tree was doing very well.  It would blossom faithfully every spring, like other trees of its kind.  It was small to begin with, so it was not as impressive as other, well-established trees.

It has grown.  But it nearly became compost.  We began having droughts year after year.  Then we had Evan and when he was a couple years old he was rough on our tree.  He was playing, but would hang on it, put toys in it, etc.  

Then we noticed bug/worm webs and it seemed too late.  There were not many leaves left and it did not look promising.  2 or 3 years ago I thought we were going to have to cut it down.  

But it was not ready.  It fought and remains standing.  The trunk is not necessarily pretty.  But that is its stability.  The structure by which it is supported, with one end holding the roots and the other end displaying its leaves and fruit.  

Our marriage is in many ways like our beloved tree.  We have been in places where we had bugs threatening to destroy us.  But we held strong in the trust of our trunk.  It may show the struggles we've been through, but at each end is life.  We continue to grow out our roots and enjoy the fruit of our labors.

Happy 10 years, Joe!

My Little Sweet Potato


Calvin started feeding himself sometime around May.  Horrible I did not record that, but it was just so subtle.  He learned with Veggie Straws (I highly recommend them for grasping and holding - not to mention they win with melt-in-your-mouth flavor and not-too-unhealthy snacking).  That is usually how his milestones are; something like "easy does it" or "slow and steady wins the race".  I wonder if and how he will ever get there and then a morning like this one makes a headline!
Looking back I am reminded of the evening I left the perinatologists office with a fresh needle mark in my abdomen.  I rocked in our chair in the nursery and was devastated thinking I would have a slow-to-develop child.

Now? I think "I have a child who is slower to develop" - there is a difference, just like saying "a Down syndrome baby" vs "baby with Down syndrome".

Sure, the way I think has changed, but the way I feel is what is amazing!  I truly accept the rate at which Calvin reaches his milestones.

I have been thinking a lot about what really matters in life.  What matters to me?  That is different than what matters to anyone else in this world.  It feels like I've met a soul mate when I meet people who value some of the same things as I do.
I imagine I have readers who value this slow pace the way I do.  We are bound.  We have left behind a different world and have traveled to a new one.  One that wants to photograph each and every detail before it leaves our mind.  Why?  Not because it will be fast.  No.  Simply because it is so extremely awesome and reminds us of what truly matters here on earth, in this life.  And, it is not speed.

I could not be more proud and excited for what has transpired in merely a week or two: Calvin feeding himself in a way 1) it does not require one item on his tray at a time 2) the floor is clean below-he's hitting his target-and he's not throwing it all  3) he asks for more-in his own way of pointing and 'talking' 4) there or pieces going in vs mashed.  His independence is mounting!

Monday, August 13, 2012

addition to previous post....

Another thing the dr and I discussed was my lack of sleep and nursing the past 2 years.  It does affect digestion!  So, I am also adding 5HTP to my magnesium....

Just gonna say it

It's on my mind.  No, this is not about opinions or anything.  It's about my health and the doings around here.  I am going to put it out there because I insanely feel guilty about not keeping up with this blog this summer!  I have 2 (well, 7) main reasons.

1. My health.  Since January I have been dealing with major, like, bloating.  I've never had that problem and let me tell you, I was blessed and didn't even know it!

(***Side note since I'm thinking of it: I wish I could take credit for Joe's blogpost.  Did you notice it wasn't me?  I barely did until he said my name in regards to leaving him behind for the concert in Sturgis.  He is a talented guy and I love it when he writes and reads to me.  He is way smarter than I am - which doesn't take much these days!  I figured out during this morning's swimming and running that I have been prego or nursing all but 4 months over the last 7 and 1/12 years!  It is true, you loose brain mass during those events.  Why?  Great question but I'm sure it is related to the good fats prioritizing your baby's brain over your own - what do you need it for anymore anyways?!)

Okay, back to it (and, there may be a connection to what I'm about to write to what I just said about 7 and 1/12 years).  By the time April rolled around I couldn't take it anymore.  I started asking for help.  Something I hate to do.  In a nutshell (cuz those are less time consuming and when you spend 3 hours in the past day trying to figure out your email you just don't have any more to 'waste' - nuther story I won't get to) I saw a specialist last week.  He was awesome!  I really really liked him and wish I could always have him as my general health care provider, since I can't have Dr. Tenner.

Wow I am a loose wire today!

Anywho, Dr. Hecht is his name and gastroenterology is his game.  He said my scans (ultrasound and X-ray) and those presses around my belly rule out his concern of liver cancer, gallbladder stones, and lets just say show some back up.  Again, a problem I have NEVER had!

Being the person I am, I asked 'why'?  Why am I feeling like poop, no pun intended?  Why is my digestion so slow?  And, the answer is?

He's not sure.  Duh!  I knew that was coming!

I am writing about this because I know I am not alone.  And, yes, I would probably tell most people this if they cared to listen.  I am not too open nor too closed.  Sure, it can be deemed an 'embarrassing topic' but again, I'm not alone, so I'm just saying what other people are thinking.  And, I believe when we do that we help each other.

I will tell you what has helped.  Magnesium.  A lot of it.  HCL with Betaine to help digest proteins, I have also taken digestive enzymes but I'm not sure that is the key, and not eating.  Okay, just kidding about that last one cuz I can eat with the best of them.  Seriously though, I take everything I should that you would logically think would help.  I feel as though I have a balloon that blows up in my stomach all day long.  It doesn't go anywhere and it puts a ton of pressure on my organs.  Not pleasant and actually concerning.

Dr. H has not ruled out the following: gallbladder malfunction, I am waiting on bloodwork (my 2nd round) regarding genetic link to celiac and lactose intolerance, he mentioned a biopsy of my small or large intestine (cannot remember) to look for ulcers or something (I hate being so non-informative but I took in a lot of into that hour of my life), problems with fermenting sugars and I have a whole new list of foods to avoid if that's the case, bacterial overgrowth somewhere (small/large intestine), and I cannot remember the rest.  He did mention an upper GI scope. At this point I am not diagnosed with anything.  I was afraid he'd say Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  To me that is like calling a baby colic.  Worthless.  There is a reason for everything.  AND, I prefer to treat with natural products like Magnesium and what I eat or do not eat.

Some people say it's cuz I'm stressed.  Why, yes I am!  But it's no excuse.

I exercise plenty, drink lots of water and only water (except an occasional something or another), I take probiotics (which I quit because this FODMAPS diet used for the sugars problem indicates it could be problematic - I'm not convinced of that yet), and eat lots of fruits and veggies.  I was dairy and gluten free for a year and that is when this all came about, so explain that one!  We know it's not either of those!

I highly, HIGHLY, suspect it is the sugars.  Which sucks.  I like sugar very much!  I can do a candida cleanse when I'm done nursing (another topic I will post on soon cuz weaning in the making).

I'll post updates now and then but I try not focus on it.  As Dr. H said, I do not like being a whiner.  I am tough and take pride in that but this has been weighing me down (and not literally thank goodness!) It is a mental, physical, and emotional distraction in my life.  I feel for those who truly struggle with what their tummy's do to them!

Another test from God and now I have one more way to empathize with people.  The list is growing!  If you follow what I'm saying...

(WOW, I just edited through that it was crazy to follow, sorry about that, it is the way my fat-free brain works)

2. No computer since the first week in June!  Well, not this one anyway!  I was struggling to get by with what I had.  It was a pain in the butt cuz I could not just download my photos from my camera and post them, I had to convert them, yada yada yada.  Hopefully I can zoom much faster and simpler now.

3. Photography!  Excited about this one!  I am working with a friend on my business website.  That should be up and running with more activity from me now! if you wanna check it out.  I have a lot of growth ahead of me.  Though I look forward to it, I have a hard time not being at the level I want to be.  I believe the growing pains are worth it though :)  It requires time and I love it, but I love my family, reading, and relaxing too.  I will not give up being who I am.  I will not succumb to that stress.

4. Evan starts 1st grade in 3 weeks!  Ahhh!  He is so great.  He said he does not want to have all the same kids in his class because he wants to meet new people.  Brave boy.  I am so proud of him!  I am getting together with a friend whose daughter struggles with severe eczema.  She is at the school I work at (some of my readers know who I am talking about).  I approached her to ask about what she has been doing with her daughter because in May she was making huge gains!  We will meet soon, but that takes my time and energy as well!  Evan has bad wrists and legs in the winter.  We tried him dairy free and noticed nothing.  I believe this girl is having best results with some aloe vera product and some Isotonix vitamins.  I'll post more when I know more!

5. Nolan.  Well, he is awesome!  He wears his pirate eye band aide nearly every day.  I have forgotten a few in the past couple of weeks, but I'm proud of my memory on that one!  Joe will bring him to the eye doctor on the 29th and we are praying for a stronger eye so we can avoid glasses (but if you remember, he is darn cute in them: click here for a post with that cute boy in glasses)

6. Calvin.  Calvin is so funny!  I wish you could see our normal life here.  One night last week Joe was gone and I had the boys all ready for bed.  We were down reading books and Cal would laugh and do this front flop on his hands, lay down and roll and roll just to get some attention.  He is also standing himself up in the middle of the room and flopping on his butt.  He is holding it longer and longer!  He does not realize what he is doing but he'll be walking by Christmas, I just feel it!  He is healthy and his heart appointment went well!  Did I post about that?  I'll look and post more later if I need to.

7. Joe.  My husband and I are coming up on 10 years this Friday!  I cannot believe it.  Joe and I received a tree for a wedding gift.  That tree with become an analogy in our official anniversary post later.

Well, I have a load of work to do.  The boys are with their other mother, Karen.  She is the best lady a person could ask for when you need them to be loved and cared for while away (and when the grandmas and aunts are unavailable - phew, gotta cover that one, LOL!)  She reads these and hopefully does not think "I watched those 3 boys so she could blog?!"  Just kidding!  We love you Karen and I thank God for you!  It is because of you I catch Evan silently praying before he eats his snacks :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday, Calvin!

I see many of you enjoyed Joe's adventures in Wall, SD!  Photos from our trip will be coming next.  BUT, I have not posted about Calvin's 2nd birthday.  2 weeks ago already!  

In many ways I cannot believe the little stinker is already 2 (he has recently discovered how to turn on/off the vacuum, escalating my already enlarged cleaning time!)  Then I think about everything we have gone through, rather, he has gone through, and it honestly feels like a lifetime.  Maybe because I never expected to experience anything beyond what I already have in life.

Many times during our trip to Yellowstone I imagined what it must have been like for pioneers-man to discover that land.  So unlike anything else in this country.  It must have been thrilling and frightening.  Many people look around and see the unbelievable miracle of God.  God's creations!

People were undoubtedly in awe over Old Faithful's eruption, only to witness it again and again, like clockwork.  They were likely overcome with anticipation to share the land's beauty.  Before they could do so, however, they had to carve new trails all while striving to simply survive the harsh, raw wild life.  What I appreciate about the park is that though there are simply too many people, it is still fairly raw and dangerous: thus allowing us to experience equally raw emotions and utter respect.

Being a parent is a lot like pioneers discovering a new land, but lets face it, there are many role models and places to turn for guidance.  Parenting for many, including me up until 2.5 years ago, is more like us now traveling to Yellowstone versus a time before roads, gift shops, and campsites with running water.

Having Calvin is in many ways similar to spear-headers navigating and learning about the land that surrounded them.  Having Calvin has been thrilling, exhausting, scary, and joyful.  I am filled with anticipation to share this experience with those who are new to it and with those who are helping establish this journey.  We are working hard to pave roads.  To build gift shops and provide paths for hikers and a few guard rails in those extremely dangerous areas.  Who knows who will visit and when? When they do, they will want to stop and take many photographs and send postcards to their friends and loved ones.  They will want to share it with the world and invite others to pack their things and come travel with them!

This is awesome!
This boy ate a whole piece, wasting very little...
Windows to the soul, amazing!

Mom could not get enough of me eating this well!  A year ago I was barely eating solids!
"Is it all gone?"

Cal loves Veggie Straws!!                        "Have you noticed I love walking with shoes on my hands??"