It only matters what works for you.

Archive for January, 2012


I moved recently. I think I mentioned that. One of the many, many, many…tasks that must be done after a move is to track down new health providers.

Does the very idea strike fear into the heart of anyone else?

I’ve barely taken the time to pull a name off a list of people and do a 5 minute Google to make sure they aren’t generally recognized as horrible. I haven’t even called for an appointment yet, and already I have incredibly low expectations of the care I will receive and the way I will be treated.

What is wrong with our medical system that the very idea of a doctor’s appointment fills me with fear and resentment?

I’m intelligent. I do my research. I’ve figured out how to combat a number of serious health issues in my life. I go to appointments prepared. I’m polite. I’m punctual.

And I expect to be condescended to and treated like an idiot.

That is what experience has conditioned me to expect.

To a great many members of the medical profession, I am the absolute worst kind of patient. I want to actually participate in my treatment, I have opinions, I ask questions, and I’m willing to argue about something I don’t understand or don’t agree with. I threaten their superiority and I take up a lot more time than the passive people who show up, get their drugs and leave.

I don’t think doctors are any more special than any other highly trained professional, and I suppose that shows. Have you ever noticed that the physician is always Dr. Smith, but you are immediately relegated to ‘first name’. That’s actually done on purpose you know. I took a class on medical communication at one point. Using first names makes us socially less than them automatically, so doctors are trained to do that, then assured that it just makes things more ‘personal’.

The other problem is, of course, that I don’t fit in the box. Treatments that generally work haven’t worked for me. I’m inclined to have the 1 in 100 people side effects to popular drugs. The usual tests miss my issues completely. And I’m much more interested in finding the cause than treating an effect. Doctors don’t usually have any idea what to do with someone like me.

How sad is it that I’m ready to have a panic attack about setting up a meeting with someone I’m supposed to trust with my healthcare? ‘Cause nothing encourages trust like a panic attack.

There is no food in our food.

This is a phrase I’ve been using for years.
What I mean by it is, the food we eat does not contain the nutrition be believe it does.

I don’t even mean the highly processed stuff that comes in boxes. Its pretty commonly known that things like breakfast cereals are ‘fortified’ because industrial processing strips out every potential nutrient that was supposed to be in the original ingredients so they have to add processed versions of the chemicals back in so they don’t read on paper as the nutritional wastelands that they really are.

You knew that, right?

I mean that its entirely likely that the average egg doesn’t contain the healthy amounts of retinyl palmitate and choline and pantothenic acid that it is supposed to because modern farming methods don’t provide chickens more than the bare minimum nutrition required to generate the maximum number of eggs.

Have you ever been cracking an egg and noticed that the shell fragments and feels a little papery?

One of the big arguments that the anti-fat people use is that ‘fat people should just not eat if they aren’t hungry’ and that would fix everything.

It wouldn’t fix anything. As a life long fat person I can tell you that I, and a good many of my fat friends, (with the exceptions of social occasions and horrible days, the same as thin people) don’t particularly eat when we aren’t hungry.We’re just hungry more. I’d find it very interesting if there were more research on why we’re more hungry and a little less focus on how to make us eat less.

I think its because there is no food in our food and some of us are more sensitive to that than others. And some are better at prolonged self deprivation than others, that’s certainly true.

I think we’re hungry because while there are plenty of fats and carbs and proteins in the food we can easily access, there aren’t nearly enough micronutrients, like trace minerals and complete fatty acids and vitamins. So we’re constantly looking, not for food, but for nutrition. There’s no shortage of nutrition-free food out there.

Seriously, how much nutrition can there be left in a hamburger that sells for 99 cents?

Even when its unlikely

Sometimes you find an answer that seems really unlikely, but it resonates with you. For example, how I figured out I was allergic to soy. I followed a bizarre hunch on a thin connection to a completely unlikely conclusion, and solved a serious problem.

I no longer hesitate to follow thin threads and unlikely conclusions. I test them a lot, but I don’t discount them.

I’ve had a new issue lately. I’ve recently relocated and my body doesn’t really like my new home. It rains a lot here. I’ve never been one to like the soft greys of a rainy day. Sign me up for glaring sunshine. It doesn’t help that its winter. We’ve all heard and read about Seasonal Affective Disorder. I started with that. I knew it was a problem. I have natural light bulbs everywhere I spend the most time. I sit in the sunshine outdoors whenever there is some. I take my Vit D along with the other recommended nutrients.

Is it possible to be allergic to the barometer?

Not the barometer, but to be seriously affected by the fluctuations, particularly the ones that cause it to go from a little grey to socked-in-fog-and-damp. Because whatever that is (yes yes, I’m gathering data, I just don’t have enough yet) it is seriously debilitating to me.

So I fired up my trusty Google and followed some unlikely links and read some not very scholarly articles and found some interesting, although not popular or much discussed, links.

Rats and psychiatric patients are documented to have more trouble with depression and more ‘incidents’ when the barometer is low. Those are actual scholarly papers. Among naturopaths and other alternative practitioners, including those practicing ‘integrative medicine*’, it is commonly recognized that low barometric pressures use up more cortisol. Completely undetectable in normal people, but a real problem for people with low adrenal function.

I’m already being treated for low adrenal function.

Now I have something to work with. Off the wall, but better than my complete lack of alternatives.

*integrative medicine is what they are calling it now when licensed MDs go off the reservation and start using alternative treatments and doing ‘weird things’ like going beyond the tests to help people who don’t feel well.


Following instructions

Following instructions isn’t always going to get you the results you want.

I was baking the other day and I used my Cooks Illustrated cookbook. Cooks Illustrated takes a ton of recipes for one thing and experiments with times and ingredients and methods until they come up with something amazing that is relatively easy and very consistent.

I, of course, can never just follow the instructions on anything, if for no other reason than I’m substituting a gluten free flour blend for basic all purpose.

The first recipe I tried was the one for blueberry cobbler. It was wonderful. Soft tender biscuit top, the perfect amount of berries. One brief note to self to add another tsp of the arrowroot I substituted for cornstarch, and I know I’ll be making that regularly.

The 2nd recipe I tried was for blondies. Which I haven’t actually made before. And these were a relative failure. All I substituted was the flour but these came out dry, bland, and almost too crumbly to eat.

A good analogy for life I think. You don’t know how something is going to work out for you until you actually give the thing a try in your own life or environment. All you can do is jump in and try it. It can be a scary thing if the investment is greater than single dessert, say, a new job, but there still isn’t anything you can do but mix and bake and see how it turns out.

If it doesn’t work out, then you need to look at things and see if you can fix the recipe or if you’ll need to pick a whole new dessert.

Are you sensitive?

There are 2 terms out there that could use a little clarification.

Sensitivity, vs Allergy.

There are several types of immune reactions. I’m only going to address 3. IgE, IgG, and IgA.

IgE is what your doctor thinks an allergy is. It is an immediate and strong reaction to a food or other stimulus. Think hives, stomach cramps, wheezing, or the worst of all, anaphylaxis. This is what most allergy tests are actually testing for.

IgG reactions take longer to show up. The reactions can be severe or much more subtle. Many food problems are actually this kind of reaction.

IgA is another slow reaction and is often linked to leaky gut. It causes bizarre reactions to seemingly unconnected things. Like asthma in reaction to dairy foods 2 days later.

If you are talking to a physician the word ‘allergy’ is reserved for IgE. This is also the reason there have recently been a lot of news articles about how allergies are much more uncommon than people would like to believe. They are using a very clinical and narrow definition of ‘allergy’.

If you have an IgG or IgA reaction to something, then technically you have a ‘sensitivity’. Unfortunately, there is a strong public feeling that a ‘sensitivity’ probably isn’t really the problem that an ‘allergy’ is, and you’re probably just making a fuss about nothing. It is true that these, to the best of my ability to research, do not cause anaphylaxis, but hives are hives and vomiting is vomiting and it doesn’t really matter what caused them, you’re miserable either way.

So if you are speaking to a physician or other scientific professional, by all means, use the terms according to their definitions. If you are speaking to a food service professional (read waitstaff) I highly recommend using the more idiomatically appropriate term ‘allergy’ because they are much more likely to take you seriously and you are less likely to wind up with the aforementioned hives.

One man’s truth about studies.

I love all things TED. I’d definitely rather watch TED than television.

Today I watched this excellent presentation:

This guy is a doctor and an epidemiologist who writes and talks about bad science. Bad studies, bad research, cherry picking data, and the inevitable bad presentation of those already bad findings. That makes it sound a little dry and possibly boring so here are a few quotes from his presentation in hopes of convincing you to spend 15 minutes listening to him:

On peer review-

That’s what happens at academic conferences. The Q&A session after a post-doc presents data is often a blood bath. And nobody minds that. We actively welcome it. It’s like a consenting intellectual S&M activity.

On something absurd stated by one of Britain’s diet gurus-

Now that’s not the only reason that we think this person is an idiot. She also goes and says things like, you should eat lots of dark green leaves, because they contain lots of chlorophyll, and that will really oxygenate your blood. And anybody who’s done school biology remembers that chlorophyll and chloroplasts only make oxygen in sunlight, and it’s quite dark in your bowels after you’ve eaten spinach.

On his idea for a solution-

I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant. All of these things are happening in plain sight, and they’re all protected by a force field of tediousness. And I think, with all of the problems in science, one of the best things that we can do is to lift up the lid, finger around in the mechanics and peer in.

That last bit is the most important part of his whole presentation I think. That bringing to light the truth of shoddy studies and poor reporting is the first step to better information and in return better opportunities for better health.

Being your own rat means gathering the best information you have available and then interpreting it against your own personal circumstances. That is so much easier when the science you are trying to use is honest and accurate.

Do you have a dream?

Today is MLK day. A good day to think about dreams.

Do you have a dream?

Rev. King had a dream. He believed that people should be equal and free and ‘judged by the content of their character’. He inspired people. He lived and died his belief every day of his life. He inspired his generation, and many who have followed him.

Simon Sinek wrote a very inspirational article about MLK last summer. He inspires me. He gave a TED presentation about “How Great leaders Inspire Action”, something I watch over and over because it always speaks to me. He talks about something he calls the Golden Circle, and it all boils down to “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And everything really does boil down to be about that simple, if you think about it. Of course, thinking things through isn’t really encouraged by our society right now.

Its easier to get us to do things if we don’t think things through too carefully. Media breaks things down to. We’re accustom to getting our information through sound bytes. It doesn’t encourage us to think, to question, to argue. You can’t effectively argue with the television, or the commentators on television, no matter how often you do, in fact, yell at them. They can’t hear you. You can’t change anything that way.

The way to change things is to think. To learn. To understand.

The way to change things is to look inside yourself and figure out what you think, and what you believe, and then share that with others.

Your dream doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be game changing, and the only world it needs to change is yours.

You deserve your dream. I think that’s what the ‘pursuit of happiness’ might mean.