It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘alternative care’ Category

Irreverence for the win!

Last week I went to see yet another new doctor. This one was a pain specialist.

This summer, before things went crazy, I went to the Orthopedist and said “my left fibula won’t stay put.” So he took some xrays and turns out I have severe osteoarthritis in both knees. Not terribly unexpected at my weight and with my other issues. My question was “Why does only the left one hurt.” He didn’t have a good answer for that, and sent me off to physical therapy.

Looking back, I seem to have failed to mention physical therapy. Oh well. It went ok. I did it in between moving. It helped me get back some basic mobility, but nothing major. I expect it would have helped more if I hadn’t had to do it around moving when I was already exhausted all the time. Anyway, it got me to the point where I could manage the pool, and that’s what I’m doing now.

Back to the orthopedist. I went back this week to ask about a brace. Someone is supposed to call me, but at my weight, and with the shape of my leg, he’s not sure what a brace can do for me. And he once again referred me to the pain specialists. Because they are in charge of non-surgical management of severe arthritis.

She is fantastic. We chatted and I gave her my history so we were building a rapport while someone tracked down the files I’d had sent over from the orthopedist. And when she finally saw my pictures she said “Holy crap, your knees look like shit.” Which made me laugh and laugh. And I knew then that we’d have a long and healthy relationship. Because they are really terrible.

And then we talked briefly about options and I got a cortisone shot in my left knee. Right now it’s sort of numb. We’ll see how it goes.


What do you get out of it?

Your food, I mean.

We’ve been told over and over that if we eat a healthy diet, then we’ll be healthy. I think most of the people who read this know it’s completely untrue, but it persists as a lie. Of course the average person doesn’t do it anyway, so does it really matter?

One idea is that we don’t need to take vitamins if we eat a healthy diet. Hence the war on vitamins and supplements. I’m not sure I really understand the government’s constant attempts to over regulate them. Someone is making money off them right?

Despite my new-found soup way of life I still came down with some severe low iron symptoms. I went through a period where I ate red meat twice a day because I craved it. How much of that was me not absorbing the iron present in the food? Thyroid can cause low stomach acid, as can age, and that would interfere with absorbing the nutrients.

It’s a little gross to discuss, but many people don’t chew nearly enough. Part of that is because our food is more highly processed. It’s also because we rush everything in the US so we’re eating in a hurry. It’s a problem. A friend who had bypass surgery told me that chewing was the number one instruction her doctor gave her as she recovered to make sure she didn’t have problems with regain. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down.

Then of course, there’s the idea that there is no food in our food. That the soils in the US are very depleted by modern farming methods so the trace minerals that we should be getting out of our healthy eating aren’t there to begin with and no amount of chewing and stomach acid will pry them out of food they aren’t in.

Even though I eat mostly organic, with healthy choices, my kitchen table is still covered with various supplements and I can tell you that I notice if I miss even one for more than a day.  Some times I wonder if buying the good stuff in the first place even matters, but then I remember the chemical taste of commercial fruit and remember that it might not be what I do get out of it, it might be what I don’t.

Getting some perspective

I recently had a great visit with one of my dearest and oldest friends. She’s recently been having fun and excitement with her own health and we’ve been sharing stories and resources. With her encouragement, I’m doing a few new things.

One that I really should have thought of is a new approach to veggies. See, I don’t like them. I’ve never liked them, and I promise you I have tried whole websites full of different ideas on how to make them fun and interesting. Sorry, still don’t like them. I tried requiring myself to just eat them along with the rest of my meal. Nope, I’d rather skip eating than eat them. Not a good solution. My new approach is called soup. Very innovative, I know. Bone broth is an amazing food and I’ve certainly made my fair share. But I don’t care for brothy soup. There are only so many flavors that meld well with coconut milk for a creamy soup, and thickening with flour isn’t really the best for me. My friend’s solution? The food processor.

Oh. How obvious. I’ve never thought to put the meat from soup into the food processor, but why not? It works beautifully. Cauliflower bacon soup in a chicken base was excellent and on the menu for tomorrow probably. Home made duck stock with leftover duck, zucchini, spaghetti squash and a few potatoes was legendary and required a sincere discussion about the inadvisability of a 3rd bowl in the first seating. Ground beef and broccoli has been less successful, but still fine. So now I’m aggressively buying my favorite Kitchen Basics stock in a box, and saving my rotisserie chicken bones, and I found my beef bone options at the market last visit for future reference. So as long as the cool weather holds out, I can go forward with more veggies.

My friend also found a traditional Chinese Medicine doctor when her western doctor couldn’t help her. I’ve shied away from this simply because of the expense, but in her experience it isn’t as expensive as I thought, and well, I’ve certainly tried everything else. I’ve put out some feelers locally to see if I know anyone with a personal recommendation. Their approach is all about balance after all, and I already know my body is horribly out of balance. It can’t hurt.

I think the most important thing was to have some reinforcement. She does not find me lazy, or less determined, or any other thing. She believes I have attempted to work my behind off, but it is just stuck. And that might be the most important thing from the whole visit. Someone who knows me well. Someone who has watched my endless struggle, and finds me admirable, instead of lacking. That is truly hard to find.

So, a nice soppy song in honor of the people who really know us.

It just takes one thing

I was incredibly inspired by this video I found this morning:



It’s absolutely fascinating how removing one ‘dangerous’ element for the ‘benefit of everyone’ completely changed everything and started a downward spiral of issues that no one even knew were caused by a completely unlikely catalyst (or lack of.)

In this case, the wolves change the behavior of the deer, which changed the grass, which changed the health and behavior of pretty much all the other animals.

To me, it points out how very little we know about how Mother Nature’s systems really work.

Now let’s apply that to things like GMO food, and artificial sweeteners, and chemical flavor enhancers.

I already know one. Soy. Traditional soy foods are made by slow fermentation. Natto, soy sauce, miso, and tofu. Edamame is the one exception that I know of. The slow processing breaks down the potentially damaging phytochemicals in soy, makes it more digestible and the nutrition more accessible. The way soy is processed in the US is, as with everything, the fastest, cheapest possible processing to achieve a food-like substance.

How about grain? We’ve gone from cultivating many different types of grains (because they each require slightly different growing conditions so some were bound to make it even in a too hot or too wet year) to being extremely wheat focused. Then we take that wheat and process it until it is unrecognizable. How about the fact that we’ve reduced the variety of foods that we eat to only a few dozen out of the many hundreds humans used to eat.

What would we find about our health and well being if we went back to eating wide varieties of plants and animals that haven’t been so  heavily modified?

There’s no chance to find out really. Everything has been changed and there are entirely too many humans to be fed for everyone to forage.

But it is a question I think about.

When they get it.

In my years of pursuing health and trying to learn about my body I’ve tried an awful lot of things. Some work, some don’t, and some only work for a while, and then stop. And it took me years to figure out when it was time to buckle down harder, and when it was time to back up and choose another direction. I wrote about the difficulty in fighting dogma a while back.

When you’re out on the fringe (of anything, health and nutrition for this discussion) it is such a relief when you get to share ideas and options (and new recipes) with someone who gets you. Understands your perspective on health, understands your need to find your own way no matter what the mainstream says, understands that people are not interchangeable machined parts. Unfortunately, sometimes (often really) you get caught up with someone who feels that they own the One Truth, and there is no discussing with you, they just talk at you. So frustrating. They put so much energy into finding a great alternative solution for themselves, and yet they can’t believe that their perfect solution probably isn’t perfect for everyone. Because if solutions were one-size-fits, said practitioner would have followed the instructions their doctor handed out and wouldn’t have made doing something different their life’s work. They get so caught up in their own dogma that they forget that they started out helping people.

I bring this up because last week I went to a ladies business lunch where I have made a number of good friends and I got to sit and brain storm with an amazing food educator.

 My friend Elaine teaches people about raw food and alkaline diets. She doesn’t start with a major overhaul. She starts with a list of foods that would be spectacular for you and helps you find a few that you could add to your diet. Starting small and practical. But if you say “yeah, I know flax can have all these benefits, but I happen to be horribly allergic” she doesn’t say “are you really sure you’re allergic” and she doesn’t say “it’s really really good for you”, she says “oh, how about chia seeds?” or other options.

Elaine understands that I am healing multiple health problems, and I’m not ready (and who knows, may never be) for her program. That doesn’t stop us being friends, or helping and supporting each other. She never makes me feel bad for not jumping on her bandwagon, because what she really really wants is for me to be as healthy as possible. Whatever it takes for me. She had to find her own solution, and she did a fine job, since she’s a 2 time, no chemo cancer survivor. (I’m impressed. How’s that for some qualifications?)

My point here is, if you get the opportunity to work with people who really get that you are a unique individual, make the most of it. They’re rare these days. But don’t let anyone tie you to their bandwagon if it doesn’t fit.

This one is Just Right

As I mentioned, I had a pretty awful fall. It was going badly, and then my chiropractor disappeared. There was a message on his phone that mentioned ‘trying time’ and offered another phone number that went to another chiropractors office.

Through them I discovered that his wife died, suddenly and unexpectedly.

I still didn’t feel well, but things could have been much worse.

But physically I was a mess and I did need chiropractic support, so I visited the referred doctor.

Who was terrible. Completely cookie-cutter approach, including manipulations that are really inappropriate on someone my size and shape. She actually hurt me.

So I got a referral. The next guy had a bunch of alternative methods. And I understand why they work really well with the athletes that are most of his patients. They helped me some, but it wasn’t at all what I needed. Once my knees were working better I searched for someone else.

The new guy was pretty good. Much more what I needed, friendly and gregarious, great energy. His approach was a little more aggressive than my body likes, but it was the best so far.

Then my REAL chiropractor called. He’s back at work. So I went to see him and


I remembered why I liked him so much in the first place.

I feel better than I have in literally months.

I used to really limit how often I went because of the expense. Having been to a number of significantly less talented and more expensive practitioners, I’m going to focus a lot more on what my body needs to function properly and less on the cost.

Because without the physical health, money for vacations is kind of pointless.

No, that’s not it.

Back in July I posted about what has come to be known as the Cornstarch Debacle. I switched from an OTC product to support my adrenals to a prescription that proceeded to make me fairly sick. I was achy and my muscles were weak and sore and my gut was  very unhappy. I eventually discovered that the prescription was made with cornstarch and attributed all the symptoms to my food allergy. I went back on my OTC and was back to normal.

It was all very reasonable and logical, and apparently, that wasn’t the issue, or not the whole issue.

Recently said OTC supplement was discontinued. Rather suddenly. I had to switch to another support, and the most commonly used is hydrocortisone cream, dosed with a syringe to be sure you’re getting the right amounts. So I switched.

At first I thought the body aches and shaking muscles was a side effect of the change. Even though I always seem to have bizarre reactions to common things, I still get tripped up when I have a completely unusual reaction to something that works just fine for most people. Most people who use hydrocortisone cream as adrenal support do just fine. I felt as though I’d been beaten and left for dead. I swelled up like a balloon with fluid. I haven’t slept well in weeks.

Apparently the Cornstarch Debacle wasn’t about the cornstarch after all. Or, not entirely, I will admit that the digestive side effects were missing this time. No, my body doesn’t much like processed hyrdocortisone. I’m so weird.

I am now experimenting with adrenal cortex supplements. That’s why my former beloved OTC was based on. I’m not restablized yet. I’m still having a lot of trouble. My legs are absurdly swollen and my muscles are still fairly useless. I am very frustrated.

I did go see my doctor. She offered a diuretic and some potassium and sympathy. I didn’t expect much else. How much can they do with 15 minutes (if you’re lucky) on a topic that is very outside the box. She’s supportive and cooperative and pleasant. I don’t expect her to be the foremost expert on everything.

I’ve found myself a non-mainstream practitioner who I really like, recommended by my veterinarian of all people. I’m hoping for good things there.

You’d think with all these issues over and over I’d at least be patient about how long things take to resolve. You’d be wrong.