Health Update: How Many Ways Can My Body Fail?

I saw my old knee surgeon yesterday regarding my right knee pain. It has been getting better since last week, but I thought it prudent to get it checked out anyway. My x-rays revealed that everything is fine. I actually have TWO screws in each knee and they look really cool on an X-ray! My doc thinks that I just bruised the area around the screw and that I should be totally fine in a couple of days. He also said I should probably pay special attention to strengthening the muscles around my knee by doing daily isobaric exercises. Noted. He was kind of tripped out about how long is had been since I'd seen him (7 years) and how “grown up” I'd become. I'm assuming, by “grown up”, he means “old”, because, at 21, I was already technically a grown-up when we met.

Regarding my IBS, things are back to normal. And by normal, I mean, fucked up. The possibility that I have some sort of food allergy seems more likely. I will scrape together $400 and give the hippies a try. I DO plan to ask if the test results ever come out negative for food allergies. I'm not going to call to make an appointment until I get back from SXSW, though. I want to enjoy the free beer and tacos, guilt free and then find out if I'm allergic to gluten or yeast or dairy or some other delicious thing.

I know I've been slacking on the weekend recaps. To those who care, sorry. I have several interesting weekends coming up, though, including Lebowski Fest and a Cartoon Themed birthday party (not to mention, SXSW), so stay tuned!

Happy pooping.


IBS Be-Gone!: Day Thirty

So today is my first day off the probiotics. I weighed myself this morning and discovered that I am 128 pounds, which means I've lost 7 pounds in a month. This is quite significant. I have not been this thin since college. It feels very strange. I guess I really was consuming more sugar than I realised. And I guess sugar really does make you fat. As for the IBS, I don't know if it's gone. Over the course of the month, I ended up having 2 “incidents” wherein I experienced the painful constipation followed by the painful, crampy, inopportune conclusion thereof. This is significant because, prior to starting the probiotics, I was experiencing this sort of thing twice a WEEK.

It's too early to tell exactly how far I've come. I've been reading a book called “The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution” which was put out by the IBS Treatment Center (located, conveniently, in Seattle, WA!). I only finished reading it yesterday and it placed several concerns in my brain about what the actual source of my IBS might be. It lists 3 causes.

1) The bacteria imbalance caused by too many antibiotics (which is the cause that I had suspected, and why I went on the probiotics in the first place).
2) Parasites. (Pretty sure that's not the case).
3) Food allergy. According to the book, it's not just things like gluten and lactose that can cause IBS symptoms. It's ANYTHING. Some of the cases they discussed included a woman who's symptoms were cause ENTIRELY by an allergy to coconut and plums. That's it. Those 2 things. She hardly ever ate coconut proper, but there is coconut oil and coconut derivatives in all kind of packaged foods. As was the case with all the food allergy people, as soon as she eliminated these things from her diet, she was 100% cured.

Having a food allergy would SUCK beyond suck. Especially if it's something like gluten or dairy. I already have to limit what I eat because of my vegetarianism. Going out to eat was kind of impossible during this past month. And I LOVE going out to eat and HATE being a high maintenance diner who must ask about every ingredient in every dish on the menu.

The IBS Treatment Center (and their book) suggests that one get tested for all of the IBS causes. The food allergy test is a blood test. The bacteria and parasite tests are stool tests. I would gladly get these tests to ease my mind if it weren't for one thing: expense. The IBS Treatment Center is sort of an alternative-mediciny type of place. They don't take health insurance (in fact, they seem to have some sort of personal vendetta against insurance companies) and their tests are VERY expensive. They want you to do a package deal with a consultation and follow-ups and tests. A standard package “deal” is $1095!! That is a lot of fucking money. If I forgo the consultations and just go with the tests, the bacteria test STARTS at $142 and the food allergy test STARTS at $310. I suppose I can put it on my credit card, and it would be great to know a certain cause for my problems but I've seen a lot of alternative medicine quacks in my day. My mom has sent me to a lot of them. I've been Reiki'd (aura cleansing, essentially), a practice for which my mom has spend thousands of dollars and to no avail that I can see, yet she still swears by it. I've taken homeopathic sugar pills for colds only to stay sick until I took some fucking Dayquill. I've consumed gallons of Kombucha tea at my mom's insistence, barely able to keep the stuff down (it's rancid) and not feeling any better. Some people, my mother included, might argue that it's my skepticism that makes these things not work. And don't get me wrong, I don't think that Western Medicine in infailable either. But I think a healthy combination of the two is the way to go. Trouble is, the two groups HATE each other. If I went to a Western doctor, he would (as he did before) tell me to keep taking the over-the-counter stuff. There's no cure for IBS and you're basically fucked for life so keep taking the medicine and deal with it. A Naturopath would tell me that said Western doctor is an asshole who is poisoning me for profit and then, apparently, charge me $1000 for THEIR treatment. How do I know how much of what school of thought to buy into? I'm confused and a little frustrated. I'm still tempted to get the food allergy blood test and see what they say. Again, I find myself wondering how people who make even less money than I do deal with things like this.

Anyway, my current plan is to finish out the week, slowly re-introducing yeast and (SMALL, healthy doses of) sugar back into my diet and NOT taking my over-the-counter meds and see what happens. If I'm still having problems, I guess I'll start saving some dough and call the hippies.

But ain't nobody going to touch my aura.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Twenty Two

God, I miss wine.

I have slightly over a week left. So far so good. I have only had one bad incident since I started. I take that as a good sign. Cravings haven't been as bad as I expected either, though yesterday I went to Taste of India with Brugos and Brad and was a bit sad I couldn't rip off a big piece of naan and stuff it in my mouth. Turns out, however, that my favorite Indian dishes are perfectly within my diet parameters. Had I know this, I would have gone there several times already.

I might also be partaking in some Blu C Sushi on Wednesday for V-Day. I am looking forward to that prospect, even if I don't get to end my meal with my traditional cream puff.

I should probably start planning how and in what order I'm going to reintroduce yeast and sugar. I think some dietary changes will probably stick though. No more sugar in my tea. No more soda ever. And I'm going to try REALLY hard to keep high fructose corn syrup out of my diet entirely. (With the possible exception of HP Sauce. How can I say goodbye forever to the greatest condiment known to man?)

I think I will have to celebrate the end with a bottle of wine though. Something dry.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Fifteen

So I'm technically at the half-way point with the diet. I had seen what I thought was real progress. I was feeling good and I was going every day with only half doses of my meds. I wasn't having anymore digestion pain either. Things were looking up. But then Saturday and Sunday I wasn't able to go and so I took the normal med dose last night. This morning I had a lot of pain and a bit of a rough ride from the U.D. to downtown. I didn't have to get off the bus (as I have had to do on many occasions in the past), so I guess that can still be considered progress. But it still feels like a small step backward. I guess I can't expect to be cured at this early stage (or at all) and I don't really know what's going to happen when I start re-introducing sugar and yeast. I know that I won't be intaking as much of either. No more sugar in my tea at all. Less Chai. I'm also never drinking soda again. I'm going to try and avoid high fructose corn syrup at all costs. That's very tricky and something I've tried in the past. It's not easy. It's in everything. Hopefully that will be the next bad food additive that the FDA tries to eliminate. Right now they are making leaps and bounds with trans fats (i.e. partially hydrated vegetable oil). But high-fructose corn syrup is almost as bad for you.

I was just looking at my calendar. 30 days will have transpired on the 20th of February. It's so close to the end of the month that I almost want to keep going until the the 28th. That would probably mean dropping another $25 on probiotics though. We'll see how I feel closer to the end of the month, what kind of progress I've made, and what Joey has to say about things. For now, I'm plugging away and (mostly) pooping better.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Eleven

I have been feeling sort of crappy for the last couple of days. I've been a little run down and moody. However, I attribute this to starting a new birth control pill. It's one of those brands that goes for a 3 month cycle and then you go on the placebo, so I would only be having my period 4 times a year. This would have been good, but aside from the moodiness and lack of energy, this pill also gives me mild hives. I called my doctor and she confirmed that a small percentage of women reported that type of allergic reaction, so I'll be going back on the old tried and true pill today. That should put me back in the clear-headed/energetic state I was in last week.

Scott called me out on the fruit juice thing. He, being a scientist, said that even if the juice I'm drinking is 100% juice, it's still in concentrated form and therefore just as loaded with sugar as a high-sugar fruit. So I guess I've been cheating a little with the fruit juice. He suggested that I squeeze my own grapefruits or buy some fresh-squeezed juice from the store. Drinking in bars is getting more and more complicated. This reminds me a lot of when I first became vegetarian but didn't know about things like gelatin and rennet. I'm learning new ways in which I've been inadvertantly cheating all the time.

I also got tired of writing down what I eat. It's all the same. I'll let you know if I eat anything interesting/creative. Though I WAS kind of proud of a veggie dip I made out of plain yogurt and spices!

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Nine

Food Log:

Breakfast: Grits with butter. Tea with milk.

Lunch: Canned saag paneer from Ralph's. (It was kind of weird but I had to try it) over rice. Tea with milk.

Snack: PBJ rice cake.

Dinner: Trader Joe's veggie patty with sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, and swiss cheese.

Snack: PBJ rice cake. Glass of milk.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Eight

It's almost old hat at this point, though I did have a pretty bad craving for a Starbucks sandwich and chai this morning.

Friday Meals:
Breakfast: Grits with hardboiled egg and slice of swiss. Tea with milk.

Snack: Tea with milk

Lunch: Black bean tacos with salsa. Apple.

Snack: PBJ ricecake. Tea with milk.

Dinner: Coffee. Salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic vinaigrette. Thai coconut soup from a can.

Snack/Evening beverages: Bri and apples. Chips and salsa. Vodka with Grapefruit Izze mixer.

Saturday Meals:
Breakfast: Oatmeal sweetened with raspberry jam. Tea with milk.

Snack: Deviled eggs with yogurt instead of mayo.

Snack: Peanuts.

Dinner: Tacos with red pepper, shitake mushroom, quinoa and Monterey Jack cheese.

Snack/Evening Beverages: Popcorn. Grapefruit Izze with vodka. 2 Crowns on the rocks. 1 Makers on the rocks. 1 Coffee with cream.

Sunday Meals:
Breakfast: Juevos Rancheros with corn tortilla. Apple slices. Tea with milk.

Snack: Chips and salsa. Tea with milk.

Dinner: Pene pasta with pesto sauce. Salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Snack: Peanut butter rice cake. Deviled eggs.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Five

No, I don't expect people to read this every day. Really, it's more for me to keep track of my progress. So I apologize if they grow tiresome. I'll try to continue to post items of interest as well.


Yesterday's Eats:

Breakfast: Grits with egg beaters and cheese. Tea with milk.

Lunch: Organic bean burritos with fresh salsa. Organic, unsweetened apple sauce. Tea with milk.

Snack: PBJ rice cake. Tea with milk. Handful of crackers.

Dinner: Roasted red peppers stuffed with quinoa (THANKS, ELYSE!), shitake mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes and topped with Parmesan. PBJ rice cake for dessert.

After last night's dinner, it was the first time since I started this diet that I actually felt full after a meal. Regardless, I was still pretty hungry by the time I got home at 11, but I didn't want to eat anything that close to bed time.

I'm definitely losing weight. I haven't weighed myself since I started and I forgot to weigh myself beforehand, but at the doctor a month ago I weighed 135. My clothes are definitely a bit looser around the waist.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Four

I woke up pretty tired but I think that is due to not sleeping well, rather than diet. I'm settling into the program. I am definitely still having cravings, but they aren't as strong. Things may be much tougher at the weekends, though, when I'm out and about and, perhaps, around people who are eating things I can't eat.

Saturday, I'm going to an Amazon party with Brugos. There's bound to be loads of free food I will have to ignore. And I get to be the Juice Purse Lady, carrying around my own 100% juice mixers for my glasses of vodka.

What I ate yesterday:

Breakfast: Bowl of rice with a little bit of butter and salt. Tea with milk.

Lunch: Black bean soup over rice. Tea with milk.

Snack #1: Two broccoli patty things that were remarkably yeast-free. A piece of monteray jack cheese.

Dinner: Rice cake PBJ. Apple. Tea with milk.

Later, I met a bunch of people to see a live adaptation of Total Recall at Rebar. It was awesome. Nick Garrison, who is famous, locally, for doing an amazing version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch played Sharon Stone's character. The guy doing Arnold was spot on. Hilarious. They ad libbed some things and took liberties with the script, but the most amazing parts were the parts where they obviously were reading the actual, original script. For instance “We see a beautiful midget hooker. Her name is Thumbelina.”

Again, I ordered glasses of vodka and had some apple juice on hand for a mixer. You get really strange looks when you order vodka on the rocks. I guess people are more inclined to sip scotch or bourbon straight. Not so much vodka.

Snack #2: Cashews.

I went back to Brugos' after the show and scoured the kitchen for something to eat. I found only cheese. I cut myself off a slice and made do.

Snack #3: Piece o' cheese.

IBS Be-Gone!: Day Three

I woke up today remarkably clear-headed for having had three LARGE vodkas at trivia last night. (I would like to congratulate team Dirty Water Wiener and The Krauts for pulling out the third place spot despite having fared miserably on a round that was comprised entirely of David Caruso questions. WHAT?!)

Thankfully, the headache is gone. I am definitely still addicted to caffeine and plan to make myself another cup of sugarless tea in a minute. I feel OK. I did swoon a little when walking through a cloud of Top Pot Donut aroma on my way into the office. However, I think this kind of thing will level out over time.

There are many challenges to this program, but one of the biggest I've noticed is the expense. I know there are people who eat like this all the time. The Madison Market was FULL of them last night. (And, as Brugos pointed out, they all looked like homeless zombies). But how can they afford it? Well, one theory is that they save money by wearing rags or making their own clothes out of hemp. But seriously, I've spend $70 on groceries in the last 3 days. This does include $25 for the probiotics and $12 for a good multi-vitamin. But this is only a month's supply. The food I bought will only last me through the week. Luckily, I have a little cash in the piggy bank, otherwise, I simply couldn't afford to get better. And what of people who make less than me? (And, while I am by no means well off, I do not make minimum wage). A large portion of the population has no CHOICE but to eat Wonder Bread and Jiff instead of whole grain bread and Adam's peanut butter. Fresh vegetables are twice as much as a can. Statistically, one in 5 people, in ANY tax bracket, I assume, has IBS. I garauntee you that IF they have health insurance, it doesn't cover probiotics treatment. It's hard not to complain about depriving myself of the bad food I'm addicted to, but I'm damned lucky I can afford to try and make myself better.

Here's what I ate yesterday:

Breakfast: Grits with milk, seasoned with salt and pepper. Cup of tea with milk.

Later, I had another cup of tea.

Lunch: Fresh rolls wrapped in rice paper from Whole Foods, sans delicious Thai peanut sauce. Rice cake with peanut butter. A couple of pieces of jicama

Snack: Apple slices with cheddar cheese. Cup of tea with milk.

After work, Brugos and I went to the Madison Market. Shopping there at 6:00 sucks because it is packed and people block up the aisles, making it difficult to navigate. By the time we got to the store, I was starving and low in blood-sugar so I was feeling pretty shaky. I just wanted to grab something and get out but I was thwarted with that ever-present sugar ingredient at every turn. Finally, I found some corn tortillas, grabbed some veggies, and we escaped the Co-Op Zombie Hell.

Snack: (Consumed while making dinner because I just couldn't wait any longer) Rice cake with peanut butter.

Dinner: (Which Brugos kindly ate with me) Quesadillas with organic corn tortillas, red pepper, onion, shitake mushrooms and cheddar. Salsa and sour cream on the side.

At Clever Dunne's, I smuggled in a 100% Cranberry juice and ordered glasses of vodka on the rocks from the bar. At Clever Dunne's, a glass FULL of vodka is $3.50. I love that place.

Naturally, by the time trivia was over, I was hungry again. On our way out, I ordered a veggie dog from the new hot dog cart that's parked outside. The man who owns this cart is a genius. Clever Dunnes and the neighboring Crescent don't serve any food and are packed with drunks 7 nights a week. To have veggie dogs as well is just covering his bases. He doesn't have any cream cheese, but he does have NACHO CHEEESE! I can't eat that right now, but a month from now, you can bet I am going to be scarfing a nacho cheese dog. So…

Late Night Snack: Veggie Dog from hot dog cart with mustard, sans bun.