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Random Tidbits

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Outdoors and Alive

I’ve been doing a lot again. It’s great in so many ways. I spent a long weekend in Yosemite and saw how much of a difference this past year of coiling has made. I never wrote about what I learned last year when I went because when I came back, I was in wedding planning mode. This year, I have some leisure time to think over both trips. Needless to say I was surprised at how much I can do.

Last year, my trip included a few short walks and many hours of sitting down. I slept like crazy, but I enjoyed the beauty of the natural environment. Joe and I took a walk towards Lyell Canyon, which he wanted to show me, but about a third of the way along the trail, I was finished. We sat for an hour before I could garner enough energy to walk back to the car. We drove to the head of the May Lake trail and looked at the parking lot, but I was too tired to get out and explore. I promised him that this year I would make an effort to see May Lake as a day hike.

This year, we made the full 3.5 mile walk to Lyell Canyon with two of our friends. It was a beautiful walk. We stopped several times along the way to sit and rest and take in the sights and sounds of the natural world. When we reached the point where the John Muir Trail meets the Lyell Fork (river), we lay on a rock and baked in the sun for almost an hour. Then we walked back, also stopping to rest and enjoy the other river crossings. Two days earlier, we had hiked a mile uphill to May Lake and camped out overnight. It was gorgeous. And I’d had only one day in between to rest up.

Although I’m still exhausted now, three days later, I’m thrilled at what my body was able to do. Even if I have to rest for a week or two to fully recover my strength, it was completely worth it.

Gut Flora

I’ve been reading quite a bit in recent weeks about the human microbiome. It has me thinking a lot about the various factors that have contributed to my symptoms, the role of inflammation in my healing process, the changes in my gut flora both from the tick-borne infections and the antibiotics, and finally how I plan to heal my gut.

This last part has included beginning to eat small quantities of cultured cabbage, which I purchase at the farmers market rather than making myself, with meals that include large quantities of vegetables, the kind I tend to eat for dinner. I started that yesterday, and for the first time, I didn’t get gas and bloating after dinner. I have high hopes for increasing the variety in my diet by colonizing my large intestines with the microbes that may have been missing since 2007. There is more to this which I will explore in future posts.

Hormonal Fluctuations

I’ve continued my program to get off Metformin and switch over to Vitex. Metformin is a drug known best as a treatment for diabetes, but in lower doses used to treat insulin resistance and PCOS (which is a subset of the insulin resistance syndrome). Vitex is an herb originally used on the Mediterranean coasts to promote fertility in women, but also used to regulate menstrual cycles, primarily by helping regulate progesterone. In the US it has successfully been used to treat PCOS in some cases.

Last month (May) I added Vitex to my daily supplement list. It seems like a possible substitute for Metformin, allowing me to get off my last pharmaceutical drug and still get my period regularly. During May I continued the Metformin, using it as a transition month.

May was the second month that I recorded my Basal body temperature. I’ve been borrowing from the natural family planning techniques to learn what is going on with my hormonal cycle. I recorded the first month on Metformin alone, since I’ve been taking it for almost three years and it constitutes my current baseline. The second month I added Vitex. I discovered a few things: first, I had way less PMS with Vitex; second, my Basel body temperature went up by a few tenths of a degree.

I thought both of these were interesting results. Since Vitex helps stabilize progesterone production, it usually helps with PMS symptoms. I was happy with that. But I still had noticeable breast tenderness and fatigue, so I stimulated the Shen Men acupressure points with seeds on a sticky pad, which also helps to reduce PMS. There was one other variable which I’m not sure how to account for. I wasn’t coiling for most of the luteal phase of my cycle (the second half when all the PMS kicks in) because I was at my sister’s house. So it isn’t a perfect data set.

This month (June), I’ve stopped taking Metformin. This begins a three month trial without Metformin, instead taking Vitex only. I previously attempted to stop Metformin with no substitute and length of my cycle got longer and longer, while my PMS symptoms and day one of my cycle got worse and worse. If that starts to happen, I’m considering trying DIM, an estrogen regulator. Returning to Metformin is a final option if the herbs don’t work.

Coiling and Herxing

Before I went to Yosemite and since I’ve been back, I’m continuing to plug away at Bartonella. This means three coiling sessions a day for two days, then two sessions the third. On the third day, I do a full Lyme coiling treatment. (The protocol is described in Lyme Waltz.)

The Lyme herxes seem mostly to be fatigue and lots of sleep, although when I came back from two weeks of no coiling at my sister’s place, I also had diarrhea and a headache. This week, however, I’ve been sleeping a lot and tired.

The most obvious and troubling Bartonella herxing symptom is nightmares: long, complicated, distressing nightmares. When I wake up, the dream is still vivid. The feelings stay with me for a long time. It is a mishmash of old friends and relatives doing things that put me in an impossible predicament. It takes a while after I wake up to accept the much better reality I live in.

Last night, after coiling for Lyme and Bartonella, I had a mild night sweat. It’s the first one in over a week.

Other symptoms are also present. I’ve had floaters in my vision. After a few days without abdominal bloating it started again on Sunday (with an egg-free but not gluten-free peanutbutter cookie). Constipation is back with all the Bartonella coiling. My joints, especially in my hands, have been achy. The nerves in my hands and feet are giving me morning pain and tingling spots throughout the day. The nerves that connect to the right side of my face are giving me the weird symptoms that make Lyme sufferers seem crazy: popping, pulsing sounds in my right ear (different from the kind that happen when mucus is draining) and incessant twitching of my lower eyelid. Generally, the right side of my body seems more sensitive and slightly painful. My shoulders and neck are very tight, although I’ve avoided a full-fledged tension headache. Finally, I had an aura today that didn’t lead to a migraine (at least not yet and I hope the mild pain on the right side of my head doesn’t blossom!).

I’m vigilant about the possibility of Babesia coming back. I’ve done an occasional ten minute coiling for it on my spleen since I came back. I’ll continue to do it every few days. It would be much easier to kill it off slowly as it wakes up than to deal with a full-blows active infection again.

Old and New

There is one other symptom which I got at the end of May while I was at my sister’s house. This one somehow didn’t make it into the blog before now. I got a rash one morning. It was a series of dark purple dots under the skin on my right outer thigh and it was very itchy.

The first time I got this rash was in 1999. It was an allergic reaction to Lithium, which I was taking as a “mood stabilizer” while I came off another drug. I took it for 9 days before any doctor realized that it was the source of the incredible itchy purple rash. The rash has reappeared several times, especially when I’ve lost even small amounts of weight. But I haven’t had the rash in a long time. So it was odd to me that it reappeared now.

As in the past, the rash went away with no treatment. I waited a few days while it turned red then disappeared.

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