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challenging, but rewarding

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  • challenging, but rewarding

    I have some experience with following a low carb path, but haven't ever "done" paleo or primal except for a few days out of the week, in much the same way someone who normally eats meat would occasionally have a meatless day and therefore wouldn't actually be said to have "done" vegetarianism. This said, I've found so much wonderful info on this site, and have ordered all of the Primal books through amazon (I believe they are actually waiting at the PO for me to pick them up this afternoon, in fact.) I'm looking forward to working at this, and I have much incentive to put my energy into it.

    I recently turned 52. I'm female, and fat. I have T2 diabetes, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and PCOS. All plenty of reason for me to pursue a healthier path than the standard nutritional approach has proven to be, yes? But wait, there's more! (Said with the infectious enthusiasm of a tv commercial.) For the past two or three years, I've had difficulty doing things like walking down stairs. Bending over. Lifting my arms above shoulder height. Rolling over in bed, or getting out of bed. I've had pain in my feet, hands, knees, hips, shoulders, head, and so on and on... Several different doctors have run more tests than I could imagine, and all of the tests have come back negative. I was running a fever nightly for over a year, temps over 101 degrees, and yet no tests could determine what was wrong. One doc even told me I wasn't really running a fever, I either had a broken thermometer or didn't know how to use it properly.

    I'd reached the point where I honestly was beginning to believe I must simply be nuts or just a whining old lady who couldn't deal with these aches and pains that *must* be normal age-related issues, or that my weight was the sole cause and I would be fine if I would "just eat less and lose weight". Then I got to the point of barely being able to walk from room to room in my own home without holding onto furniture or my husband and son for support. I also began to have terrible headaches.

    I was in such distress one evening that I asked my husband to take me to the ER. The doc there checked me out, and told me that he had no idea what was going on with me, and that it didn't look like something he could help me with, but that he wanted to offer me the chance to choose whether I went home and tried seeing my regular doc in a couple days, or stayed and took a chance that the hospitalists would find out what was wrong with me. I stayed, and it was the best thing I could have done.

    After running millions more tests, one of the docs in the hospital finally figured out what was wrong. It turned out that I have a couple of rheumatalogical illnesses that are more commonly seen in people in their late 60's or 70's (which is, I suppose, why no doctors had ever diagnosed them before this). Giant Cell Arteritis (also known as Temporal Arteritis) and Polymyalgia Rheumatica are what had been causing my health problems, and the first line of attack was to start me on high doses of prednisone.

    I was very lucky in that not only did this doc diagnose me, he also gave me some very helpful advice. He told me that prednisone can cause high blood sugar levels even in people without diabetes, and also that it can cause weight gain. He said that the best way for me to combat those side efects would be to eat a very low carbohydrate diet, with a focus primarily on protein and veggies, and that above all I should avoid grains and starches and eat only minimal amounts of fruit. In the time since coming home from the hospital, I've managed to lose 15 pounds while on the prednisone, and my blood sugar levels have been excellent. In fact, my A1C is the best that it has ever been.

    So. While my weight has stalled for now, I'm glad to have lost a bit, and to not be gaining due to the meds. And I deeply appreciate the prednisone for the fact that for the first time in years I have no pain! I didn't even realize how much pain and how many physical limitations I was living with daily until suddenly they disappeared. It still astonishes me to be able to walk down stairs like a normal person, or to be able to reach up to a high shelf to get down a loaf pan by myself.

    There are challenges, however. The prednisone (and methotrexate, the other med I am on for these conditions) have their downsides. I have no pain, but I do have pronounced muscle weakness, especially in my thighs. I have fatigue, and sometimes headaches, and other lesser issues. And I have the challenge of trying to rebuild my strength and health while being still not "well" or healed. I enjoy the challenge of tackling dietary changes, and I'm having a ball in the kitchen. But I'm struggling when it comes to rebuilding my strength, because it takes a great deal of effort just to do things like walk on the treadmill, let alone trying to do much in the way of bodyweight exercises. I also have the problem of having had severe knee injuries in the past that make it painful for me to do anything on the floor on my knees, so push-ups and so on are not an option (although I do try to do them from the walls and kitchen counters). I can do squats, though, and actually like being able to do those again after so many years of having pain in my hips and knees.

    So, any advice on building strength, especially in my legs (since they are terribly weak and damaged right now) and trying to cope with building health while fighting these blasted illnesses will be appreciated. It looks like I will likely be on some dose of the prednisone for at least a year, possibly longer, so it will be an ongoing battle. I'm happy to be fighting it, though! At least now I know what it is that I'm fighting, and I have a plan of attack. And I know that I'm not just nuts or a whining wimp! That's a huge step forward right there.

  • #2
    Welcome lene. I'm glad primal is going well for you. I would say focus on diet for now. It is 80% of primal. Keep as active as you can. Good luck.
    Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

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    • #3
      The diet aspect (as in "daily nutritional plan", not as in "way I am eating to lose weight but will discontinue once that is achieved") is wonderful. I'm very much enjoying the food, the fun of cooking with great ingredients, and the satisfaction that comes from making tasty and nutritious food for myself and my family. It doesn't hurt that the meds, while kicking my butt in some ways, have also given me back my life in many ways -- simply having the energy and ability to stand at the stove long enough to cook a decent meal, or to be able to reach up into cabinets unaided, has given me back the joy I used to find in cooking. And exploring these terrific new recipes is just plain fun!

      As for the activity aspect, I have hopes that it will come as time passes. For now, I'm going to focus on trying to spend about half an hour daily walking on the treadmill, at a pretty moderate-to-slowish pace. It works well for me, because I'm still having some balance issues, and with the treadmill, I can keep one hand lightly on the sidebar to help me maintain balance as I walk. And fortunately, I'm one of the few people I know who doesn't get bored on a treadmill. I put some CCR on the stereo and simply enjoy being able to walk without pain, which after the past few years is something I deeply appreciate.

      Other than time on the treadmill, I want to work on my weak legs a bit, but need to be sensible about it. I know that at the end of the day, I find it difficult to climb the last 6 or 7 stairs of the 12 stairs that lead up to our bedroom. After some thought, I figured that maybe those stairs can be how I can try to rebuild my legs. So, tonight I asked my husband to stand next to me (in case my legs gave out on me, which the bloody things have done a couple times before) while I stood on one foot on the bottom step and just kept lifting and lowering myself using the one leg until I couldn't do another lift up. I rested a moment or two, then switched legs and did the same thing on the other side.

      It was kinda lowering to see just how little it took for my legs to reach the point of being wiped out. But, I figure if I do this daily, and then start doing it more than one session daily, etc., I should see some results. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. And since I can do the push-ups off the kitchen counter or wall, I want to do those daily, too. I actually enjoy those, because again, there's a lot of pleasure to be found in doing even simple things when you haven't been able to do them for so long. It sort of falls into the "I'm easily amused" category. Heh.

      Anyway, I apologize for my wordiness. I don't always run off at the mouth like this, but I'm feeling particularly chatty tonight, it seems. Thanks for the good wishes!
      Last edited by lene; 10-26-2012, 11:34 PM. Reason: spelling gremlins


      • #4
        Lene, you seem to have autoimmune issues there. Hashimotos is certainly an AI problem, and there's other stuff there that points that way.

        Maybe people can get too obsessed with what's a paleo food and what's not and all the rest of it, but I think people with AI issues need to take some care. I wouldn't worry too much about exercising - yeah, whatever you can do is likely beneficial, butt don't overdo it or fret if you can't do much. But I really would get all grains, legumes, and dairy out your diet. The same goes for sugar, processed foods, and industrial seed oils. You might also need to eliminate plants from the nightshade family - google that for more information. That still leaves as much meat, fish, vegetables and fruit as feels comfortable to you - along with olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee (if tolerated).

        Hang in there. There are people who've turned their life around just by eating "clean".