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Angie's Adrenal Adventure-- The Good, Bad, and Ugly

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  • Angie's Adrenal Adventure-- The Good, Bad, and Ugly

    I've been reading and tinkering for a while now, but I need to put it all down in one organized place, so I can see my progress. I intend this to be a daily journal where I record foods, exercise, sleep, supplements, etc. and how I feel. I hope it helps me make sense of it all and feel the best that I possibly can. My doctor isn't tuned in to my symptoms, so I feel as though I'm muddling through on my own. I'm eager to find a health practitioner not too far away who can help me restore my adrenal function and help with my thyroid symptoms.

    So, here are my stats:

    *I'm 43
    *I've been primal almost exactly one year (since 5-10)
    *I'm 5' 6" and weigh 145
    *My belly (biggest part) is 35 inches (!)
    *My waist (smallest part under ribs) is 30 inches
    *Hips are about 40
    *I have read the following:
    --"the" book, i.e. Mark's Primal Blueprint (this was my intro to this WOE)
    --GCBC
    --Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf)
    --Primal Blueprint Cookbook
    --many blogs - PaNu, etc.
    --Are You Tired and Wired, Marcelle Pick
    --Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?, Datis Kharrazian
    --lots of Mary Shomon's info online (not books)

    I was an active and healthy child, an athletic teen, and healthy adult until I hit about 30 or early 30s. At this point, I began to feel extremely fatigued, burned out, had very tingly feet and hands, and experienced very sore joints - mainly in my hands and hips. I ignored it for a while, thinking this was how it felt to get "older," but then began to see a nurse practitioner (no longer practicing) who was extremely caring and hell bent on figuring out what was wrong with me. She tested me for everything from Lyme's disease to Lupus to MS. I did have a false positive test for lupus which was determined when I was sent to a rheumatologist who ruled it out. I was relieved not to have lupus (my sister has it) but was beyond frustrated not knowing what the hell was wrong with me.

    My symptoms waxed and waned, but I would generally say I was always tired (yet couldn't sleep well to save my life), had sore muscles and joints (felt like an old person a lot of the time), but I kept pressing on, thinking this was just the way it was going to be, so I had to suck it up. At this time, I had been teaching high school for 6 years or so - it's an extremely demanding, grueling, stressful job anyway, and I tended to be a bit perfectionistic in those years- lesson plans had to be just so, papers had to be graded no matter what, etc. I believe now I was simply burning myself out, but I felt young and invincible.

    Then, the summer I was 34 (I think), I was living with my now husband, and I had an extreme bout of symptoms. It was in the summer, we were off work (both teach), and I became so weak I couldn't get off the couch for a few days. My hands ached so bad and were so weak that I remember knocking a pillow off the bed, and when I bent over to pick it up, I couldn't lift it! He was pretty horrified, and so was I. For several weeks - maybe a month - I was pretty useless. I got better gradually, but I couldn't really run or bike or even walk. I realized the doctors weren't going to figure anything out (this is when she tested me for MS), so I tried to take care of myself and slowly got better - not all the way, but better than rock bottom. I don't think I've ever felt fully healthy since that time - so it's been 10+ years ago since I felt really well.

    I feel much better since I began eating primal, but I am ready to find solutions to help me feel great, not just ok (which is how I feel on a good day).

    That's enough for now... I'll continue my history tomorrow and talk about my plan. Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by Angieh; 04-25-2011, 04:30 PM.
    My journal

  • #2
    Sleep 6- 6.5 hours. Feel crushingly bone tired. Chest hurts.

    Was all set to have solid 8 but husband's pump started beeping before 5 and continued to beep every 2 min until it was time for me to get up. Not happy. I didn't sleep well night before either. Everything is so much harder when tired. Also stressing about work - today I have early bus duty, followed by 4 different preps with NO PLANNING PERIOD, followed by my once a week night school shift which puts me home around 7:45pm. Of course I don't have all my papers graded. 12+ day with no planning period - 20 min lunch. I cannot sustain this schedule much longer.

    No wonder I'm burned out.
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    • #3
      **hug** good luck on trying to get healed. I hope you get a good nights sleep soon.
      Calm the f**k down.

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      • #4
        Hey there! Just stopping in to say Hi!

        I had adrenal fatigue a couple of years ago, and do have thyroid disorders. Sounds like you've read a lot of the good stuff...

        Just wondering, what treatment/supplements, etc are you doing for your adrenals (if any)? Also, a really great book for adrenals I recommend (that I don't see on your list) is Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson. I found that one really helpful specifically for adrenals.

        I know the joys of not being able to get restful sleep. :-/
        sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Metismomma View Post
          **hug** good luck on trying to get healed. I hope you get a good nights sleep soon.
          Thank you, and I didn't mean to moan and groan. Today was a long a$$ day for me, and I have already eaten and am imposing a 30 min limit on computer. I'm also going to abstain from tv tonight and get in bed with a book. Ah... come on, sleep!
          My journal

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Minxxa View Post
            Hey there! Just stopping in to say Hi!

            I had adrenal fatigue a couple of years ago, and do have thyroid disorders. Sounds like you've read a lot of the good stuff...

            Just wondering, what treatment/supplements, etc are you doing for your adrenals (if any)? Also, a really great book for adrenals I recommend (that I don't see on your list) is Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson. I found that one really helpful specifically for adrenals.

            I know the joys of not being able to get restful sleep. :-/
            Hi there Minxxa,

            I would LOVE to pick your brain a little to find out what worked for you. Funny that you mention Dr. Wilson's book - I went to my library yesterday specifically looking for it, but they didn't have it. I was bummed, but I do plan to buy it now.

            The only book I've read that focuses on adrenals is Marcelle Pick's, which I literally just finished 2 days ago. She says that even without testing, it's pretty easy to tell that you have it, and from the questionaires in her book and ones I've seen online I do. One of hers categorized people as mild, moderate, or severe, and I was definitely severe. I also believe I am a "workhorse" (her description -- the other two types she calls racehorse and flatliner), and her recommended supplements are:

            for energy
            *astragalus one 400-470 mg capsule up to 3x daily OR an adaptagenic complex with some of these: ashawaganda, cordyceps, rhodiola.
            *Siberian gingseng one 370-420 1-3x daily

            for mood, immune, fat burning:
            *DHEA - she uses drops, 1mg per drop, start with 1 drop 2x day, build up to 5 drops 2x day

            for sleep
            *a phosphorylated serine combo (not sure what that means exactly???) with calcium, mag, phosphorus, l-serine

            Dr. K talks about adrenal stress (which he says is ubiquitous in our culture to some degree) leading to hypo directly and indirectly. He explains 7 different stages and says they aren't necessarily consecutive. It seems to me you would need a test (and he says just one ASI is useless; you need to repeat it) because he bases them on your cortisol /dhea levels:
            ex. Adrenal exhaustion, non-adapted = cortisol is low, DHEA is normal, etc.

            He recommends a liposomal DHEA cream (I have read elsewhere that pills are absorbed fine too). Many of his supplements are the same but they depend on the stage. He also recommends licorice for 5 of the stages for energy.

            Currently I take:
            fish oil
            vit D
            multi

            At night I take 2 heaping teaspoons of cal-mag (natural calm). I also take an Ashawaganda (500mg) which makes me sleepy. And a few times a week I take a half an ambien. I am currently not on synthroid or anything for hypo - my dr. took me off, saying your ranges are "normal", though she only checked TSH (crept up from 2.7 to 3.3 in last 6 months) though I am so, so symptomatic.

            And, it would be key for me to add that so far I haven't added any of the recommended supplements, as I am really new to this and just now realizing the adrenal link to my problems. I'm at the very very beginning of my healing process and eager to get on my way to feeling better. Would love to hear how others have healed from this.

            Although I feel empowered knowing what the heck is wrong with me, I feel completely overwhelmed at the same time. Is it too much to ask for to have a doctor who can help me with this?? That is what I really want/need - a doctor within a 2 hour drive who can help me sort through all this.


            Ok... today was long and brutal. It's time to get off the computer and wind down (sleep, sleep, sleep....). Food was good. Exercise nil. Work = too much and too long!

            More tomorrow.
            Last edited by Angieh; 04-27-2011, 03:28 AM.
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            • #7
              Sleep < 6. Boo.

              Feel cruddy.
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              • #8
                I definitely recommend Dr. Wilson's book as well. For me, I had low cortisol and my DHEA was fine. I am still not sure if my adrenal issues caused the thyroid ones or not-- my mom had thyroid issues-- then thyroid cancer-- so it may just be hereditary and the added stress exacerbated the symptoms. I will never know and it doesn't really matter.

                I still take Ashwaganda daily, as well as holy basil... just for maintenance because you can't really avoid ALL stress!

                I will go back through Dr. Wilson's book, because I can't remember all of what I did back in the day, but supplementally I took Adreset (by Metagenics) recommended by my doctor and that helped a lot. It has a blend of ingredients and I definitely felt it helped.

                A lot of what I "did" was remove stress from my life. At the time, my job was stressful, as in forced to work sometimes up to 18 hours a day by a verbally abusive boss-- who liked to yell for things like wording an email differently than he would have. Seriously. Quitting that job helped a lot. Second was then finding my sleep again. In the book Wilson talks about the times between 10-midnight and 6-8 am as the two best times to be asleep because that's when your adrenals rebuild. So I made sure to be in bed by 9 reading and tried to be asleep by 9:30 as much as possible. I couldn't always do the 6-8, definitely not when I was working, but tried to always get it on weekends and whenever possible. I also removed ANYTHING and ANYONE stressful from my life. And did things that I felt were soothing, whether it was listening to music that calmed me when I was feeling stressed, slow walks, yoga (there are classes that are specifically de-stressing types that are totally awesome). I added back in Vitamin C and rebuilt my D3.

                All of those things helped.

                As for the thyroid thing... if you're having adrenal issues most experts in that field recommend treating the adrenals FIRST before the thyroid because treating the thyroid sometimes won't work or will make you feel worse if your adrenals are messed up. Wilson talks about it in more detail than I do, LOL, but the basic strategy is "fix the adrenals and then tackle the thyroid".

                Before you decide on supplements I highly recommend reading Wilson's book.

                And if you can-- I'd go ahead and get an adrenal saliva test done. You can order those through a few of the online lab testing places pretty easily, depending on what state you're in.

                And by the way, what state are you in? I'm asking just because I might be able to recommend a doctor or someone who can work with you long distance...

                If you look up Dr. Ken Holtorf on google, he is well known for thyroid/adrenal stuff, and he has a few places and I believe may do some long distance work. I think it's probably worth going the distance with someone who you don't have to convince you're sick.

                Feel free to ask me anything that comes up.... While I'm not an expert, I have been there and know how debilitating it really is. I know I don't have to explain to you how horrible, weak, useless and fatiguing it is. But it CAN be fixed. Finding help, good resources and being gentle and good to yourself are really important.
                sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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                • #9
                  Minxxa - I'm really grateful for your detailed response -- very helpful! I just ordered Dr. Wilson's book and will it asap. I also plan to go buy (or I guess order) supplements this weekend - tomorrow I have another 12 hour work day.

                  My job is definitely taking a toll on me, and I know it.

                  Will write more tomorrow.
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                  • #10
                    Getting ready to cook eggs and head to the high school until 3 or so for a track meet. I'll post a journal update this afternoon or tomorrow. I need to order all my supplements this weekend and begin my adrenal healing regimen. I long to feel better...
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                    • #11
                      Have felt miserable all weekend. I was beyond exhausted Friday (rough week) and took an ambien cr my doctor had given to me a few weeks ago when I went in for a sore throat (I told him I wasn't sleeping well - he gave me 4 samples). Despite taking it, I slept restlessly, waking up a lot. I also started my period Friday (not supposed to get it until the 10th). WTH? I am normally right on schedule. The only 2 things I have done differently are upped my fish oil (actually krill which I just switched to) and I have been eating more dairy the last two weeks (mainly ricotta). And it was extremely heavy all weekend. Wonder if the krill oil or dairy could have affected my cycle?

                      I was gone all day yesterday - close to 11 pm when I got home (did have a couple hours at home in afternoon). Slept pretty well - woke up 3x for bathroom. Did not sleep 8 hours though... more like 7. Would have liked to have slept 10 or so. It's a horrible feeling to get out of bed in the morning exhausted and to stay that way all day long.

                      Felt queasy and headachey and crushingly tired all day. Also anxious and just keep thinking about all the things I need to do but don't have the energy too (weeding, grocery shopping, cleaning, grading, bill paying, etc.).

                      I have decided to get a cortisol/dhea test to see where I really am with all this. Not sure if I need to stop my ashawangda, Natural Calm, etc. before taking the test... and if so, for how long before I test?

                      After I get results, I will start supplements. And, I know I must minimize the stress and SOMEHOW get some sleep. I just cannot sleep well or long, and it's so frustrating because I'm so tired. The one steady is my diet - it's been pretty good. I can't imagine how much worse I would feel (and how much more I would weigh) if I were eating SAD.

                      The sad thing is I am realizing to minimize stress in my life (and get more rest), I truly need to quit teaching - at least at my current school. Sadly, I expect things are the same everywhere now. I cannot survive this job much longer - it is simply GRUELING. We have hardly any planning time - combine that with 4 preps and one horribly behaved class, and I am beyond worn out and stressed. It's always so much to do and so little time to do it. I am burned out. But what else can I do for work??? I am putting some serious thought to that question.

                      Time to put a pork loin in the oven and maybe grade a few papers. I can't believe how unbelievably whiney I sound in this thread.
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                      • #12
                        Holy crap woman. Sounds like a suck hole weekend!
                        Ok, krill oil can cause some issues with your menstrual cycle. Well, actually the fish oil dosage can do that. I think there was a thread about that recently. It could be because it thins the blood, causing heavier periods than normal. Though why it would start earlier, no idea.
                        Dairy...maybe, but I doubt it.
                        I'm not sure about what supplements you need to stop when testing, I would be very interested in knowing too.
                        I notice that you aren't taking vitamin C, you might want to add that one to your supplement supply.
                        Other than that, thank god summer is coming. Unless you have a year-round school term.
                        I wonder if you're getting sick maybe? Sounds like the flu
                        Meanwhile, milk chocolate wafers and peanut butter=disgusting. Stick to dark chocolate.
                        Calm the f**k down.

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                        • #13
                          Metismomma - haha - was that a kit kat you indulged in? Leftover Easter candy, perhaps? That stuff truly does pale next to dark chocolate, doesn't it?

                          Thanks so much for the support AND the info on fish oil - I just googled it (couldn't find much, and I need to get to bed). But I am most definitely going to lay off the krill oil for a few days. I feel like I've lost a gallon of blood in 2 days!!! Also, I will likely add c to my regimen. I tend to take it in winter months and then lay off it during the warmer months (old wife's tale, maybe).

                          And yeah, come on SUMMER!

                          Night all.
                          My journal

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                          • #14
                            It was a gift from a neighbor for the girls lol! Cote D'Or Mignonnette Lait Melk chocolat 34% cacao, and regular ole peanut butter. Dude, not enough cacoa. I grabbed some of my 88% but it was too late. The yuck had already overwhelmed me.
                            I used to love KitKat, now the thought..*shudder*
                            Have a good long restful sleep.
                            Calm the f**k down.

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                            • #15
                              Metis - the "gifts" get me every time. I had a candy bar (king size) and a brownie in my box this morning at work for Teacher Appreciation Week. I ate the brownie, and it wasn't even good. Why?? Did not eat the candy though!

                              Ok, just want to run down last couple days... the point is to document, so I need to do so.

                              Mon.
                              Only 6 hours or so of sleep (and not a great deal over weekend)
                              woke up feeling pretty wretched and never felt right all day. Extremely fuzzy headed, unfocused, a little anxious, some chest pain, extremely tingly feet, arms, hands, by end of day a whopper of headache. Very unproductive. Taught but got nothing graded or planned. On good note, period from hell finally tapered off.
                              B- one cup coffee, coconut milk (was eating breakfast last week but didn't make time this week)
                              L - leftover pork roast, spinach, 1/2 frozen raspberries
                              S- pumpkin seeds (pepitas) - maybe 1/4 c.
                              D- um... this is where it gets sketchy. I had little appetite and felt achey, tired, and just puny. I was craving popcorn, so I cooked a large bowl in coconut oil and put some melted butter and salt on it. That was my dinner. Not primal.
                              S - just before bed I realized I was hungry (hmmm... could it have been my stellar dinner?), so I had about 1/3 c. ricotta with pecans (1 T.), few chocolate chips, squirt whipped cream, 1 T. maple syrup
                              Supp- no ashwaganda - took True Calm, probiotic, unisom, 1/2 ambien -- before bed. Multi, 1 fish oil before lunch

                              Tue
                              slept quite well! in bed by 9, asleep by 10 or soon after. woke few times but was able to fall back to sleep. about 8 hours. felt considerably better upon waking than yesterday and have felt better all around today - sharper mentally, more productive, still tingly feet, hands, no headache -- long, hard day though (Tue are 12+ hour days because it's my night school night).
                              B- coffee with HWC
                              L- egg salad with 2 eggs, storebought mayo this time
                              S- spinach, about 2 bites of pork loin (tiny leftover portion)
                              S-nut mix from snack machine at night school (BAD - has m and m things in it and all the bad oils - poor planning)
                              D- salad, black olives, cheese, olive oil/basalmic
                              S - probably something but need to get to bed.

                              No exercise
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