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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attack of the Colitis Diet- Part Deux

So we ordered pizza.

Now, if you'll remember, pizza has been, for the past several weeks, a huge no-no food for me. What was I thinking? I suppose in retrospect, I was thinking that I had been on antibiotics and that it should have 'cured' my issues. I wanted to test. I wanted to gauge my body's reaction. And dammit, I was tired. I'd just spend five days camping with disgustingly sick children. I had to unpack the car, start the soiled (SOILED=VERY NASTY) laundry. I just needed to shove some food in my face and get on with my evening. 

Well. Haha. Joke's on me. Because I did nothing that night that didn't involved pain medication and curling up into a ball.

My guts loudly and profoundly said: Fuck you, lady.

I am on my daughter's bed, crying, curled into a ball around my stomach, sweating and moaning and cussing and hoping the Vicodin would just kick in already. When I wasn't doing that I was cursing myself for a fool while I sat on the toilet because my bowels just went ahead and decided not to digest, well, anything. Delightful.

Saturday rolled around and I don't think I ate anything other than a handful of chips at my mother in laws and some rice we ordered from the Chinese joint. All seemed well in tummy-land at this point- I just wasn't taking a chance. To add insult to injury, I woke bright and early and practically SKIPPED to the gym to weigh myself because I was sure... sure!!!... that after a week of pretty much eating almost nothing I clearly would have dropped poundage.

Um. Yeah. 1 pound. I weighed in a 199. I was near tears when I left. My damn body has turned on me, I thought. I can't even lose weight as an anorexic.

Sunday morning dawned and I left my house early to get to a 7am family photo shoot. It was a challenging one: extended family, four year old, baby, and three horses+ a sweet black lab. I worked my tail off for two and a half hours and then drove home, dropped my camera bag on the front table, marched myself upstairs, and fell asleep until 1pm.

As soon as I woke up I knew I was screwed. First symptom of The Terrible Illness was excessive sleep. The kids were still randomly falling asleep throughout the day for hours at a time. I was mentally hysterical that I was coming down ill again so soon after getting the colitis under control. I hadn't even begun to eat again.

Monday. Sick. Really sick. Can't get up sick. Tuesday- I realize that in addition to The Horrible Virus I am also developing a raging case of strep. I have been on what are literally gut blowing up antibiotics for well over a week and I've got strep. I've had one of the strongest broad spectrum antibiotics known to man for a week and another really strong one one top of it, half the time intravenously. This is the stuff that they give you when you've got e.coli or have been exposed to anthrax for the love of the goddess!!!! Must be one motherfucking badass strain of strep and all I can think is: 

Are you fucking kidding me!?!?!?!?!?!?

I put myself on the penicillin we have in the house. Strong dose. Best thing for strep out there. Wednesday dawns and one peek down my throat practically sends Jay running for the hills. He's vulnerable to strep and has had it more times than his 10 fingers can count. I have pus pockets on the back of my throat that are so large they are touching my uvula and I've been on penicillin for well over 24 hours. It's getting worse, not better. 

Now I'm mad. I'm all done with this shit. I'm going to heal myself the way I know how (without western medicine) and

So I load my crew up and head over to the Whole Foods in St. Louis. A ten minute conversation with the health specialist there confirms what I already know. I have a sick gut and the antibiotics at this point are going to make everything worse. I purchase one $50 bottle of extremely strong probiotics, two (and should have gotten about 20) glass bottles of organic cranberry kombucha tea, and a large container of coconut milk kefir and get the heck out of dodge. I'm really starting to feel crummy on my drive back home. I stumble in the door, lay down on my bed, and cry like I've lost my soul.

Jay leaves for work somewhere in the 2:30ish hour. I have lost track of time from here and for the rest of the evening. I literally crawl downstairs and lay down on the couch. I'm feverish. I feel icky. I fall into fitful sleep while the kids watch TV. I wake. I'm hot. Like, really really hot. I can feel the heat pulsating off my body with my heartbeat. Time is odd now... sort of stretched out and floaty. It's hard to explain. Jay texts me that he'll be home for his lunch break around 6-ish. Somewhere between five-thirty and six I start praying to the Universe with my heart beats. Let him be home soon. Let him be home soon.

He calls sometime after 6 to say he's on the way home and I think all I could croak out was "help me". I was delirious. I kept having dreams that my spirit was floating up to the top of the solar system. I remember being somewhere between the sun and mercury and communing with The Creator of All Things. Only they weren't like 'dreams' because I was still mostly conscious of what was going on in the room around me. It was very bizarre. And very scary when I would finally drop back into my body. I realized at one point while waiting for him that I had finally achieved the state I try to get into when I meditate. Complete relaxation of body and stillness of mind.

When Jay arrives he feels me, says "you're not that hot", and then forces me to stand, practically carries me into the bathroom, and thrusts me into what he claims was a "lukewarm" shower but which I would describe as "motherfucking ice water". I immediately begin to sob hysterically. My mind starts to wake up a bit. I cry that I'm going to pass out. He helps me sit and runs the tub. I'm still hysterically crying. I remind myself of me in transition during labor. And honestly, that's quite similar to where I was mentally. Totally sunk down in myself, finding the bottom limit of my reserve of energy, pushing myself to go further, actively working to calm myself and going with my body. As the fever broke (which he later revealed was very likely upwards of 105 but he didn't want to scare me further by telling me where I really was) and I came back to myself I understand immediately that my throat is better. My body is relaxed as it hasn't been in weeks. I am starting to heal.

Let me just step outside the story for a moment. I am always, always amazed and humbled by the workings of our bodies. The innate wisdom already located within our cells. I needed that fever. Was it scary? Yes. Was it necessary? Absolutely. It was completely the catalyst for my beginning to heal. It wasn't instant- it has taken me until today, 3 days post 'heating', to get back on my feet but it was from that moment on that I could tell I started to get better. Bacteria don't like heat. They grow best in a normal human body temp. Start to heat that sucker up and you inhibit their growth and they can't multiple as rapidly (or at all). Eventually, get it hot enough, and they start to die. Jay and I have a running, fun debate about fevers in humans. I claim that rarely will a human body heat itself to it's own detriment (save for heat stroke- but my point is that the human BODY isn't heating itself there... it's the outside temp affecting the internal body temp) and he's convinced you'll cook your brain if you leave a 105 fever to do it's thing. It's my opinion that rarely will a fever cause brain damage. I'm sure there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, but it doesn't make sense for the body to kill itself to kill off a parasitic invader. In fact, temps can skyrocket to 108 and still maintain basic organ systems. If it happens, and I'm sure it does, it makes sense to me that the bacteria/virus itself "breaks" the internal system to the point where the body will indeed risk sacrificing itself at the chance of killing the invader. 

But I digress.

That fever was bliss. And by Friday morning I was able to get out of my house for the first time in almost a week and take a swim in the salt water pool at my gym (no germs were spread in the making of this outing- salt water kills strep bacteria). I have been on a strict regimen of rotating salt water and unfiltered apple cider vinegar gargles, thrice daily 85 billion, 13 strain bifia based probiotics, 10,000 IU Vit D3 supplementation, and as much fermented foods as I can choke down. Don't get me wrong, it's not been a walk in the park. I felt like complete trash yesterday afternoon after being up all day. I almost gave into the temptation to try the penicillin again because it's certainly a faster way to get these assholes under control. But I committed to cleaning my body the correct way and I've stuck to it. This morning I woke to an almost completely clean throat and a body that's finally, finally healing itself. I learned that I need to be on strong probiotics for at least 8 weeks to give them a chance to completely recolonize my gut and heal my immune system. I also need to vary and rotate the strains I am using to help give them a chance to get a foothold in my system.

Moral of the story gentle reader is this:

Your gut is the place where your immune system is born. Did you know that your immune response begins in your intestines? Did you know that every bite of junk you put in your body compromises that system? And that once the lining of your intestines get sick it's a long, hard road back to re-establishing health? Good bacteria are what you want running the show in there, not things like h.Pylori or group A Streptococcus bacteria, or e. Coli. They blow. 

My goals now are to research the GAPs diet and begin to heal my body further. GAPs goes beyond Paleo and I hear it's challenging. But you know what else is challenging? Trying to run a business, take care of a family, and spend my free time with my loving partner when I'm curled up on a couch crying in pain or high as a kite on Vicodin most of the time or in and out of the hospital. You know what's a bummer? Being on steroids for internal inflammation or having a resistant strain of strep take over your body because it's got such a good foothold. Not being able to go and do the things you want, keep your house neat and clean, shop for food for your family, or work at the career you love because you're too damn sick to get out of your bed, much less leave your home. Those things are hard. Those things suck. Eat bone broth and fermented foods for three months? Not so much in comparison.

So while this blog has always been about health and a little bit about weight loss now it's complete focus is on this journey toward healing my body. 

But just to throw you a bone, I did finally weigh in yesterday morning before I swam and I'm down 7 pounds from my pre-sick weigh-in and 13 pounds total from my high weight. I wore a shirt today I haven't had on in well over a year and got tons of compliments, even from Jay who swears up and down he loves my body no matter what (his comment was sort of a dumb boy moment but I relished it all the same). I have a long, long way to go but I've sure made a hell of a start. 

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