Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Success Story

Early morning Texas and it is already hot and very muggy. I’m in bed getting ready to study for pathophysiology with a nice cup of coffee. My baby boy Wyatt, is watchfully guarding the house by letting me know when cats pass by.

I know this is so overdue it hurts and I have so much on my plate right now that writing this is probably a bad idea, time management wise. I have been thinking about writing this for weeks now.

I am currently a week and a half into my new life as a nursing graduate student. I’m in the foundation year where they throw as much information at you as they can and hope some will stick.  So far, not a lot sticking.
I drove down here from Washington state. I crossed seven different states in four days by myself in my little SUV filled mostly by my dog’s kennel. I surprisingly did very well. I was stressed and had much culture shock once I got to Texas for the first time. My back pain was surprisingly manageable. My knees acted up the most. It seemed moving them around made them worse. I believe they don’t like to be bent for very long, because being in class makes them very bad as well. I just cannot sit for very long, but to be fair, I cannot stand for very long either. The food situation was very good as I packed everything up ahead of time with a cold rice salad for the road and lentil burgers and broccoli for when I was in the hotel. I also stopped by a friend’s place in Colorado and I had vegan tacos that night. So wonderful! There were quite a few times on the road when I was so tired, I maybe should not have been driving. I did not stop to nap except once because the drives already took me so long every day. I tried to compensate with caffeine, but usually did not do much good. I did make it and I’m glad I was able to have such a small adventure.
Food for the road! 

So far, Texas has been exceptional. I’m getting used to the heat and I take public transportation to school every day so I do not have to deal with traffic. The first week I was here, I was extremely motivated and for awhile it seemed my fatigue had subsided. I was up and about cooking, cleaning, and getting ready for school. Even the first week of school I was able to do all the readings and last weekend I even sat down for a full twelve hours just going over material. I cannot recall a time I have ever done that.  This week it all went back to normal: assignments being put off until the morning before, daily naps, zombified in front of the television most times, etc. I’m guessing I tried too hard the first week and already burnt myself out. It is definitely manageable, but once again I can’t be hard on myself or I legitimately will not get anything done.
Onto a food update: I have been eating relatively healthy since I have been here. I eat salads and healthy dinners that I make for my roommate and I. It’s very important to have something healthy and yummy waiting for me after a long day of classes. I also have a few things I have learned to throw together quickly (rice, bean, veggie medleys). I may have to do a blog post specifically on my favorite fast recipes. I have definitely been drinking a bit since I got here. I think I have a social association of alcohol with being in college. For the most part, it has been fun. I have also increased my caffeine intake, but only in the mornings. I want to drink coffee in the afternoons, but I usually miss the cutoff before bedtime becomes an impossibility, so I just end up too tired to do much each afternoon.

I also wanted to give you a pre-Texas update. I saw all my doctors before I left. I realize my last couple posts have been about acceptance and making it sound like I’m not better, but I’ll keep trying. My medical results did not show much as usual, but really reflecting on it, I believe I have a plant powered success story to share with you. I talked often with my family doctor. He did not know what to do with me so he put me on an anti-depressant. I took it long enough to wait for the supposed benefits to kick in. I only received side effects and none of the happy benefits. Let me be clear, I am not depressed. Sometimes I am very frustrated and upset about my health, but I am actually a very happy person. I laugh, I stay optimistic, and I really love my life. However, sometimes depression manifests itself physically and not mentally, so I thought out of pure desperation, I’d give it a try. When I went back to the doctor to tell him it did not work, he just offered to prescribe me a different type. I’m about to become a nurse and I have the utmost respect for medicine, but throwing pills blindly at someone seems like a stupid idea to me. I declined his offer. I also went to see my gynecologist that originally diagnosed the PCOS. I had many blood tests run (they took seven vials of blood). These came out normal. Even my cortisol levels, which I was surprised with. To be fair, hormones are hard to monitor with just one test because of their rhythmicity. For example, cortisol peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day (unless you stress yourself out). I also had another ultrasound done. The cysts are still there, but are not changing much. The doctor said they probably would not get worse for awhile but he wanted to check before I left the state. My primary physician also ran blood tests. No surprise, they came out normal. My chronic fatigue is not due to anemia, thyroid problems, cancer or any other thing you would test for. I’m not sure if anyone else comes across this as well. The tests say you’re healthy and doctors just stop trying.

Now here’s what I think is the success story you were waiting for. Four years ago when I took those same blood tests with that same doctor, my blood showed a spike in insulin: the one abnormal result. The terrible sign of insulin resistance with diabetes just around the corner. This explained what I would call my reactive hypoglycemia. Every couple hours I was sweaty, nauseated, light-headed if I did not eat something. I started a low sugar, high protein diet. I ate an egg every morning to keep my blood sugar stable like people told me. It never worked. Eggs are not the answer, at least not for me. I was not overweight at the time, but I was probably only a few pounds away from it. I finally turned my life upside down by eating mostly plant-based (I have only been fully plant-based for a year now). Since then, I have no more reactive hypoglycemic moments, I have lost over 25lbs, and according to the latest tests I may have beaten the diabetes threat that my lovely genes so badly want to call upon. Even though I have new battles now, I am so proud I won that particular one. I’ll leave you with this story; I may still be sick, but plant-based eating helped me become less sick. I hope you all have similar or even better journeys.