Archive for the ‘medical anomaly’ Category

Mmm tasty-ish

After paying more attention to my diet for the past 5 days or so, I’ve realized that I eat a lot more poorly than I realized.  I mean, I know things have gone downhill as my defense has gotten closer, and since Husband left… but damn.  So basically I kept track of what I was eating for 4 days without changing anything or going out of my way, and then this morning I went to the grocery store.  For the first time in quite a while (2 months…. Husband did it before, and since he moved, I’ve been relying on food from Subway or from my roomies).

I have tried looking up good information on this diet on the interwebs, but there is so much quackery and bullshit that it’s actually been pretty hard.  Really the best info I’ve found so far was on Epicurious, actually, which I think is a bit of a travesty.  There was a federally funded study on the effects of following an anti-inflammatory diet, but the details of the diet followed weren’t available, and nor were the results.  I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised – this diet, named as such, only begins appearing primary literature within the last decade or so, and it’s never delineated that well.  The basic idea, so far as I can tell, is to eat very little carbs (no refined grains, maybe some whole grains or maybe none, no white rice, brown rice is ok…), lots of leafy green veggies, fruits (especially avocado, tomatoes, oranges…), nuts (especially walnuts), very little poultry, beef, or pork, lots of oily fish (salmon and trout), and lots of garlic and ginger and certain other seasonings.

So, I’m sort of a picky eater, in that I never really want anything, I just dislike some food less than others.  Except for cake, I almost always like cake.  And, I do genuinely like food, I can just never decide what I want.  But, I often don’t breathe through my nose while I’m eating, and don’t chew properly so I can eat faster (all of that sounds incredibly weird when I write it out).  Anyway, I was walking around the store trying to get things that sounded good – I like avocados, but I like them as guacamole (…with chips), or with tomato and salsa (…on tortillas).  I love pesto, made with spinach, walnuts, parmesan, olive oil, and garlic (…on pasta).  The recurring problem is that the vehicle for the good stuff is “bad” stuff.  I got some gluten free brown rice pasta… and it was disgusting.  Like.. gluey.  Gross – I would rather just eat straight pesto, but that’s sort of hard.  So, I decided that I am making a solid effort, and reducing the amount of refined carbs I’m eating, but not eliminating all together – I had the nasty pasta for lunch, and regular with dinner.  Plus, I’m not sure if corn tortilla chips (for the guac) or corn tortillas (for the little taco things) are “bad” or not.

I think I’m going to go visit the nutritionist through my university to see if she can help me lay out a diet with good meal ideas, and also just help me get a better handle on what is good and what’s not.  I am feeling sort of pessemistic about it for some reason, I guess I’m afraid it might be too much hippy bullshit, or not scientific enough for me – since I am having trouble finding it myself.  But, I’m trying to quelch that thought process, and hopefully I will have something more constructive to follow next week.  Until then, I’m trying this at least better version of a diet, even if it isn’t quite right.

Oh, and with my pesto pasta, I had salmon, baked with some olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and lemon zest.  It was fantastic.  If I could eat that every day, I would, but my wallet wouldn’t like it… and there’s that whole mercury thing…


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Ok, so over the past um.. forever, my body has a had a range of problems, generally small, that at this point are putting a serious damper on my wallet and my social life.  I get sick only occaisionally, but when I do, I get SICK.  Like, strep throat for 6 straight months, or sustained fever above 103 for weeks for no apparent reason.  Or, idiopathic optic neuritis (a major risk factor for multiple sclerosis), chronic dry eye, and an allergy to my contact lenses.  Lots of random stuff, none of it especially terrible all by itself, but together…  expensive.  Keeping me from playing frisbee, among other things.

So, today I had a follow up appointment with my optometrist for the dry eyes bit.  The lacrimal plugs didn’t do much, so he prescribed me some eye drops that should stimulate tear production.  To the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month, as there is no generic.  He also asked me a lot of questions about my diet and stress levels.  I’ve always thought my diet, while not stellar, is certainly acceptably healthy.  I don’t eat McDonalds, as a rule (though I was forced to while at the hospital while my nephew was making his debut – and it was NASTY), I don’t eat excessively, I generally eat meals prepared from basic ingredients rather than processed stuff.  But, you know, I had a reese’s peanut butter cup for breakfast this morning.  And yesterday I didn’t eat any fruit.  So, not that great.

So, my optometrist started talking about a “proinflammatory diet”, and I admit I sort of started to tune out.  I mean, I’m healthy!  I’m athletic!  I’m smart – I’m a toxicologist, and I don’t need to hear about this cockamamie hippie bullshit.  But, wait – the little wheels in my little stressed out brain started turning, and the overarching message was this: listen.

And so I listened.  And took notes.  And ran home, and started reading primary literature.  And, and, and: it makes sense.  Just because my diet is better than most Americans’ doesn’t mean it is the best diet I could have.  I eat too much meat and not enough veggies and fruits.  I eat more sweets than I ought to, though I eat less than many people.  I love bread, and pasta, and generally anything made from grains.  And scientifically, I know all about the benefits of high intake of omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6.  I know why, physiologically, the former are great, and the latter suck – omega-6 FAs are used in inflammatory processes.  Being in a constantly inflamed state can lead to all sorts of shit: degenerative diseases, heart disease, cancer.  So why won’t I eat an effing orange instead of that reeses cup?

I think it comes down to accountability.  So, even though this road is fraught with the dangers of mild exercise bulimia if I start doing the calorie thing, I think I’m going to start recording my food intake.   The quality rather than the quantity, because my weight isn’t the issue.  The issue is the constant, basal level of discomfort I am in every day, even the best days.  The issue is that I can’t wear my damn contacts long enough to go to the gym, much less play frisbee or go on a date with my husband.  The issue is the amount of money I spend on medicine and doctors visits.  If I can prevent that through my diet… well, I barely like food anyway, so why not eat things that are good for me instead of whatever seems least unpalatable at any particular moment?  I mean, if I could opt to take a pill every morning that would give me all the perfect nourishment for the day, but couldn’t have a single meal after that, I would.  But, I can’t.  So I will try this instead.

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I just completed a telephone questionnaire required for life insurance.  I’d been putting it off for a few days because they always call when I’m in the bathroom – seriously, they had an eerie sense for my digestive processes.  The interview was mostly focused on my medical history, a bit more in depth than the questions asked by the nurse who did our blood work.  It was, in a word, irritating.  This woman, who I will call Grumpers, clearly hates her job and has very little understanding of medical jargon.  Grumpers was asking me ridiculous questions (through no fault of her own, obviously).

She opened with “have you been to any medical professional in the past five years.”  At this point, I realized that this was perhaps not the ideal time for this conversation, as my memory was terrible, I was in the parking lot of a coffee shop, and it’s cold outside.  But I forged on.

She ran out of boxes.  RAN OUT. I know my medical history is colorful, but seriously, it’s not that bad.  Just a bunch of minor things – a little wrist reconstructive surgery here, and little tonsilectomy there.  Some wacky optic neuritis stuff.  Maybe some bronchitis.  You know, whatevs.

Grumpers wasn’t sure what to do when she ran out of boxes.  So she just went on ahead.  “Have you had any diagnostic procedures in the past five years?” I’m sure all the other patrons on the porch were wondering if it hurt for me to roll my eyes that much.  It’s bizarre, they literally wanted this information off the top of my head – names of physicians, dates of treatment, specific drugs, for the past five years.  And I am more conversant in this medical crap than most people I know – I do know drug names, procedure names.  I can say and spell triangular fibrocartilaginous complex without stumbling.

Anyway, it took 30 minutes instead of the alleged 10, I uttered the phrase “vaginal ultrasound” in a coffee shop parking lot, and now I’m quite glad to have it over with so I can get back to finishing up with editing the ol’ dissertation and waiting for periodic updates on the first day of work from the Husband.

Oh, and regarding my emo post from last week – my ankle is mostly better, my tear ducts are still stupid, Husband is safe and sound and bored in WA, and I spent all weekend knitting and pretending grad school didn’t exist.  I am much, much calmer now 🙂

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hit the floor

This morning, Fiance and I ate a gigantic breakfast at Big City, and then headed over to his boss’ house to borrow his truck so Fiance could finish moving out of his old house.  We were hanging out in the backyard playing with Boss’ boxer puppies, when I started feeling sort of lightheaded.  I toughed it out for a bit, hoping it would pass or we would hit the road so as not to make a scene, but eventually it became clear I would not be so lucky.  I asked if I could go inside for a minute to sit down, as it was pretty hot out, and a few minutes later found myself sitting on their kitchen floor wondering exactly how I’d gotten there, and if it was necessary to be quite so sweaty and cold.

I was mostly fine after a few minutes, albeit somewhat confused since I had a) just eaten, b) been out in the heat for the past hour no problem, and c) am out in the heat constantly for frisbee.  But whatever.  So I passed out on their floor.  No big deal, right?  People faint.

Granted, the only other time I’ve been around Boss and his wife, I’d also left abruptly due to a medical problem.  Back in March, at Fiance’s co-worker’s wedding, we were all sitting around at the reception when I decided the vision loss I’d had in my right eye for 24 hours or so was something worth being alarmed about.  I went from flippant to freaked in about 15 minutes, and off we went to the hospital. They must think me either a hypochondriac or a medical trainwreck.

I was diagnosed with idiopathic optic neuritis, and given very little in the way of details (because there is nothing doctors hate more than scientists – we ask all manner of irritating questions).  With an astounding display of poor bedside manner, the medical staff started mumbling about multiple sclerosis, using a delightful array of adverbs such as “likely” and “typically” and “probably” and thank god I was geeking out on all the medical details I could draw out of them, or else I would have Lost. My. Shit.

So, long expensive story short(er), I get pumped full of corticosteroids and sent packing, slightly alarmed and very intrigued.  I get my head scanned (CT, MRI) and my eyes checked and checked and checked.  Ultimately my MRI comes back clean, which means, I am told, that I have “only” about a 50% chance of ending up with MS.  We will assume I don’t have MS until I turn up with another neurological symptom, of which there are a variety pack.  I am also told my vision should improve and return within about 6 weeks (just long enough to totally ruin the frisbee season…).  Well, it’s the end of July and here’s some Susie Goggles (TM):

Susie GogglesSo that’s my central vision in both eyes.  Left is normal with a normal blindspot, right is screwed up – about 30% gone, give or take.  My peripheral in that eye is much worse.  I’d say I lost about 50% total in my right eye.  Interestingly, it doesn’t matter too much for most of my day-to-day activities.  It’s really only a major detraction for frisbee, and it makes driving on the interstate during rush hour sort of… mentally taxing.

So, anyways, I’m glossing over lots of the details (hard to believe, I’m sure), but today I’m wondering if randomly fainting, and also the vertigo I’ve been getting occaisionally, might not be a neurological symptom worth mentioning to a doctor.

The crux is that fainting isn’t necessarily weird, and neither is a little bit of vertigo.  It’s a question of how much constitutes “abnormal,” and my definition of too much might be different than someone else’s.  Additionally, if it were as simple as going to the doctor and getting a satisfactory answer, the way would be clear.  However, after reading some of the primary literature on optic neuritis and MS, I disagree with the choices my doctors made, the details they shared with me, and the explanations offered.  That’s another story though.

Maybe it just was my subconscious satisfying my love of taking naps on the kitchen floor.  Bad subconscious!

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