I've been writing these posts all this week, so I'll try to get to the comment replies soon. You all have had so much to say and so many of you have been through similar situations with health issues. Thank you so much for sharing them with me and the rest of the readers. Often times there is a wealth of information and knowledge in the comments from you all, so I don't want you to think I don't read or appreciate them. Please feel free to share your experiences or those of your loved ones, in the comment section. You'll be helping others in doing so. I didn't want to put off getting these last posts out. I had only intended to do this in one post, but as I got started, I realized this is important subject matter and that there is so much information (not just about my issues) entailed in my searches, that to do it justice I needed to include it all.
For a year I've been having extreme fatigue, daily dizziness, headaches bordering on migraines, and a constant barrage of gut symptoms that I'll just have you imagine. I can talk all day about heart issues, but I'm not going to get into the details of all my GI tract problems. I've felt like one of those festering pools of toxic chemical waste; way too many drugs, all with side effects. It was like I was being slowly poisoned by some kind of drug and chemical overload, and I didn't think there was anything I could do about it.
I'm having a lot of information to process...yes, I'm still uncovering things day to day. It's been like a scavenger hunt in a way. You learn one piece of information, then that takes you to something else. That's the way I like to study. Take notes, and follow the trail. Dig and re-read. Ask questions... in this case I've "Googled" hundreds of questions about blood tests and symptoms, and drugs, and side effects. Patient forums, sites like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Heart Clinic, WebMD, etc. And yes I've even run into a few of the fringe element, But I've learned alot and hopefully I can encourage you to do your own investigations.
Here are some concepts I've had to consider in figuring out what has been going on with my body this last year. I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, and I don't claim to have a handle on all of these. But I am aware of their importance in the big picture of my health and I'm trying to keep all this in mind as I get a grip on my health issues. They aren't in particular order of importance, just as they came to my my mind.
1. Keep a Health Journal. List all your current medications, foods, supplements, symptoms, and when you notice them. Carry it with you if need be and jot down how you're feeling. If this sounds a little extreme, you'll be glad you have it at some point. It will help you start putting the puzzle together./ This started when I needed to keep track of my blood pressure. I noticed being dizzy sometimes went along with my BP lowering, then I branched out into other areas.
2. Know the medications you are taking. Research all you can about them. Find out exactly why you were prescribed this med. Know what the side effects are from the beginning. Read reviews and forums that patients join who are having side effects. Keep your drug handout you get from the pharmacy./ There have been numerous times I've asked a doctor a drug question only for him to tell me just the opposite of the drug manufacturer handout. Just because they haven't heard of the problem before doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
3. Research every health supplement, vitamin, or herbal supplement. This includes diet supplements, health drinks, fiber pills, laxatives, protein bars, protein powders, sugar substitutes, etc. anything over-the-counter. Read customer reviews, testimonials, contents, added ingredients. Most have loads of chemicals in them, even if they say they are natural health products./ This was an important aspect of finding out what my problems were. I'm allergic to most if not all whey protein powders. It took me awhile to realize this. Multiple bladder infections/sensitivity later I finally wised up. I'm currently trying to find a fiber pill that I'm not sensitive to. The last one I tried has caused a pesky rash.
4. Make notes of foods and drinks that might be giving you problems in your health journal. Read all the labels. Could you have food allergies or triggers? This especially is helpful for children, who might not put foods and symptoms together. Gluten is a common problem, with lots of symptoms. GI problems: are you lactose intolerant? Do you drink coffee? Caffeine or decaf? what do you put in it?/
Make notes of what you had and when you noticed a symptom.
5. Can you exercise? Even a little exercise is better than none. But if you can't exercise because of health issues how do you feel during exercise? Do you have specific pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, etc?/ Last Fall, I started having problems on my exercise bike, I immediately started yawning, and then finding it hard to get enough air into my lungs. I finally had to quit, and that was a big wake-up call.
6. Check Inactive Ingredients, dyes, chemical additives. Look up each element. I know this is time consuming, but you will probably find things you didn't know where there. You may be finding a common denominator in products with your symptoms. Do you feel bad and/or have symptoms after having certain OTC meds or foods? /This has been another biggy for me, I'm finding several culprits hiding in OTC health items.
7. Cleaning supplies, personal products such as bath wash, shampoo, soaps, make-up, etc. Try to find products without fragrances, and dyes, etc. Research products for problematic ingredients. Read testimonials and reviews./ With body rashes and sensitivities, I started looking for body washes and shampoo that were not loaded with junk, right now Summer's Eve is working for me. I usually use Clinique make-up, but don't have too many sensitivities to those kind of items.
8. Processed foods. These packaged items and drinks are full of unknown caffeine, sugar substitutes, dyes, preservatives, and chemical additives. They are one of the worst culprits, as they are usually full of tons of bad stuff you don't need or want./ More on this later, I've cut way back on processed and packaged foods.
9. Are you drinking water? I know... there are so many of us that just find it hard to drink enough water. They say take your weight and divide it by 2. that gives you the ounces you need each day. Squeeze or infuse lemon and lime, other fresh fruits such as strawberries, oranges, watermelon, cucumbers etc. Stay away from water flavoring mixes, or flavored waters, they're full of chemicals./ I've had to learn that water is my friend...need I say more?
10. Sodas. I think we all know how bad these are for us. Not to mention all the chemicals they contain, they keep us from being properly hydrated. I can admit I used to be one of the biggest offenders. Regular and diet are both bad news. If you want to treat yourself once in awhile, just don't let it be a habit, and then drink lots of water to flush out your system./ Just can't do it anymore...
11. Alcohol Intake. So many medications can be altered and have warnings about the use of alcohol while taking them. Alcohol can cause them not to work, or even make the effects stronger. Just be aware of the effects on your medications./ I love a glass of white wine with dinner, but I cut that out months ago, just too many side effects from one little glass.
12. What are you eating? not enough protein? too much protein? fresh greens, salads, raw veggies, too much fiber? watch the starches and carbs, do you know the glycemic index of foods? Types of fats, good vs. bad fats. dairy?, desserts? I eat pretty simply now, most nights I have a big salad and some kind of protein like chicken.
13. Sugar. do you have desserts, treats, candy, ice cream, sugared drinks and sodas, even sweet tea, and chewing gum throughout the day? Too much sugar, or a constant consumption of sugar can cause Insulin Resistance. Too much sugar during the day can mess up how you process it, causing diabetes and metabolic syndrome, it's also a contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, hormone problems, diabetes, and Alzheimer's etc./ One lonely lemon oreo cookie is about it.
14. Do you diet, or making lifestyle changes in the way you eat? It's so easy to get in a "ditch" if you're dieting. Make sure you make adjustments in what you eat, not just temporarily cutting out food groups unless you're having problems. Generally a diet of whole, unprocessed, natural foods will be your best approach. Concentrate on your health and wellness, not so much a number on a scale or a dress size./ A few years ago, I did a fad diet shake replacement based on a Soy Protein Powder mix.(Everyone and their big brother was doing it) I thought soy was good for you, but found that in women after menopause it can act as an estrogen.This is a no-no with heart disease. Thats when I had the blood clots. I may never know for sure, but it feels like that was a part of it.
15. De-Stress There are lot's of ways to do this. many people do yoga or exercise. I like to go on a walk, take a time out to sit down and read a bit of scripture and pray. Take a bath before bedtime, read a little. The main idea is clearing your mind and disengaging from outside stimulus, meaning tv, electronic devices, and other people. take some "me-time"./ I've learned my limitations and to say NO, too.
If you don't have problems then just tuck this information away for safekeeping. I know I'm the extreme right now. But you could have a friend with problems or a grandchild that's sick. I know you'd want to know if any of this is pertinant to them.
I have the last post coming out on Sunday morning so watch for it. I'm finally at the place where I can share what has been working for me. This is a huge deal for me since I've been sick since early last Fall. I know that it may be anti-climactic for you all, but it's the "process" that I've been through to find my problems that is the important part, since everyone has different issues and sensitivities. Thanks for hanging in there with me through these posts. They've been cathartic for me, as I'm a person that likes to talk things through in order to come to a decision. This can make my husband crazy, and want to wear headphones. I think most women are like me. We also want to know about other people so we can learn all we can in order to take care of ourselves and our families.
I'll be back Sunday with the rest of the story...
telling my story here:
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