If you haven't read the first 3 posts,
The first thing I had to deal with was the Hiatal Hernia discovery when I went to the emergency room in March. Knowing I had one, explained a lot of pain and heartburn that I really hadn't taken seriously. I'd been given a Proton Pump Inhibitor quite a few years ago for acid reflux, but finally stopped taking it when a connection with heart disease came to light. Prolonged use can destroy the lining of your stomach, and we need some stomach acid to digest food properly. I stopped because PPIs cause some blood thinners to become ineffective. If you'd like a concise article on this subject. CLICK HERE for info from Harvard Medical School. I take Zantac each day, try to stay away from spicy foods, drink lots of water, use a Tums or Pepsid tablet for immediate help and I sleep at an angle propped up. That way acid doesn't creep back up at night. The pain I was having in the center of my chest was really just as bad as heart pain. (go figure) Now I have a handle on which pain is which.
Anemia. This was another real revelation finding out that I was anemic. It took a major blood loss during my heart surgery to bring it to the forefront. Of course the first thing the medical system wants to know is, are you having any sort of internal bleeding. Do you have blood in your stool? It can be caused by a bleeding gastric ulcer, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, cancer, diverticulitis. etc. They will want to determine this first. I had none of this. Doctors will want a colonoscopy, which I'm not a candidate for because you can't be on blood thinners. Check out "COLOGUARD" as an alternative test. Mine came back negative. So that leaves a couple more reasons for anemia. Lack of iron in your diet, (which mine was not), lack of B12, and the possibility that you are not producing enough red blood cells. This last option is what I need to know about, since I've been anemic seemingly my whole life. My red, and now white blood count is in the "low" category. My anemia and iron blood test numbers came back in the normal zone, but my blood cell count has not. I'm going to have to push for a definite answer here; more blood tests. I'm not going to let this slide, I've been sick for too long to ignore this.
B-12 Supplementation and Intrinsic Factor. This is an easy fix, and no one mentioned this when looking at my anemia. You have to have B12 to convert iron into usable form for absorption. If you don't have B12 you can take a stomach full of iron supplements and they won't do you any good. I researched this on my own and now take a sublingual B12 tablet every day. It has to be sublingual as this goes directly to your blood stream and bypasses your stomach, which is probably the problem in the first place. (this is why taking PPIs can mess up your stomach lining) Make sure it's methylcobalamin B12, that's what is absorbed much easier. Here's a real scary fact. Anemia and lack of B12 absorption (which increases with age) could possibly be the reason for a huge number of older and elderly people having symptoms of dementia. I've read several places that a simple Sublingual B12 tablet could impact a large segment of population which has dementia problems and symptoms. Get your older folks some B12 and rule that possibility out.
Heart Medications. I started by going through each one and looking at the listed side effects, and reading patient reviews. What I read was shocking. The drug companies are not going to be up front about all the people that have had problems with their drug. They are going to minimize the side effects and use a very small print. I got dr. permission to cut back on one of my main ones, since I had better blood flow, but the other two were low dosages, so I couldn't lessen those. They are already listed as a "least offender" so I moved on to my cholesterol meds.
Statins and other Cholesterol Medications Can I just say, OH MY GOSH!!!! the list is a mile long, and most of you who take statins know the side effects, or at least YOU SHOULD. I cannot take most statins as I have severe muscle cramping. I've found one that didn't feel like it was crippling me and that was Simvastatin (Zocor). The other one I take is Zetia, and it's loaded with GI side effects. I don't know why I didn't put 2 and 2 together, but the patient forums are filled with horror stories of this drug. It actually worked to lower my cholesterol (genetic) and so I turned a blind eye to that possibly being one of my problems. It and the Simvastatin were going to be my first "elimination test" options. After being off of those 2 drugs for a week I felt tons better. My hiatal hernia was much better, my guts didn't feel like an earthquake, and my headaches were lessening. So now that I've found this out, I'm looking into one of the new injectable cholesterol meds. I'm hoping to be in a trial that Rapatha has. Anyway, I'm looking into other options. I WONT be going back on Zetia for darned
On to the Supplements and OTC products.
This is where the Health Journal is the most critical because it's much easier to cut out foods and supplements than your medications. I'd discussed Celiac Disease and some other issues with my new doctor, but foods didn't seem to be the problem. Except I'm lactose intolerant and I already knew that. I didn't think it was the foods, but maybe the additives that are used in them...? I'd noticed that I felt "weird" after drinking certain things like a diet soda and diet juices, and the absolute worst of it?...I felt weird after drinking my morning coffee!!! Oh, say it's not so!!!
I've been so much better since I've had this epiphany. The dizziness is mostly gone and I can drive again, yay!! I'm still not 100% but I'm getting better each week. I have a bad day or two once in awhile but by and large I think I got rid of a few big problems. I've tried a few things out just to be sure its a problem, and then I pay for it with dizziness and feeling cruddy shortly after.
Next thing was to look at other chemical additives. I've used Mira Lax, but never felt comfortable with what I'd read about it. It works pretty well, and they give it to you if you have to have a colonoscopy, but I needed a fiber product I could take every day without worrying. When I started reading labels, I began seeing a few additives in the "inactive ingredients" one of which was polyethelene glycol. My husband was reading an Internet search with me, and asked me. "Do you know what that is? It's anti-freeze". WHAT??? no wonder I didn't feel good about it. Another additive to be on the lookout for is Polysorbate 80 in foods used as an emulsifier, Polysorbate 20 used in beauty products and lotions, and Sodium Benzoate, a preservative. I'm not trying to go to crazytown here, I'm just saying if you're having some unhealthy symptoms check out what you're ingesting and the amounts. The manufacturers say in small quantities these substances that are identified carcinogens, can't hurt you. But what if you're consuming larger amounts because you are using multiple products and you have a sensitivity to several chemical additives? Just read labels and be aware. I haven't been able to cut out everything, but at least I'm aware now, and reading the labels. I'm making a conscious effort to keep these products to a minimum.
I also looked into Decaf Coffee and found that most coffees use a decafination process that uses formaldehyde. So now I'm back to regular coffee with a lot of Lactaid milk. No more sugar-free Coffeemate. boo-hoo. But you know what... me feeling like a human being again is worth it!
Hubby and I went through some of this "process of elimination" when he went through being diagnosed with Meniere's Disease a few years ago. (We cut out all salt and spices and he ate only bland whole foods) He had to go through the Benign Positional Vertigo process to rule that out, and have an MRI to make sure he didn't have a brain tumor or injury. It was a long process also, and we were really disappointed that the EENT docs weren't even giving him a consideration of Meniere's. Just like the cardiologists, if it's not their specialty they won't even mention trying something else. For a doctor to know of another treatment, specialist or procedure and not refer you to them just because they don't do it, is unbelievable. It's criminal and unethical BS. They should all be horsewhipped! He had to do lot's of Internet research and we found an amazing doctor in St. Louis that ended up doing crainial surgery to insert a shunt behind his ear to drain fluid and release pressure. He's good now, but he had to stay focused and plough his way through to get the help he needed.
What do I think caused all this? Why would things that didn't bother me for years start to make me terribly ill? I think there were several reasons, but I feel like the main reason is that my body was going through a lot of trauma with my two arteries going down. By last fall I'd already suffered through 2 years of severe heart problems. All in all things were bad, and they'd been that way for too long. I think my body was in such a weakened state that the anemia began to take it's toll. I'd unknowingly coped with it for years, but no longer could handle the lack of oxygen in my body, So things that a stronger body can deal with like the chemical additives, sugar substitutes, and multiple meds, started dragging me down. I've read about a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It's a legitimate condition, but a few people claim it's all in the person's head, others can testify, like myself, that for some reason, our bodies and immune system start to go a little haywire. Most people who know it's legitimate agree that something can trigger our immunity to start reacting. Some kind of trauma, toxic exposure, chemical overload, or in my case heart trauma and too many strong medications can trigger our sensitivities to certain substances.
I'm hoping to get to the root of the low Red Blood Count and maybe it will get higher after my anemia is back to normal for awhile. The symptoms for anemia are just what troubles me... the fatigue, dizziness, headaches, etc. For whatever reason, I now find myself having to check labels before I take anything and think hard about what might be in some food or drink. This has taught me a hard lesson. Don't turn a blind eye to problematic symptoms. Don't try to wait them out. I know I'm not in my 30's any longer, but don't think that it's just because you're getting older that you're sick ... not if it's something like being dizzy and fatigued. What started out as annoying became critical. I just wish I'd had an unbiased opinion to make me start a personal evaluation before now... someone to give me a good kick in the pants and say..."get yourself in gear and find out what's wrong!"
Thanks so much for letting me share this road I've been on. It's been a long one and I know many of you have been on it also. Thankyou for your prayers and good thoughts for me, it means so very much. I'm working on a link on my sidebar to all these posts in case you want to share them with your friends and loved ones.
Thank you again, for each of you sharing here and cheering me on!
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Sundays at Home at Love of Home
The Scoop at Stone Gable
Share Your Style at Peeking Thru the Sunflowers