Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Imbalanced

I discovered two things this week.

  1. There is a wine fairy.
  2. When the tummy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

It's been a quiet week on the pet front. More of the same, really. Percy has taken to scratching in the box for a million years even before he takes a dump. He woke me up the other night at two in the morning, scratching, scratching, scratching. When I got up later that morning, half the box of litter was all over the floor, so that's his new trick. He gets in the box and digs like he's going to China. Then he does his business, or sometimes doesn't even bother, and then digs some more like he's trying to get past China.

We've taken to shooing him out of the box when he's finished eliminating. Leaving half a box of litter on the floor is just not an okay habit.

Willow continues to be, well, Willow. That includes throwing a fit in her cage at seven in the morning, demanding to be picked up and cuddled constantly, and demanding her canned food throughout the day, not just in the evening that is the only time she actually gets canned food.

Puckett has been awfully friendly lately. She had a snugglefest with California Guy this weekend, and then another snugglefest with me Sunday afternoon.

Tess finally got to go for a long walk again now that my tummy is feeling better - a story I will touch on in a minute. That makes her happy more than anything, the poor dog. She also noticed that I'd been cheating on her on Friday, as I had the nerve to pet another German shepherd. The nerve of me.

Surina is her usual self. She has learned that whining when she is outside is not acceptable, and that has tapered off though she was caught sacked out on my bed the other night and got into serious trouble for that one. She's like a teenager. Just when you think she gets it, she doesn't, or she pulls some other disobedient rebellious stunt that lands her in the doghouse again. To add insult to injury, they were brand new sheets that had just been washed and I did not appreciate the dog hair on my duvet.

Anyway, the animals are their usual selves. Nothing different at Casa de Codependent Pets.

I, on the other hand, have discovered the wine fairy. This weekend I found a bottle of wine I don't remember buying, I don't remember receiving, and not something I would normally buy. The brand is a red blend I've never heard of, but I generally don't just buy a red blend unless I either like the bottle or it's a brand I've already tried and loved. I was sorting through my wine rack, and as I've had tummy trouble lately I haven't really been drinking. I've had a little white wine that I keep in the fridge, so I haven't paid much attention to the wine rack, but I know that this bottle wasn't there a couple months ago. My best friend in Colorado doesn't remember it, and the last few times I visited her I flew. I know I didn't bring a bottle back on the plane. I didn't buy it in Texas either, and California Guy says he doesn't remember it. He didn't give it to me, or buy it.

I am befuddled, so all I can say is there is a wine fairy who decided to smile down on me. Hopefully it's a good bottle. I'm always open to trying new wines.

My other lesson for the week is actually so obvious it's embarrassing that we as Americans don't really think about it more. For the last month and a half I have had serious tummy issues. Everything I tried to eat destroyed me. I was perpetually bloated. In my early thirties I was flat as a board in the tummy department, going so far as to have ripped abs. I always worked out. I walked my dog for three hours. So these last couple of years I cannot figure out 1.) where my energy has gone, 2.) where this bad attitude/depression came from, and 3.) why am I gaining weight?

Turns out everything starts in the gut. Doctors treat our symptoms. Pain, difficulty sleeping, post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and on and on and on. I'm not an advocate for pharmaceuticals unless they are absolutely needed. I believe most things can be fixed with lifestyle changes, diet, and exercise.

I eat a mostly clean, organic, whole food diet. Yes, there is some wine and high quality chocolate, but no gluten, processed foods, no fast food, and definitely no soda or artificial sweeteners. Why the hell am I gaining weight and look four months pregnant?

To make a long story short, it turns out I have low stomach acid. Low stomach acid causes acid reflux and can cause a whole bunch of other symptoms like post nasal drip, a scratchy throat, a perpetually upset tummy, and an overfull feeling when eating (even avocados and salmon which is what I was living on). Fatigue, loss of appetite, possible weight gain (how does that work, no appetite and yet one still gains weight??), sluggishness, foggy mind and inability to concentrate. Oh, and also irritability. I have been a bitch lately, and I know it. I just can't seem to stop it. The problem with all these symptoms is that they are the symptoms of a host of other medical issues, so it is really hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. For awhile I thought I had colon cancer. Okay, not really, but I did think this was just my stupid stomach and I was stuck with it. Irritable Bowel Syndrome along with gluten intolerance, and I play Russian Roulette with my mood depending on whether my stomach is okay with whatever I've put in it that day. My general practitioner gave me Nexium to treat my tummy trouble, telling me I have acid reflux. My naturopath physician told me to scrap that shit and take HCL. I tossed the Nexium, and while the HCL worked a little, it didn't fix everything. It helped after meals so that I didn't feel like I wanted to puke after every little thing I put in my mouth. The bloating was still there, and the acid reflux still happened.

Lots of bubbling in the esophagus.  

So of course, as one does, I went online. I can't seem to rely on doctors. When I had my hormone imbalance I was told by five different doctors that there was nothing wrong with me and it was all in my head. People lose hair all the time. Hair goes through a cycle where it will all fall out and then grow back in.

I knew my hair and my hair cycle. Losing half my hair density in six months was not normal. It wasn't falling out in patches, leaving bald spots either. I could just run my hands through my hair at any given time during the day and suddenly it was raining strands. My shower drain was clogged every morning. I know how much I hair I lose on a normal morning. That wasn't normal.

My lowest point was the endocrinologist I saw who said my hair was growing in just fine, as she could see the new growth all over my head, and she didn't know what I was complaining about or why I was wasting her precious time. She sent me home with a condescending sneer and no mention of a follow up appointment or treatment.

That's when I found my naturopath doctor in Boulder. She figured out that my hormones were imbalanced, put me on bioidenticals, and within three months my hair returned to normal. I felt better in other areas as well, some areas I didn't even realize were an issue.

Anyway, it's no surprise that when I developed these ridiculous tummy issues, I didn't bother with mainstream medicine. That's worthless. I like three of my doctors. The nurse practitioner at my gynecologist; my dentist; and my dermatologist (now; the first one was one of the doctors who told me there was nothing wrong with me when I lost my hair).

This time it seemed as though nothing was helping. So online I started researching low stomach acid. I decided to try some treatments, including probiotics and bitters.

Within two days the bloating disappeared, my stomach felt a hundred times better, and my appetite returned. I even felt well enough to take my dog for a walk, something I haven't felt like doing in months. When one doesn't feel good, one does not want to exercise.  My stomach has actually been flat again. I don't know if it's the probiotics or the bitters or both, but apparently when one's digestion isn't working properly it causes a chain reaction of other issues that affect every single part of the body. An inflamed stomach is a cranky stomach, and when the stomach is cranky you'd better believe it's going to make the rest of you cranky.

This is not to say that one can stuff oneself with all the junk in the world and supplement with probiotics and bitters. And I will say that the bitters taste exactly like that: bitter. It's disgusting and not for the faint of heart. I still have to stick to my clean, organic, whole food diet. I still have to watch my intake of alcohol and chocolate. I still can't eat gluten, preservatives, or fast food. And two days isn't going to fix months of issues building up. All I know is that my stomach feels better, my mood has been lighter, happier. No depression, no negative feelings, and no bleak outlook on the future. I enjoy my food again and don't dread it, and I feel like exercising.

Will this last? I have no way of knowing. But if it does, then I'm a believer that a balanced stomach is a happy stomach. And a happy stomach is a happy person. After two days I'm nowhere near to being cured, but I do know my stomach feels better.

No wonder Percy was so cranky when he had tummy issues. Since I've switched him to ID he's been a happier kitty and the canned ID has made a world of difference on Precious' tum-tum.

Why is it so hard for doctors to admit that the stomach - the core of the human body where all the nutrients are processed - has an affect on the entire body? And why is it so hard for people to believe that whatever one puts in one's mouth will have a direct affect on how they feel and function?

Maybe the fact that it's so simple is the problem. Nothing can ever be that easy, I suppose.



Life in general isn't that easy, but we keep at it. We keep going. We keep trying. Occasionally we find an answer.

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