If I could lose the weight, I may be able to stop the pain. That is what I had believed for so many years. Two things with that thought, it wasn’t working out so well for me, and It seems I had that in reverse. What is really happening, is I am experiencing less pain, and am now able to lose weight. Who would have thought it worked in that direction? I sure didn’t. It seems it has everything to do with pain causing stress, and stress in turn causes the release of cortisol, and when you are stressed, your body hangs on to all that fat. I have been learning a lot in these past months. And eliminated many groups of food. In doing so, my Doctor has given me the ability to reduce the inflammation, the culprit to my pain, and therefore manage my health.
Good nutrition goes hand in hand with good health. We have so many easy options to choose from when it comes to food. Pre-packaged, chemical enhanced, flavor enriched foods. Easy to prepare, sometimes just put it in the microwave and push enter. Or open a can and heat it on the stove. How I loved a good can of soup. I think I ate them for years as my go to lunch. Complete with flavor enhancers, and corn syrup, natural flavor, bleached flour. No one ever said being healthy was going to be easy, and it’s not. I struggle daily with the desire to continue to eat chips, processed meats, and GMO foods. Mmmm bread, one of my favorites. They are addictive, they are easy, and they are deadly. Imagine a skull and crossbones label on those foods, and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. My five year old grandson, noticed that grandpa was eating a cup of Raman Noodles. He says to me, “OG, I like Raman Noodles, can I have some?” Now this little guy eats so healthy, and I have never offered him Raman Noodles before. As I am preparing them for him, he tells me “They are so delicious, but they are not good for you.” Such truth from the mouth of babes.
Baked goods, bread, mmm all that deliciousness. Turns out, that while I do not have a diagnosed disease which would rule out gluten from my diet, the fact that I have eliminated gluten has made a tremendous improvement on the level of pain I have. When I have a weak moment, or ten, and I eat that wonderfully delicious heavy grain bread, I have several days of suffering, and high levels of pain. So I have a choice to make. Do I want that bread? And is it worth the pain? Or do I want to forgo eating bread, and feel better? And on the days, that I say yes to bread, I know there will days of pain.
I think the hardest thing I had to give up, and haven’t completely done so, is the chile. Being a nightshade, chile is highly inflammatory. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation is desirable, even when initially it felt like deprivation. I recently read an article regarding a sugar detox, and that is exactly how it was described, as depriving your body of the sugar. Imagine now, eliminating not just sugar, but nightshades, chemicals, gluten and dairy. And trying to eliminate all of them at the same time.
When I first got the list, I was full on into the plan, and did very well for the first few months or so. I was able to drop 12 pounds in the first few weeks and that felt great. Almost immediately the pain diminished, which added to the adrenaline and propelled me forward. Then came the holidays, and a vacation to Mexico, and I had several weeks of straying from the plan. Not fully, but even a few days of the wrong foods leaves many days of inflammation and pain.
When I first met my Doctor, she is an acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, it was the end of July, 2015, I had been suffering at the highest level of my pain for 8-10 months. I think when she asked me my pain level, on a scale of 1-10, I responded with a 9. This was a difficult time for me, as I had been told for years, that this is normal, people hurt, so again with the mantra it’s all in your head, just get over it. When she acknowledged my pain, and told me it was not normal, I cried. Thank you for acknowledging me. Thank you for telling me it is not in my head, that what I feel is real, and that you are here to help me. Even now, writing this, I remember how desperate I felt, and how amazing it was that someone believed me. Maybe I can hope for a future that doesn’t include this much pain. At that point, I was hoping for some kind of relief, even if it was complete. I really didn’t believe then that I would feel as good as I feel today. Yesterday, about eight months after this journey began, she asked me my pain level, and I was able to respond with 2. By the end of the visit, even that had diminished. I had never had acupuncture before 2015, and while it wasn’t a fast cure, it was definitely helping.
This doctor has a wealth of knowledge and listens to me, even when I don’t know I am giving her useful information. I ramble on about this ailment and that ailment, or answer a question, that I don’t realize is relevant, and she is able to filter through the answers, and get me on the road to recovery. She is amazing, and I am grateful my daughter in law gave me her contact information.
Each day is a step in the right direction. I know the choices I make directly effect the outcome of my health. Learning how to be in control of what you consume, rather than letting what you consume control you. There is so much information available at the tip of your fingertips. Not all of it is factual, but in simplistic terms, eat foods that are as close to natural as possible. Keep the ingredient list under 5 or 6. Avoid foods with words you can’t pronounce. The food industry enlists chemists, engineers, scientists to figure out what combination of ingredients and chemicals will enhance the flavor in your processed food, and what can be added to make this item more addictive. Bet you can’t eat just one. That was a slogan for a chip company when I was growing up. How true that turned out to be.
It becomes important to realize that your health is relevant. Many of the prescribed drugs can be avoided if you just take your health into your own hands. Seek the advice of a nutritionist, talk with like minded people. Start with one goal, this week I am going to cut out chemicals, or sugar. What is your need? How fortunate I feel that I have managed to be relatively healthy, in terms of blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes. Having spent much of my adult life weighing over 200 pounds, I may not have been that lucky. I do recall a bout of infections, and during one of my many doctors visits to a general practitioner, my blood pressure was pretty high, I think somewhere around 130/110. To be fair, I could hear my heart in my head most days. So I knew it was high. When the Physicians Assistant said she was going to put me on meds, I told her, not going to happen, I will figure it out. This occurred years before I met my current doctor, and having been a dieter most of my life, I had a rudimentary understanding of what foods to avoid in order to deal with my high blood pressure.
I stopped hearing my own heart beat, and just ignored it after that. My most recent visit with the general practitioner while I was sick this winter, indicated a blood pressure reading of 110/70. I’d say that is pretty good. Aside from being sick as a dog, I was feeling pretty good seeing that number.
I share all of this, in the hopes, that if you or someone in your life, is suffering from chronic pain, there is hope. I know I am not the only one who will avoid over the counter, and prescribed medications. Just hearing the side effects of most of these drugs is enough to make you question the sanity of the people pushing them. How can they consciously market these items? Well fine, I know how they can do it, they love the profitable market that the drug industry is.
Which reminds me what my Doctor told me, when I mentioned how low my blood pressure was, she said “The side effects of the supplements I recommend for you are, you will feel better, you may lose weight, and you will become healthy”. The goal we have, is getting me to the point, where I do not need the supplements, and I can continue having a wonderfully pain free and healthy life.