Monthly Archives: August 2015

Oh Shit!

Today is bonus day in my blogging world. However, be warned right up front, if you’re squeamish about poop talk, you might want to skip this one, ’cause that’s what it’s about. While this may not be my most comfortable topic ever, I’m committed to sharing what’s going on in my head and in my body in the hope that someone, somewhere will be helped. And this is definitely what’s going on in my body right now!

In short, I’ve been a pooping monster since first thing yesterday morning! That might not be very exciting to some, but I’ve had poop problems for as far back as I can remember, so pretty much any time I have a decent poop, I get a little jazzed. And let me tell you, I’ve been jazzed out the wazoo since first thing yesterday morning. Since I started the protocol for gut health six weeks ago, things have definitely been improving in the poop zone. For too many years to count, most days I’ve had either the dreaded D word or constipation, usually some of both. And, as I’ve mentioned before, my gut has hurt me since I was a kid, lately all the time. But the pain has been greatly relieved, and my poops have been finding a middle ground. Even so, I’ve continued to feel as though there was a lot I wasn’t getting rid of, in spite of all my potions and pills.

A week ago I started the protocol for my adrenals, which added four more supplements. Now, I don’t know what they would have to do with my gut, so I don’t have any idea if yesterday’s big success was due to them or not, but in any case, yesterday was aMAZing! I pooped all day! Now, I’ve had days like that in the past, but it wasn’t what you could call pleasant. Nasty little dribs and drabs, stomach cramps, a lot of work for minimal results – just downright discouraging. Yesterday was totally different. No gut cramps. No false starts. No … okay, no more description. Yesterday was just smooth sailing, time after time after time. I’d sit down to pee and oh! Well hello! Not too hard, not too soft, I coulda been Goldilocks! And well worth what little effort was required, these were not false starts, no sirree Bob. By the end of the day I honesty figured I’d maybe lost a few pounds (sadly, no).

Looks like today may be a redo. Now I admit, more than a day or two of such bowel largess   might become annoying. But I’m thinking I’ve got years of crap that’s been bugging me, and it’s about time I just got that shit out in the open, you know? It’s not doing me any good way up in there, right? So, poop on, bod of mine! I’m feeling lighter already!

Six Weeks In

It’s been six weeks since my initial appointment with the functional medicine practitioner. I’ve been taking a ridiculous amount of supplements. My gut feels better than it has in longer than I can remember, though the gut-health protocol hasn’t made a huge (as in discernible) difference to my mood, my mental clarity, my energy levels. 

A week ago I started the new protocol to restore my flat-lined adrenal glands. In addition to four new supplements, I’ve cut my alcohol intake to almost zero, decreased my simple sugar intake even further, and have done my level best to be in bed, already defragged by a little in-bed reading, with the lights out by 10pm (extremely challenging for me, but somehow doable). The first three nights I slept little and poorly, and by the third morning I was so exhausted I could barely function. It was worse than it already had been, and that’s saying a lot. The next two nights I slept great, last night was another challenging night.

But my mood does seem to be improving. I’m more optimistic. I’ve been doing things, being productive. Not all of a sudden a whole lot, but a little bit here and a little bit there. I’m starting to get excited about my move back to Michigan, and the past two days I’ve accomplished necessary tasks that I simply hadn’t been able to face before. Today I actually sorted and cleaned and organized the desk/office area in my bedroom, which included – gasp – filing, and even throwing away scribbled-on scraps of paper! I’ve cut way back on the time spent watching NetFlix and haven’t replaced all of it with reading. I’ve taken the time and energy to make really great salads for my lunches, and I’ve started having a power-packed breakfast every day (it’s been years since I was a consistent breakfast eater). These may seem like little tiny things to a person without crisis-level adrenal fatigue, but to me these are huge accomplishments.

I spoke with a friend today who, many years ago, had a similar diagnosis concerning her adrenals. She told me, as did my doctor and the internet, to figure on one to two years for a full recovery. That sure seems like a lot. But I already see progress, even if just a little. You know what that’s like for someone like me, someone who’s struggled with these issues for forty years? It seems like a very bright light at the end of a long, long tunnel.

That works for me.

What a Little Spit’ll Tellya

The test results are in! Yesterday I got the results of all the spitting I did 2-1/2 weeks ago. The news is both very bad and very good. But first, what was all the spitting about anyway? It was for a test that determines how well the adrenal glands are functioning. (For more information on adrenal glands, what they are and what they do, click here.) In brief, the adrenals produce the hormones that handle stress. That sounds simple, but understand that they handle every kind of stress the body encounters, so that means illness, injury, pollution, bad food, life changes like weddings, funerals, breakups or job loss, new relationships, jobs or homes, chronic pain, chronic pains in the ass … you get it. Whatever happens that upsets our worlds – whether seemingly positive or negative – it causes stress on our bodies. When they’re working right, the adrenals handle it for us. The correct currently accepted marker of adrenal health is the cortisol levels that can be measured in spit. In an adrenal-healthy person, cortisol levels are high in the morning and slowly fall throughout the day. During a good night’s sleep (the “sweet spot” is 10pm to 6am), the adrenals work to repair and restore the body to a peaceful, stress-free state, and upon waking a healthy person is alert, optimistic, motivated and ready for action (please don’t get me involved in a lark/owl discussion here! As a bonafide, died-in-the-wool owl, I admit I have trouble believing any of this part!).

Okay, now for the bad news: according to my four spit samples (collected first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, late afternoon and at bedtime of the same day), my adrenal glands are virtually non-functioning. My graph was almost a flat line. In the morning, my cortisol level was a mere 10% of what it should be. As the day progressed, that minuscule level slid slowly downward until, at 10pm, it matched the lowest acceptable level for a normal person, way down there at the very bottom of the graph. What this means for me is that there is actually a very good reason why I wake up every morning exhausted, crabby, swollen eyed, aching, unmotivated and confused as to why I’m bothering to get out of bed in the first place, and why the day doesn’t improve a whole lot until late afternoon, when I may or may not feel slightly better for a minute. It means there’s a reason I have serious memory problems (which I have mostly refused to either talk or think about, they’ve scared me so much as I’ve watched my dad’s side into dementia), and it’s why my thinking is often muddled and fuzzy and I have a hard time comprehending what I read.

The good news is, I’m not just a lazy good-for-nothing bum! I actually, physically have virtually zero reserves of resilience against the daily stresses of life (and the past eight months have been swamped with more-than-normal stresses, believe me!). The great news is that it’s entirely treatable! Not only that, but I should start feeling better within a week or so now that I’m on the protocol. However, my case is extreme, so I need to be prepared to follow the protocol for at least a year to bring my faithful adrenal glands back to full health. But once I’ve achieved that, I won’t need to keep supplementing with the (vile) drops (in 3 astonishing flavors: Yuck, Ralph, and I-May-never-Taste-Again) and the additional 2-pills-three-times-a-day. I’m also supposed to be more careful than ever about avoiding dairy, sugars, grains, caffeine and (si-i-igh) any and all alcohol, even red wine. I’m to do my best to “eat a rainbow” every day: pack as many different (natural) colors into my meals as I possibly can. Another part of the protocol, one that may be the very most challenging for me, is that I am really, truly, no joke supposed to actually be in bed doing my best to be asleep every night from 10pm – 6am. 

Between taking care of my gut (which should have a marked effect on my emotions) and my adrenals (which should have an equally exciting effect on my energies), within six months to a year I may hardly recognize myself. Honestly, I can barely even imagine what it would be like to wake up feeling good both physically and mentally, to have energy and motivation and plans and ideas that excite me. Its been so long since I felt passionate about anything, I can barely remember what it’s like. And I may be resisting some of the tight strictures, but as for leaving behind these life-long problems and taking hold of something new? By golly I am ready!!