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Diagnosis: HS

I won’t rehash the entire history of what I’ve been going trough. You can read that on the My Story page. Suffice it to say that I have been suffering with a disease for the last fifteen years and saw several doctors for it. None of them knew what it was or had any answers for me. A co-worker, a fellow librarian, told me that she thought I might have Hidradenitis Suppurativa. I did some reading on it and I was certain that she was right.

Today, I saw a dermatologist who specializes in HS. He confirmed that yes, I do have it. I had done some research on it and already decided that I’m going to try switching to a paleo diet before I resort to medicine. Medicines treat the symptoms, not the cause. The cause, as confirmed by my dermatologist, is a problem in the gut biome. Leaky gut syndrome, as it is commonly called.

My dermatologist agreed that a paleo diet would be a smart move and would help with this disease tremendously. However, he also recommended that I take Humira. I will not. Especially after talking to him. To me, the risks far outweigh the benefits. It can control the symptoms, but it doesn’t address the root cause. The dermatologist told me that if I ever want to have children, I should not take Humira. I don’t know if I want children or not. I do know that I don’t want the option to be taken from me unnecessarily.

I have a plan of action; I just needed a diagnosis. Humira will be my last resort, but I’m moving forward with following the auto-immune protocol.

Reintroduction: Grains

Today brings the reintroduction of grains to a close. Grains include oats, rice, couscous, and quinoa. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of corn.

Day 1

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Salad with apple, pecan, blue cheese, and vinaigrette.

Snack: Banana, honey, almond smoothie, chocolate with peanut butter.

Dinner: Wild rice, carrots.

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: Oatmeal.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, cheese, sugar coated almonds.

Snack: Banana, honey, almond smoothie, peanut butter no bake cookies.

Dinner: Beef burger with Swiss cheese, cauliflower, carrots.

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: Banana, mango juice.

Lunch: Salami, pickle, peanut butter no bake cookies.

Snack: Chocolate with peanut butter.

Dinner: Burrito bowl (rice, steak, cheese, guacamole, sour cream).

Reactions: None.

Reintroduction: Nightshades

Today brings the reintroduction of nightshades to a close. Nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and products derived from these items, such as paprika, cayenne, chili powder, potato starch, tomato sauce, ketchup, and salsa. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of grains.

Day 1

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Turkey, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, paleo banana muffins.

Snack: Chocolate with peanut butter, oranges.

Dinner: Asparagus, mushrooms.

Reactions: One small new abscess.

Day 2

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Tuna with avocado ranch dressing, dill pickle.

Snack: Chocolate protein smoothie, paleo banana muffin.

Dinner: Burrito bowl (black beans, steak, peppers, onions, cheese, guacamole, sour cream).

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, cheese, sugar coated almonds.

Snack: Orange juice.

Dinner: Beef with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, asparagus, tomatoes.

Reactions: Another small new abscess.

Weight Tracking

As of this morning, I am now down to 232.8 pounds. That is a 1.6 pound loss from last week. I didn’t expect this, since I did binge on chocolate a bit this week. I also reintroduced legumes, which are starchy. I’m just finishing the reintroduction of nightshades, but I haven’t had any potatoes because I know they trigger me. I’ve been doing this one with tomatoes and peppers, which aren’t so starchy.

I had to go out to get groceries yesterday, and I caught my reflection in the window of the store. I had to do a double-take. I didn’t recognize myself at first. It was clearly someone in my clothes, but the reflection should have been bigger. I should’ve been bigger. I’m not used to this. I think that this may be the hardest thing about losing weight. The psychology of it.

Yes, that is my face and I recognize that it’s me. But it’s also not me. It’s not the person I’m used to seeing. I also don’t feel like I’m used to feeling. I have curves in places that used to bulge and some places that used to be round are now flat. It’s weird. I don’t feel like myself. I feel good, generally speaking, just not normal. It’s such a contradicting thing to lose this much weight. I want to achieve my goal, and preferably quickly, but the closer I get, the less I feel like myself. I’m hoping this alone time with quarantine will help me adjust to my body’s changes better.

Reintroduction: Legumes

Today brings the reintroduction of legumes to a close. Legumes include green beans, peas, lima beans, butter beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas (hummus, falafel, etc.), lentils, soy beans (soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, miso, etc.), carob, bean sprouts, and peanuts (peanut butter, peanut oil, etc.). I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of nightshades.

Day 1

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Banana, honey, almond smoothie (contains soy milk), salami, cheese.

Snack: Chocolate with peanut butter, oranges.

Dinner: Asparagus, mushrooms.

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Burrito bowl (black beans, steak, lettuce, cheese, guacamole).

Snack: Banana, honey, almond smoothie (contains soy milk), chocolate.

Dinner: Summer sausage, dill pickle.

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Banana, honey, almond smoothie (contains soy milk), strawberries, blueberries, cheese, sugar coated almonds.

Snack: Oranges, chocolate.

Dinner: Celery, peanut butter, paleo banana muffins.

Reactions: None.

Reintroduction: Eggs

Today brings the reintroduction of eggs to a close. Eggs include eggs, custard, mayonnaise, some sauces, some salad dressings, some ice cream, prepared meatloaf, pizza crust alternatives, some bread/tortilla alternatives, marshmallows, albumin, globulin, and lysozyme. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of legumes.

Day 1

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Turkey, Swiss cheese, watermelon.

Snack: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms, and mango, cherry, pear juice .

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and mango, cherry, pear juice.

Snack: Oranges, banana, chocolate bar.

Dinner: Watermelon, carrots, celery, broccoli, guacamole (avocados, lime, salt, garlic).

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and mango, cherry, pear juice.

Snack: Oranges.

Dinner: Sweet potato chips, guacamole (avocados, lime, salt, garlic), strawberry banana smoothie.

Reactions: None.

Weight Tracking

This morning was weigh in. I’m now down to 234.4 pounds, a 1.6 pound loss from last week. I’m surprised by these results, as I’ve added dairy back into my diet and have been eating quite a lot of cheese. But I’ll take it.

I’m getting to the point now where I’m going to have to buy new clothes. I’m trying to hold off as long as possible because I know I’ll have to do it again. I’ve been buying new to me jeans from Goodwill and one of my co-workers gave me some dress pants that don’t fit her anymore. Another of my co-workers said she has a bunch of stuff I can have when I get to a size 18. My biggest issue right now is pajamas. I’ve been wearing the ones with the drawstrings more because I can adjust those, but I really need to get some new ones.

I really appreciate how supportive everyone has been about all of this. Not literally everyone, I suppose. There are a couple of naysayers about me doing a “fad” diet, which isn’t actually what I’m doing. There are also a couple of people that have made some uncomfortable comments about my weight loss. However, for the most part, people have been supportive and helpful.

COVID-19 Quarantine: Day 3

I want to start by saying that I have NOT contracted COVID-19. I work at a public library and we were told on Monday that we would not be coming to work until March 30, 2020. That is subject to change, but it’s what we know for now. I thought it might be a good idea to write about what I’m experiencing and what is happening around me. I wish I had started before now, but I’ll do my best to recap.

When I first heard about Coronavirus, my reaction was that it’s just like the flu. As I learned more about it and thought about how fast it spreads, my thought process changed. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I’m more susceptible than the average person. Furthermore, my grandparents have health issues and I could easily pass it on to them, even if I never get sick from it. As time went on and confirmed cases started popping up closer and closer to where I live, my anxiety skyrocketed.

I can handle the things that come with a pandemic. I wasn’t in panic mode. The anxiety came from the fact that I work with hundreds of members of the public every day and our only precautions were to wear gloves when we get books from the bookdrop and to use wipes to clean surfaces. This past Saturday, I had to clean up after a patron who coughed up mucus all over our computer. She was very clearly sick with something serious, though I’m sure it wasn’t Coronavirus, and she came in anyway. I decided then that if people can’t be trusted to stay home when they’re sick, I had to keep myself home even though I’m not.

We were told that the library would be closed to the public on Monday, but that staff were to report for a meeting to decide what our next steps would be. A few of my co-workers and I chatted via group message and discussed the possibilities. By this point, schools, parks, and restaurant dining areas were already closed. We all agreed that regardless of whether or not the library would remain open, we would not be coming to work. It was clear to all of us that the best way to get ahead of the virus would be for as many people as possible to stay home and practice social distancing.

I went to the store to get a couple of weeks worth of groceries and bandages. The store was completely out of toilet paper, potatoes, chicken, and most red meat. Fortunately, there were a lot of paleo friendly foods left. People seem not to want the organic stuff. I made sure to buy a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable products. I didn’t want to get into a situation where all of my food had gone bad.

On Monday, I went to the meeting. There really wasn’t any news to be had. We were told that as of that moment, there was no decision on whether or not we would be open the following day. We did talk about contingencies in the event that we would be closed. IT set me up with a VPN connection so that I could work from home. I also put several PowerPoint documents on a flash drive so that I could work on converting them to online tutorials. I went home fully expecting to have to call my supervisor in the morning to tell her I wouldn’t be coming in. However, that evening, we received an e-mail to notify us that the library would be closed through March 30, 2020. Words cannot express my relief.

On Tuesday, Day 1 of Quarantine, I evaluated some National History Day Indiana projects and then met one of my co-workers back at the library. She had to swap out laptops and I had forgotten something. We decided to go together so that we wouldn’t be alone in the building. The buddy system is always best. Once back at home, I worked on some odds and ends for work, checking voicemail, answering e-mails, etc. I had at first had grand plans for my free time. I wanted to write some more or read a book. I found when I had finished my work, I had no energy for anything and I just watched Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On Wednesday, Day 2 of Quarantine, I had intended to work on some of the PowerPoints, but I was not able to find my dongle that connects flash drives to my Mac. (I still can’t find it). I did manage to find that I had saved one of them on Google Docs, so I downloaded it and started working on that one. I knew I had a teleconference scheduled for 2:00 pm, so I set an alarm to go off fifteen minutes prior to allow time to get connected.

After a little while, one of my volunteers called to check on me. She asked how we were all doing and if I or any of my co-workers needed any food or money to help get us through. I assured her that we are being paid while the library is closed. She’s the sweetest and I miss seeing her.

At 1:45, I logged in to my e-mail to get the link for the teleconference, and I saw that it was scheduled for April 2nd. So, I went back to the PowerPoint. I turned the sound off on my phone because I had gotten to the point where I needed to record myself presenting. At this point, my sister had a friend over. This was stressing me out, in part because I could hear them and I was afraid that would come through on the recording, and in part because I hadn’t felt like I was distancing enough and I really just needed to be alone. I was in the basement alone, but for whatever reason, it didn’t feel like enough to me just then. It’s not rational, but it’s how my anxiety rolls.

I took a break from the PowerPoint at 2:50 because I was getting frustrated. I saw that I had a missed text from my supervisor asking why I hadn’t joined the teleconference. I panicked. I logged back in to my e-mail and frantically searched until I finally found a different e-mail with today’s conference information and a link. That required me to download two different pieces of software to be able to connect to the conference. By the time I finally got connected, there were four minutes left. I understood none of what was said at that point. Probably because I couldn’t focus. I was so overwhelmed by this feeling of panic.

When the conference was over, I began to cry. Nothing had gone right and I felt claustrophobic. That is particularly strange because I don’t get that feeling. I’ve never been claustrophobic. I apologized to my supervisor and my co-workers. They assured me that it was no problem and I could watch the recorded version later. It didn’t matter. I was in full panic. I knew I needed to calm down, so I set everything else aside and turned on some music. Paul Spaeth always calms me down, so I listened to Cobalt Blue. It did help, but my nerves were shot for the day. I made some guacamole and settled in to watch The Office for the 100th time.

Today, I went back to the library to e-mail myself the rest of my PowerPoints. My friend and co-worker, Meghan, met me there. She was my buddy today. When we arrived, a few of our other co-workers were there filming storytimes to put on the website for the children. After we left, I stopped by Roadrunner Kitchen to get a spinach salad. In addition to their commitment to locally grown, organic meats and produce, they cater to vegetarian and vegan customers and are willing to modify things for paleo with some notice. I want to make sure they stay in business through this crisis.

Meghan met me back at the house and we watched Contagion. That may seem insensitive or morbid, but I actually found it very helpful. It helped to put things into perspective for me. When it was over, we watched a few episodes of 100 Humans. That is an interesting show. They do a lot of social experiments to test the differences in age groups, genders, etc. Dad picked up some pizza and he got one for Meghan and I that had a “no doh” crust. Meghan is doing the diet with me. After we ate, we played board games with my dad, my sister, and my brother. I am doing much better today.

Reintroduction: Dairy

Today brings the reintroduction of dairy to a close. Dairy includes milk, cream, whipped cream, most ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ghee, yogurt, butter, whey, whey protein, lactose, and casein. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of eggs.

Day 1

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, almonds, white cheddar cheese.

Snack: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: Chicken, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, cauliflower, carrots.

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: Banana.

Lunch: Strawberries, blueberries, sugar-coated almonds, white cheddar cheese.

Snack: Oranges, yogurt, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: Turkey, Swiss cheese, celery, carrots, broccoli, guacamole (avocados, lime, salt, garlic).

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, cranberries, apples, walnuts, pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Snack: Oranges, yogurt.

Dinner: No doh pizza with Parmesan cheese crust, pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, black olives, and bacon.

Reactions: None.

Reintroduction: Nuts

Today brings the reintroduction of nuts to a close. Nuts include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans. I have listed my food and reactions below for each day. Tomorrow begins the reintroduction of dairy.

Day 1

Breakfast: Banana, almonds.

Lunch: Carrots, celery, broccoli, guacamole (avocado, lime, salt, garlic).

Snack: Paleo banana muffin, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Dinner: carrots, broccoli, and celery, and guacamole (avocado, lime juice, salt).

Reactions: None.

Day 2

Breakfast: None.

Lunch: Chicken, mushrooms, mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans.

Snack: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Dinner: Tuna with avocado ranch dressing, dill pickle.

Reactions: None.

Day 3

Breakfast: White mocha (espresso, white chocolate, coconut milk).

Lunch: Salami, dill pickle.

Snack: Paleo banana muffin.

Dinner: Strawberries, blueberries, sugar-coated almonds, white mocha (espresso, white chocolate, almond milk).

Reactions: None.

Weight Tracking

At weigh in this morning, I am now officially down to 236 pounds. This is a loss of .4 pounds from last week. I expect the weight loss will slow down and plateau for the next couple of weeks during reintroduction. I may even gain some back. I’m certain that this small amount of loss this week is due to the fact that I reintroduced sugar. The reintroduction of dairy, legumes, and gluten will affect it, too.

I’m not discouraged by it. As I said, I’m expecting it. Once reintroduction is complete, I intend to go back to a mostly paleo diet, allowing myself dairy and eggs, with the occasional side of rice. That is, assuming I don’t react to any of those things.

I’m very proud of how far I’ve come in such a short time. At the beginning of this year, I was wearing size 26 jeans. As of yesterday, I’m in a size 20! By the end of this year, I’d like to be below 200 pounds and in a size 14 or smaller. I think that’s completely doable.

My ultimate goal is to get down to somewhere between 120 and 140 pounds, as that is the doctor recommended goal for a woman of my height and age. Ideally, I’d like to do this before my birthday in March 2021. However, this is only achievable if I lose about 2 pounds per week until then. If it doesn’t happen, that’s ok. Any weight loss is a success, as I’ll be that much healthier.