Lately, I have made some big changes in my life, especially in my diet. Because of these changes, I stopped writing for a while. One of the reasons for this was the fact that I was pretty flaky for about a month or two. Then I just had a hard time getting back in the grove. I knew that I needed to get my head clearer, especially after it took several explanations to my family every time I tried to explain something. I was having trouble putting words into coherent sentences.
Now, I’d have thought I ate fairly healthy compared to many people. I eat only whole grains like brown rice. we use 12 grain hearth breads unless I make my own whole grain breads. We eat a salad nearly every day, using Romaine lettuce. I rarely eat at fast food places. The only thing I deep fry is Falafel. We eat many dishes with dried beans in them.
Pretty healthy, right?
I knew I had high cholesterol so I was constantly doing battle with that issue. I avoided the low carb craze mostly because my cholesterol was always over 200 normally but it would shoot up to over 25o when I majored on protein. That, and I think (and still do think) that people who are afraid of 12 grain bread but eat hot dogs have issues. Because my blood sugar was always very normal and healthy, I felt vindicated in this decision to base my meals around healthier whole grain carbs, and use what I felt was a moderate amount of sugar.
Well, a couple of months ago now, I went to the ER with chest pains (and pains elsewhere too. I thought it was my appendix). I felt the way I did when they took my gall bladder. They immediately went to work on treating me for a heart attack (they do this when you come in with those symptoms to save time in case you really are), but all was normal. Even the stress test, and that’s saying something. Making me run on a treadmill first thing in the morning without giving me coffee first, and not allowing me to drink water while doing so is certainly my definition of stress.
Even more stress came later, from the $15,000 I now owe as my share of this bill. Frugal me feels that to really make health care affordable, maybe we should mandate they use coupons to buy things like Tylenol ($4 a pill? REALLY? Where are you people shopping?), and I’d still love to know how it costs more than a credit hour in college to spend a half hour in a bed of the hospital, excluding tests. Wastefulnes drives me nuts. I’ve spent a lot of time barfing over the thought that I flushed $15,000 down the toilet for one pointless night in the hospital.
The one doctor, still fishing for an explanation after test after test showed nothing abnormal but my liver labs, suggested testing me for fatty liver disease.
“Oh, I have that!” I said. I explained that they diagnosed me with it when I had my gall bladder out. But at the time, everyone acted like, “No big deal. You have some fat on your liver.” When asked what to do about it, I was advised to avoid fast food and cut out the soda pop. That was easy. I don’t eat fast food, and i only drink a little pop. Done.
I lost 20 pounds last year from quitting what little pop I did drink. I was more careful about what I was eating in other ways too. It apparently wasn’t enough though.
Over the next week or so, I met five different people who either had fatty liver that progressed to being Cirrhosis, or who had a family member die of it. Scary thought. The doctors really only told me, again, to cut back on fats and fast food, and pop. Nothing i wasn’t already doing, and that was clearly not working.
To make a longer story much shorter, a friend of a friend introduced me to a doctor friend who is a doctor specializing in natural health (quite providential). I was placed on a strict diet unlike anything I’d done before. I was already low fat (mostly). Now I was going to be low fat and low carb. My diet is free of High Fructose Corn Syrup, sugar (and sweeteners), refined carbs (pasta, tortillas, etc.), gluten, excessive fruits, excessive fats, margarine, etc….
For four months now, I’ve been sugar free completely. And no refined carbs of any sort, including any whole grain bread for the moment (while my liver heals). I’ve also been advised to take some supplements that help promote liver health. I have eaten very little meat.
Me, the woman who can’t lose weight no matter what diet I’ve tried, had been losing two pounds per day for the first couple of weeks. I had no delusions that this rapid loss would continue. I enjoyed it anyway. More importantly, I felt better. Massive energy. At one point, in church, I stood up and felt my skirt slide. I grabbed it just before it went past my hips. When I got home, I showed hubby. Letting go of the skirt, the one that was so tight the month before I would undo the top button to sit, it fell effortlessly to the ground.
I’ve now lost 37 pounds and 4 dress sizes. Everyone says my skin looks better too. I look healthier. I don’t see the difference much when I look in the mirror (I still look fat to me, frankly) but I know I’m 4 sizes less.
The downside has been of a more social nature. I feel stress over hanging out with friends now that I have to think harder about what i put into my body. Funny how much of our social lives involve food and drink, huh? This time, it’s easier to avoid the “foods I cannot have” simply because of how much pain I was in but no longer am in. My family doctors said he doesn’t know that NASH causes that much pain, but maybe there was something else going on that does, which is also being corrected. Who knows.
I had gotten used to a constant level of pain, almost like white noise in the background of my life. That pain is mostly gone. It only returns when I accidentally use anything with HFCS (read: all salad dressings, condiments, yogurt, etc.) or gluten.
Financially, this has been very difficult. We put our budget on an even stricter diet to cut back enough to afford the large amount of fresh veg. In fact, I have a lot of upcoming posts, Lord willing, on this very topic. I’m excited about it. I’ve also learned a few new things on eating healthier on a restricted diet, that I look forward to sharing.