Tag Archives: gluten

Here’s Some New Year-New You Stuff, Kind Of, Not Really

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This neurological disorder has really done a number on me. Over the last year or so, my fine motor skills and spatial coordination have eroded rapidly; I’ve experienced regular muscle spasms accompanied by a painful electric jolt; I’ve fallen at least four times, which is quite terrifying when it happens in the middle of the night all alone; phantom bugs have crawled up my arms and legs; my memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities have been foggy; my left arm has become almost completely numb; and I’ve had to reassess my threshold for pain. There have been moments when I believed myself a goner, if not fully at least functionally, and by far, the hardest part of all of it has been the diminished capacity to write. Even a short blog post like this one takes hours to compose because of all the breaks I have to take and the pitiful state of my typing. In short, the last 15-16 months have presented some interesting challenges.

But now, hopefully, the tide is about to turn.

The other day, an acquaintance¬†directed me to research that sheds a little light on what could potentially be the cause of my illness. If you don’t have time to read that article, in a nutshell, excessive sodium intake, primarily from processed foods, can cause the body’s Th 17 cells, which are part of the immune system, to become overly aggressive and attack normal body tissues. While not definitive, the research lends itself to the idea that excessive sodium consumption can trigger an autoimmune disease like MS. I must admit to being guilty of relying too much on processed foods in my diet over the years, and when I really got to looking into it, I realized that my sodium intake has been much higher than I had thought. I never add salt to anything and barely cook with it, so I figured I was okay. However, once I looked closely, I had to admit to myself that I’ve consumed way beyond the recommended amount.

That same acquaintance also pointed me towards how a paleo diet has shown positive results at not just halting but reversing MS symptoms. He himself has seen a dramatic recovery in the 3-4 months he’s been following paleo. While the effects of the diet could just be related to the reduction of sodium, there seems to be more to it than that. I’ve already been gluten free for three years, and when I first cut it out, my symptoms all but disappeared, leading me to believe I had found the culprit. However, now that my symptoms have returned, it stands to reason that if gluten can be responsible for neurological degeneration, other foods could be as well.

Therefore, I have decided to make every effort to follow the paleo diet guidelines and remove restricted items from my intake. I plan to chronicle my results here to have a record of my experiences and responses to the change in nutrition. Hopefully, I will see the same improvements to my health that others have shown. Regardless, it feels nice to have a ray of hope after so many months of decline. If I can at least get back to the point of being able to write regularly and work outdoors even just a little, I will be content with the results. So here goes nothing as I start my journey to recovery.

Talking Smack

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I made this vow over the weekend, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who really knows me: Regardless of my diagnosis on Wednesday, I will fight this neurological disease with everything in me. It has no idea the mistake it made coming at me, son. And once I’m back to feeling like myself, I’m hitting¬†the world like an emeffing tornado. Stand back and watch because the show will be entertaining!

Late Night Update

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So, yeah, I haven’t posted an update in quite a while.

I guess the easiest way to do this is just to come out and say it: my neurological stuff is back with a vengeance. It started rather subtly about 9-10 months ago, and I honestly thought it was just the stress and strain of dual enrollment causing a few symptoms to flare up. I was already about 90% committed to resigning my position before the symptoms came back, and as I felt worse and worse, I knew I couldn’t physically handle the teaching load any longer. In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that as soon as I got out of the stressful environment, I would feel better. All I needed was some time outdoors working in the sun. The semester ended officially on May 11, and for the first few days, I rested and relaxed but didn’t really feel any better. I’ve written before about how much I love working outdoors on the property, so I tried to dive back in and work myself back into football shape, as I like to say.

For the first few attempts, I noticed that my overall strength and endurance had declined quite precipitously, and I figured I had just gotten out of shape because of the harsh winter. I pushed myself a little harder but couldn’t get my body to cooperate. No matter what I did, I felt weak and fatigued, and the neurological symptoms continued to worsen. Also, I kept noticing that I couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. I’ve written five full novels and dozens of short stories; concentration has never been an issue for me before now. All through May and June, I kept telling myself that I just had to get back into good shape and I would start to feel “normal” again. Last summer, I had promised Finn I would build him a fort to play in this summer, so in June I tackled that project. This time last year, I built my home in seven weeks, working mostly alone all day every day. Even though I was tired, I didn’t feel broken down. Just putting together that simple child’s fort, which is in no way elaborate, I felt completely desolated, and my forearms hurt in a way they never have before. Then, at the end of June, I went to get the boys for our summer time. First, the trip to Jacksonville and back nearly wiped me out completely. I’ve made that trip several times, once in a single day. This time, it took me three, and I was absolutely spent when I got back here with the kids. Trying to play with them became more than I could manage. Still, I kept telling myself that I just needed to get back into shape.

My eye-opener came on Independence Day. When the boys are here, I like to do it up right: a big cookout, fireworks, and lots of shenanigans. It’s our thing. I spent seven straight hours that day setting up, grilling, lighting fireworks, and cleaning up after. When I got into bed that evening, I twitched and trembled worse than I ever had before. The next day, my arms and legs literally hurt from the trembling. I don’t mean I had muscle soreness. That’s something with which I’m quite familiar. This pain was something else, and it’s the first time the neurological stuff has been truly painful. That’s when I had to accept that my symptoms haven’t been from the stress of my job or that I was just out of shape. The neurological stuff is back, and this time it’s worse than before.

I saw a neurologist last week, and we’re waiting for authorization for a new MRI before we proceed. At this point, even though a lot of things are up in the air, I’m hopeful that we can find the right diagnosis and get me well. I’ll try to post updates on what we learn and what’s in store. As for now, please, send some positive energy my way.