Bacon as a way of life

So my beloved says to me, “look at how far you have come,” related to my diet.  Indeed.  When we first met I was eating gluten-free, low sugar and fat, largely organic, and sweetener-free, and dairy-free foods.  I cooked a lot and was very particular what I ate at restaurants, often bringing my own nuts or dressings.  Supplements?  Yeah, in due time with my new doctor at the helm my pill box burgeoned to over 60 doses of something per day!  Then part of the story got crazier . . .

As severe illness set in, the supplements would change and almost disappear as time went on.  I could not tolerate any supplements at all after a brief hiatus required during overnight testing at the Epilepsy Center, University of Indianapolis Methodist Hospital.  By then I had added a low oxalate and Candida diet too.  After A YEAR on all of this with daily bone broth too, my brain fog cleared and my gut started to heal.  They say that 95% of your immune system is in your gut.  Perhaps part of your brain health is there as well?  (Now that last part could lend itself to some embarrassing teasing if I stay here too long.  Let’s move on!)

When dental pain increased, my nutritional sustenance all went into the VitaMix for about 6 weeks.  I became the master of the pureed diet and many soups, sauces, smoothies, etc.  My gut health slowed yet the convulsive episodes triggered by chewing diminished.   Gradually I got back to a chopped diet which is where I remain, 4 weeks post surgery for the extraction of two root-canaled teeth.  Healing continues.  It is wonderful to be able to chew better!

Then the convulsive episodes that had diminished some returned to their prior level:  2 to 5 hours per day.  So sad.  Over three years into this time of serious illness and still no one has figured out how to stop them.  I fasted for 24-hours, drinking only water and praying when my brain cells fired in the right direction.  The episodes stopped.  As intense hunger pangs overtook my weakness I decided to break the fast with an apple:  easy to digest and surely a boost to my low blood sugar.  I did not expect what followed.  One of the most violent types of convulsive episodes started my beloved hubby out of a sound sleep and sent me into an enlightened frenzy.  Enlightened?  Yes, this episode was triggered by glucose!

That night and the days thereafter I quickly ventured into a ketogenic diet.  I found a couple of Facebook Groups on the subject and the App they recommended to get me started.  A few days into the new direction a gal from one of the groups contacted me to clarify something:  was I using the diet for weight loss or medical reasons?  The grams of protein/carbohydrates/fats or “macros” are different with each type of ketogenic diet.  For both programs a person consumes very little carb grams yet for weight loss you eat more protein than fat; for medical ketosis to occur you must focus on more fats than proteins.  But it is in consuming very little carbs (I eventually got to 21 total grams) that the body is forced to utilize fats for energy instead of carbs.  The body then produces ketones that can often be picked up in a simple urine stick test or special blood glucose meter that includes ketones.  Ketones are hypothesized to stop or reduce seizures and may even help treat dementia in the elderly.

This week I reached ketosis.  My breath got bad and another tell-tale symptom appeared that is too much for even the transparency of this blog post!  It took me three weeks to get here and it could take a minimum of 2 months, usually 4-6 months, to see if the ketogenic diet will help me at all.  I am willing to try.  Heck, I already have a very restricted diet anyways.  And who doesn’t like (uncured, unsmoked) bacon?  The MyFitnessPal App is a gift from the Lord in managing this.  I would recommend it and their Facebook to everyone on a diet where a person must track macros.

So how about the blessings in all of this?  Surely there were some?  Indeed Gentle Reader.  You know me well!  You see I researched the ketogenic diet two years ago and periodically thereafter but could not find a local neurologist or dietician to guide me.  Close medical oversight including lab tests every three months are needed in addition to the periodic self-monitoring via urine or blood sticks.  Help has arrived just at the right time.  Briefly, check this out:

My first week venturing into the food plan, the gal who messaged me off Facebook just happened to be a retired nurse from the neurosurgery center at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  She manages her own true epilepsy in part with this diet.  Did you know that the only medical center in the USA with a dietary research and treatment center for adults with epilepsy is at John Hopkins?  I knew that and was ecstatic to spend that first Saturday night receiving mentoring from my “guardian angel” named Vicki.  Thank you Lord!

Around this same time I researched a foundation known to assist children with true epilepsy.  Maybe they would have some new information?  Oh yeah, a medical center close to our home in a smaller town had just hired a dietician to work with children and adults in all aspects of the ketogenic diet.  She had recently attended a conference with the Charlie Foundation and was added to their list of practitioners the week before!  She manages all of the referrals, orders for lab tests, and consultations.  And Mary is very sweet to boot.  Wow, Lord.

In many ways, in many long and exhaustingly arduous ways, this new treatment direction could be one more  bunny trail in the quest to recover from this wretched illness.  O.k.  Poor me baby.  Well then again, maybe not.  Sometimes you have to do more than one task to completely recover from a serious illness.  Remember the phrase, “recovery is a jagged line?”  The Ann Landers column about life being about the journey and not the destination?  The gratitude I feel in my heart for having met you Gentle Reader?  All of the computer skills I have learned about everything from ecommerce to social media?  The deepening of my relationship with Christ?  The revelation of the Godly character of my beloved husband?  And the fact that I did not die in all of those near-death experiences?  On this day I must say that I have seen the faithfulness and blessing of the Lord at some level every single day of the past 3 1/2 years.  His promises have seen me through and rung true every single day.  I will leave you with my fav promise from another time in my life of refining fire (and a side of bacon too please, crispy as in nearly burnt.  I like it that way!)  Take care, JJ

Jeremiah 29 11, Jeremiah, hope and a future, hope, plans, trust in the Lord, Christian hope, encouragin scripture, faith, ketogenic diet, chronic ilness, Christain and disability, Hope Beyond, Julie Horney

Jeremiah 29:11

Missing you terribly

There’s a Barbara Streisand song with lyrics that go something like this:

If we had the chance to do it all over again, tell me would we . . .

Could we . . .

The way we were.

It’s not that I would like to go back to my former self or anything like that.  I have had chronic pain for most of my life and lived with pain inside my heart for longer than that.  Many of my own mistakes were downright damaging.  Still other experiences damaged me and it would take until very recently to be free of their dark spiritual underpinnings.  The freedom I experience in today from the drama of yesterday’s trauma was worth the good and bad spent getting here.  But there is one part I am not sure what to do with . . .

I was never really physically fit and virtually always held a critical eye toward my physique even when at my ideal body weight.  All that did not seem to matter to the stream of the male persuasion that came my way, ever since I was twenty years old.  (Not sure what they were waiting for before that!)  I always rode my bike as a kid EVERYWHERE.  I did not think of it as exercise at the time, just a means to get me to the home of a friend.  Several times in college I tried running around the sidewalks of the sprawling campus.  “Library Hill” was a killer!  Maybe I should say that I ran on most paths except the 27 or so degree incline of Library Hill!  Carrying a full load of books up and downhill to class or to study late into the evening at the library should have earned me an extra degree in something or another!

What I miss most is the innocence of moving without thinking about it.  Every day lately brings stark reminders of the convulsions that have returned.  Every day brings a new version of shaking that hurts my neck the most and leaves some version of a headache behind.  Every day the hope of exercising for the enjoyment of it alludes me only because I cannot; I actually had grown to like high intensity workouts before I got sick 3 1/2 years ago.  Even with chronic pain I worked out with weights, unloaded my truck bed filled with sod/dirt/mulch, and kayaked for a couple of hours each week.  I loved being strong.

Today I miss being strong.  The trauma of seizures and convulsions have taken their toll.  The sickness after an episode usually lingers for hours, days.  I never really know for sure when the next episode is coming although the bedtime and waking-up patterns have been fairly consistent throughout this ordeal.  Somehow despite my weakness, I HAVE NOT GIVEN UP for more than a day.  Yesterday Steve and I went for a walk with our pup, Elle though most of the time the walking is through the halls of our home or a medical facility . . . or this past Saturday’s date night to the grocery store.  It’s something, eh?

O.K. so I am bummed out.  I have missed writing and did not blog so as not to bum you out, Gentle Reader, in reporting that the surgery did not stop the episodes as I had hoped.  There are tiny improvements and for these I am grateful.  I think I’ll need a little longer to recover and clear the anesthesia completely out of my system.  In desperation I went on a water fast for 24-hours last week.  It was awful!  Amazingly I did not have seizures until the 24th hour!  I believe the Lord gave me the wisdom through it all to start a ketogenic diet so new research and a new direction began the next day.

A ketogenic diet is a high fat diet where the fat becomes fuel for the body instead of carbohydrates.  The version for seizure control (generally used for children) is unlike the keto diet for weight loss in that fats are consumed more than protein “macros.”  Grams of carbs are the tiniest portion of the three. The increase in ketones are measured in either the urine or blood and thought to be the mechanism that brings some level of seizure control in 25-50 percent of children.  In children the diet begins after a 24-48 hour fast in a hospital.  Hmmm.  My great Physician led me here after my own fasting experience too.  So with the MyFitnessPal nutrition app in-hand, I am moving towards the ideal ratios of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.  Good news:  that means lots of bacon!  And at least I am off the pureed diet now!

The way we were.  Can it be that it was all so simple then?  Or has time re-written every line?  If we had the chance to do it all over again, tell me, would we?  Could we?

Perhaps the real longing requires me to not look back at all.  Then what is it Lord?  Fill this emptiness, please.  Ease this hurting.  Thank you for new tracks to run on, so to speak.  I still need you desperately to guide me.  I realize that I may not be alone in this desire you know.  Please comfort the Gentle Readers out there who need you too.  JJ

EMU Halle Library with another runner testing his strength!

EMU Halle Library with another runner testing his strength!

 

Rascally Rabbit!

Rascally Rabbit

Cooked my first rabbit roast yesterday!

No, I didn’t shoot it!  Picked it up at the local meat market when some testing showed that it’s a type of meat that might help calm my nerves, in addition to some other, higher fat foods.  Sounds like a ketogenic diet!  Maybe that’s where I’ll end up.  The seizure attacks are menacing and we’re still investigating, testing new strategies to diagnose and treat my noxious symptoms.   At least this Sunday was the best one I’ve had in 3 weeks!  Thank you Jesus.

It was weird rubbing a new, unfamiliar dead animal with a seasoning mix.  Somehow I don’t have this reaction to chicken!  After all, a chicken breast looks like the breast of a chicken.  I should be queasy but I am not.  A dead rabbit looks like a rabbit and somewhat like a dead cat.  Ewwwwww!  Just too close to our domesticated friends I guess.

The crazy part was our dog’s reaction.  Elle was on alert as soon as the package with the rabbit in it came out of the refrigerator!  I hadn’t even unwrapped it yet!  Did she know it was the (domestic) remains of the furry menacing critter she LOVES to chase at breakneck speeds through the neighborhood? Somehow, I think she did.  And I don’t mind it either because the wild rabbits eat my garden plants.  I would shoot them with a .22 if I could.  But I’m not that great a shot, yet, and it’s dangerous (and illegal) to shoot anything in a neighborhood.   I just wish she wouldn’t play with the bunny once she catches it.  Sends mixed messages you know.

After dinner I cleaned the rest of the meat off of the cooked rabbit.  It was actually very tasty:  a cross between chicken and crab meat and kind of sweet.  I understand that wild rabbit tastes different.  I’ll remember that if I’m ever in a position to eat wild rabbit.  Anyways, I gathered up the tendon and other tissue scraps and tossed them into the dog bowl of the now very attentive German Shepherd on guard.  “Dead rabbit!” was my command to her as the flesh hit the bowl.  She needs to know the delicacy of dead rabbit for when she’s standing guard in my garden.  I wonder if she got the message?