Day 22 to 6 Months – Week 15

What I Learned in Week 15

  • New Pillow:  I’ve been using the mid-core pillow a little less than a week – it’s supposed to correct your neck posture as you sleep.  Since there’s the indentation / hole in the middle, your neck goes back instead of forward throughout the night.  For me, the 1st week has been uncomfortable, but I did manage to sleep.  For those who sleep on their back, I was only able to sleep when I tilted my head slightly.  Otherwise I couldn’t breathe right and I snored.  Another trick to “lock” you into place is to take two rolled-up hand towels and place them on the opposite side of where you tilt your head to sleep.
  • Proper Sleeping Positions

My Health in Week 15

  • Overall:  Seeing big improvements, but major fluctuations every day.  I am now doing pool exercises at least 4 times a week, chiropractor 3 times this week, I sleep (with the daily nap) on average of 10 1/2 hours per day.  And, as usual, I follow a strict dietary plan until I get my medical tests back in a few weeks.
  • Current Areas of Concern:  Less trigger points below my right & left shoulder blade, mid-lower back of stiffness, right side rib area & below locks up / stiffness, and ankles swollen (less than last week).  The big issues are the hips this week.  I’ve been having issues sleeping on my back and keeping my ankles from opening out too much – it seems to lock one of my hips, I wake up and my day turns quite ugly.  I have to take a Naproxen so that the inflammation stops fighting with the locking.
  • Sleeping Positions 

There are debates to whether side sleeping is better than back sleeping, I currently sleep on my back similar to the bottom drawing – only I elevate my feet due to the swollen ankles.  I’m finding that it works sometimes (naps are good), but other times  (especially longer sleeps) I lock up.  If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comment box below.

  • Last Major Test I took the Vitamin Deficient test from Spectracell Labs on 4/30.  The test should be coming back in at the end of May.
  • Results from Dr. Alessi:
    Comp Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, CBC with Diff w/ Pit, Amylase, Antinuclear Antibodies, CRP, Sed Rate, TSH (3rd Generation), Uric Acid, Urinalysis, Vitamin D (25-Hydroxy), and Testosterone Free Lipose.  I will also be taking a chest X-Ray as it can be difficult to breathe while inflamed. All tests turned out well (some low and high areas but all very near the acceptable range) except my Sed Rate / C-Reactive Protein.  Both are very high (SED rate now at 101, normal 0-15 range).  Also, my blood pressure was lower than expected.  Last visit a week ago was 118/70, now it was 94/60 – this did not concern the doctor, but I do need to watch.
    – Future suggestions for specialists in immunology / Ankylosing Spondylitis include the Shands Rheumatology (Gainseville) & the Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville).
  • Supplements:  My supplements now only consist of Pylicorin, Probiotics, Vitamin D3, Magnesium (Gluconate), HCL (few times per week), digestive enzymes, and Maine Omega-3 fish oil.
  • Enbrel:  It has been 10 1/2 weeks since my last shot.
  • My lowest weight was 133 lbs. and a BMI of 18.61 (5/2).  I am now underweight.

Day 22 to 6 Months – Week 14

What I Learned in Week 14

What is Gluten?
I recently went to the farmer’s market and a friend of mine Ruth owns a gluten-free bakery called Epiphany.  According to the data I received, I learned that gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.  It binds the baked goods together when it goes through the rinsing process after yeast is added.  Without it, baked goods would simply fall apart.

Why is Gluten Bad?
Gluten is very durable and very difficult to digest.  Some people are intolerant to gluten and the body cannot break down this protein.  When the body attempts to absorb the whole protein, it gets stuck in the gut lumen (a.k.a little hairs in the lower intestine) that absorb nutrients.  The body tries to solve this problem by bombarding the protein with white blood cells (body’s defenders) and keeps attacking this unbreakable protein.  This fight damages the gut lumen and in extreme cases, destroys the gut lumen completely; this inhibits the body from absorbing other nutrients from other foods.

What are the Symptoms?
When the body attacks itself in this way, it’s known as an autoimmune dysfunction and can be quite destructive.  Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain / cramping / bloating.  Subtle chronic symptoms include weight loss, irritability (especially in children), depression, and skin problems such as dermatitis & eczema.

Who is Gluten Intolerant?
A modest estimate of people with some gluten intolerance is 1 in 7 people while some say it is as high as 1 in 4 people.  Some who cannot have any gluten whatsoever (such as people with celiac disease) is as many as 1 in 133 people.

How Did Gluten Get So Bad?
Unfortunately, gluten we have today is nothing like it was in biblical times.  Through innovations in technology applied to farming over the last 200 years, the breeding of wheat became more productive and tasty; the wheat Jesus would have eaten was nowhere to be found.  It is estimated that wheat now has 50% more gluten than it did 200 years ago.

I Might Have Gluten Intolerance.  How Can I Fix This?
There are two ways to test and both don’t require any medication.  1st, stop eating any kind of gluten for two weeks and see if your symptoms reduce / removed.  The body is amazing at healing itself and the gut lumen should heal itself.  To confirm those findings, there are tests specifically made for gluten.  I myself took one of these test (Cyrex test – Array 4) and am waiting for the result.

My Health in Week 14

  • Overall:  My 1st week back in Naples and I’m learning to do everything myself – which is a good thing.  Besides taking much more protein (mainly fish), simple chores and exercises are helping me become more flexible.  Also I am now going to Jubilee Chiropractic 3 times per week and it’s been difficult (I’ve had a few painful screams come out from there), but quite helpful and my trigger points of pain are starting to be removed.  I’m also getting a minimum of 9 hours of sleep per night.  Basically, I’m eating the best I know (5-6 times a day), exercising / stretching the best I can, realigning the spine, and resting as much as possible.  I have an upcoming trip late next week (out of the country) and I won’t let this disease rob me of that pleasure!
  • Current Areas of Concern:  Trigger points below my right & left shoulder blade, spinal area between my shoulder blades, left side of chest (muscle pull from pulling up from rope), mid-lower back of stiffness, right side rib area & below locks up / stiffness, and ankles swollen.  Keep in mind these symptoms aren’t as bad today as they were two weeks ago.
  • Starch!  Unknowingly, I had some baked cod with cornmeal (full of starch – big NO NO) from Food & Thought on 4/23.  However, I am VERY happy to say that I didn’t not receive any long-term flare-up from it.  This is very good news as it shows my gut is really healing itself and I can take more doses of starch than I could a month ago.  I’ve also been able to eat a small amount of cooked beans (again, a good amount of starch there) and will start to incorporate them more next month.
  • Organics of Naples: I tried an organic food co-op by using my Groupon and I must say the delivery went great (the site was confusing, but they just recently updated it).  Since the farmer’s market will be ending this weekend, it might be good to keep using them throughout the summer along with the health food stores.  Typically, farmers don’t grow organic food from now until September / October in south Florida – too much heat.
  • Timing:  I’m learning more each day that the time I eat foods (especially meat) along with a digestive enzyme are important for my inflammation.  For example, the morning times I seem to do quite well with 3 eggs along with my side of cooked veggies.  Snacks and lunch throughout the day seem to fare well (and get better each day).  However, dinner has become quite tricky.  I’m finding that a “full meal” during dinner with meat (even a big salad) can bring me down with tightness and inflammation.  I’m still experimenting, but have to work on the amounts of foods I can have after 6pm, digestive enzymes, and introductions of harder digestive foods (meat, nuts, etc.)  Of course this complicates things as I need to find ways to gain weight.  If anyone has any ideas, please put a suggestion in the comment box below.
  • New Pillow:  Trying a new pillow out that Jubilee Chiropractic suggested. It’s called a mid-core pillow and it helps correct your neck posture as you sleep.  Others have used it and swear by it.  I’ll review it next blog post.
  • Dr. / D.O. Alessi I will be taking the Vitamin Deficient test (costs around $500) from Spectracell Labs + get the results of my other lab work on 4/30.  Once done with the Spectracell test, it will take 4 weeks to get the results back.
  • Supplements:  I am no longer taking Zyflamend and should be removing the Proglyco SP in a few days, Pylicorin within the next 1-2 weeks.
  • Enbrel:  It has been 9 1/2 weeks since my last shot.
  • My lowest weight was 134 lbs. and a BMI of 18.77 (4/25).