B12 Deficiency and My Kids

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When we last went to our doctor who does nutritional balancing, I described Jonas’ symptoms as he told them to me, and the doctor said, well that is a B12 deficiency. When Jonas tried to explain to me how he felt that his feet sometimes didn’t work right and he felt like he was tripping, though he wasn’t actually tripping, I didn’t know what to make of it. Sorry to say, I doubted a bit that he was accurately describing what was going on – not that he was making it up, but maybe that it was just some little normal thing that happened once or twice that didn’t really mean anything – something that wasn’t pertinent. But when I mentioned it to the doctor, he said, that is part of B12.

I have learned over and over to trust Jonas, especially when it comes to his accidents. Sometimes I forget. To trust that he really couldn’t help it. That it isn’t just a case of a kid who gets too involved in what he is doing. It’s easy to get frustrated and to assign blame. Long ago, I told him that I know the accidents aren’t his fault and that I will not hold him responsible for that, but that I do expect him to get changed right away and take care of his clothes or to ask me for help when he needs it. (Lately, I haven’t been doing the best at having a gracious attitude about this. As I become more and more tired and irritable and frustrated myself, it is not easy to have the right attitude. It’s easy to communicate annoyance over the situation, and I feel so bad about that). Anyway, so often he doesn’t take responsibility about getting changed. And when I notice he is wet, he will say that he didn’t realize. Of course this seems implausible and I always took it that he was just being irresponsible. But in my reading this week I have learned that a symptom of B12 deficiency is a diminished sense of touch, pain and/or temperature. And I wonder if he honestly cannot feel that he is wet. Oftentimes it is not a major accident, but enough wetness that he should be aware of it. Another lesson in learning to believe my child and not be suspicious of his truthfulness.

Jonas hasn’t had the strange tripping sensation since being on a high dose of B12 the last couple months. When I ask him, he says the only symptom that we talked about with the doctor that he still has is tiredness. But now I wonder whether a lot of seemingly unrelated symptoms are B12 related. The accidents themselves likely stem from the deficiency (including sudden unaccountalbe bouts of diarrhoea), though there are other possible explanations including food intolerance as well as histamine intolerance (which I am just starting to look into and figure out). Maybe it is all these things.

He has quite a few symptoms of the deficiency that still seem to be an issue, which leads to the question of whether he is properly absorbing the supplement he is on. It has been a couple months and perhaps it is just going to take a while. Ever since vacation I have also not been as diligent about getting both doses in him each day. I was so on top of that for the first several weeks, but now in the last few weeks I miss the afternoon dose 2-3 days a week. That needs to be priority. I also want to get him tested as soon as possible to have a record of where he is at now so we can better track his healing. Testing should be done before starting therapy, so I should probably have him off of them for a while so it doesn’t skew the results.

As I have become more familiar with the signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency, I see the following in relation to Jonas:

  • irritability/moodiness/frustration
  • violent behavior (this is not an issue now, but he went through a period of pretty serious aggression and anger. He is still prone to anger when he is not feeling well and occasionally he still lashes out physically).
  • abnormal sensations
  • incontinence
  • diarrhea
  • weakness (There have been times when I tell him to put his school books back on the shelf and he will tell me they are too heavy and he doesn’t want to do it. Of course I found this ridiculous and a lazy excuse, but there may be something to it. Not that he shouldn’t still be required to put them away, but it may feel like a lot of effort for him sometimes. I know I am finding it a lot of effort just to walk upstairs or hold my baby).
  • trouble concentrating
  • tiredness
  • mouth sores
  • sensitivity to light
  • poor digestion
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • weight loss
  • chest pain (I think there have been three times in the last year or less that he has complained of pain)
  • itchy eyes (I have only run across this on a couple lists, so I am not sure it is caused by B12 in Jonas’ case. It seems B2, or maybe it is B6, is more commonly associated with this. His itchy eyes, along with other symptoms is what has me researching histamine intolerance).

Bridget, the middle child, has always been healthy, robust, a good eater, developmentally advanced on a lot of fronts, but now, I am wondering if she too is showing signs of B12 deficiency. Of course when one starts looking at the world through any certain lens, you can start seeing things that you wouldn’t otherwise see, and maybe these things in Bridget are just a coincidence and of no real concern. It has been very strange though that she began having accidents in the last couple weeks. Sometimes 2-3 a day, sometimes she’s fine all day. This has never been an issue for her. She has also had some unformed stools in the last several days, though she hasn’t had trouble making it to the bathroom. Thankfully. The other recent development is that when we were on vacation, she developed a big sore in the corner of her mouth. This is a symptom of B12 deficiency, although of course it could be a lot of other things. It’s hard to remember back to when Jonas really started having trouble with accidents, but I think he was around her age.

I just feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to be in this place where you are still trying to put the pieces together and you are waiting for confirmation.

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B12 Deficiency and Me

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The GAPS Support Group on Yahoo! is a great resource. They have been helping me sort through some issues this week with me and Jonas, and I am very hopeful that we are moving in the right direction.

I have, in the last couple days, become convinced that I have a rather developed B12 deficiency. I am currently reading the book, Could It Be B12?, and it actually made me cry because I felt validated, and I felt hopeful, and I felt anxious because, oh my goodness, is it serious if not addressed. It made me cry because I thought, “this is why I feel like crap – I’m not crazy.” Sometimes I start feeling like a hypochondriac. I know I’m not, but I think I seem normal to people, and that makes me feel like people don’t get that I don’t feel good, and then I think, maybe I am just dwelling on this too much all of a sudden and making myself feel worse. But for so long – too long – I have just swept aside the fact that I don’t feel good. For years, I have ignored what my body was trying to tell me, and I am so thankful that GAPS has made me honestly evaluate my state of health. Now, my body is at a point where things can’t be ignored. My body is screaming at me. My health seems to be rapidly deteriorating. Thankfully, if it is B12, there is a pretty simple (and inexpensive) fix, and I am hopeful that with treatment, I will feel better. Better than I have felt in a long, long time. If it’s not B12, well, I’m not really ready to think about that yet. There are some serious diagnoses that could go with some of my symptoms.

More significant signs of B12 deficiency have only surfaced in recent months – the signs that put together with earlier symptoms really point to B12. I don’t know why it has coincided with the diet. It could be coincidence. They say that being on GAPS peals back the layers of sickness. That the body masks certain symptoms when it can’t deal with everything. Once certain things begin to heal, new problems can surface, and while people may think the diet is making them sicker, it is actually just that your body becomes ready to deal with things it couldn’t before and so new symptoms appear. I don’t know if that is really true, but maybe that is what is happening.

So what are the symptoms of B12 Deficiency?

According to the book, symptoms include:

(I’ve italicized those that I experience).

Mental Changes

  • irritability
  • apathy 
  • sleepiness
  • suspiciousness (paranoia)
  • personality changes
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • dementia, intellectual deterioration
  • hallucinations, violent behavior
  • in children, developmental delay and/or autistic behavior

(I feel I have experienced intellectual deterioration, but I suspect that it is due more to the general exhaustion I live with. My mind feels so dull. It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation. Like it is just too much effort and I just can’t focus and follow enough to respond well. I used to love to talk about and explore ideas. Now, I just can’t hold up my end of an interesting conversation. When put side by side with dementia, I do feel silly saying “I have intellectual deterioration,” I mean, I am a far cry from having dementia, but when I think about what my mind can’t do anymore, it is apparent to me, that whatever the cause, my brain isn’t functioning well).

Neurological Signs and Symptoms

  • abnormal sensations (pain, tingling and/or numbness of legs, arms, trunk or other area)
  • diminished sense of touch, pain, and/or temperature
  • loss of position sense (awareness of body position)
  • weakness (legs, arms, trunk or other area)
  • clumsiness (stiff or awkward movements)
  • tremors
  • symptoms mimicking Parkinson’s or MS
  • spasticity of muscles
  • incontinence
  • paralysis
  • vision changes
  • damage to the optic nerve

Vascular Problems

  • transient ischemic attacks (mini-strokes)
  • stroke
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart attack
  • congestive heart failure
  • palpitations
  • orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing, which can cause fainting and falls)
  • deep vein thrombosis (blood clot to the leg or arm)
  • pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lung)

(I haven’t experienced blood clots in the deep veins, but three times in the last year an a half, I have had a blood clot near the side of my knee. I have varicose veins that started before I was even out of high school, and they get worse as the years (and pregnancies) go by. The first time this happened, I was in my first trimester with Nolan. By the time I realized there was a problem, the clot had become quite large and painful enough to make me limp when I walked. Though concerning, in light of my bad veins, I thought it was due to increased blood volume with the pregnancy. Once resolved, I didn’t think it would happen again. But in February of this year and again recently, I experienced a small clot in the same location. They were smaller than a pea and resolved in a week or so without issue. I don’t know if this is B12 related or something else).

Additional Signs and Symptoms

  • shortness of breath
  • generalized weakness
  • chronic fatigue or tiredness
  • loss of appetite/weight loss or anorexia
  • epigastric pain (poor digestion)
  • gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation)
  • osteoporosis
  • increased susceptibility to infection
  • in newborns and infants, failure to thrive
  • tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears)
  • vitiligo (white patches on skin)
  • prematurely gray hair

(In recent weeks, I have found myself holding my breath a lot. Like all of a sudden I notice I am simply not breathing, and then I try to focus on it and breathe deeply. I experience general shortness of breath as well, but I don’t know if the not breathing is related).

Other symptoms I came across in my research, and pertain to me include:

  • easy bruising or bleeding
  • poor wound healing
  • chest pain
  • leg cramps
  • dry skin (it’s the middle of summer, and even with the humidity, my legs are dry and flaky)
  • brittle nails with ridges
  • ‘the sighs’
  • anemia (not certain I am anemic)

I have mentioned previously that I started having trouble with leg cramps. That was maybe around March. Maybe earlier. I naturally assumed it was a mineral deficiency. They did go away for a while, but they’ve been back for some time, despite supplementation. A lack of B12 would explain why I continue to have the cramps. Sometime after the cramps developed, I started experiencing tingling in my limbs – like you feel when your feet have had a lack of circulation and fall asleep. It’s mild tingling. First, it only happened once in a while. I noticed it when I would stretch in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning. It became more common as the last month has gone on, and now I have it frequently on and off during the day. Now, the latest development is associated with what they call an abnormal gait. I have only experienced this three or four times in the last couple weeks, but it will likely continue to happen. It feels like my feet are veering off in a different direction than I intend to go – a weird, off balance feeling.  It only lasts for a couple minutes right now. It is the oddest thing. And I think it is what Jonas was experiencing before being put on methylation support when he said his feet felt weird and he felt like he was tripping (though not actually tripping). Yes, he has B12 issues too. (As soon as I can wrap my head around all this, I am going to find a doctor who will order all the tests that the book prescribes to properly evaluate where the kids and I are at. If I am deficient, then my milk did not give them the best start in life. I am concerned about Nolan because I am obviously a lot worse off now than I was four years ago and seven years ago. He is finally starting to eat more and he likes raw egg yolk, so at least he now has a good source of B12, as long as his body is able to absorb it).

And interestingly, a year ago, when I was pregnant with Nolan, there was a point when my midwife was concerned that I might be anemic. I don’t remember what symptoms made her concerned. (Poor memory, courtesy of B12 deficiency)! She checked my iron and she said it was very high for a pregnant woman, and so she assumed I was not anemic. Whether I was/am or not, I don’t know, but I didn’t realize at the time that B12 can also cause anemia.

I have lived with low energy for years, and while I still think I have a metabolism problem, it could be that B12 has played a big role in my fatigue which has grown slowly worse as the months and years go by. I know that my last pregnancy took a big toll on my body. I didn’t feel good the whole pregnancy. It was an underlying, dull nausea and weariness down to my bones and just a feeling of, I know it sounds dramatic, but almost lifelessness. I guess basically, I felt completely drained through a lot of those nine months. After Nolan’s birth, I did feel physically better, but as the months have worn on, I have felt more and more depleted, and now here I am with weird neurological symptoms on top of the fatigue and dullness of mind that have slowly crept over me in the last decade. I just don’t feel good. A lot of days, I have this underlying, subtle nausea (it’s not exactly nausea, but an unsettled feeling for sure) that makes me feel like I need to eat to feel better – to get something my body needs – but a lot of times I don’t feel much better when I eat. And coffee makes me feel awful. I have assumed that my adrenals just can’t handle it, which is probably the case.

I am at a place now where I feel like I can’t handle much of anything. My leg muscles are tired after walking up a single flight of stairs. It is difficult to muster the energy to tackle household chores. Parenting effectively is a rarity right now. I just don’t have the energy and stability of mind and emotion to get in there and get to the heart of issues with the kids, teach them, be a good example, even just play with them and spend time with them. Doing anything with them seems like a big task. Forget going to the park and the zoo. Just listening to their questions and giving them answers has felt overwhelming in recent days. These poor kids. In their own words, I have been pretty crabby lately. Every request of theirs, every upset, seems too much for me to deal with. And then I feel absolutely terrible for my lack of gentle, intentional mothering. I feel agitated. I am quick to loss my patience, to complain, to not sympathize, not listen. I have so many high ideals when it comes to mothering, and I love my kids so dearly. But a lot of days lately, I just can’t seem to make the effort to engage well. I feel it most with the kids, but all my relationships are suffering. I am just so tired. More and more I have been avoiding social situations. Some days, it is all just exhausting. It’s not like every day of my life has been just like this. I am not having a good one today, and that is becoming more and more common lately. So on a bad day, I know everything seems a little worse.

I feel like I am complaining and making too big a deal of things, but I do want a record of where I am right now because later it’s too hard to accurately remember back. I have a lot more to say about B12 and also about Jonas, but I have written enough for now.

Jonas: The Search For Answers

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I am still struggling to figure out just what sets off Jonas’ accidents. He will be fine for a period of time, and then the accidents will start again and it takes several days before things are under control. We were up north for nine days at the end of June. Partway through the trip the accidents started. Being on GAPS, I prepared tons of food to bring with, including a few flavors of popsicles. I use coconut milk because Jonas is still off dairy. I had some ripe peaches, so I made one batch with half coconut milk, half kefir. Last summer, Jonas wasn’t interested in peaches, so I figured this was fine. However, he wanted to try them, and I thought, “well, it’s a small amount of kefir, it should be okay.” (And at the beginning of GAPS, he was fine on kefir for a good month). So, he had two in a couple days time. Accidents started and increased through the end of the trip. I blamed the kefir. And I really don’t know. It could have been.

A couple days ago, another bout started. I just don’t know anymore. And then, I thought, maybe he is reacting to cherries. It is the only thing I can put together between the two episodes. He had cherries up north, and I bought cherries at the store this week. It’s possible. He’s had a wet bed the last two mornings. Yesterday he had three BM accidents – pretty loose.

My mom recently found a doctor who is really helping her. He uses meridian balancing, which, as I understand it so far, uses a machine that measures the energy of various acupuncture points to determine allergies, sensitivities, disease, etc. That might not be the exactly right explanation – I haven’t had much time to look into it yet, but basically the machine taps in to the electronic energy pathways of the body.  I am a big believer in acupuncture as I am convinced we would not have our three children without the treatments I received. Mom is encouraging me to take Jonas, and I am going to make an appointment. I think it will be a good opportunity to discover if there are food or environmental intolerances causing him to react. I think this treatment in addition to GAPS will provide us with the best opportunity to get Jonas on a healing path.

Since our appointments a couple months ago with our current doctor, Jonas has been feeling pretty good. The supplements seem to be helping him and he doesn’t have the complaints he did before. So, I guess we will give this new doctor a go, bring along his current supplements to make sure they are a good fit for his body chemistry and see what turns up.

Reflections On Year One Of Homeschool

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We still have a few loose ends to tie up before the completion of first grade. At the beginning of June, I was determined to keep up our schedule in order to finish our readings by the beginning of July, but as I checked things off the lesson list, just trying to get it done, I realized that what we really needed was a break. So, we’re just going to finish up as we are able, doing two or three days of work a week – and if we miss a day, or a week, no big deal. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling: you have complete control over when you do it – not to mention how or where. And while a good routine is important to school life, I think the ability to recognize when you need a reprieve is equally important . I get far too focused on the to-do list and keeping up with what I think I should be doing, rather than appreciating the process, being flexible, and being thankful that it doesn’t matter whether or not we finish the school year in June or August. (Although it would be really nice to have more freedom during the summer, especially after this year. All the extra work with the GAPS diet and having a new baby has left me exhausted and in need of some relief. And I really need some time to enjoy my kids and enjoy the summer before it is gone).

So, how did the first year go?

Looking back over the year, I am really proud of Jonas’ progress. When I think of everything he knows, everything he has internalized and really made his own, that he didn’t know a year ago, I am amazed. He has grown greatly in his ability to narrate, which is a foundational part of Charlotte Mason’s method, which we use. And he enjoyed the year. He loved some of the books so much that he couldn’t wait to read the next portion. What more can I ask for in our homeschool than a child who is eager to learn?

Starting out, even though I felt completely comfortable with our decision to homeschool and confident that it was right for us, I felt a bit insecure in the knowledge that I have full responsibility for my children’s’ education. Me. Even though I had a clear vision in my head of how I hoped it would be, I had no idea how it would fall into place. All in all, it was a great start. I still feel a bit awed and insecure over the fact that my children’s academic success rests greatly on my shoulders. They will learn because of me and despite me. I know I don’t need to be the perfect mom, the perfect teacher. I can’t be. And that’s okay. But I am determined to get better and better and become more and more the kind of mom and teacher my kids need to thrive.

Over the coming weeks, I’d like to focus my thoughts in a few posts regarding curriculum and method, what went well and what needs improvement, and Jonas’ thoughts on the year.

To My Four Year Old Bridget

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I wrote this post a month ago, but never got it edited and posted until now. (Bridget turned four on May 27th).

4th Birthday

Bridget, you are my sweet girl. I love you so very much, and I feel so honored to be your mom. God made you so special, and you bless our family in uncountable ways.

You have such enthusiasm for life. While you are rather shy in certain circumstances, those who know you well, know you are spunky and creative and full of energy.

You love to sing and dance and pretend. You have quite the imagination. I love how you talk or sing to yourself in the bathroom, but then you get upset if anyone hears and comments. “Don’t hear me!” you say, feeling a little self conscious. Yes, you are a funny combination of free spirit and sensitive to the eyes and ears of others. One of my favorite things to hear you sing from behind the bathroom door is “Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord,” because you still have trouble pronouncing your Rs and Ls. “Bwessed be the name of the Wod, bwessed be your gwo-rious name!”

You are a pretty tough and spirited little girl. When you fall and get hurt, you pop back up, saying, “I’m okay.” Even when you are only sorta okay. Sometimes, you say it through tears streaming down your cheeks as you run to catch up with your brother. You don’t like bloody knees, though. You always check, and if there is blood involved, you need a bit more time and care before you are back to running around.

Something that strikes me as funny is you have quite a gag reflex, and you cannot stand to see your baby brother with mashed up food on his face. Sometimes the sight actually makes you gag as you ask me to clean him up or remove his bowl of mashed up food from your view!

You love animals. I mean, love them. You like pretending you’re a kitten. In recent weeks, you have become Lilac the Kitty, and you often speak to us in meows. Lately, you’ve been sing-songingly saying, “What’s my naa-aame?” with a twinkle in your eye, to which we reply something like, “you’re Lilac the Kitty.” About a year ago, you went through a phase of pretending you were a pink kitten. Now you are no longer a kitten – and you will correct us – you are a kitty. In your mind, a kitten is a baby, a kitty is a kid, and a cat is a grown up. So, you are a kitty these days.

You are a prolific drawer, and I think you have a gift for it. Lately, you have also been enjoying writing words. I love the special note you recently wrote me that says “Mom, I love you Mommy.” You needed help spelling love, but you are certainly learning how to spell. The note is hanging on the side of the fridge. Yes, you are precocious. You often sat in on Jonas’ first grade lessons this year, following along with the readings and telling back what you remembered. I’m glad that you could enjoy some of the stories with us.

God gave you a helping heart. Whether it’s making dinner or folding laundry or frosting a cake, you always cheerfully ask, “can I help?” Whenever Dad or I go out to run an errand, you’re right there asking, “can I come too?” You love to tag along, and I love that.

You adore your big brother and you like to entertain your little one. You and Jonas are nearly inseparable. The two of you play together for hours on end, and it is such a blessing to me to see the love you have for each other.

I love holding you in my lap and holding your hand. I love hearing your laugh and your thoughts. I love your beautiful, innocent face and your loving heart. I love you.

God made you for a purpose, and I look forward to see you become more and more of who you are.

GAPS Reboot

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Well, it’s been a while. There are a few half finished posts that have been sitting in my queue for the last month. I have had such a hard time finding writing time. I’ve been met with some rather overwhelming weeks, and I have been tired. We’re up north for a little getaway, so I am hoping to have some time to relax, think, and write.

When we return home, we are rebooting the GAPS diet. While we have continued on the diet these last few months and are eating it on vacation (minus the broth and cultured veggies), I have discovered that we haven’t been doing everything right. Namely, I have continued to drink raw milk. I just learned that this is a no-no that is prohibiting healing because lactose is a disaccharide which GAPS people cannot digest. Even though raw milk, unlike pasteurized, contains lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose, it does not consume all the lactose. Thus the remaining lactose ferments in the small intestine becoming food for the unfriendly bacteria. In the book, the author mentions raw milk as an exception to consuming only cultured dairy. She did not go into details, but apparently, I misunderstood that this is only for those who have already healed their guts and are coming off of GAPS, not for those starting out. I learned this from the Yahoo support group. It’s rather disheartening to think that for the last few months, I have been almost daily consuming something that, while very nutritious, has been holding my progress back.

I mentioned some time ago that once in a while, we eat potatoes. I knew that this was not GAPS “legal,” but I didn’t really understand the detriment of this occasional cheat. After all, potatoes are often the first thing people start eating when they are coming off of GAPS. How much damage could they do in small quantities? I feel foolish now for thinking it was no big deal to stray from the protocol in this small way. Like raw milk, potatoes contain a disaccharide. So, potatoes two or three times a month were probably doing enough to keep those pathogens alive and kicking, despite our efforts in every other way to starve them out.

What a waste.

I know what we’ve been doing isn’t a complete waste. But it does feel that way when I think about the time we’ve already put in. So, now it is time to refocus and do this one hundred percent.  There is no point in continuing if even an occasional departure from the protocol is going to be a road block to complete healing of our guts.

In addition to removing these offenders from our diet, when we get back, I want to increase our intake of broth. It is a struggle to keep enough made. Oftentimes, we’ve only been having it once a day because it is just hard to keep up with it. My goal for Jonas and I is going to be three times a day.

I am confident that the last few months have done a lot of good for our bodies despite my missteps, but it’s hard to not regret the time wasted. I am looking forward to seeing more positive health changes as we correct our errors.

In Preparation For Our Visit To The Doctor

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Tonight I was asking Jonas how he has been feeling and if there are any health related things he wants the doctor to know. (I sorta feel like a bad mom, as this is the first time I have thought to really ask him if he is feeling okay on the diet. I guess I thought he would tell me if he was feeling differently than normal, but I suppose that is expecting a lot from a little kid. Live and learn).

I have noted dark circles under his eyes (and mine) the last couple weeks, and he started complaining of itching eyes a week or so ago. At first I thought maybe he had developed a bit of an allergy to pollen or something, but then I started wondering if it was because of dryness in his body. I have been experiencing weird dryness (did I mention this yet?): chapped lips, flaky dry skin, no sweating, and it would make sense that this is causing the constipation issue. I don’t believe it is a dehydration issue. We both get plenty of liquid. Googling led me to various paleo posts in forums and blogs mentioning dryness, so apparently it must be somehow related to lack of grains or a low carb diet. I have no idea what, specifically, is causing it.

But back to what Jonas said…

He’s more tired than usual and says he feels distracted. I have noticed during school lately that he has sometimes been having trouble concentrating, which isn’t like him. It is especially apparent during math. The other day, I came over to the table see how he was progressing, and he hadn’t done a single problem in ten minutes time, but he had made writing and shapes all over the page which made it practically impossible to look at the problems and focus.

He also says his “head feels funny sometimes.” I think I prompted him by asking if he meant he feels dizzy, and he said yes. So, perhaps a blood sugar issue? I have been met with some dizziness lately when I get up too quickly.

And this one is curious. He was really being thoughtful and taking his time thinking about how he’s been feeling, and he said his “feet feel weird.” I thought maybe he meant that they get tingly, that he was having circulation issues, but he said it’s like he “trips a lot.” When I asked if he has always felt this way or if it was something that recently started happening, he said recently.

Poor guy. I just want him to be better, and I feel bad for putting him through all this. I mean, he is a happy kid and it’s not like he is sickly or anything, but I just wish so much he didn’t have to worry about any of this. It must be a burden to have to deal with incontinence  It can’t feel good. And then to go through this diet and have side effects that make him feel sub-par…

And by the way, speaking of incontinence, I took him off dairy again…probably about two weeks ago. At least a week and a half. Anyway…..Once we got passed the die off he experienced a couple months ago, he was doing great – accidents were really rare. And then he started having them again, but it wasn’t the same as when he was having die off symptoms. Those were major accidents. When he started having trouble again, it was often what he refers to as “half accidents,” where his pants would be damp, but not soaked, and he often wouldn’t realize it right away. It was becoming common place, happening a few times during the day. He was also having minor BM accidents – just a small amount, usually dark and tacky. (Sorry for the TMI – never thought I’d be blogging about pee and poo, yet here I am)! The only thing I knew to do was try taking him off dairy, even though he seemed fine on it for some time. I don’t know if I didn’t introduce it slowly enough, if it built up in his system over time, or what, but the incontinence has mostly cleared up in the last few days.

As for me, I mentioned a few negatives I have been experiencing in my last couple posts. I wrote most of my previous post last week, even though I only posted yesterday. Last week, I was feeling good energy wise – feeling the way I have been since settling into GAPS. This week, I have been feeling really fatigued, and I have had a headache today. Headaches have never been normal for me. Maybe it’s psychosomatic. I have been reading a lot about thyroid and adrenals because I know my metabolism is out of whack, and perhaps the information is too suggestive. lol Or perhaps the honeymoon is over. Hopefully I will bounce back. If not, it is time to reevaluate.

I don’t mean to sound down on GAPS. I know it has been awesome for so many people, and it may be awesome for us too. I know I can’t expect it to be a smooth and simple journey, but I guess I didn’t realize that this way of eating had the potential to aggravate other health related issues that then need to be dealt with. I feel a little discouraged. I’m tired.

Some people start having trouble on GAPS by unintentionally going too low carb, but I think, considering we’re grain free, we get a good amount of carbs. We eat what I have worried is too much fruit and honey and baked goods – plus we have thrown in the occasional potato. But I am going to try to up the “legal” carbs by keeping beans and lentils prepared. Unfortunately, Jonas won’t eat those, but I am hoping it does me some good to have them daily.

Enough from me. I need some rest.

Nourishing Myself

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I have been so busy taking care of little ones over the last (nearly) seven years that I have rarely stopped to assess my own needs. Mothering in the early years is such a physically draining job, and as I have begun paying more attention to the needs of my body recently, I realize that I am in great need of nourishment.

In the last nine years, I have given birth to three children and have had five miscarriages. I have been nursing someone for a month short of seven years straight….so far. All those hormone changes, all that nourishment being channeled into placenta building and milk production….that takes its toll.

The thing is, I eat healthier than just about anyone I know. Before GAPS we were on a mostly WAPF diet for six years and for the few years before that we were eating a largely whole food diet, though there were things I thought at the time were healthy that I later learned more about. But anyway, the point is, my body has gotten wonderful fuel for the past several years, but I don’t think it has reaped the benefits. I don’t think it’s been able to fully use what I’ve given. I do believe that motherhood has placed additional stress on my body, but I suspect there is something in my gut causing malabsorption as well. I guess that is why I was convinced that GAPS would be good for me in the first place. I am at a point in life where I am determined to fix whatever is functioning poorly so I can feel better than “fine.” I want to feel great!

As I said a couple months ago, I am feeling better since being on GAPS, so I am very hopeful, yet I do have concerns about being on a low carb diet over the long term, and I am going to be careful to listen to my body rather than blindly following a protocol just because so many others have found greater health and healing. If I discover after any given time that GAPS is not what I need, I will modify my diet so my body gets everything needed to thrive.

After years of too often dismissing my body’s needs and signals, I have decided it is time for me to focus on myself. I don’t want to become self absorbed and obsessed about every little thing, and I don’t want to seem like a hypochondriac. I just want to make every effort to improve my health now so that I can age well and have energy and vitality thirty and forty years from now – and of course so I can enjoy my life more fully now. Living in a fallen world, we are never going to have perfect health, but we can strive to have the best possible health, to do the things necessary to feel good and hopefully avoid disease, not an easy task in today’s toxic world.

So, despite a pretty clean diet over the last several years, I believe I am malnourished. In addition to the toll that pregnancy and nursing takes on the body, as well as probable gut unhealth, I am convinced that metabolism and thyroid play a big role for me, which makes sense since metabolism is so important for proper digestive function. In fact, I have no idea what the actual state of my gut is, and I would like a clearer picture so I can be more efficient in addressing problems.

As far as the thyroid goes, I had three miscarriages before Jonas was born. After the third, I had some basic tests run. I was certain I would be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I had so many of the symptoms. But the blood test came back on “the low side of normal.” At the time, I didn’t realize that many people with thyroid issues are told they are within normal range. And the more I read about hypothyroidism, the more I realize what a complex issue it can be.

Lately, I have been running into information that makes me question whether it is best, in light of my probable thyroid issue, to stay fully on GAPS. I’ve read of people who’s metabolisms have been driven further into the ditch by low carb lifestyles. I feel great overall right now, but supposedly many people experience a honeymoon phase the first few months and then they go downhill. I will just keep listening to my body, and we’ll see where it leads me.

I need to get to the doctor. After losing a pediatrician we loved, we are fortunate to have found a great holistic doctor with a background in pediatrics. The kids all saw him in November, but we haven’t been back since starting GAPS. Jonas and I have appointments later this week. He is also a WAPF follower, so I think he would be knowledgeable about GAPS. Anyway, I really want to talk through some of this and get some testing done to better assess where I am at and hopefully come away with a more complete plan for getting healthy.

Grain Free Honey Muffins (Or Make Them Blueberry)!

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Here’s a simple and delicious muffin recipe. They’re equally tasty topped with butter or labneh (strained kefir that becomes cream cheesy) for breakfast, or as an accompaniment to dinner, especially chili. Yum! It’s also a great base recipe for creating other types of muffins.

Ingredients for one dozen muffins:

6 eggs
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1.5 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 t baking soda

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Blend everything except the coconut flour and baking soda together. I use my immersion blender. In a separate bowl whisk the two remaining ingredients together and then add them to the batter. Blend well to make sure the flour is completely incorporated. Grease or line your muffin pan before pouring the batter in. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden.
Blueberry Orange MuffinsWe also enjoy a blueberry orange variation on this muffin. Gently mix in a couple handfuls of fresh or frozen blueberries (Sorry I don’t have an exact amount. I’m never precise about adding extras. Maybe a cup?) and the zest of a small orange.

The GAPS Diet: Leg Cramps And Constipation

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I am thinking, rethinking, researching, considering. It is hard to get ones head straight about the best course sometimes when it comes to health. There are so many different opinions. Some I can discard without a second thought. Others make some sense even though they conflict with other things that make sense, and it is just so hard to know sometimes what is truly the best. My head is spinning a bit as I try to organize my thoughts about what I am reading and how it might pertain to me and my family.

When we started on GAPS, I told myself that this is not going to be some perfect magic cure, but I believed that it did have wonderful potential to heal. I still believe that. After being on the diet for a while, I also believe that different bodies have different needs, and that we need to listen to our bodies to know how to best nourish ourselves.

I am still committed to GAPS, and I have hopes that it will resolve Jonas’ digestive issues and improve my health, but I am considering tweaking our individual diets a bit due to some issues that are cropping up.

I continue to feel great on GAPS however, I have recently developed a couple negative symptoms. I started experiencing leg cramps at night which I have never had a problem with. The only time in my life when I am prone to them is when I have too much sugar, like over the holidays. I know that leg cramps are a sign of mineral deficiency: calcium, magnesium, potassium. I find it curious that my body is showing signs of mineral deficiency when the bone broth I consume daily is full of minerals. Is something blocking absorption?

A few weeks ago, I heard a podcast with Dr. Caroline Dean who wrote the book The Magnesium Miracle. Fascinating. She says magnesium is “the life of the body,” and that most people in today’s world are deficient. Unfortunately, the podcast is no longer available for free, but based on the information I learned there, I would recommend the book, though I have not yet read it! Anyway, for the last few weeks, I have been using magnesium oil because transdermal magnesium is absorbed much better by the body than are oral supplements. The leg cramps I had been experiencing 3-4 nights a week disappeared immediately – for a couple weeks. But, then about a week ago, I started getting them again – though not as often or intensely – despite the magnesium. I wonder if it is potassium I am missing.

In the last couple weeks, I have also become constipated and nothing seems to help much. Not even green smoothies packed full of spinach. So, I am trying to figure out what is going on in my body to cause these issues. I have been reading a lot of blog posts as well as the comments, which are oftentimes just as enlightening, if not more, but I am not sure the best course of action yet. Well, my first decision is to add a little gluten-free grain back into my diet to see if that helps. I have quinoa soaking on the counter tonight which I am looking forward to. I know the Body Ecology Diet, another gut healing diet, allows certain seed type grains like quinoa. I love quinoa, and the fact that it is a complete protein and high in minerals makes me think I should add it in to my diet for a week or two and see how I feel.

As a side note, Bridget has also been struggling with constipation lately. Today, she was complaining about it since she hadn’t been able to go in a few days. Since she has never shown signs of digestive (or other) problems, (I have just had her on the diet for solidarity and to give her gut a chance to clean itself up if necessary), I offered her a piece of sprouted toast and butter, thinking maybe that would help. Well, she was able to go (a lot) just a couple hours later. So, I think it might be best for her to have a bit of properly prepared grains on a regular basis. Although, she did complain a while after she went that it hurt a little when she “pushed her tummy out.” Can a grain free diet cause a person to develop sensitivity to a food they previously did not seem sensitive to? Or maybe the tummy ache is a temporary thing after being off of wheat for a while. The discomfort seemed minimal, but it does give me pause and brings up questions regarding sensitivity. We’ll take it slow.

Here’s the thing about GAPS: I understand the importance of eliminating grains and sugars so as not to feed the bad gut flora, but I also think anytime you are restricting or avoiding an entire food group, you risk robbing your body of things it needs. Unlike the paleo crowd, I do think, ideally, we should be eating properly prepared whole grains. I understand why the paleo movement has such momentum – so many of us these days have digestive issues due to the state of our food supply and the general toxic nature of our modern world  – and I appreciate their commitment to whole, real food, but I think the goal should be to heal and then eat a well balanced diet that includes some grains, though probably not as much as most people in our culture eat.

I haven’t even gotten into the specifics of anything I have read in my search to solve my newly developed issues, but I better call it a night and share some more about what I have been coming across later this week.