Sunday, February 22, 2015

Breathing easy, dairy free, and adrenal fatigue recovery

I don't wish dietary restrictions on anybody.  Especially if they present themselves in the form of a true allergy.  How excluded a child with a gluten allergy must feel when their classmate brings birthday cupcakes.  And these allergies and intolerances are on the rise.

I wan't born with an allergy OR an intolerance of dairy, but the choice to make a change has presented itself.  It began with severe fatigue.  You know that time of day when you realize there's no more 'umph' left?  Usually that time is the moment you know if the dishes haven't been done, they aren't getting done.  Well usually that should coincide with bedtime or at least at couch time.  My servere fatigue also presented itself with anxiety and a feeling of being too fragile to deal with normal frustrations.  The anxiety alone was bad, really bad, but when I started feeling physically drained routinely around 1 or 2 in the afternoon I knew it was time to see what was up.

I went to a homeopathic doctor - she didn't take my insurance, but I said to myself, 'if there's anything worth splurging for, your health is it!'.  I knew with a general doctor I'd end up on an anti-depressant, but I'd done that years before and wanted to see if there's another, safer alternative this time.  You guys this doctor spent a full hour with me, asking my family history, diet, caffeine intake, spiritual beliefs, and support at home.  I left feeling totally distressed.  All I walked out with was a a welt on my butt where she gave me a vitamin B complex injection.  That and a list of recommended probitics, fish oil, and multivitamins.  This doctor didn't give me false hope for a quick fix. She did tell me she would personalize my recovery, therefore needing more information before she could make further recommendations.  Off I went to the lab for blood work and a saliva test (to look at my adrenals and cortisol levels).

THREE WEEKS LATER:  Yes, that three weeks was awful but somehow I was at peace, knowing the waiting game was a necessary step and that I might have some definitive answers soon.  The doctor sat me down and affirmed my lack of energy and emotional strength - I was in adrenal fatigue, my cortisol levels were below normal from the moment I wake all the way through the day.  Cortisol is often called the stress hormone - it's not good to have too much or too little.  It's the hormone responsible for the flight or fight response in a sketchy situation.  When you have too little cortisol, you experience fatigue, sleep disruption, anxiety, depression, blood sugar imbalances, low thyroid function and inflammation.

At this visit we had a piece of the puzzle - something to work on.  Away I went with Isocort, an adrenal support supplement.  She also explained to me how important sleep is to normal adrenal function.  For ease of drifting off to sleep and quieting 'chatter' I was given two herbal supplements to try: Glycine and L-Theanine.  I was also instructed to exercise 4 times a week with at least two of those being outdoors.  We decided to do a food panel to see if an underlying reason my adrenals were being sapped could be a food sensitivity.  She also asked me to up my sleep and cut my sugar and caffeine - the artificial sources of energy that I felt like I really needed to get me through my day.  I had cut out coffee already, anticipating it might be part of the problem, and wanted to cry each morning.  I grieved my morning ritual and I just truly enjoy the taste of a creamy cup of strong coffee.   Her response to my sadness was, "How much stress has it added to your life by cutting out coffee?".  Did I tell you how much I love this doctor's advice??

THREE WEEKS LATER:   Food panel results were in.  I did not notice a relevant relief in my fatigue due to the Isocort, exercise and additional sleep.  On my results I saw some highlighter and red pen, oh crap.  I was excited too though, thinking that maybe there is something I can modify in my diet to get back to normal.  She laid it out for me straightforward:  I had the highest sensitivity to coffee she had seen in a long time.  I was also highly sensitive to dairy.  This was not going to be an easy road to recovery.  She had literally just given coffee back to me, and now it's slipping right through my fingers.

Surprisingly, determination was a stronger force that my addiction to coffee.  Dairy, I found to be much harder to kick - it's hidden everywhere!! Whey in Special K, milk fat in dark chocolate, and cheese,  how I miss cheese!!  I went through a 100% coffee and dairy elimination for 30 days.  To my surprise, I felt exhilarated.  I felt so much energy and such inner strength, I was invincible.  At this point my awesome homeopathic doctor released me, there was no more work to do, the proof is in the pudding.

The amazing side effect of being dairy free is how wonderfully I can breathe.  Dairy is a mucous thickener, due to the protein casein and if you have tracheal stenosis, you know how much more stridor you experience if you have thick mucous.  I haven't had a dilation in almost two years, and I'm feeling great!!

If you are interested in trying a dairy elimination, do at minimum 30 days to see if it helps you.  Check out the Go Dairy Free website as a resource for tips and recipes.

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