Tuesday, September 25, 2012

remove to improve ...

Although I have been extremely kind of vague about the details, I've mentioned that I have been feeling "off" for about 11 months now. Initially, the symptoms were minor and I brushed them off, thinking they would pass in a few days. When they didn't, I started to try to attribute them to my training load and accepted them for the time being.

For months, I was affected my the following symptoms:
  • Weight Gain (15 lbs in 9 months - while actively working to drop that gained weight)
  • Constipation
  • Severe Fatigue (like "hurts to keep your eyes open" fatigue)
  • Night Sweats
  • Irregular Cycles

The whole time, I assumed that once I cut my training back all of the symptoms would alleviate themselves. But, that didn't happen. In fact, they got worse.

Having had enough, I went to the doctor thinking that they would find that my hormone levels were completely out of whack or that I had some crazy illness that could explain all my symptoms. On the surface I seemed fine. I was the picture of health, but I knew that something was going on.

Unfortunately, the first doctor didn't think so. All of my blood work came back completely normal. Sure, I had low Iron stores and had been unable to build up my Vitamin D levels (even with supplementation), but those two thing shouldn't be causing all the issues I was having. Stumped, the doctor suggested I try a cycle of hormone supplements.

I thought this was insane. First of all, she wasn't an endocrinologist and she didn't seem too sure of what she was suggesting. And second, I have Leiden V Factor, which increases my risk of blood clots. And do you know what else increases your risk of blood clots? That's right. Hormone supplementation. It just didn't seem like a smart move.

So, I went for a second opinion with my OB (because I truly value her opinion and she is the doctor I see on the most regular basis), who immediately shot down the idea of putting me on hormones. She reviewed the bajillion tests I had already had done and she came to a similar conclusion:

I am perfectly healthy. Except that I am not. Something else is going on, but she felt it was outside her area of expertise.

She suggested that I go see an endocrinologist and a rheumatologist. And before I left, she noted one last thing.

From the looks of my blood work, it seemed that I was fighting off a low level infection or had an increased level of inflammation in my system, but she couldn't pinpoint from where it was coming.

I left both satisfied and disheartened. I was so over visiting doctors and being told that I was healthy. I didn't want to spend any more money having tests that wouldn't tell me a thing. So, I decided to ask a few people I trust and love how they overcame their health woes without a firm medical diagnosis.

And everyone said the same thing: "I eliminated certain foods from my diet."

Feeling like I had no other options, I decided to do the same. I figured that it couldn't make me feel any worse than I had been, so I really had nothing to lose.

I did some research and found that both gluten and dairy can lead to the symptoms that I had been experiencing. And although I don't have the typical symptoms of Celiac disease or a dairy allergy, there was still a chance I could benefit from removing them from my diet.

So, that's what I did. I went completely cold turkey. And do you know what happened?

Within a matter of a few days (like 2-3 days), my symptoms were gone.

No more fatigue.
No more night sweats.
More frequent bowel movements.
And a 4 pound weight loss in the last two weeks.

I feel like a new person.

Eventually, I will probably try to reintroduce a small amount of dairy and/or gluten into my diet, but I am not sure when or how much. Truth be told, I would never let it cross my lips again if it means I can feel this good all the time. But, I am human. And I am sure I'll make mistakes, but hopefully I can find the balance that works for me.

Have you ever tried an "alternative" method to curing your ailments? How did it turn out?


christy said...

What a timely post. I'm doing this with my 5 year old right now. She has had chronic sinus infections for 3 years. We have just decided to eliminate foods from her diet to see if that helps. We are on day 2. I hope she gets the fast results you did!

Marlene said...

Oh that must be SUCH a relief to have found an explanation and be feeling good again!!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Great that you found a solution to your issues. I wish there were simple tests to help pinpoint what needs to be removed from a person's diet.

Running Ricig said...

That's awesome that eliminating food worked. Do you think you'll still go to the doc just to get things checked out and make sure it's not something else?

I have meniere's disease (basically chronic vertigo) and there's really no cure, the only option is temporary surgery, that might not work and dietary changes. I cut out salt, caffeine, and alcohol for two years and it was amazing. I wasn't completely cured, but I had episodes far less frequently. Then I started weaning myself back on to see what my actual triggers were and it turns out I'm ok with alcohol and caffeine, but salt can really affect me, so now I stay on a low sodium diet and partake of the others with moderation.

TwynMawrMom said...

Good for you for trusting your body!! I often like to experiment--cut everything out, then like a control--you add in one at a time. Ryan Seacrest is doing the same thing! LOL! :)

Kayla said...

Glad that you have found something that helps!!! Sounds like a frustrating process. I can't believe that they at first wanted to put you on hormone replacement with Leiden's! I'm glad you knew enough to talk to your OB about it! So glad you are feeling better!!

Runners Fuel said...

I'm glad you're feeling better!

Meredith said...

So glad you seemed to have found the culprit! As I was reading this, it sounded so much like my own journey... mine came in the form of a crazy itchy rash that went on for 9 months, included countless visits to the Dr. and dermatologist and ended with over $600 in Dr. bills and no answers. I too, decided to try and figure it out myself and I too, turned to "maybe it's something I'm eating?" I took everything out and started adding it back in after a couple "clean" months. Within 30 minutes of exposing myself to wheat I was covered in my itchy rash again. It took me a few months to really decide that it was no longer worth it to have anything with wheat in it cross my lips. That was almost 4 years ago. Funny thing? Ella started having issues last year and we took wheat out of her diet and she's now great too! I have people ask if I've gone to the Dr. to confirm my own findings and to be honest, why would I want to pay them more money for something I figured out works for me?? So excited you figured it out!

Allyssa said...

I'm so glad you are feeling better! I think of you sometimes when I ponder my own list (almost identical to yours) of issues. I too am athletic and in training and keep gaining weight. I also have fatigue and night sweats. I've considered doing the gluten and dairy free thing but I can't bring myself to do it yet. I just love those two categories of food soooo much! Ugh. You're making me second guess the holding off of it.

Kerrie said...

Wow. My sister did this. And it helped her, too. Also, I have a friend who has Celiac disease, and I consider her an expert in this type of thing if you ever want to talk to someone.

Lorianne said...

My mom had the same symptoms for years and it turned out to be hypothyroidism. I am glad you have worked it out for yourself.

Pam @ herbieontherun.com said...

I hope you scream this from the rooftops. I'm SOOOO TIIIIIRED of seeing doctors push pills on people when nutrition is the key. They should know this shit! The lack of nutrition training that MDs have to undergo is ridiculous.

I'm so happy you're feeling better!

XLMIC said...


Anonymous said...

WOW, that is amazing!! I'm soo glad you feel better now. What a relief!!

Unknown said...

I'm glad you feel better. Good thing all the tests are all normal. Healthy diet sometimes can really affect what we feel in our body.
weight loss programs mn

fancy nancy said...

I'm SO glad you are feeling better...I'm sure not as happy as you are though! It's amazing what a shift in eating can impact your body!

amilwee said...

I am having the same issues as you! I've been training harder and actively counting calories and trying to lose weight - all just to end up gaining! I've been at this for over 2 years now...it's so frustrating. I think a gluten-free trial is a great idea. I hope you keep us posted on your progress!

H Love said...

Happy you are feeling better. You can do anything you set your mind to~ Miss your face. Maybe we should plan a race meet up...just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Glad u are feeling better-Maybe with eating more fruits and veggies your body is getting whatever it needs. My sister had aggressive thyroid cancer last year and all of her blood work came back normal. It wasn't until they did a biopsy.

Anonymous said...

Just hope all that weight gain and over-exertion doesn't make you prone to hypertension. Wouldn't want to worry about the cost of cozaar now, would we?