Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Beyond TSW : Autoimmune Protocol + Histamine Intolerance

Since starting TSW in January, I have had a sense that I need to do more for my body than simply "stop steroids."  Not only does it make sense that the human body will heal faster, and more completely, if given the correct fuel (food!) but, considering my own story, I've still been trying to pull the puzzle pieces together to find an exact cause/remedy for my original skin issues.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've always had minor skin issues, but things really spiraled out of control about 2.5 years ago (at a time when I had not used steroids in years!).  I was not a "regular" steroid user until these unexplained (and terrible) rashes starting appearing in my adulthood.  For this reason, I am not satisfied that I will heal completely from stopping steroids alone.  For me, it's just Step 1 in a process.  As I've been undergoing TSW, I have been in a constant search for more information about how to heal my skin issues and also heal all of the other damage that the steroids did to my body (besides the skin).  I believe that I am finally starting my journey down the correct path to healing my body completely!

To preface, I had previously started experimenting with the GAPS diet, but found myself having horrible reactions to leftover broth/soup, so I abandoned ship.  I know now that my reactions were histame-related (more information on this below).  Although the GAPS diet did not work for me, specifically, I still believe that it could be an excellent approach for healing for others.

Instead, I am embarking into:

The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (her website: The Paleo Mom)

For those who know me, they know that I've eaten a mostly Paleo diet for over 3.5 years now (by mostly I mean 90-95%).  My diet has been fairly clean for a long time now, so parts of this approach are nothing new to me. However there is A LOT of information that I a.) did not know, b.) now understand the importance of incorporating for my own specific healing process!  On the whole, her approach is a bit more strict than "normal" Paleo, but for good reason!

Here's the rundown:

Besides the normal NO grains, NO legumes, NO dairy, the diet also excludes:
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • nightshades
  • coffee (of all the foods I am avoiding this is actually the saddest part for me)

Now that I'm not medicating myself (with steroids and only using antihistamines when absolutely necessary), I am also learning that I have a very severe histamine intolerance.  (Interestingly, The Paleo Approach also has a section about histamine intolerance outlined in the book!)  The great thing about not medicating yourself with drugs is that you can actually listen to your body and what it's telling you about the foods you eat.  

Therefore, I am also excluding the following foods (which are allowed on the normal Autoimmune Protocol, but should be avoided if you have histamine intolerance):



Fermented anything (meats, sauerkraut, etc)

Leftover meat (histamine levels rise A LOT once a meat is cooked/leftover)
Certain Fish (there's a whole list of types of fish to avoid due to histamine content)
Green Tea
All alcohol

Christopher made this list for me as a guide (it's hanging on our fridge).....

One thing I need to change about this list (besides the Green Tea that I crossed out), is Chicken.  Chicken is allowed, but shouldn't be as much of a staple as red meat which has a better balance of Omega-3's, etc.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the list of "Foods to Avoid",  I am feeling empowered by the "Foods to Eat" list!  It's limiting, sure, but there are a lot of delicious foods that I am allowed to eat so I'm focusing on those!

So far, I'm almost a week into this diet.  I had a few mess-ups during the first 2 days (both histamine-related) so I got off to a pretty rocky start.  Hopefully I've gotten the mistakes out of my system so I can proceed with the healing.  Within the next few days, I'm going to try to post my day-to-day diet on here to start creating a log of my food intake.

To wrap things up, it feels really good to take your health into your own hands.  Everyone undergoing TSW probably understands this at least in part (we're all going against the advice of our doctors to try to heal ourselves, aren't we?!).  For me, gaining my health back does not simply boil down to "stop steroids," I believe it's going to take more than that (especially if I want to avoid having to visit ANY doctors' offices for a long, long while).  I never understood the desire for "true health" fully before--even when I was eating Paleo prior to my skin condition!  Health has so much more meaning for me now than simply "being skinny."  And now, it's even taking on more meaning than "clear skin."  I want to take care of my body and not abuse it in anyway; I want to help my body function at it's highest levels.  For me, it's taken a debilitating circumstance to knock me upside the head so I can learn about real health.

More soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

sad face weekend.

Big Flare #3 happened this weekend. I had a bunch of plans for the weekend but ended up staying at home almost the entire time.  It hit me hard on Saturday morning when I woke up.  My face/neck/chest was broken out in those curious little dots again, the texture was quite rough, the color very inflamed and it stung like crazy to even move my neck in the slightest motion.  Thankfully, the rest of my body wasn't effected.  Saturday felt the worst, Sunday was a tiny bit better and today I'm a little better yet, but not quite out of the woods yet.  Last time, if took about 4 days until the flare disappeared entirely and it left me with even nicer skin than I had prior to the flare.  Fingers crossed that my skin is even more beautiful yet in a few days!  Overall, I can't complain, as each flare feels less intense.  Even though I hate the flares because they mess up my plans, it's a great reminder that ultimate healing IS COMING!  My body is doing it's job really well and is trying to get me back into a state of healthiness!

It seems that my large flares coincide with my menstrual cycle.  My 2 previous flares happened a day or two before my cycle started; this time it happened a day after it started.  I guess it's good to see a pattern starting to happen.  We'll see if that trend continues.

One other issue that made my weekend even a little more sad.... my closet shelf fell in the middle of the night (and right after I had ironed 4 of my dresses).  What can ya do.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

95 Days: no huge complaints. just little ones.

95 days already?

Overall, my skin has shown a general improvement since the beginning of my TSW.  The texture of the majority of my skin is generally soft and smooth (it was formerly very roughly textured).  Somedays my skin sheds & flakes a lot, other days not so much.  I still have a general (and unnatural) "pinkness" to my coloration--some days it's worse, somedays it's not so bad.  Although I feel like things are continuing to look up, I'm not seeing any dramatic improvements like I saw last month; I seem to have hit a plateau.  Most days my skin looks/feels pretty much the same.  I guess that's a good thing?  But I'm still craving the dramatic improvements.

Despite all of this, the itchiness has been uncontrollable lately.  I'm constantly crawling in my skin even though it looks/feels generally better.  It's so awful.  At least my itching no longer rips my skin apart, as the skin is quite strong. I'm taking a 10mg hydroxyzine pill every couple days to cut down on the itchiness.  But the itchiness is actually waking me up in the middle of the night now.  Although I was very itchy before, the itch actually seems much worse now?  I don't understand.

I did have 2 more bouts with herpes recently.  Two weeks ago, I had a few sores appear on my chin, which went away within 5-6 days with the help of an antiviral.  Then this week, I had some appear right around my left eye lid.  That seems to be under control again, thankfully.

Ehhh.  The itchiness makes me want to stop writing.  I'll try to update again soon.