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Friday, February 8, 2013

The Virgin Diet

Last month I started a diet recommended to me by my chiropractor. He learned about it from a PBS program. The creator of the diet is J. J. Virgin. She recommends eliminating seven foods from your diet for three weeks. She believes that these seven foods cause inflammation in many people, even though they are thought to be healthy. The seven foods are eggs; soy; corn; peanuts; sugar and sugar additives; dairy; and gluten.

Virgin recommends this diet for people with autoimmune diseases, joint pain, fatigue, and people who have been struggling to lose the same 10 or 20 pounds for many years. Virgin explains in her book and on her website that as you age, foods that you may be sensitive to leak out into your gut and cause inflammation. She has done blood tests on her clients and they the seven foods above all came back positive for increased IGGA (allergen) levels.

I did lose three pounds although I was not using the diet to lose weight. I have been struggling with a severely bloated stomach for nine months and within four days the bloated belly was gone. I was also having some pain in my right forearm and my right hand was swollen. The forearm pain and swelling in my hand influenced my chiropractor to recommend this diet to me.

After 21 days, you add back four of the most commonly offensive foods on the list, one at a time, for one week each.

Thankfully, I was able to crush my dark chocolate fetish while on the elimination portion of this diet. That's a GOOD thing! I don't even crave it any longer.

I am confident that I am sensitive to eggs and I'm not adding them back. I have been eating four to six egg whites a day for the past three years. I noticed when I had no egg whiles in August when I was hospitalized that my bloated belly went back to flat. The same thing happened after four days on The Virgin Diet. I think I may also be sensitive to cheese. I had pizza a couple of times and the pain returned.

I'm not one to go on fad diets but I really love this diet. I am eating gluten free oatmeal right now. When I finish the bags I will go back to steel oats and then regular oatmeal just to see how I do with it.

I have two other friends who have followed Virgin's Diet and they've lost weight. One of my friends looks years younger.

February 2013

What's New:

I no longer have flu like symptoms after my injection I take every other day for MS. That's such a blessing! I do have some other symptoms but they are manageable. I would say I have a little depression now and then but so does Moe, Joe, and Susie. I have some anxiety here and there with some irritability. My memory is getting better. I have  hardly any MS symptoms at all except some fatigue after working 12 hour night shifts and some blurry vision the day after but it always clears up in less than a day.

I never finished the squat challenge in my last post. I showed it to a trainer at the gym and he warned me not to do squats more than once, maybe twice at the most, per week.

My new gym routine is going well. I love that I have decreased strength training to three days a week.
I have some kind of problem with my foot though. Once a week I was doing some high impact calisthenics such as jumping jacks, jump roping, etc. I am limping and I have some left foot pain. Today I had an MRI and should have the results next week. The orthopedist I saw thinks I have a stress fracture based on my history.

This past Monday I started kickboxing with a trainer. That was very difficult for me. I think in one hour and 150 tries I did maybe 15 jabs properly. Ha. Mr. Trainer told me to stop punching like a girl. I never got into the proper foot stance for throwing a jab and did no kicking at all so my foot injury was not related to that session. I'm looking forward to another session when health permits.

I started a yoga tape an MS organization sent me about a month ago. I did it three times and after my first two tries I could hardly walk. I could barely sit down on the toilet. I talked to my friend Kilby about it and she thought I was possibly doing something wrong. She suggested I take a class. Since I cannot go to work limping around, my schedule has opened up somewhat. I found a class called Warm Sunrise. This was a 6:30 AM class. I thought they meant that the earth was warming up from the sun rising. Nope. That's.not.what.they.meant. This was one of those hot yoga classes.

Halfway through the class I started to feel so uncomfortable I grabbed my towel and leaned against the wall, almost bursting into tears. I was sad that I have multiple sclerosis and that I can't tolerate heat. I am not a quitter though so I thought I would try to stick it out. By the end of the class I just wanted my mom and I curled up in fetal position, not knowing how I would get up or how I would drive home. I felt like I had taken ten Benadryl.  I was too out of it to remember to pray but I just hoped that this stupor wouldn't last for days. Once I stepped into the hallway though I cooled down. The instructor claimed that I did a good job in the class. I told her how horrible I felt and about my friend, MS, and she wrote down the schedule of other classes that were non heated. Whew. I felt so traumatized after that class.

Yesterday I was able to purchase a Groupon for ten yoga classes for $39 at a different studio. After this morning's experience, I panicked, wondering if the classes there were heated. I visited the studio and was told that none of the classes were heated. Whew!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Squat Challenge

I learned of a squat challenge on Facebook. You do from 20 to 100 squats a day for one month. I'm on day four. I am looking forward to the rest of the month! I usually only do 45 squats a WEEK. This week I will do a total of 190, Lord willing. The schedule is written for squats without weights but for now I'm doing the squats with weights. Excited!
Dec. 17th: 20 squats Dec. 27th: 65 squats Jan 6th: 60 squats
Dec. 18th:  25 squats Dec. 28th: 70 squats Jan. 7th: 100 squats
Dec. 19th: 30 squats Dec. 29th: 75 squats Jan. 8th: 65 squats
Dec. 20th: 35 squats Dec. 30th: 80 squats Jan. 9th 70 squats
Dec. 21st: 40 squats Dec. 31st: 90 squats Jan. 10th: 100 squats
Dec. 22nd: 45 squats Jan. 1st: 95 squats Jan. 11th: REST
Dec. 23rd: 50 squats Jan. 2nd: 100 squats Jan. 12th: 80 squats
Dec. 24th: 55 squats Jan. 3rd: 100 squats Jan. 13th: 85 squats
Dec. 25th: 60 squats Jan. 4th: 50 squats Jan. 14th: 90 squats
Dec. 26th: REST Jan. 5th: 55 squats Jan. 15: 100 squats

Less fatigue?

This week I developed a schedule in which I’m only doing strength training three days a week. For about eight months I've been working on one body part a day, six days a week. That became too taxing with the medication I’m taking. I love my new gym routine. I think I was burned out from doing strength training six days a week.
I started the full dose of a medication for MS about four weeks ago. Sometimes I feel like I’m on chemotherapy. My hair is more thin and I have flu like symptoms and blah blah blah.
I changed the timing of the medication. I’m taking it before bedtime. If I’m at work on an injection day, I take the medication late at about 0300.
Wednesday I had a great day. I kept waiting for the fatigue to come and IT NEVER CAME. I was ecstatic. I had the opportunity to sort some old clothing that has been in my trunk since September! And I was able to drop it off to two friends. I loved the “Ooooohhhh!” squeal I heard from my friend Tina when her son told her I was at the door. I’m surprised she didn't think I was a ghost. I don’t go out usually any more due to fatigue. I was so happy to be out! I also dropped a second set of clothing to my friend Marie. They both live miles apart and miles from me. It was so good to see my sweet friends.
I think Wednesday was awesome because I had DOUBLE the protein I usually eat. I think I've been shortchanging myself. At some point, some months ago, I couldn't finish the eight egg whites I used to eat. I started eating only four egg whites.
So it may be that some of my fatigue has been due to lack of protein in the morning. So yesterday I had a veggie protein shake with hemp, brown rice, green peas, and chia seeds. Then later in the morning after working out I had four egg whites with green peppers, red onions, and fresh ground black pepper. I felt great the entire day. I had no fatigue until 7:30 PM which is a more reasonable hour to have fatigue.
I was not able to repeat that breakfast plan today because when I got home from the gym the kids made gingerbread houses. What a ridiculous lunch of Hershey Kisses, Life Savers, spice drops, and liquid filled gummy drops. I decided to do a modified fast for a few hours. I worked on finishing my gallon of water for the day. Then for dinner I had a double portion of salmon.
Tomorrow I will try that same breakfast I had yesterday and I will have CLEAN food!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


So much has changed. I'm on a full dose of disease modifying medication. It's an injection taken every other day. The needle doesn't hurt but the medication burns! The dose was titrated to full strength over time. I've been on the full dose since this past Monday. It makes me feel very tired. I have been experimenting with the best time to take the medication. I used to take it in the mornings and that was a terrible time to take it. The medication gives you flu like symptoms and so I was feeling so poorly for much of the day. I spoke to Titi, a nurse certified in MS and assigned to me by the manufacturer of the medication. One of the options we discussed was taking the medication at my bedtime if I'm off from work. If I'm at work I take it late, a few  hours before I leave at 0730.

I had to eliminate or switch some of the 24 sites for injection. It hurt so much in my abdomen and the top of my thighs. The medication was going in my muscle and not in the fat.  I am now giving the medication on the side of my thighs rather than the top of my thighs. I have a lot more fat on the side of my thighs. I'm going to try giving an injection on the bottom side of my belly rather than the front. The front I can't tolerate at all!

I visited my primary care doctor yesterday to discuss some peculiar lab results with him. I mentioned my fatigue from my medication. He decided to order a B12 injection for me. I think it helped. I feel better than I have been feeling.

So what's changed? A lot has changed. Some things are good and some not good. I'm very sensitive. I dislike a lot of stimulation and noise. I'm more cranky with my husband.  I am more confident about making decisions that protect my energy level even if that disappoints others. I'm reading more. I'm looking for ways to decrease stress. I am watching my favorite NBA team play from the beginning of the season. Go, Miami Heat!!! I'm watching more movies at the cheaper movie theatre where they show newer movies that haven't made it to DVD  yet. It's as if I'm creating a bucket list and actually working thru that list. I'm having to tweak my gym routine every week based on my symptoms. I'm listening to the easy listening station at home. It's calming.

One thing I dislike a lot is that I think I've only been to church about three times in the past seven weeks. I'm hoping my new medication schedule will allow me to attend church more.

What's great about all of this? I'm a better nurse. I'm more compassionate. I'm doing things I love to do that I never made time to do-going to see movies, reading books, and watching the entire basketball season. I'm still a bump off a log and that is great. I got some new gym pants and one shirt for my birthday! Yay! I love gym clothing. It's so comfortable. A lot of my old gym clothing got too baggy. It's fun to have new clothing.

Life is good and God is good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm learning

I'm learning how to live a new lifestyle. I had a hard time learning to use the cartridge for my injection. Bruce helped me with that. I was so grateful. James didn't want the kids around when the nurse showed me how to give my first injection. But being the forward person that Bruce is he peeped at the nurse while pretending to use the computer. I'm getting better with the injection. I'm always amazed when the needle actually gets into my subcutaneous tissue.  The first injection went terribly and I was covered with sweat from the stress. I ended up having to give the injection manually, old school. The cartridge sounds a little scary and sounds like a gun to me. I'm exaggerating a little but it even scares Bruce.

I've learned that I can't go on errands and go out for hours on days when I'm scheduled to work. I work every other Lord's Day and I'm going to have to stay home on those days. I'm hoping that this relapse will end soon. Perhaps then I can go back to church every Lord's Day rather than every other Lord's Day. It's a bummer to miss church every other Lord's Day. I had a MUCH better night at work this past Sunday when I stayed home from church. The last four hours were hard but less difficult. I didn't have that sense of impending doom that I've had on hard nights when I feel overwhelming and crushing fatigue.

I learned that I need to get more sunlight. So I'm sunbathing which is so unlike me. I've always hated the sun and avoided it like a plague as many black people do. :) I've always been a sun hater. Most people with MS have heat sensitivity and I have had that all my life! I started sunbathing on Monday. I put on a swimsuit and laid out in the sun for 15 minutes. It certainly was hot! I didn't enjoy it. I brought a bottle of frozen water to sip on as it melted. Yesterday I spent 30 minutes in the sun. The front of my swimsuit doesn't expose enough skin; I'm going to shop for something else. Or maybe I will wear one of my exercise sports bras for next time. I'm reading an evidence based book about overcoming multiple sclerosis. The author, George Jelinken recommends three to five sunbathing sessions a week for 15 to 45 minutes. Yesterday's session was more bearable. I guess it's something you have to get used to. This morning, I'm feeling better, more happy. I think I did need the sunlight. I've been depressed and I think it's related to this relapse cause I'm generally a bright and happy person. It could also be the medication. Depression and suicide are side effects that one is warned of on the label. The pharmacy has asked me about that a couple of times too. I'm not in a deep depression and I am not suicidal; I just feel blue.

I'm still having intermittent trouble with my right index finger. It  becomes painful and difficult to use. Yesterday, my left knee was having some kind of spasm that would make my leg buckle whenever I stood up to walk. Weird.

The lady that takes care of my hair noticed that my scalp  has a bald spot. I see her every six weeks. That spot wasn't there the last time I saw her. I was incredulous and didn't know it was there. My hair has been thinning since I was in my late 20s, mostly due to the fact that I've just always  had thin and fine hair but also related to chemicals that were terrible for my scalp. Now I think it's worse due to my age, family history, stress from my recent diagnoses endometriosis and multiple sclerosis; and probably the medication. I went completely bald on my right temple a few months ago. I'd been using a cream on both temples. The hair is growing back there now. My hair lady suggested that I use the cream all throughout my scalp on the top half of my scalp.

My routines at the gym are going well. I'm back in gym shape but I ought  to do schedule light weightlifting days on the days I'm scheduled to work. I love working out so much sometimes I just forget.

A friend of mine at church, a medical doctor recommended that I increase my Vitamin D intake from 1,000 IU to 5,000 IU, since I'm dark skinned. Vitamin D helps to prevent future relapses. I agree with him, based on medical research I've read.

I visited a nutritionist who owns a vitamin store. He has a radio show as well or used to. He recommended a vitamin for me and asked me to bring my lab work from the hospital to him. I'm waiting for that to come to me in the mail and then I will visit him again. He does free consultations.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Telephone Consultation with Nurse Titi

Today is a good day. My level of fatigue was a five on a scale of one to ten. I slept for only one hour. I got rid of some junk in the loft too.

I went to the gym for one hour and did some new shoulder exercises detailed in  Body Change by Montel Williams and Wini Linguvic. I also did 30 minutes of cardio on the stepper and on the treadmill. It was exciting to do some new exercises. I love doing shoulder exercises. :D
I did three sets of crunches too. Jimmy went with me to the gym at my request. He was my spotter for some lateral shoulder lifts. I am trying to increase my lateral shoulder lifts to 60 pounds and I can't do it alone. He also threw me a medicine ball when I came up from crunch on the reverse incline bench. The funniest part of that was that he almost fell over when I threw him back the ball. It was funny because right now he is long and lanky but one day I know he will have much more strength than I have.

A very nice nurse called me today to teach me about the shots I am starting. Her name is Titi and she is certified in MS.  Nurses are available via telephone 24 hours a day. Titi is going to train me on the administration of the medication. She ordered a training kit for me today.

This is a bullet list of everything I learned during our phone call:
  • I should contact the MS Society at 800-344-4867 and the MS Association of America at 800-532-7667 to learn as much as I can about MS. The MS Association of America has some cooling equipment to help me to stay cool when I exercise.
  • The medication Betaseron doesn't have to be refrigerated but shouldn't be left in a hot car. It should be placed in carry on luggage. It's okay to place it in the trunk but shouldn't be left there for too many hours.
  • I should call Dr. Lufti to ask him if he wants me to take Tylenol or Motrin before my injection. Tylenol or Motrin can minimize or eradicate any flu like symptoms of Betaseron.
  • It's best to take the medication at bedtime. On the nights I work I should take the medication the following morning before I go to bed.
  • I should continue my same exercise routine and there are people who play sports, run, and continue to travel and work on this medication.
  • Once I receive the training kit, I should call Titi to be trained.
  • Only 57% of people in studies experienced flu like symptoms. 37 % of people in a placebo group also experienced flu like symptoms. Ha.
  • I need to hydrate a lot taking this medication. I'm not sure how I could drink more water than I already do but we will see. ;) I'm already drinking about 72 oz of water a day.
Titi was kind and patient and helped allay my concerns.

I was told that I could receive an emergency 30 day kit to start the medication sooner. I declined that as I don't see this as an emergency. I think I should save that privilege for an emergency.

Beta Plus, the company that provides Betaseron is awaiting approval from my insurance company to start the medication. The approval should take a couple more day, they tell me.