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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Healthiest Sick Person

I started a new book titled The Body Ecology Diet, Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity by Donna Gates. The author mentions how she was plagued with persistent symptoms of food allergies, headaches and vaginitis despite the fact she had eliminated sugar, alcohol and dairy from her diet, took supplements, tried internal cleansing treatments and exercised regularly. This sounds so familiar. I eat a very clean diet, take supplements, hit the gym three to four times a week, include walking in my daily regimen, practice meditation. I'm the healthiest sick person around!

I'm only on page 13 of the book, but I've already read some amazing information. Just two days of antibiotic use precipitate candida overgrowth. When yeast multiples, it produces toxic waste products, which circulate in the body, poisoning and weakening the immune and endocrine system. No wonder it's taking so long to feel better. Every time I see my ENT (who I'm avoiding since he last tried to put me on antibiotics), he comments that my glands are swollen. Always swollen.

The book compares the human body to the natural environment, stating that to reverse the overgrowth of candida, we must restore an inner environment that prevents candida from taking over. This requires two major actions: one, killing off the bad yeast and other opportunistic parasitic organisms by creating mineral-rich slightly alkaline blood; two, recolonizing the friendly bacteria and restoring proper digestion. Basically, it won't do any good to reestablish new colonies of friendly bacteria without improving the environment so they can prosper.

I've been attempting to make my internal environment more alkaline, by drinking green juices and green smoothies. I've even tested the ph or my pee. Somedays it's alkaline and some it's not. I have more alkaline than non-alkaline days. Despite this, I have a ways to go.

I haven't gotten to this section yet, but the book outlines a diet to follow to accomplish the above. Looks like just when I thought my diet couldn't get any more narrow and stringent, it's gonna have to. Ugh. But it'll be nice not to have to carry nasal douche everywhere I go.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sick Days

So my partner at work, even though he's sick with flu-like symptoms, came into the office. That's the wonderful thing about working in advertising, you're given so much work that sick days are never used. Instead everyone shows up to work sick, making everyone else sick. Today I'm feeling headachy, full of mucus, and with a raw, sore throat. Of course, I'm at work.

It's still hard to believe I'm sicker than I usually am. Every morning I awake and go through a wellness ritual of taking coenzyme Q10, acidophilus, antioxidants, nettles, quercetin, bromelain, ester C, grape pips, selenium, zinc, magnesium, caprylex and vitamin D. Some I take before breakfast and the rest with. I also take 3 histamine drops under my tongue each day as well as echinacea drops two or three times a day mixed with a small amount of water.

I use a Sinucleanse squeeze bottle to clean out my sinuses with saline water. I also mix the following three intra-nasal meds into the sinus wash: betamethasone, amphotericin, tobramycin. I hate that I use these drugs since one is a steroid, one an antibiotic and one an anti-fungal. I know the title of this blog is A Year Without Antibiotics. Supposedly, using these drugs topically and directly on my sinuses is not as invasive as oral meds. After I use my Sinucleanse bottle I touch my toes three times to make sure all the saline plus drugs get out of my body. Then I gargle water in my mouth a few times. Some days I have to use these drugs in the morning and night. Other days just once. I'm supposed to use them three times a day.

Some days I use Nasacort or Nasonex. Although, I haven't in a week. I try my best to avoid steroid nose sprays. I also take Claritin and Singulair almost every day. My new doctor put me on the Singulair when my body kept reacting to everything I eat, even brown rice. I've tried to skip both of these drugs, but find I start feeling incredible inflammation in my sinuses.

I don't mind taking the supplements. Just hate that I'm dependent on the intra-nasal meds and Singulair. Hopefully one day soon, I'll be able to get off these.

Happy sick day at work!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Natural

Yesterday, mom asked me over the phone how I felt. I told her better than I did a month ago but still experiencing inflammation and pints of mucus (It used to be gallons.). Mom said something rather profound, "Nature isn't fast." It's true, unlike popping steroids for a quick fix along with hundreds of side effects, nature or the natural way is slower but free of all the nasty repercussions. The problem with traditional medicine is that it totally overlooks nutrition and diet as a way of healing. I see each meal as an opportunity to heal, rejuvenate, rev-up my internal engine, make my skin glow and hair shine and create an inner calm.

In The China Study, the author highlights the total lack of nutrition training doctors and surgeons receive. The doctors even ingest animal based diets and can't fathom changing theirs or recommending diet as a way for patients to heal. Even more unsettling is the fact that most nutrition training for public health problems is provided by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Dairy Council, The Dannon Institute, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Baxter Healthcare. It's pretty obvious these companies don't have the public's best interest at heart. Instead it's profits that drive them. So greed and power is what keeps wellness from Americans. Now that's sickening.

Also, the National Dairy Council has an advertising budget of 100 million. The Watermelon Council, one million. Again, it's a no-brainer whose messages are getting out. This brings me back to the need for more advertising promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet. Again, I would love nothing more than to meet with the heads of Swiss Chard Marketing.

I found this TV spot that takes a bold step in the right direction. Some of the production values are lacking, but the message cuts through. It's set in the negative. It'd be nice to have communications that also tout the positive.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recipe For Disaster

I really enjoyed reading Green For Life. Sunday I decided to try one of the smoothie recipes from the book, especially since it made one full quart. Enough for right then and the next day. The recipe called for 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 cup of pineapple and 3 cups of dandelion greens plus 2 cups of water. I usually put ice and cucumber in mine, to give them a thick consistency. I turned on my Vitamix and seconds later I pulled a tall glass of green. I took a sip. And, the green drink was well....fugly. My recipes are so much better. I drank a tall glass of fugly then put the rest in the fridge.

The next day the smoothie looked like on of those layered desserts from the seventies. But the top later was swamp residue and the bottom liquid snot. I dumped the contents into my Vitamix and added an apple, half a cucumber, some ice and a teaspoon of each spirulina and goji berres. This time the taste was divine.

What do you like to put in your smoothies.?

Monday, September 26, 2011

High On Colonics

I had a very moving Saturday. I woke up feeling a bit tired. I didn't make it to the yoga class I had been wanting to check out at NYSC. Instead, I did laundry. Not really relaxing. But, it's nice to check this chore off my list. I also drank lots of fresh cucumber, spinach, lemon, apple and garlic juice I made.

Saturday afternoon I visited Suite Retreat for hydrotherapy, also know as high colonics. Based on numerous books I've read as well as the recommendation of my doctor, colonics is good way to remove toxins and other nasties that have built up inside the colon. It's a good way to alleviate candida, which has plagued me for a year and a half. Candida is annoying on many levels. In addition to the usual issues in the nether regions is also causes sinusitis. Antibiotics and steroids are like candy for candida, making the condition even worse. That's another reason why I'm working so hard to not take either of these oral medications. I follow a diet that doesn't feed the yeast. I also take a candida cleanse supplement called Caprylex.

When I arrived at Suite Retreat, I felt like I'd walked into a cozy refuge. Rose first chatted with me about my health history. She had also suffered from sinusitis as well as bronchitis. She's been free of these ailments for years. After our chat, she took me into the procedure room that was equally warm and cozy. Not cold and sterile like a typical doctor's office. She explained the procedure and showed me the freshly wrapped-in-plastic, sterile tubes she would be using. Next, she had me get changed in the bathroom. I came out and climbed up on the table with the help of a step stool. No awkward scrambling here. She had me lie on my side, as she inserted the tube. Or was it tubes? I'm not sure since I couldn't see down there. Then I moved onto my back to relax.

She massaged my abdomen during the procedure. She had me apply a special oil called Di-Gize directly onto my belly to alleviate any cramping or feelings of gas. All it took was one tiny drop for me to feel totally fine. I highly recommend this oil for anyone with gastrointestinal upset. Our skin soaks up everything we put on it. Hence the patch to help cease smoking. It's much better than swallowing a bunch of meds that lead to stomach upset. Rose also applied peppermint oil to help open breathing passageways. I asked her about lavender and she applied a touch of this oil too for relaxation.

Toward the latter part of the procedure, it began to feel like Kool & The Gang had inhabited my lower regions. She massaged me more, letting me know there were some trapped gas pockets working their way out. Guess this was the gang. When the procedure was finished, she unhooked me. I went back to the bathroom to sit on the potty. The great thing about the toilet were the spray buttons. There was one aimed at your buttocks. One for fronttocks. And a dryer! I sampled all. What fun. Wish I had this at home. I'd probably never leave the bathroom.

When I left, my stomach was so flat. I didn't feel any bloatedness or cramping. I felt great. Just incredibly hungry. I got home and tore into the random leftovers sitting in my fridge. A couple hours after I left Suite Retreat, Rose sent me an email outlining her recommendations for a few supplements and oils. If you're considering hydrotherapy, I highly recommend Suite Retreat.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Can't Take A Good Day Without Something Bad

I'll get the bad stuff over first. I have what looks to be a cherry-flavored Jelly Belly sprouting between the top of my nose and my left eye. Actually, it's almost a part of my nose. Possibly, I'm growing a second nose since my current one has failed me. Is this a side effect of ridding my body of years of antibiotics, steroids, peanut M&Ms, duck-fat-fried french fries and gruyere cheese? If so, then get out. Way out. Whatever it takes, just leave my body now.

On the bright side, the amping up my greens is truly helping. Since making this change this week, Tuesday to be exact, I'm noticing more and more improvement. My sinuses are not nearly as inflamed. When the congestion overcomes me, the mucus is draining easier. Instead of nasal douching (sexy), blowing my nose actually relieves me. I can't wait until the time when I don't have to blow my nose at least 20 times a day. Just think of the money I'll save when I don't have to buy three-packs of over-sized Kleenex boxes. Plus, the area around my nostrils is always red. I call it Rudolphitis. Every day I apply cover up over the red areas. Inevitably an hour later, I blow my nose exposing the ugly redness again. A losing battle.

I'm really impressed with Victoria Boutenkos Green For Life. It's a fast read. There are actual accounts of patients who have had chronic sinusitis and multiple food allergies find wellness simply by drinking a quart of green smoothie a day. I wish I'd known this before I had sinus surgery last November. Plus, there are accounts of people who have reversed pancreatic cancer, healed from strokes and gotten off breathing machines thanks to the green stuff.

I recall earlier in the year complaining to my otolaryngologist that I was always incredibly tired and exhausted. He said it was because I'm a mom. I believed him since he's a doctor. Well he was wrong. It's so nice to go to play dates with my son and feel as vibrant as a three-year-old. Six months ago they were a painful duty. Now I look forward to chatting with other moms and pretending I'm Sir Topham Hat. I'm happy I took my health into my own hands by educating myself. I encourage every one to do the same.

Happy weekend. Down those greens!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Carmen

Today I woke up nice and early for an 8:45am physical. I was really most curious to find out my cholesterol numbers, now that I've been on a 95% vegan diet for three months. (The 5% percent accounts for restaurant food and the two tortellinis I ate from my husband's dish the other night.) My cholesterol numbers have never been bad or even close to. But based on the books I've read, a vegan diet can really improve these numbers.

I arrived at the doctor's office ten minutes before my appointment. I waited. And I waited. I thought about all the scripts I needed to write when I finally got to work. I checked in a second time with the receptionist who said the doctor was running a little behind. I saw the doctor pass by and recognize me. I saw the nurse pass by and recognize me. They should since I've going to the practice for 12 years. I waited some more. Eventually all the patients who had been waiting before me had been called. I figured after an hour's wait, it was my turn. Then I heard a name called: "Carmen!" In my head the name reverberated as loudly as when Captain Kirk yelled, "KHAN!"

I ran to the receptionist and checked the sign-in sheet. I saw that Carmen had arrived after me and had an appointment later than mine. In a huff, I told the receptionist I was leaving. I expected her to run after me, as I hopped on the elevator and briskly walked to the subway. In the end it was only me running to jump on the '6' train.

So much for my numbers game. "CARMEN!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


When friends ask how I'm feeling, lately I've been saying better but I still have a ways to go. I describe my progress as five steps forward and then three steps back. I'm never back to ground zero but I never reach nirvana. Lately, I've felt like I hit a wall. My sinuses are still getting inflamed when I eat even the most basic foods like brown rice.

Right now I'm reading Green For Life by Victoria Boutenko. She writes about how her family's ailments and health improved after switching to a raw vegan diet. However, she felt like they had hit a plateau. They all felt better but still had some of the same nagging symptoms. Through her own research and observations, she decided to up her intake of greens such as kale, collard greens, swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, basil and spinach. If anyone has ever tried to eat a bowl of greens you know how long it takes. You'd have to set aside a couple of hours just for chewing. She added greens to her diet in the form of green smoothies. I've been drinking smoothies a few times a week since June. This is when I began to notice some of my symptoms slowly disappearing such as extreme fatigue, congestion, itching and the slight lightening of the dark circles under my eyes. 

As of yesterday, I decided to amp up my greens intake. Typically I put about three leaves of kale and half a cucumber plus fruits in a smoothie. Today I put half a bunch of dandelion greens, half a cucumber, a big handful of parsley and a big handful of spinach along with a small banana, apple, cup of grapes, one lime peeled, a teaspoon of each spirulina and maca plus ice. And I always use organic, except for banana. Today's smoothie tastes pretty darn good as I sit writing this post. I also began my day with a large serving of spinach, cucumber, lime, apple juice. I plan to make another smoothie tonight. My sinuses are feeling pretty good so far.

I get daily emails from Dr. Weil. Today's was about increasing one's intake of dark. leafy greens.  It was an informative post but neglected to hit on the fact greens are a powerful source of protein. Now that I'm immersed in a vegan diet and wellness, I'm well aware of this fact. But, the general public thinks you have to eat cows and chickens to get protein. If there are any Kale Marketing Directors or Swiss Chard Communication Strategists out there, I'd happily work on a campaign to increase the awareness of the amazing protein packed in greens. Oh, by the way I'm an advertising copywriter with 13 years experience. So, there you have it. I'm right by the phone. Go ahead. Give me a ring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

I should have started this blog five months ago. That's what I've been saying for the past two weeks. Enough with shoulda coulda woulda.

I've suffered from chronic sinusitis, plus allergies and some asthma for 15 years. Jealous? I had my third, revision, sinus surgery to remove polyps and other attractive stuff in November of 2010. While in the hospital over night, I was feed intravenous steroids and antibiotics. And then oral steroids and antibiotics for another 8 weeks. The first two weeks after surgery I had regained a slight sense of smell. "Oh that's what shallots smell like?", "Oh, this is how great champagne tastes?" Who knew? Well, not me. The pluses of not being able to smell include being unbothered by dirty subways, bad breath, body odor and farts. For years I've focused on these positives. Not sure why but several times a week someone invariably asks, "Smell this." I say, "Can't help you." Needless to say, my sense of smell eludes me once again for it was a short-lived three week scent celebration. I feel like the nose version of the main character from Flowers For Algernon.

It was late March of this year, when I visited my Otolaryngologist with a bad sinus infection, cough, asthma and incredibly low energy levels. He put me on a three-week course of Levaquin that set me back about $270 with my insurance. I took the first pill with lunch. That evening I was seated, watching TV when I noticed an unusual pain in my achilles. I hit the gym about three days a week these days. But my gym regimen was nothing out of the ordinary. I visited the Levaquin website where I found this gentle warning:


Tendon rupture can happen while you are taking LEVAQUIN® or up to several months after you have finished taking it.

That's when I crapped my pants. The next day I stopped taking the medication and called Levaquin. I was impressed with their service. I asked for a refund. They obliged. That was the last time I took an oral antibiotic. I promised myself I would go a year without antibiotics. At this point, it's been close to 5.5 months. 

I had asked my otolaryngologist to recommend a doctor who utilizes alternative and more natural treatments for ailments. In late April of this year, I visited Dr. Firshein where I was subjected to skin tests for food and environmental allergies as well as blood work. I explained to the doctor that lately whenever I ate, it was like an immediate and intense sinus infection set in. Call me mucus queen. 

The test results indicated that I have sensitivities to numerous foods. The list includes: chicken, beef, egg whites, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, corn, buckwheat, almonds, peanuts, sesame, cinnamon, gluten, soy, lettuce (really?). I had already given up dairy and with that my daily fever and chills had subsided. I explained to Dr. Firshein that for years I had eaten these foods without any issue. He said, "The genie has gotten out of the bottle. We have to get him back in." Obviously something had made my body go out of whack, short circuit, get off course. I asked if it could be all the steroids and antibiotics I had ingested over the course of 15 year. The doctor said it could be. 

How cruel. I love marzipan wrapped in dark chocolate. I love soft-centered almond cookies. I love almond butter and jelly sandwiches. I haven't eaten any of these for five months. In the beginning it was hard. Lately, it's been easier. I have cheated by eating a small handful of raw almonds. Within minutes my face is itching all over. It's like my body is trying to scratch the contaminant out of me. What did I do to deserve the almond banishment? Was it for making fun of that girl in fifth grade for stuffing her bra? 

The odd thing is that I had been going to a different doctor for allergies for the past 12 years. She had tested me for food allergies in January of 2011 and found no food allergies. I have to admit Dr. Firshein was much more thorough and patient. He checked my skin test progress not once, but a few times over the course of an hour. It goes to show you have to find the doctor that works best for you. My previous allergist has surely helped many patients achieve improved quality of life. But, her therapies just weren't working for me any more. So I had to move on. 

When I was tested for environmental allergies, my arm blew up. Not off. The doctor said that my reaction was one of the worst he'd ever seen. Breaking records at the doctor's office isn't something I had set out to do. Seems I'm incredibly allergic to all four types off grass as well as trees and mold. But not my cat. 

I left Dr. Firshein's office in April with an assortment of natural supplements to take daily. These include: quercetin, nettles, magnesium, coenzyme Q10, and antioxidants. I also give myself weekly allergy shots. 

In June of this year, I had a two-week hiatus between my old job and new job. My friend, Regina, from high school suggested I read Chris Karr's Crazy Sexy Diet. I immediately made changes. I had tried to give up coffee while at my old job. The intense headache was too much. My father had told me when he had given up cigarettes back in the 1970s, he was told to change his schedule....his habits for a week. He had taken a week off from work and was able to pretty much quit with not looking back. Often crutches are a part of our lifestyle. So, I took advantage of my new stay at home lifestyle. I found it more easy to give up coffee that way. I did replace it with two other beverages: green tea and green smoothies. 

After reading Crazy Sexy Diet I also gave up all animal food products. I had still been eating some goat cheese, turkey, even chicken even though it was a proven allergen, and pork. I said goodbye to all. 

Two weeks ago I suffered a set back complete with sinus headache, chills and low grade fever. I visited my otolaryngologist. He was ready to put me on an antibiotic again. I was quite dramatic, "No way!" He took my exclamation in stride. And noted on my chart that I had adopted a vegan diet and cut out sugar. I don't hate my doctor for suggesting this. He's a talented surgeon. This is the way he problem solves. Again, you have to find the doctors that support your beliefs. 

I'm still not where I want to be or need to be. My best sinus day is probably a healthy person's worst. I know I can get there. I invite you to follow my progress as I share with you the wellness books I read, my doctor visits, various therapies I use (colonics this weekend!), supplements I take and set backs along the way.