Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Doing What I Can to Stay Healthy

Today was a beautiful day here for those of us whom live along the foothills of the mountains of Colorado.  With temperatures in the low to mid-70's (F), folks in shorts and white legs were jogging and walking and pushing babies in strollers in every neighborhood I drove through.  These warm temperatures are great on one hand, but they also bring the danger of fire.  We have not had much moisture in the lowlands of Colorado this winter.  Right now, it feels like we are living in a tinderbox.  When I look at the snows in the eastern part of the country, I am just a bit envious of all the moisture that such storms provide.

I didn't get out to walk in the neighborhood today, but I did yesterday, and it was wonderful to out walking in such pleasant weather.

Sally with Boston

If you look closely at the landscape, you will see how dry the grasses in my neighborhood are.  Also, the trees are very dry.  I am hoping we will get some much needed moisture soon.

I am working very hard at getting healthy again after being so sick during February with a bad sinus infection and acute bronchitis.  It seems there is always a fall out when one goes on antibiotics.  I dread the questions that come when I am sick.  The doctor looks at my long list of drugs that I have reactions to or am allergic to and then asks, "What can you take?"  "Not much," is my standard reply.  I was given three different antibiotics over the past six weeks and prednisone (one day only before I had a reaction that landed me back in the doctor's office)  and now I am struggling with problems which were most likely brought on by medications and a body fighting infection. Heart arrhythmia and tachycardia (rapid heart rate) have been causing me a lot of concern of late.

I saw my cardiologist yesterday for my six month check-up after my recent "download" from the pacemaker.  Thankfully, the data from the pacemaker looked good, but that data was downloaded before I started being symptomatic again.  I am so thankful I have the most phenomenal cardiologist. He knows me well, and he knows Jim well.  He jokes with us, shares stories, talks about some place that has the best food, or just makes us feel like he enjoys visiting with us while he is also taking care of business and checking out the old ticker.  He said that the lung issues I had can trigger the heart to act up and sometimes those issues can take two months to resolve themselves.  He also said that the antibiotics can cause the problems I'm having.  He ordered blood work to check my thyroid since I have Hashimoto's disease.  He then surprised me by saying he was going to have me wear a Holter Monitor to compare its findings with my pacemaker.  I must admit that I was surprised that he is having me do this testing, but I am also relieved because the tachycardia has been quite troublesome in the past few weeks.

In the meantime, I am actually feeling quite well.  I know that sounds crazy, but I do feel good most of the time now.  I just hate having those spells with my heart.  I thought they were all behind me after the pacemaker was implanted nearly two year ago, and after I had the heart ablation.

Besides the heart problems, I am really fighting my weight.  I put on ten pounds quite quickly last year because of a medication I was taking to try and tame the chronic inflammation I have.  The weight gain caused my A1C to go up.  I am trying so hard to keep those diabetic numbers in the range of pre-diabetes.  So far, I have fought pre-diabetes successfully for about eight years.  I'm trying to limit my carbs to 30 per meal, and I am trying to walk or do some sort of exercise daily.  This has been a challenge because it was after an hour's class in water aerobics last week that I suffered a bad spell of tachycardia and arrhythmia.  The cardiologist said to keep up the exercise, but to listen to my body, make sure I stay hydrated when I exercise, and try not to overheat.

The antibiotics also stirred up GI issues.  Can I just say that I really am grateful for antibiotics, but I hate taking them!  They stir up so many problems for those of us with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and SIBO (Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth). These are not by any means new problems for me.  Over the last five years or so, my digestive issues have become extreme.

A few years ago, my GI doctor handed me a list of foods to avoid.  She said, "This is the FODMAP Diet and many of my patients have found that following it has really helped them."  I looked at the list, smiled, took it home and filed it away.  Then, she asked if I was following it on my next visit.  The answer was, "No."  Being one who hates diets, when my symptoms became more and more severe, I decided to do a bit of research on the diet.  I downloaded all the materials I could find about it on my phone and bookmarked websites on my computer.  Then, finally, I decided to be brave enough to try to follow the diet.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found naturally in foods and in additives to foods.  FODMAPs is an acronym that stands for:

  • Fermentable 
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • and
  • Polyols
To know what those terms mean, read the links I am providing.  I am not about to try to explain it all because I am not scientific enough to do so!  Trust me, it makes sense once you study it, but don't ask me to explain it. 

I follow a dietician from the Boston area who is an educator on the FODMAP diet.  Her website is  You can learn a lot about FODMAP from her.  

I've never been 100% successful at following the diet's 21 day elimination phase faithfully,  but I have been faithful enough at following it to have identified some triggers.  When I avoid these triggers, I do well with my digestion.  When I have a flare-up of symptoms, I can be sidelined for days on end with pain.

My endocrinologist recently thanked me for telling her about the FODMAP diet.  She said she had told some of her patients about it and had seen some wonderful results.  She said it was too early for her to know if it also helped with establishing a diet that helped diabetics.

As I said, I hate diets.  I don't like restrictions in my diet, and I don't like avoiding some foods; however, when one suffers badly enough from digestive pain and problems, one becomes more open to taking the advice a doctor gives.

I am absolutely against fad diets where whole food groups are avoided.  I am also against self-diagnosis and treatment for health problems.  For that reason, I haven't written about the plan I have studied and tried to follow for the past year.  I am now taking it much more seriously and am following it more consistently.  If a food doesn't bother me, then I don't exclude it.  I have followed the plan enough to have learned most of the things I must avoid.

I snapped a photo of a recent lunch I fixed myself that is a suggested lunch on the plan.  I made a salad of mixed greens, grape tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, eggs, kale, and a dressing I made with red wine vinegar, dijon mustard (with no added garlic or onion), and chopped green onion tops.  The dressing made the salad especially good.

My father used to say that no one want to hear about health issues.  I have a hard time writing about health issues for that reason.  I do suffer from a number of issues that have taken years for me to sort out. It has also taken me years to find answers from professionals I trust.  Thankfully, I now have a team of doctors that give me great support and care with two of the health issues that I juggle on a daily basis.  I'm doing what I can on my end to do what I can do be healthy.


dkzody said...

Good health is so important. I realized this, big time, when two friends who ate horrible diets, died too young. Both only in their late 60s, but both wanted to continue to eat the bad foods that caused them to be sick. I have another friend with terrible inflammation who refuses to change her diet. I also realized I wanted to be healthy so I could enjoy my grandchildren and keep up with them.

Being around small children who wipe their noses with their hands and then hug me makes me very conscious of my own well-being. I take a probiotic every day (have for years) to keep my immune system healthy.

Having watched good friends eat badly and have health issues, I now eat healthy foods, like that salad you posted there, most days. I still eat junk every now and then and I love sugar but really try to limit it, only eating really good desserts and not wasting my calories on inferior products.

Like you, I don't believe in diets. I believe in eating a healthy diet and to keep moving.

Arkansas Patti said...

Yikes, you have so many issues it must be hard to find what will help them all. I am so sorry the pacemaker didn't solve your problems. My pacemaker along with Sotalol to regulate my heart have been working perfectly. I sure wish you could find similar success. I did lose 42 pounds by sticking to a heart healthy diet which I found easy but I don't have all the health issues you have. That salad looks marvelous.
I have a friend with medicine allergies like you and it is a nightmare. I do hope this new plan is one you can enjoy and will give you some positive results. Keep trying.

Betsy Adams said...

Hi Sally, You look GREAT.... Glad you can get out and walk some. I've been lucky for many years not to have many serious health problems. BUT--that respiratory thing really did me in a month ago... I tried to 'cure' it myself --but finally went to the doctor. Then I went to the doctor again..... Thanks for the tip about the Cool Mist Humidifier. I got one. My biggest problem was the constant coughing---which actually bruised my ribs and lower abdomen. SCARY... I did have a chest x ray since this went on for so long ---but luckily, no pneumonia. After an antibiotic and Prednisone, the ONLY thing which finally cured the constant coughing was that horrible codeine cough medicine... That stinkin' stuff always makes me sick at my stomach and also makes me light-headed... BUT--I took it anyhow since it was helping the cough... (I would have done anything to help that cough --since I wasn't sleeping much at all.) Bottom line: after a month, I am finally much better --but still don't have much energy nor stamina....NO FUN.

Sounds like you have some great doctors --who know your history... Medications are needed --but the side effects can be horrible... GOOD LUCK.

Interesting 'diet'..... I need to cut back a bit and start my walking again soon.


Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Hi, Sally, I guess at some point we all begin to battle illness, but you seem to have more than your share! I remember looking up the FODMAP diet but can't remember any details so I think I will look it up again. I hope the nicer weather will allow you to be out enjoying that fabulous scenery in your neighborhood!

The Furry Gnome said...

Oh you poor lady! Sounds like you're balancing some complex and inter-related health issues. Glad you've found some good professionals to help you It is frustrating when you're on multiple drugs. Good luck.

Linda Reeder said...

You have a very complicated body! I'm glad you are getting the medical help and support you need.
Staying healthy takes a lot of time and dedication.

Mary said...

I like hearing about health issues because we can learn from each other.

DJan said...

I am blessed with a strong constitution and a stubborn desire to find the best diet and exercise for my own body and stick to it. After looking at 75 in the face and realizing that no matter what I do, eventually it won't be enough at my age. I sure am glad I can keep on trying, though. I heard about FODMAPs over the years but since I don't seem to have any digested problems, I haven't learned too much more. Thanks for the information, I think I'll go get educated now. :-)

Southhamsdarling said...

Gosh, Sally, that list of symptoms you suffer from is pretty intimidating. It must be an almost daily struggle for you - I can't really begin to imagine. I thank the Lord every day for giving me the health and strength to do the things I do. You're one brave lady, that's for sure. ❤️

Kay said...

It's so hard when you have allergies to medications. The Metformin for diabetes I first tried gave me bad stomach upset. The antibiotic Augmentin was even more horrible for me. Your salad looks wonderful. I had a hard time losing some weight, but being diabetic or prediabetic really does change your diet and make you lose some weight. Trying to go more vegetarian is the way to go, I'm afraid and is good for your health. That's what I'm told. Wishing you the very best, Sally.

Mizumatte said...

thank you so much for writing about foodmap, I 'm going to read more about it because haven't got any help from dietist here in Sweden, take care Jaana

Jeanie said...

I, for one, will not mind hearing about your health issues (for which I'm really sorry). As one who has had plenty I have learned that I can inform others and often learn things myself. So share as you wish as far as this reader goes!

And I learned something here. I, too, have had medication-related weight issues (not to mention sugar, carbs, and a joy of all things food!). I need to knock off many pounds my my initial goal is ten. Then another ten. One way or another. I'm not big on complete reduction diets of one food or another either -- I think it's a precursor to bingeing. What you are doing sounds smart and if it is working then double good!

troutbirder said...

Oh my some of this especially the heart issues and diabetes is all too familiar. I do try to deal with them *the ablation helped me a lot) but my new caretaker role with Alz. keeps me occupied. Our motto these days is "We're a team & keep on trukin....:)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Sally, it sounds like you have very good doctors helping you stay healthy as you also work hard to do the same. My primary doctor always tells me to avoid carbs as much as possible and to walk at a fast pace at least 30 minutes a day. I had thyroid cancer years ago and had the gland removed, so I always see an endocrinologist to monitor my readings and he told me thyroid problems often lead to heart disease and osteoporosis, so we monitor that. Thankfully I love vegetables so I always try to include dark leafy greens for calcium and also try to "eat the rainbow" in veggies. I also try to eat fish a couple times a week. I hope you continue to feel and do well!