Friday, August 29, 2008

Post-partial depression

Last week I wrote about my visit to the dentist and how much the Novocain shot hurt. I actually had to get two shots, because I could still feel the drill after the first one. But the drill didn't really hurt, so I asked the dentist not to give me a second shot, but she did anyway. The second that Novocain entered my system I instantly felt like crying.

Several days later, I gathered enough of my senses to look it up online. Once i finally figured out how to spell Novocain, it all fell into place. (FYI, the generic version has an "e" at the end, and if you search online using this spelling you will find a song by Green Day and a weird movie of the same name).

According to, the FDA advises using as low dosage as possible to avoid adverse side effects. And warns against using Novocain on patients with known drug allergies, of which I have several. (Several drugs give me a full-body rash, one makes my tongue swell up, one makes me hurl, and latex makes my skin fell like it's burning.) So, with several drug allergies listed on my chart, why did I get not one, but *two* shots? I ended up with a 6-day attack of fibromyalgia, of which I had been free for several months, severe anxiety, and major mood swings. All of which ended after 2 back-to-back and lengthy acupuncture treatments, but if I did not have a fantastic and available acupuncturist, i would still be suffering instead of sitting here typing about this in past tense.

The main lessons I want to share from this experience are these:
First of all, if you have drug sensitivities, you may not want to use Novocain. l have learned, via my pointing and clicking, that there is a far more hypoallergenic drug available that will give the same numbing, called Lidocaine. In the future, I will list Novocain (and Novocaine) as a drug allergy, so that I do not have to go through this again. It would probably be wise to do a detox of some sort an such an injection as well, since these things have to be metabolized by the liver. (I already take milk thistle every night because I take prescriptions every day).

Second of all, before embarking on major dental procedures, make sure your body is ready to handle the trauma. Yes, trauma. It is important to deal with cavities and broken teeth, as they can lead to larger problems, but make sure you are ready, or at least that you have some form of support (such as acupuncture, or another form of complementary medicine) to help you get back to yourself afterwards. We don't need to volunteer for a setback in our efforts to regain our health.

Third, always remember you are in charge. When the dentist starting grinding on my good tooth to make it match up with the new porcelain inlay on the tooth below it, I told her to stop it. When I go for my next cleaning, I am *not* going to do the fluoride treatment, which they handed me to swish around my mouth without asking me if I wanted it, and for which my insurance did not pay. I do not care about the money as much as the fact that Fluoride is a chemical. It is toxic. Its benefits are questionable, and its toxic qualities are a frequent topic of discussion in Europe, where they do *not* allow Fluoride in the water supply. The US drinking water supply is routinely fluoridated, as are most toothpastes. There are only a few toothpastes out there that do not contain fluoride, such as Tom's of Maine (I love the cinnamint flavor). I don't need any more toxic crap in my body than is already dumped there on a daily basis through air pollution, pesticides, flame retardants in fabrics, and Lord knows what else- I'm not going to volunteer to have more chemicals in my body! Read about fluoride, both sides of the discussion, from more than one source, and make your own decision.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jaw-dropping day at the dentist

oh if only my dentist was as wacky as Steve Martin.
so far, i have survived visit 2 of 3 scheduled visits in the remodeling of my mouth (structural, not cosmetic- getting my first cleaning in 14 years, 2 molars restored with porcelain and a nightguard made. you night-grinders know what this is: we get to look like Rocky every night. Such a turnon! the only thing sexier than seeing your mate wearing a big rubber mouthguard is watching them take it out and seeing spit flying everywhere. Oh yeah!)

i have dental insurance (thank you, hubby's job) so about 2/3 of the cost is covered so far, but i fear i may be about to hit a cap. or is it a crown. HAHAHAHA. just a little tongue-in-cheek humor. HAHAHAHAHA
no they didn't give me laughing gas. and dang i coulda used some. my fear and loathing of the dentist outstrips my fears of both new york city and Best Buy. stay tuned to lupusandhumor and learn all Carla's neuroses, one by one.

the worst part for me is the novacaine shot. crap it hurts! i had to get 2 shots today- 1st one wasn't enough. i hate shots, i hate needles, i get more of each every year than McCain has houses. i never get used to it. you're being injured when someone stabs you in the vein and takes out, oh 20 vials of blood. but that's another story, one covered quite thoroughly on my "Sick Humor" CD and in my previous blogs.

Anyway today's visit was 3 hours and $750. oh but they validated my parking, so that was free.

Next time, and I'm not kidding, I'm bringing a blanket (too cold in there), sunglasses (flourescent light glaring in my eyes), a teddy bear, and Joe to drive me because- no kidding- I'm going to dope up on either attivan or a muscle relaxer. or both. they'll have to hold my jaw open. i'll be so zonked i'll have to wear wear a bucket to catch my drool. I'm exaggerating- but this is what I must promise myself, if I am to get motivated to go back for more torture in 2 weeks. I think i've found something I hate more than a pap smear.

When I told the dentist that i had these drugs in my cabinet (ok, bowl of bottles on my counter, not very feng shui, but i never forget my important meds), she looked jealous and said "wow." i told her if she wanted lupus, she could probably get some heavy drugs too (but I don't recommend it). It drives me crazy when people get jealous of folks with lupus ("oh i wish I could lay in the bed and read!"- after I had a stroke! I wished I could lay in the bed and read, too, but i see spots and zig zags all day long!) Point is, if your life is so messed up that you're jealous of someone with a debilitating chronic illness, first of all, keep it to yourself, and second of all, it's time for you to change your situation. Oy!

Anyway to find out why I'm putting myself through all this, tune in later for That's Inflammatory! Part 5
(I have no idea how many parts there will be to this series! I'll keep writing til my sed rate is zero).

Monday, August 18, 2008

That's inflammatory! Part 4

The Biblical Diet is the focus of Part 4 of this series.

Who would know better than our Creator what makes our bodies function properly, and give us overall well-being? Feeling whole in body creates a calm in our minds and souls and helps us in every area of life.

Beef: on special occasions
Lamb: on special occasions
Pork: never
Shellfish: never
Domestic Fowl: chickens, geese, pigeons, partridges, duck and quail: more frequently
Fish: frequently
animal fat and blood: never

Some folks might think God was a vegetarian, Apparently not. We are instructed to eat red meat, such as beef or lamb, but *sparingly*, meaning on special occasions. Not daily, or even weekly. Just at feasts or festivals. We are instructed *not* to eat pork or shellfish *at all*. Maybe that's why Jesus fed the masses with loves and fishes, not loaves and ribs. When i asked my Jewish roommate why Jews did not eat pork or shellfish she said "It's because they eat garbage." OK! That's a good enough answer for me!

Animal fat and blood are where the toxins are stored. For me, the idea of eating either is so repulsive, I don't need a reason to not eat it, but if this is a delicacy for you, then know this is where the most toxic stuff is.
eat only 30% of your calories from fat

Olive Oil (virgin or extra virgin only): 2 thumbs up
Canola Oil: 2 thumbs up
canola, safflower and sunflower: also good
butter: in moderation
margarine: avoid
cheese: in moderation

wheat- good if it's not refined
barley - ditto
millet- ditto
Spelt: highly recommended
legums (beans): strongly recommended (try not get to overprocessed salty canned beans)

Spelt has never become a mainstream grain, and so of all the grains, it is a rare one in that it is still in its original form. The spelt seeds of today are just like the spelt seeds of biblical times. Wheat has been manipulated and modified so many times that a large part of our population has become intolerant to wheat, in the forms of celian disease, gluten intolerance, and carbohydrate addiction.

Fruits and Vegetables:
Eat lots of these!

veggies: leeks, onions, garlic and cucumbers: yes!
Fruits: apples, figs, grapes, berries, apricots, melons and pomegranates, grapes, olives.

in the Bible, fruits were eaten fresh, dried, pressed into cakes, and squeezed for juice. But beware, fruit juice on the typical grocery store shelf can contain as little as 10% juice. It cna also contain a *lot* of pesticide. You want organic 100% juice, which you can either buy or make yourself.

Yes, it is more work and costs more to eat well. It takes more effort to find healthy food (in Harlem, you have to travel 45 minutes each way to buy a tomato!). But what good is it for modern medicine to keep up alive to 100+ years old if we are riddled with disease. The cure for many ills is to simply stop eating and drinking garbage. Granted, if I eat garbage, then I won't be kosher, and if I run across a kosher cannibal, they won't want to eat me. But even taking into account that one potential encounter, the odds are still pretty low that eating garbage will save my life.

However, my odds of inflammation are 100% if I eat garbage, and my odds of heart disease and obesity are quite high. When you survey people and ask them if they want to live to be 100, the answer is always "it depends.." on what? Most people are afraid they will be sickly. If you could guarantee they would have their health, then the answers would be quite different.

We are not victims. yes, some of us have more health problems than we deserve, while others *do* eat garbage and seem to never gain weight or have other consequences. But most of us *know* in our hearts that if we want peak performance from our bodies and minds, we should be fueling our bodies real food, not cartoonish boxes of "fun food."

It's tempting, but I will not purchase a box of "relacore" or whatever the latest fad diet pill is on TV (that will probably later prove to be the cause of many heart attacks), nor will i be getting liposuction (have you ever seen footage of this violent invasive procedure?), so that I can keep on eating whatever I please.

Eating real food also appeals to the rebel in me who wants to thumb their nose at the system and say "I'm not buying into your crap! You can't control me with your ads and your promises of something for nothing!"

So if you can't get motivated by doing what the Lord recommends, or by knowing you're taking back control of your health, then do it to get back at The Man.

That's inflammatory! Part 3

The Chinese have a great saying: Eat to Live, not Live to Eat.
We Americans live in a "Eat to Live" culture. We eat foods we like, rather than foods that are good for us. We think eating should be fun, and every meal should be a "treat." And there is often no eye open to the consequences of our eating habits. The when our arteries harden up or we get irritable Bowel Syndrome, no one tells us to stop drinking a 12-pack of soda every day. Our doctors tell us it's genetic. While it's tempting to just pop some pills and continue with our destructive lifestyles without having to suffer the consequences, wouldn't it make more sense to cooperate with nature? Because, as one who's had ot take a lot of pills, I can tell you, it's expensive and they all have side effects, some of them quite serious and potentially permanent. Like cataracts, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and oh yeah, death.

This segment of "That's inflammatory" deals with the sources of LDL (the "bad" cholesterol). Saturated fats and trans fats increase LDL ("bad" cholesterol) in the blood, and high LDL increases inflammation.

Avoid: full-fat animal products (fatty meats, cheeses, cream), commercial cakes, cookies, crackers, pies and breads.

Eat: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, nuts and seeds—especially walnuts and flaxseed. Omega-3 fats, decrease inflammation. It's not wise to avoid consuming *all* fat, which would leave you constipated, but about eating the right kinds of fat.

Avoid: refined grains, white bread and potatoes, candy, soda, sugar, sugar, sugar. things that elevate blood sugar render LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) more dangerous.

Eat: fruits, vegetables, "real" bread (whole grain), beans, sweet potatoes, red wine, cocoa and turmeric.

If you're looking for a diet-type to follow, the Mediterranean Diet is a good model. When I first decided to avoid gluten (wheat products mostly), I discovered food such as hummus and babganoush were quite tasty.

There's also the biblical diet. apparently, God was quite specific about what to eat in the Old Testament. I'll post a summary of that diet in Part 4.

That's inflammatory! Part Two

Inflammatory? Not sure. toxic, yes.
Sodium Nitrate. This chemical is used in meat packing plants to preserve meat. Pretty much any meat you buy at your average grocery store or deli is going to have been preserved with sodium nitrate. I sincerely doubt that the guy behind the deli or meat counter wants to kill you by feeding you something toxic. But did you know that you *can* kill someone with a large enough dose of sodium nitrate? In fact, a woman who was in love with another woman's husband purposely dosed the wife with sodium nitrate (which she obtained from her job at the meat-packing plant). She gave her enough to make her sick, not kill her.

according to "How Stuff," Stuff like salami, hot dogs, pepperoni, bologna, ham, bacon and SPAM all normally contain sodium nitrate as one of the ingredients. Fresh meats generally do not contain any added chemicals.

The chemical is added to inhibit botulism and keep the pink color, so when you open a can of SPAM, it's pink instead of grey.
I don't know about you, but it really makes me think about whether I want to keep eating lunch meat.

Is it inflammatory? well, we know it's toxic. large quantities of sodium nitrate have caused cancer in animals. Meat itself can be inflammatory.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

That's inflammatory! Part One: Diet soda

What not to eat if you have autoimmune disease: part one

I know for a fact that lupus is characterized by inflammation. I can only imagine other autoimmune diseases also have inflammation as a characteristic. So wouldn't it behoove us to avoid behaviors and situations that increase inflammation? There are many irritants out there that trigger an immune response.

I can't control the fact that planes fly over my house and pollute the air, or that corporations dump poisons in our water.
And I can't control the fact that much of our food supply is garbage. But I can control what I put in my mouth. I don't have to eat the garbage- that is a choice (though not always an easy one!). And some of the things that are touted as being good for you are actually garbage.

Have you tried to find something healthy to eat in your typical restaurant? Something *not* fried, or laden with fatty sauces, sugar, MSG, salt? I end up defaulting to what I call the "typical girl special": chicken caesar salad with the dressing on the side. To be a true "typical girl special," that would come with a large diet coke. But I have ended my decades- long romance with diet sodas. I tell you, it's like quitting cigarettes. I honestly can't tell you how many times I quit drinking diet soda before I finally succeeded, and I still live in fear I'll fall off the wagon. I just tell myself every time I look at a cold dripping tempting bottle of diet something, "poison." Some sources say that aspartame (a.k.a. "nutrasweet," a.k.a. "Equal," in the blue packet) turns into formaldehyde when it gets into your body. Some say it turns into formaldehyde *before* it enters the body, if the temperature is warm enough. Hawaii tried to ban aspartame (a.k.a nutrasweet) from its food supply, and the US federal government wouldn't let them! (Can you imagine how angry Americans would be if they got to paradise and there was no Diet Coke? "What kind of hellhole is this??! Honey take me home!") There are efforts in other countries to get this stuff out of their food supplies as well, including Ireland and New Zealand. Some theorize that it is a major contributor to Gulf War Syndrome. Others say it causes to birth defects in our children and, in a trial, an 86% *death* rate in monkeys. ( ). This "food" has no place in our diets, in our fridges, in our food chain, or in our stores.

I do believe this: there are no casual diet soda drinkers. People either don't drink it, or they chain-drink it like a crack addict, waking up with their first thought being "I gotta have me a hit of diet soda." i have ridden my bicycle to the store in my pajamas to get a diet coke before i would do anything else. It was ruling my day, every day.

I find that getting a monkey off your back is a little more doable if you can find some kind of replacement. I mean I wasn't going to go *caffeine* free on top of ditching the tyrannical nutrasweet. One vice at a time. So, about 9 months after giving up the junk, i am still doing fine drinking filtered or water green tea (which I brew at home) with stevia, a natural sweetener. If I really feel like partying, I have a regular Coke. But I don't do that too often, because it is made with high fructose corn syrup, which is genetically modified (and fattening). I may not be Elle MacPherson, but I am not ready to have my genes modified. And something tells me consuming genetically modified foods is not going to get me any closer to looking like Elle. I hear Mexican Coca Cola is still made with sugar, and there are some natural sodas out there as well, made with juice. And there's seltzer, which is great plain or with a splash of organic juice (read the seltzer bottle- some of it has nutrasweet!!). Of course mankind did pretty well for several eons without sodas to drink.

Many of us with a lupus diagnosis feel like we're being randomly attacked by some mysterious force. But there are some things we can do to limit the likelihood of attack, and one of them is to stop eating garbage.

read more about nutrasweet's dangers:

coming in part 2: sodium nitrate, vegan diets

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pick your poison

Wow. Comedian Bernie Mac, dead at 50. The papers say it was pneumonia. My husband said "Who dies of pneumonia anymore, especially at age 50?"

Someone who is on immune suppressants, that's who. Bernie Mac had sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease, and it was being controlled by immune suppressants. The doctors declared his condition to be "in remission," but that remission came at the price of him not being able to fight off pneumonia.

This is frightening for those of us who have been given the choice between dying of kidney failure or having our immune suppressants squashed, leaving us vulnerable to death by pneumonia and other illnesses that would otherwise be life-threatening, were our immune systems not suppressed. What are we supposed to do? I know for a fact I would be dead if I hadn't finally given in and taken the damn prednisone. But I resisted taking it for 8 months because I read about all the side effects and those to me sounded worse than just being in pain. I didn't consider that my vital organs were being attacked.

But at age 25, I was not ready for osteoporosis, diabetes, hair loss, weight gain, mood swings, a giant moon-face, acne, cataracts, immune suppression (meaning, vulnerability to all diseases) and all the other garbage that goes along with long-term high-dose prednisone usage. In retrospect, I think there would be something wrong with me if I *didn't* find this idea objectionable! Who wants to be a fat, moody, moon-faced, blind, brittle-boned diabetic before age 30, if there is any other possible way to deal with their situation? I mean, I was still single. This is no condition to be in on the dating scene. Crap, it's just no way to go through life, especially when your condition is caused by medicine.

What are we supposed to do? Well, according to Mike Adams ("the Health Ranger")... "It's simple: Visit a naturopath, get off all the chemicals and medications, eliminate all the junk from his diet (processed foods, etc.) and transition to a mostly plant-based diet rich in superfoods and living foods. His lung condition would have disappeared and his immune system would have been strong enough to withstand common infections. (He also would have experienced increased energy and lost some excess body fat.)

This is a fine idea, in principle. But Mike Adams, I'm pretty sure, has never had to first-hand deal with either sarcoidosis or any other life-threatening chronic illness involving demoralizing chronic pain. I decided to try the naturopathic approach myself the first time i was ill, and let me tell you- when the disease is in attack mode, unless you have someone making your food for you, and coming to your house treating you, you won't have the energy to do the amount of work it takes to get better using naturopathy alone. There is a lot of shopping for fresh food, driving to appointments, food prep and cleanup. and when i was in the condition I was in in 1992, I had to spend a half-hour working up the gumption to get off the sofa to go to the bathroom.

As much as I detest being on drugs, I've found them to be a "necessary evil" for periods of time in my life. I go on the drugs to stop the disease from destroying my kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, and whatever else it may be attacking, then as soon as I start feeling a bit better, I start doing the things I know I should be doing: acupuncture, gentle exercise, eating less garbage and more real food (fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, filtered water, salmon), and doing things and being with people who make me happy. and reading plenty of comic books. The two approaches work together, and I taper off the drugs as my test results improve. I desperately want to be drug-free, but I more desperately want to have all my original vital organs intact. I am presently not on prednisone. I've never been on it for more than a year, even though my doctors would like to keep me on a "maintenance" dose. I am on cellcept right now (I was on both immune suppressants for 9 months after my last attack), and as long as my tests are OK, I figure one immune suppressant in my life is enough. It's the costlier of the 2 drugs by far, but i get to keep my bones and eyes. SO from that perspective, it's cheaper than cataract surgery and double hip adn knee replacements, both of which, of course, leave you open to staph infection...

Point being, it's our lives. If I don't want to take prednisone, I don't have to. They can't make me. If I were a child, they could probably force my parents to give it to me, but i'm not a child (at least not according to my drivers' license). However, I have to live with the consequences of my decisions, and sometimes taking prednisone for 9 months is better than being in chronic pain while lupus eats away at my vital organs.