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Monday, March 29, 2010

Pounds and pain management

This morning I overcame my procrastination and avoidance of the white contraption sitting on the floor of my laundry room. My scale. I was freshly showered and newly resolved to learn the real truth. I assumed that it would read the same as it had in weeks past, but that didn't stop my trepidation as I stepped on while looking straight ahead, took a new breath and glanced down.

Wait, I need to adjust my glasses, I thought. I wiggled them around a little on my nose, blinked a few times for good measure and focused in again. One hundred and sixty-five pounds. Yup, 165. That's a weight gain of six freaking pounds.

I am a bit surprised at that number because with the part-time, temporary job I do way more walking then I was doing before. Puzzling? I guess, not really. The problem is more motion equals more hunger and, admittedly, my food and snack choices aren't always on the good side of the calorie and fat level.

I'm sure it doesn't help that I've developed a peanut butter (and Peanut Butter M&M!) craving. That could be the culprit right there. So this morning I've decided to track my calories for the day and see if I'm on target. I'd gotten fairly adept and doing this in my head and estimating my 1,200-calories-a-day intake, but it's possible I'm in denial.

It's also possible that skipping out on posting my health and weight loss journal has removed my accountability, made me lazy and caused an extreme case of food denial. That and the fact that my stress has increased 100 fold making my resolve of not participating in emotional eating turn into me pretending I haven't been emotionally eating.

The current weight loss plan? Paying attention to my calorie intake and not only being aware of emotional eating, but resisting it as well.

Regarding my health. SIGH. The liver biopsy of course showed inflammation. We kind of expected that since my liver enzymes are always high. The doctor I saw quickly reviewed my previous lab results and notes, asked a few questions then determined that it looked to him to be autoimmune hepatitis. The look that got him was one of raises eyebrows and my standard nod. He explained that oftentimes individuals like myself who have other autoimmune problems (where the body attacks itself) - in my case fibromyalgia and sjrogren's disease - there are often other autoimmune diseases present.

The liver inflammation is causing my body to attack itself thus the rise in enzymes. (Yea, I know, not good.) He ordered MORE blood work and sent my biopsy back for further testing. I return in about six weeks to get the final diagnosis.

Right now the bad part (yes, there's something worse than the diagnosis) is the treatment plan if it is what I have:

Step 1 - About 6 to 8 weeks of steroids
Step 2 - Checking to see if it's working
Step 3 - If it works then decreasing the steroid and beginning an autoimmune drug therapy
Step 4 - As long as it continues to work the steroid will be decreased to almost nothing and the autoimmune drug increased

All the other steps in between? The terrible side effects of taking a steroid. HUGH GIGANTIC SIGH.

The current health care plan? Following up with the VA doctor, but what I'd really like to do is be under the care of the Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta.

One of the things that impressed me about the center is the belief behind its operation. It's a team of professionals who believe that the solution lies in the integrative medicine and not in habit-forming treatment methods. The staff is made up of on-site medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, a chiropractor, patient advocate, nutritionist, healthy cooking consultant, physical trainer and others. According to their literature they have one objective: "To guide each patient to a place of comfort and balance - the natural way."

The alternative (natural) treatments offered include Intravenous Therapies, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Infrared Detox Saunas and a comprehensive nutraceutical pharmacy... and those are just a few of the healing treatments being practiced.

I discussed my condition with Dr. Mike Gramazio, PhD, during a visit and tour several weeks ago. Dr. Gramazio spoke with me about BioElectric Therapy, which is used to treat pain caused by a variety of conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, shingles, gout, carpel tunnel and headaches (migraines, cluster, tension, etc.). His initial diagnosis of me, after hearing my history and test results, was right on target. He said with the fibromyalgia the scar tissue between muscle fibers, which causes my autonomic nervous system to be attacked. The same goes for my liver - my body is attacking it causing autointoxication.

His recommendations are electrotherapy and a supervised six month intoxication program, which will include a farinfrared light therapy and as a benefit of being treated at the center I will also have access to the nutritionist and ozone therapy. That's the loose version. Once signed on I will get a individualized plan of action.

The problem? I don't have traditional medical coverage; I receive care at the VA Center. I'm hoping to be able to get the VA to refer me there and take care of the cost that way. Otherwise, I have no idea how I will do it. I think this is one of the main problems of low income individuals when it comes to quality and specialized treatment. But that's an entirely different post...
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