Sunday, 8 November 2015

New Blog and Business!

Hey Guys - long time between posts! Things have been up and down and round and round but hanging in there with my last post still being the main focus. I've been studying Nutrition and Wellness Coaching which is awesome and have a new blog, would love for you to check it out:

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Post Infusion Update and The Happiness Component

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update. If you read my blog on a regular basis I guess you’ve noticed ;-) I’ve been getting a lot of email from you guys asking how the colonic infusion for blastocystis went. The sad news is I retested four weeks after the infusion and I still have blasto. If you’re wondering, I use the best technology PCR testing every time I test. Thankfully here in Perth it’s free through Western Diagnostics but I’ve also paid $500 for tests through Genova in the US more than once as well as the same amount through Bioscreen in Melbourne. 

As with the three heavy duty rounds of multi antibiotics I took last year, after the infusion I felt great for about four weeks, then the usual symptoms started to return. I don’t know if this is due to a decrease in bad bacteria in my gut post treatments, or if the blasto numbers had been decreased temporarily. However, these are the questions I no longer obsess over, as this, I came to realise, was half of my problem… I also don’t know if the infection was ever eradicated or if I was reinfected within 4 weeks. My intuition tells me it was the first option. But again, this is not something I can really find the answer to, so I save my brain space for other things, and choose to let it go.

I was disheartened after yet another positive test result, to say the least, so I’ve kinda been laying low and just monitoring symptoms and focusing on other things in my life. I did email the Gastro who did the procedure but I didn’t get a reply. For now I’ve decided to put all things “project blasto eradication” on the shelf, so I didn’t follow up. I’ll retest again soon and contemplate the possibility of more meds down the track. But I honestly don’t know how I feel about poisoning my body like that anymore. I don’t even want to know how much I’ve damaged my good gut flora and how long it will truly take to repopulate things! And the fact after all of it, I still have blasto, gives me an indication that my body is more run down than I realised and struggling with more important things.

The good news is fatigue has decreased a lot, I rarely get nauseous anymore, I still have a lot of food sensitivities but nowhere near what I was dealing with last year so my diet is more varied (still paleo, low starch, low sugar, low fodmap). I only struggle with constipation a few times a month (used to be a daily issue), my sleep has improved, I’m generally happier and while I still do get brain fog, it’s nothing I can’t push through these days. I feel inspired to take on life again and positive I can achieve my goals - this is a feeling I’d lost for almost two years. 

I do still struggle a bit with depression if I don’t keep key things in place in my life and my skin/acne is still on and off… Right now its going through a major flare up that I’m trying to get to the bottom of and I’ve been seeing an amazing psychotherapist who is helping me stay on top of the mind stuff.

My main takeaway through this whole thing has been happiness. Every time I went to my GP for the next test or drug or query she’d ask me about my depression and anxiety levels. I’d always think to myself, “of course I’m depressed, I’ve been unwell for ages!!!” But if I’m really honesty the unhappiness came first. I went through quite a few personal events before things got really bad health wise, and then the obsessing over every symptom just made everything worse. I had to think about everything I put in my mouth, most of my time was spent researching health issues and trying to delve into the deepest corners of all my symptoms: how, where, what, why, when etc. Sure I found out I had a lot of things I could address, but every time I found something new, it just fed into the little voice in my head that said, “see, I told you were sick”.

All my money was going on pills, powders, health practitioners and I was (and still am) working in a night shift job that does nothing for adrenal fatigue, energy cycles or general life fulfilment. It also isolates me socially - it’s hard not to feel disconnected when you’re wide awake when everyone around you is starting to dose off, and dead to the world when the day begins and you wake up several hours behind everyone else.

The level of stress I was causing myself took all my energy, I barely had any left over to exercise, I stopped doing yoga, even the thought of going to the supermarket or taking a walk around the block drained me! I never wanted to just have fun, hang out, laugh or be in environments with too many people (I was way too sensitive to deal with that). I pretty much closed my eyes to all the amazing things that were still going on around me as I hyper focused on what was going on inside me. 

I was shut off from my friends cos I never knew how I’d wake up feeling, I’d stopped making plans because I was always cancelling and my friends eventually stopped inviting me to things. My family grew frustrated with my constant negativity and though he would never say it, I knew my boyfriend at the time felt he came second to all things to do with my health… “Sorry honey not tonight, I really have to go shopping and food prep” and every time he asked how I was I usually had something defeated to say. I lacked any element of go-with-the-flowness and had begun to emotionally shut down, so it was no small wonder my body had started to do the same. 

I was an energetic dead zone. What started as a few things quickly avalanched into many as I created a text book situation for unhappiness.

Not at all saying that the things I struggle/d with aren’t real or valid issues, but I’m saying in the end we can chose whether they take over our life. Everything I wanted to do and achieve I was going to do “as soon as I’m better” I’d tell myself everyday… But then I started to think, maybe if I just started doing these things I would actually start to get better. Maybe part of the reason I was holding myself back (illness) WAS the reason I was being held back by illness. I caused myself a lot of anxiety, and mistook even the symptoms of anxiety for other things (which I know now is common for suffers of anxiety disorders). It’s amazing how much the nervous system dictates the functional capacity of our body.

I noticed the less attention I started to pay to my niggley health issues the less of them I had. Not that I’ve turned a blind eye and gone off the rails, I simply do the best I can everyday for my mind/body/spirit wellness, try my best not to beat myself up at the end of it when I crawl into bed and instead of expecting the worst for tomorrow, I hope for the best… And more often than not these days it usually happens. I focus on being happy, doing what makes me smile first and foremost. Then I address the other things as needed. 

One day I just woke up and decided to make mental health a priority, and I’m glad I did, as the rest seems to be slowly falling back into place.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

My Arch Nemesis - Blastocystis Hominis

Aka The Colonic Infusion

Back in my earlier posts I touched on having a blastocystis infection HERE and HERE. I've mentioned in the blog briefly outlining the two times I’ve tried to treat it with triple therapy medications via the Centre of Digestive Disease in Sydney. Then there was also the occasion I doubled up with the antibiotic I took for SIBO HERE adding metronidazole to the mix (which is a common treatment) to bring about a tiny glimmer of hope that it might rid my system of the blastocystis as well. Metronidazole (Flagyl) used to be the first line go to treatment for blasto but it has been commonly ineffective for several years… I tried it as I wanted to believe anything was possible at that point.

I was unsuccessful with all three approaches and swung from ‘kinda unwell’ to ‘on the couch can’t move’ sick each time. I swear after each round of meds my poor immune system got a little bit more run down and my digestive system a little more reactive. I felt good for a few weeks after each course of meds but symptoms came back fairly quickly, and sometimes worse than before (my skin was a mess after the round of Flagyl and my food intolerances got progressively worse). Given the choice I’m not sure if I would chose to take this exact route again. At the time though, I was just so desperate to get rid of it, thinking if only I could get rid of the dreaded blasto, my health would be awesome again. I’d finally be happy. So I just held on and forged ahead.

I did a lot of natural things in-between, mainly to support my system versa actively trying to get rid of Blasto. In my research and hours online there isn’t any successful natural protocols to eradicating blasto (doesn’t mean it can’t be done but I couldn’t find any and if they’re around, they certainly aren’t well known and take a long time). I’d highly suggest if you do want to take the natural route, thoroughly interviewing any natural practitioner you’re considering working with and ask if they’ve successfully eradicated blastocystis in their clients before. Even go as far as to ask if you could get a testimonial from a previous client. 

The nail in the coffin for me was when I spoke to one well known naturopath in Sydney and she confessed outright that despite all her efforts she had no luck treating blasto infections naturally and sent all her clients directly to the CDD for consults. This was what set me on this path.

Two places in the world currently do the colonic infusion for blastocystis, Dr Froomes in Melbourne and the Centre of Digestive Diseases in Sydney. In short, under colonoscopy you’re infused via the large intestine with 3 different medications, straight to the site of the infection. According to the CDD and Dr Froomes the success rate for this is 95%… Surely I’d have a good chance of being in that 95%!? After a phone consult with a nurse from the CDD, I was advised not to take anything else orally to avoid risking any further resistance to medications and sabotage any efforts to get rid of it in the future. I figured I’d done enough damage to my gut flora by now I minds well just go the whole way and try my luck. 

Here is my diary outlining my experience: Diary of a Colonic Infusion for Blastocystis 

Here is the full overview of the treatment I went through, oral protocols and infusion information: My 3 step CDD journey to Getting Rid of Blasto

I’m sharing this information not to encourage you either way, but to help you educate yourself on one of the possible routes to take to attempt to get rid of your own infection. When I first started out I was offered very little hope and it was all a bit confusing! I’ve spoken to many people along the way, some who had success after a first line oral treatment, some who felt amazing after the colonic infusion, some who have chosen not to treat blastocystis but monitor their symptoms and address what caused the infection in the first place (how they were a good host to such an infection) and others who no longer have blasto but still have symptoms and health problems. 

Blastocystis affects people differently, some showing many ill effects to hosting an infection while some people remain completely asymptomatic but are carriers. I have to wait and see which category I fall into once I finish two more days of post infusion medication (listed in the diary above)... At the moment it's a little too early to tell if it's helped. I retest in a month so until then it's tons of probiotics, rest and as little stress as possible!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Adrenal Fatigue and Anxiety

I've been laying low the last few weeks, avoiding too many pills and potions, staying away from meds and giving my body a chance to balance out. In the more mellow phase of my ventures I'm realising how much I struggle with adrenal fatigue and anxiety - and am beginning to appreciate the connection.

I've struggled with anxiety since I was a little girl, I just never labelled it that. I'm not going to write a big personal post today, but I did want to share a few links that I have found pretty helpful in explaining things holistically:

Adrenal Fatigue

Over Stimulated Nervous System


Monday, 8 September 2014

Meal Prep - My Way

Aka how to keep the fridge, and your tummy, full!

Last week I posted a pic of my food prep day on Facebook, it was one of my most popular shares. So I thought it be best to follow up with a blog post, a written how-to has got to be more helpful than an inspiring picture with no instructions right? 

If you’ve read a few health blogs on GAPS, SCD, Paleo or the likes you’re probably familiar with the concept of food preparation days, also known as batch cooking. The idea is that in one day you cook enough to tied you over for 3-4 days so you have to spend less time in the kitchen and when you’re hungry, you always have something to grab. One of the hardest things about a restricted diet is that convenience goes out of the window. Grabbing something ‘on the run’ or ‘quickly throwing something together’ when you’re so hungry you could chew on your arm, becomes a thing of the past. Food preparation and batch cooking helps to make the process easier.

I eat very simply at the moment, I’ve tried to introduce more foods but cos I still have blastocystis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (despite a year of various white man meds) it hasn’t been very successful. So I pretty much am still limited to what I shared in a recent blog over HERE And also my blog from last year on what a gut healing diet looks like over HERE

So my meal prep reflects that and in a session I will cook a variety of: chicken/beef/lamb meat patties, fish, carrot/ginger soup, pumpkin soup, bone broth, roasted carrots, roasted pumpkin and kiwifruit jelly. I like these things as they keep well for up to 4 days, they reheat well (in the oven not the microwave, I avoid the microwave as much as possible, it’s ok if you don’t have another option). And when I do a reheat I quickly sauté some zucchini ribbons, silverbeet/chard, spinach or steam some green beans or broccoli depending on if I feel like my gut can tolerate those last two. I then drizzle with some garlic infused or plain olive oil and I have a tasty, quick, nutritious meal.

Meat Patties
  • Mince Meat
  • Herbs
  • Salt and Pepper
Mix together, roll into patties of 100-120grams (I use scales to weigh this out), place in a baking tray, press flat with a fork. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes (this depends on how hot the oven is and how big your patties are). 

***Combos I commonly use = chicken/dill, chicken/chives, lamb/rosemary, beef/thyme, pork/garlic flakes, turkey/tarragon. I often also make patties with chicken livers mixed in… I buy these frozen, allow them to defrost in the fridge, soak them in either milk or salt water (this helps remove the strong taste), rinse them off really well! Chop them up finely and add about 100-150 grams of liver to about 500 grams of mince meat. 

Lemon Fish
  • Fish
  • Salt
  • Lemon
Line a baking dish with tin foil with extra to foil to cover back over the fish, place the fish in the baking dish, squeeze lemon juice over the fish, sprinkle with salt (herbs like parsley, dill, chives can also be added). Cover the fish with the overlapping tin foil (you can also wrap the fish individually in little foil packages). Bake for 10-20 mins at 180C depending on the type and thickness of your fish (thin white fish will need longer than salmon).

Fish I commonly use = salmon, trout, hoki, whiting, barramundi.

Carrot/Ginger Soup
  • Chicken Broth
  • Carrots
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Salt
  • Cooking fat/oil
Wash, peel and chop carrots roughly. Add 1T of coconut oil, duck fat or ghee to a pan, add carrots and heat till oil is melted. Add salt, pepper, and grate ginger on the top. Stir quickly. Add enough broth to generously cover carrots. Bring to the boil then turn down and simmer until carrots are soft. Its best to let this cool on the stove for about an hour before placing it into a blender and blending till smooth. I find chicken broth is the best for this flavour combo.

Pumpkin Soup
  • Broth 
  • Pumpkin
  • Turmeric
  • Salt 
  • Cooking fat/oil
Pretty much the same process as above, you can use fresh or powdered turmeric. I have used beef, lamb and chicken broth for this combo. They all have their own unique flavour and make the soup taste different depending on what broth you use.

EASY Chicken Broth 
  • Chicken Carcass or Chicken Necks
  • Salt, Bay Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar
Place chicken in a slow cooker, sprinkle generously with salt, 2-4 bay leaves and 2-3T of apple cider vinegar (depending on how much chicken bones you have). Cover with filtered water, turn on high till water is bubbling, then turn down to low and leave for 24-48 hours.

EASY Beef Broth 

  • Beef bones or marrow bones
  • Salt, Bay Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar

For a better taste, place bones on a baking tray and place in the oven for about 10 mins till slightly browned… Then place bones in a slow cooker, sprinkle generously with salt, 2-4 bay leaves and 2-3T of apple cider vinegar (depending on how many bones you have). Cover with filtered water, turn on high till water is bubbling, then turn down to low and leave for 24-48 hours.

EASY Lamb Broth

As above but use lamb shanks.

***Notes on broth - I use about 1kg of bones in my 5 litre slow cooker. I do need to top up the water as it cooks, maybe once every 12 hours I’ll check it, stir it and top up. To manage the broth once its cooked turn it off and leave for about 3 hours to let it cool down. Place a colander over a large glass bowl, use tongs to get as many bones out as you can and place in the colander to drain. Then pour the rest of the broth slowly into the colander allowing the broth to pour through into the bowl (watch this carefully so it doesn't start to overflow from the bowl). Remove the colander, shake over the bowl. Chuck the bones in the bin. From here I will use a measuring cup to transfer my broth into glass jars… (you must make sure broth has cooled enough at this step, hot broth can crack jars) And then pop them in the fridge. Once the broth chills it may form a layer of fat on the top. If this is 0.5cms or less I just leave it and add it in with the broth to whatever I’m doing. Sometimes it can be up to an inch depending on the bones used, some people also use this but because I get nauseous if my fat content is too high I would typically scrap most of this off and throw it in the bin. Other people do keep it and use it as cooking fat…

Roast Carrots
  • Carrots
  • Salt
  • Cooking fat/oil
Peel and chop carrots, rounds or sticks. Place on a baking tray. Gently heat fat of choice in a pot on a low heat, coconut oil, ghee or duck fat are good to use and are all solid at room temperature. Pour melted fat over carrots, sprinkle with salt, shake around on the tray to mix. Place in the oven on 180C for about 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of carrots you have used (I often cook 1kg at a time). It can be helpful at about the half way mark to shake the tray again to ensure even cooking. 

Roast Pumpkin

As above using pumpkin. Cooking time will be slightly less.

Kiwifruit Jelly
  • Kiwifruit (green or gold)
  • Great lakes gelatine (red container)
  • Lemon
Peel kiwifruit using a small sharp knife (cut off top and bottom and then slide the knife along the sides underneath the skin to remove), place in a blender and puree. Place kiwi puree into a pot and heat gently on a low heat. Add lemon juice to puree (I use about 1T for every 6 kiwifruit), turn the heat off and stir. In the blender add gelatine (I use about 1T for every 3 kiwi fruit), add hot water to cover the gelatine plus an extra inch. Pour in kiwifruit puree and blend again. Pour mixture into small separate containers and pop in the fridge. They take about 2 hours to cool and set. You can play around with the amount of gelatine you use to create different textures (more will make it firmer). If they don’t set you have not used enough gelatine. Credit to the happy health nut where i original found the recipe HERE

Zucchini Ribbons 
  • Zucchini
  • Salt
  • Fat
Add 1T of coconut oil or ghee to a fry pan, I use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of zucchini straight into the pan. Add salt to taste, turn on heat and heat for about 3-5 minutes stirring as needed.

Sautéed Greens 
  • Silverbeet, spinach or asian greens
  • Salt
  • Fat
Add 1T of fat to a fry pan, wash and chop greens as required, add to pan, sprinkle with salt. Turn on the heat and stir as the greens cook. I often add some broth to help keep the greens moist and I find it helps them cook faster. Just enough broth to have no obvious liquid at the end when the greens are cooked. Start with a few tablespoons and play around with the amount you need as the greens soften.

As you can see, I don’t really use weighs and measures, I prefer to trust my instincts and practice has taught me how much of what ingredient I need, so don’t be afraid to mess a few things up before you perfect it. Reheating meat patties can be done in the over for 5-10 minutes, same with the roast vegetables. Soups are just reheated in a pan on the stove. Greens I make as needed, usually when I have stuff heating in the oven. For more meal ideas you can check out this blog HERE which has more combos and ideas. Recipe books that have helped me along the way are:

Digestive Health with Real Food

Digestive Health with Real Food Cookbook

Practical Paleo

21 Day Sugar Detox

Autoimmune Paleo