Monday, December 26, 2016


One of the first foods which was dropped in January 2012 when the gastroentrologist recommended the FODMAPS diet for a change after almost 4 years of digestive problem was wheat. That was the last time I ate wheat outside a few time as food experiments which turned out disasterous.

What we did was to shrink my diet to the minimum foods I knew I could eat and see what happened. It's a minimalluy balanced diet with a little of each food group and with health supplements I have a healthy diet. Everything else, FODMAPS and many more foods were off-limits for the next 4-plus years.

When it comes to new foods I use the three-strikes, rule. I give a food two tries to be ok with the digestive system, forgetting the taste buds which often loves those foods, and the third time it's off the list. I will occasionally go back to foods on the no-eat list but they only get one chance and they're effectively permanently censored.

That has been my food regimen for the last 4-plus years, so when I got through the 10-day regimen of antibiotics this last fall and waited a few weeks, I tried wheat again, a croissant, which didn't go well, so I thought I had lost wheat for good. I tried it again twice more, different things, such as cornbread and crackers, but the same thing happened.

Then for some reason about a month ago I tried a baguette bread and nothing happened. There are 4 Seattle or Tacoma bakeries which makes great fresh bread, three solely bakeries and one in Metropolitan Market (Seattle-Tacoma chain of about 6 stores).

When that went well I tried the other three brands with no problem. Then croissants, agains no problems. Then cornbread, minor problems but nothing significant. And then a favorite junk food, Ritz Crackers, no problems.

So I thought wheat was back. Or so I thought, but biscuits, doughnut and muffins didn't go well. Why those I don't know, but probably something else in it or the type of wheat. Who knows, but I got some wheat back and now baguette bread is a mainstay of my diet with occasional cornbread or croissant.

And Ritz Crackers are the occasional snack food with something on it. I'll take it for now. I haven't tried other wheat products yet because I don't eat enough wheat everyday to buy the quantity bread, rolls, etc. come in where baguette fits the size and the 5-7 days I take to eat a loaf.

I haven't tried other grains or similar foods, mostly because I don't see a need so far and all of them produced adverse reactions in the digestive system. I'll take what I have for now, a little wheat in a few products, locally made and fresh, except Ritz Crackers.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


I had my final appointment of the year with my Primary Care Physician (PCP) as a followup to the work with the naturopath and to talk about some concerns I've had from all the recent blood tests and other tests which left questions.

The end result of it was getting complete blood tests for two things and a blood test for a followup. The first was the complete tests for my thyroid gland. Some of the previous values showed some questions because I get periods where I'm cold (shivering) and my body can't seem to generate enough heat.

I noticed this a little last winter but it wasn't frequent or prolonged, but this winter it's frequent and sometimes prolonged. The problem is I don't have all the symptoms for thyroid problems, but enough to suggest something isn't right, at least enough to check it.

The second was a complete iron test. My iron levels are just above the halfway level of the normal range, but my ferritin levels are almost below normal, indicating something isn't working, so a more complete blood test is necessary.

In addition we added the hereditary hemochromatosis tests. My Dad had the disease, diagnosed almost too late to save his liver. The signs suggested he was an alcoholic but the tests revealed hemochromatosis, meaning I'm at least half susceptible for it.

The question is if I'm just a carrier or predisposed for the disease. This is key if I want to add an iron supplement to raise my ferritin level. I've always avoided iron supplements (alone or in anything) out of fear to trigger the disease if I'm prone to it.

This is key with these is that the thyroid and iron problems are indicative of anemia and fatigue which I've been feeling a lot of this winter, but it's been lost in bacteria problem and now resolved, it became obvious, especially adding the last blood test.

The last blood test was a followup of my previous hemoglobin test, which showed I'm pre-diabetic, meaning I'm above normal but not in the type 2 diabetes range. This is something my Dad also had, again diagnosed almost too late before it worsened in to type 1.

All of this leaves me knowing I have risk factors I have to watch the rest of my life. I'm over the bacteria problems, except if I have to take antibiotics again, but I know what to do then. I'm still sorting out the dynamic balance in my digestive system with supplements, probiotics and food.

But it's working reasonably as I can expect. The key is to keep walking, watch the diet, and take all my health supplements, half essential, and half choice. The plan is to walk about 20 days during the winter months, the cold help burn more calories (fat too) and see where I'm at by March.

Right now I'm down to 139 pound, plus or minus half a pound with about 3-4 pounds of obvious fat left to lose, but it's the fat my body is genetically predisposed to keep, so it's harder to lose and easier to regain if I don't walk, hence finding the balance for the number of walks per month.

That's it for the winter. I'll see what happens by March.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cold Weather

Well, it's obvious winter has long arrived everywhere, including the Pacific Northwest, namely the south Puget Sound area where I live and walk 6 miles most days a month (usually 20 or more days but sometimes fewer days for reasons). It arrived more so the last week or so.

Normally winter in the Puget Sound lowland is cool with respect to the mid-west, with the long winter with seasonal snow, and often the east coast, with their winter snowstorms causing all sorts of problems.

Here's it's mostly rain and cool, lots of cloudy to overcast days, often continuous for days on end and even a 2-3 weeks with just a peek of sunshine, and temperatures in the 40's most days, occasionally the mid-to upper 30's. But rarely snow below 500-1,000 foot elevation.

Over the 3 of the last 4 winters of walking in the early mornings my body and immune system has generally been very robust against the cold, and fighting colds, flu, etc. bugs, meaning weather didn't have much of an effect on me, just add warmer clothes and I was good to go.

Beginning last winter with the bacteria overgrowths (long story written about on this blog ad naseum) I began to be more sensitive to cold, flu, etc. bugs, but not so much the weather. Fast forward to this winter now free of the bacteria problem, thanks to an excellent naturopath, but things have dramatically changed.

I've become less sensitive to cold, flu, etc. bugs, except to be mildly sick for a day or so and then am back to normal, but I've become more sensitive to cold temperatures, which is what I learned this week when the cold snap hovered over the region with temperatures in the 20's.

I learned my body, or really my metabolism, is good keeping my warm while walking down to the low 30's, but I feel slightly cold into the upper 20's and especially with a 5-10 degree wind chill, common during our cold snaps with artic winds from the north.

I learned my body quits keeping me warm below the upper 20's, and all the winter clothing doesn't help. This happened this morning with temperatures in the mid-20's (24-26 degrees) and shortly into my walk it was evident my body couldn't keep up with the cold, even with no wind to speak of.

The question is if this is from age, now 67, the weight loss, now under 140 lbs, or a combination of those and other factors where my body just can't generate the heat to stay warm even while walking. This is new to me, something I now have to get used to during winters.

I'm ok when it's in the 30's whether it's raining or snowing, and only when it gets below 30 degrees will I know my body won't stay warm, but not enough to feel cold, just not warm. Below that though, it's going to be a day to day decision for walks.

I have enough good winter clothes to the upper 20's (wool, fleece, down, GoreTex, etc.), but I learned that's the limit my clothes will keep me warm and below that the body just can't keep up with the temperature, unless I went for a full winter set of clothes common for the upper elevations or the mid-west.

Anyway, that's the story today. No walk, or a short one with a quick u-turn into it. Lesson learned about being older and lighter and weather. The good news is these periods are brief, mostly 1-3 days before it warms back into the 30's when I can walk.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Normal III

It's been two weeks since the last update with some progress in the midst of a few setbacks. Seems finding normal will take time and it may not be consistent anymore, or that's the events so far. What I've learned is food isn't so much my enemy anymore but my risk.

Since I've been take a special probiotics, practitioner (clinical) standard for rebuilding digestive bacteria, and an pancreatic enzyme (also practitioner standard), the system processes foods easier and quicker most of the time.

I say most, which is why food is now a risk than the enemy. My basic diet keeps things working, more or less, meaning weight gain or loss is ~ 1/2 per day. The weight has dropped to the 141 lb range, which means I only gained 1 lb from the hiatus and resuming walking.

I've tried some food experiments, but sadly most of them were not favorable to add them to the diet. I have added sweet potato and yam but not white potatoes. Not sure why but the system doesn't like them and especially not one of my favorite foods, potato chips.

The walking has been intermittent. More than October but far less than I wanted. It seems after two days of walks I always come down with cold/flu symptoms which stops the walks for 1-3 days depending on the severity and the body's reaction.

The walks are getting easier with most days not experiencing the problems I had with the bacteria overgrowths. The distance is, and will be through the winter, 6 miles, just to stay on the safe side of not pushing the body and muscles too much for awhile.

The winter walks are better for the weight and fat as the body has to burn more calories getting and keeping the body warm. I dress just warm enough to avoid being cold or getting too warm. This means dressing where I feel cold for the first 1/2 mile when the body gets warm.

The hope there is to get more consistency to the walk schedule, but right know that's just hope than reality, but sticking with diet, not adding too many food experiments, helps, but gets boring eating the same fairly restrictive diet.

At least I have wheat now. I still have to limit it for small quantities at a time and for a day, but the system isn't bothered by it, when it's gluten or gluten-free. I still avoid most wheat products and restrict it to regular or sour dough baguette bread, croissants, cornbread and Ritz crackers. Any other wheat products put them in the food risk catagory.

Anyway, that's life so far. It's better than a month ago and a quantum leap better than 2-3 months ago with almost no signs of any bacteria problems, only small, occasional problems but no sure if it's normal or overgrowth bacteria.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Normal II

It's been a week since the initial post-antibiotic update, so here's some more thoughts on events of the last week. First, the antibiotics didn't kill and flush all of the bacteria overgrowths but enough the body is working on the rest, even a week later. This will last awhile.

Second, the probiotics are also working more to replace the bacteria overgrowth and restore the digestive system bacteria, but it's clearly a different dynamic balance than I've had before so the digestive system is adjusting to it with a range of reactions.

Third, I've added more foods than I have eaten in years without any severe adverse reaction, which in part was due to the bad or other bacteria in the system than the current bacteria. This includes wheat where I've added baguette bread, cornbread, croissants, and my favorite Ritz crackers (sorry, we all need our junk food).

The new foods still take time for the system to get used to them, which to date is just a few different vegetables, eg. broccoli, cauliflower, etc. I have a whole list of foods I want to eventually try from all the food groups, but I'm parsing the food experiments out slowly, one or two per week.

Fourth, I've resumed my morning 6-mile walks. I moved the time I walk out the door from 5 am to 6 am to give me more time in the morning and have daylight on the walk home (3 miles to town and back with a break at a Starbucks) until latter this winter when sunrise is later than my walks. This also allows me to run errands at shops that open early.

Lastly, the weight. During the problems with the bacteria I gained 3-5 lbs depending on the day and the severity of the bacteria's effects on the body. During my 3-week hiatus from walking I also gained 1-2 lbs, which is normal as I've pushed the body lower than it wants so it adds it back quickly.

Since the end of the antibiotics, it took awhile, but I managed to lose all but 1+ lb of the weight, from the loss of the accumulation of the bacteria masses and side effects, and from the walking getting toward losing weight again.

For now I'm about 1-1 1/2 lbs above the weight I was two months ago when the worse problems started. This will take about a month to work off with walking and watching my diet. I don't eat on a regular schedule or eat full meals, but just snack my way through the day eating about every 2-3 hours or so.

I've calculated my basal metabolic rate with and without walking and calculated the approximate calories with the diet I normally eat, nothing exact or specific, but enough to be in the ballpark to know where I'm at everyday. It doesn't mean I skimp on foods, I just make sure I don't do overeat too often or too many days.

For now I can look to work toward my goal I've had for over a year, to get to 140 lbs. I've come close a few times for a few days but never longer due to the bacteria problems. I also know my body likes to be about 150 lbs, so I'm pushing it below my genetic predispostion.

I'm pushing it not to lose the weight but lose the fat. The genetic predisposition includes a fair amount of fat I've never lost, even when I was my healtiest and fittest, I still weighed 150-155 with 10-15 lbs of fat. It's just my body type.

The reasoning when I started walking and still is that at 67 I'm at the point it's my last, best chance to lower the weight and risks from the fat through an activity, walking, I can do consistently throughout the year to stay fit. I'll likely get back to some weight training.

Anyway, that's life so far.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Down Vest

After I started working for the USGS in Eugene, Oregon I was assigned the upper Willamette River basin field trip for a year (1978-79) and then moved to the McKenzie River basin field trip the following year.

During the winter working in the upper McKenzie River, which overall was my favorite field trip of the three for field technicians (the Oregon coast trip being the third), each taking 7-8 working days with almost all being overnight for the week staying in small towns.

I loved the McKenzie River field trip because for most of the year you worked alone often seeing no one else outside of those you saw at breakfast or dinner if you went to a restaurant. The McKenzie River trip had only two restaurants for dinner.

I like the trip because I (other technicians and/or I) stayed at one motel which kept a room open for us which had an common open area with a small kitchen. We were often the only guests in the winter so the room was next to the common room.

One day driving back to the motel I saw a bundle in the middle of the highway, and since I was the only truck for hours on that stretch of the road it wasn't hard just to stop and see what it was. It turned out to be this North Face down vest.

The only other folks working up there were the US Forest Service and the local utility company for the reservoirs and power station feeding the Eugene-Springfield area. It's a size medium and fit me, so I kept and used it all these years.

The patch is over a tear I got one day from a branch. I lost the down out of that section but someone at the office brought me a ziplock bag of down and I bought a iron-on patch kit to repair it. It's interesting to see how little down they put in new coats, like the jacker for my North Face GoreTex rain coat.

This coat has so much down it fluffs up 2-3 times larger than the new coats so only gets worn on the coldest, non-rainy days here, but still after over 35+ years it's still keeping bodies warm.

Monday, November 7, 2016


It's hard to tell what is normal anymore after this bout of bacteria problems. At least for now the antibiotics did their job taking the full 10-days regime to fight and flush it from the system and the probiotics to overwhelm the system with large amounts of very specific good bacteria.

That said, today was the first day in over 5 months I had one of those "Whew" and empty feeling moments with the body realizing the fight is over and it's time to recover to whatever the new normal will be after the two years of it and the recent 5 months severe problems.

What I learned from this experience is several things.

First, medical doctor can and do fail. All the tests the naturopath did was available to doctors, especially the two gastroenterologists who focused on physical causes than even more than a casual thought to the bacteria, which was the cause all along, the physical side being symptoms.

Second, believe what your body is telling you. You're the only one listening. Doctors only believe in tests results, and can't do anything that isn't a known conditions (diagnosis) with a known treatment. They won't just try to learn more, but give up, which they did for me.

Third, try specialized naturopaths. The naturopath, who specializing in digestive problems, ran the right tests to find the cause and two other problems beyond the bacteria overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria. First my pancreas doesn't work so I'm on pancreatic enzymes for life. Second, I'm pre diabetic which could worsen into type two diabetes if I don't monitor it.

Note. One test they didn't take was a full culture stool sample, tests gastroenterologist do routinely but only look for known infections than culture all bacteria. Had they done that they would have found the opportunistic bacteria overgrowths.

Also, my physician didn't do a hemoglobin test, easy done with normal blood tests. That found the pre diabetic condition. I also have very low ferritin level with normal iron levels, but can't take iron supplements for genetic predisposition for hemochromatosis, so I can't increase iron to increase ferritin or risk hemochromotosis.

Fourth, try clinical standard herbal supplements, available through naturopathic clinics. You might need an initial appointment to get assurance they're the right supplements for you, but it's worth the money and tests they want.

The probiotics I'm taking isn't available through stores, just clinics because it's medical standard, not consumer standard, probiotics with specific genetic strains of bacteria types than just a bundle of the family of each type.

The strains are specific genetically derived and bundled into supplements for very specific treatments. They're worth the extra money to know you're getting better quality and guaranteed quantity probiotics for your specific needs than just over-the-counter supplements which may or may not work.

Anyway, I'll see what happens now and at least this problem is under control again so I can get better and resume walking, eating normally again, and feeling good. What's not to like about that?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Maybe Normal

Well, I'm in the nineth day of the 10-day routine of antibiotics (tetracycline and metronidazole) and things finally changed significantly yesterday into this morning with the what we now know are some type of partial obstructions, seemingly bacterial in nature with food and other stuff.

I have an appointment next week as a followup for the results of the antibiotics with one 10-day regime refill available if this round isn't fully successful or the problem returns, which it has over the last 2 years of similar problems.

It's now (me anyway) thought this latest episodes started recently based on the body's reaction and the often not discussed in public bowel movements, indicated in was an obstruction, confirmed after the flu shot disloged 4 large masses (reported here before).

And the weight  is beginning to return to normal, still 2 lbs more than normal (before episode), but far better than the 3+ to 5 lbs over normal with the problem (assumed accumulation of food from the obstructions).

In short I'll take it. I still haven't resumed walking as any walking over 143 lbs (normal 140-141 lbs) caused physical problems with the legs (feeling heavy and tired) and body (fatigue) during and after the walks beside the mental fatigue.

What I've learned is that naps are a good way for your body to heal. Often during this episode I've been taking 1 to 1 1/2 hour naps once, sometimes twice, a day, meaning the body is tired from any activity but also from the war going on inside, and naps gives the body the respite.

What I've also learned is the help probiotics gives at times, especially when antibiotics destroy the digestive system biota. And I can't say enough about clinical standard brand (not OTC brands) probiotics and health supplements to help even more.

Anyway, that's the story to date. Things are looking better than over a month ago when it started and nine days ago  when I started the antibiotic routine. I'm down to the weight before before the antibiotics but not the weight before the episode, but it's real, measureable, and felt progress.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


I finally had the appointment with the naturopath today for the progress in the bacteria overgrowths, including the photos of the (bacteria) masses which came out a few weeks ago after the flu shot triggered the immune system to fight and expel them, except only some, not all of them.

As a result, I'm on the standard 10-day course of two common antibiotics, tetracycline and metonidazole, which are more targeted antibiotics than universal ones. Sadly the two have totally different criteria for taking them, the former no food for 1-2 hours before or after, the latter with food.

Go figure how to fit into a diet I eat small meals and snacks every 2-3 hours instead of large reguarly scheduled meals, but I will reschedule the eating habit. Near the end of the period I'll be on an ultra high dose of a family of clinician-standard probiotics (not OTC's) to rebuild the digestive biota.

We don't know if this will work since we don't know what the masses are (have presevative lab jar to take one for lab analysis if/when one comes out again) but at least we'll focus on the known bacteria overgrowthn and know if the masses are bacterial or not.

It took some discussion to convince the naturopath of this course, she wanted to wait for the analysis which I said only happens when the immune system is triggered to fight and expel them, such as the flu shot did then for those masses, but not for colds, flu, etc.

She agreed the course of antibiotics will help for the overgrowths, and if it helps against the masses, then we'll know, and if not, we'll know that too. Either way we win, and then can decide, if it's not bacterial, what course to follow, since all the tests for known parasiste, worms, etc. (non-bacterial) have come back negative.

Anyway, that's where I'm at today and for the next 10 days.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

But First

But first some good news for a change. I can eat wheat again. I've tried samples of wheat, a croissant here and a roll there, always with adverse reactions, but last weekI tried a sour dough Ficelle and nothing happened, nothing.

So I've been buying locally made bread, local meaning Seattle bakeries (Macrina, Essential Baking, and Grand Central bakery) delivered a few times a week to the Tacoma Metropolitan Market in Proctor neighborhood, and the it's working. No adverse reactions or effects yet after 3 different brands and breads.

Yippee! Wheat again, but in controlled small amounts so far. Not to get carried away just yet, not until I solve the bacteria problem, then who knows what I can eat again because the reactions will be based on the normal bacteria and not the overgrowths.

It's why some days I have hope.


Looking at the latest blood test results, several things pop out which, along with the bacteria problem, might explain why I feel tired almost all the time, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, or it feels like as I can take hour-plus naps almost anytime during the day.

First, the hemoglobin A1c test results show I'm pre-diatbetic (6.1%). My Dad had late onset type 2 diabetes they never caught until it was obvious, and with me there's been clues, like always higher than normal glucose level (never had the A1c test until now).

The problem is I don't fit the criteria for type 2 diabetes. I'm probably slightly underweight (140-145 lbs), generally fit (walk 100-150 miles a month), low end of BMI for my age and weight, and don't overeat or eat wrong or junk foods, except occasional potato chips.

The second is they discovered my ferritin levels just at the low end of normal, but my iron is in the middle of the normal range. I don't take iron supplements and avoid foods with iron additives because my Dad had Hemochromotosis.

I haven't had the genetic test yet (to be scheduled) for the predisposition but they say I have a 50% chance of having it but I've always tested negative for the disease. It's also why I stopped drinking alcohol except a beer a few times a year, besides I fall asleep when I drink it.

The stool test also discovered my pancreas doesn't produce enough pancreatic enzyme (at the low end of normal), so I'm on a pancreatic enzyme supplement, which is working, probably for the rest of my life.

The symptoms from the above conditions, which I've explained to a variety of doctors, was feeling tired, sometimes during my walks and always after my walks, was always dismissed as not eating enough or getting enough sleep, blah, blah, blah. You now the tune and tone.

So this is where I'm at now. The bacteria problem has a solution so far doctors have refused to prescribe, even as it worsened, but hopefully now with the photos, they'll act this time in the face of the obvious.

As for the rest of the problems, which add up to some sort of anemia, but I'm not sure what they can do. My glucose and hemoglobin aren't treatable with drugs, and I wouldn't take them anyway, but I'm not sure what I can change since I don't fit the profile.

Anyway, just venting frustration about medical professionals who need things to be obvious and then identifiable to be treatable, which my case doesn't fit, but it doesn't change the reality of things slowly getting worse, or at least feels like it some days.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Anyone who reads this blog knows I've been struggling with a bacteria problem in my digestive system since November 2014 which went through bouts of getting better or worse, including the last two month is that order, better then worse.

The gist of this problem came to a head this week, which explains what's happening. Last week I got a flu shot, being over 65 it was the Fluzone quad shot which, as they've reported, I got sick for 3 days, including a very sore left shoulder.

At the end of the 3 days, during which time the shot triggered the immune system and attacked the bacteria in the digestive system, which then expelled 3 beetle-like bacteria masses plus a near golf ball-size ball of bacteria mass over the course of two days.

That's a tongue depresser and the mass is 1 1/4" long by 1/2" wide and 1/2" high. Really, three of them over 24 hours plus the ball mass. This is what is causing the inflamation with the bloating, gas and severe constipation. And there's more in there still.

I have an appointment in two weeks, the earliest I can see the naturopath and 2 month, the earliest I can see my Primary Care Physician (PCP). Yeah, sucks the medical system is not geared for immediate help besides urgent care clinic or emergency rooms, both not cheap even with insurance.

But alas I have the proof what's been wrong all along. And here's the flip side of these things. Your guess is a good as the professionals what it is because a very large mass of bacteria.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Walking Days

There are days the legs and body doesn't want to walk, and they let me know in no uncertain way, but for every reason I would have not to walk are the very reasons I walk, to let the body and legs know, despite the pain, stiffness, soreness, tiredness, it still has to work, and to let the mind know it can't cave to simple things of muscles not wanting to walk.

It's not mind over body, but mind simply saying it's what we (body and mind) do, and if even it's the worst walk in many days, and the legs give out and the body runs out of energy long before home, it doesn't matter, we're in this together to get home, no matter the price then and later.

There's always a well-earned snack and nap waiting on those days.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Here's something I've thought and talked to my naturopath and primary care physician (PCP) about, the former had discussed it if we went that route with the digestive bacteria problem and my PCP was curious to remember. Which is?

If you're going to take any universal antibiotic, consider taking probiotics during or near the end of the usual 10-days of the drug use, even though most of it will be destroyed, and take probiotics immediately after for days if not weeks to re-establish the bacteria balance in your digestive tract.

I've thought about this since August 2014 when I took Amoxicillin for an ear infection, and while my normal bacteria always re-established itself within a week or so with past times of Amoxicillin, this time it didn't and the opportunistic bacteria used the window to proliferate.

My body wasn't able to respond to that bacteria for about a month (October 2014) but then did for about six weeks before it stopped fighting it and the opportunistic bacteria took over my digestive system, which since July I've been working with a naturopath to reclaim.

We haven't succeeded yet as the opportunistic bacteria keeps returning along with the prospect of new types of bacteria in the last few weeks. We're holding out the "nuke" option of a universal bacteria, namely Amoxicillin, since it's been my mainstay antibiotic for decades.

If we do use, exhausting all other herbal remedies, then I'll take Allicin and Berberine with it to fight the bacteria it's helped to control in recent weeks, and I'll take probiotics to flood the system with good bacteria and prevent the opportunistic bacteria from gaining footholds in the digestive tract.

For now that's the last option, but it's there and this time I'll be better prepared to help the body prevent the opportunistic bacteria from proliferating again. Something to keep in mind because it's doubtful physicians and/or specialists think about this option when prescribing antibiotics.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I've written ad naseum about my digestive problems, and while I thought it was improving through August with the help of a naturopath, it goes worse in September (effecting walking days), both with the effects of the herbal drugs and with new problems.

We've seem to have hit the limit of what Berberine and Allicin does to combat the overgrowth of 3 opportunistic bacteria. The bacteria seems to wax and wane, sometimes with the drugs and sometimes without them.

This is in part because the side effects of the Allicin has had more of an impact on the system and my body than we anticipated and the likelihood the system can't keep up flushing the die-off of the bacteria from the drugs so it builds up and causes its own effects.

So we're still tinkering with dosage and frequency to find a balance, but the bacteria in the system may also be changing with good and/or new opportunistic bacteria. We have samples in the lab awaiting results to see if it's die, more of the same bacteria or new bacteria.

One goal is to reintroduce good bacteria, aka, probiotics, to the system but several tests of a variety of probotics (brands and types of bacteria, from single to multipel types) for the last two years have all produced disasterous results, like adding gasoline to a charcoal barbecue fire.

This applies to food with probiotics, commonly found in many dairy and other food products, such as yogurt and the like. I have to always read the ingredients when thinking of buying and/or trying new foods. Occasionally, though, I get a surprise.

I know I can't eat wheat. It's not the gluten so much as the wheat itself, described in the articles about FODMAPS (Google that to find a boatload of information) which I've followed with a lot of caveats as many foods there have been tested and are off-limits from the adverse effects.

But it's not know if those effects is from a normal situation or the current one, meaning the opportunistic bacteria is controlling more of my food senstivities than normal bacteria. One recent example is wheat.

A croissant recently made me sick for 3 days but some of a sourdough baguette didn't have any effect beyond normal. This was one test of each, but wheat has consistently produce adverse reactions which surprised me when the sourdough baguette didn't.

I keep trying food experiments which more often than not worsens things for a few days, but occasionally produce little or no effects more than normal, so it's still hit and miss, and sometimes the good (new) food is short-lived as the bad bacteria adapts and adjusts faster than the normal bacteria.

What I do know for sure is when I have to fast for medical tests, meaning no eating for 12 hours and sometimes 24-48 hours, the problems and the effects go to near zero, meaning the obvious, food feeds the bacteria and causes the adverse reactions.

Fasting also gives the system a respite from the internal war and helps the system flush any residual excessive bacteria and die-off out of the sytem. This means managing my food more which is hard because, as anyone knows, fasting always makes you hungry.

In addition I'm undergoing tests for possible side effects from the opportunistic bacteria, from what isn't recognized by medical professionals or science yet, but identified as "leaky gut syndrome", meaning the bacteria gets out of the intestinal tract into the body. The symptoms fit.

I've also learn the final answer might be what none of us wants, which is going the univeral antibiotic route, which destroys all the bacteria in the system, and then we have to rebuild it hoping the opportunistic bacteria doesn't survive long enough for the good bacteria to replace it and the body fight any future overgrowths.

Anyway, that's what I've learned to date. The fight goes on and the internal war goes on. The digestive system is so dynamic there's no permanent answers so far to improve things, yet anyway.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Just a quick note, this week I passed a milestone. On my walk on Thursday (Sept. 22nd) I passed the 5,000 mile milestone. It was just two miles into the walk about a mile from my turn-around place at Starbucks, leaving me now at 5,004 miles to date.

September, unlike July and August, isn't turning into a good month for walks, from the problems with the bacteria in my digestive system and the herbal drugs I'm taking to fight the opportunistic bacteria overgrowths.

The problem is more system can't flush out the excess bacteria and the die-off, so it builds up until the system reacts to flush it all out. This process takes 7-10 days now, most of it with the buildup and then a few days with the reaction.

But that's another story for another time than here. I also got out my 3rd of 4 pairs of 5-10 Dome shoes. A few years ago 5-10 discontinued the Dome model, although some pair still linger in the market, but beware some stores (eg. advertise them but don't actually stock them.

You have to actually confirm they have the shoes in stock. I got burned by on this issue. The store accepted my order, billed my credit card, and then back-ordered the shoes. It took a few months to get them to admit the shoes werre discontinued and not available, and then refund my credit card.

 I've already gone through 3 pairs of these shoes and found the shoes on 5-10's discontinued shoes Web page and bought the last 4 pair of them in my size. I've used two new pair already. I get 800-1,000 good miles on them and another ~200 miles if the sole isn't worn too badly or the inside liner and padding isn't shredded.

That means I can get to about 7,000 miles before replacing the Dome shoes with a new model, so I'm researching new models. I won't buy mainstream company shoes because they're not made for more than a few hundred miles and still costs the price of 5-10 shoes.

Anyway, that's the story to date, another milestone reached (reached 4,000 January 1st), so the goal is now 6,000 in 8-9 months and hope the health issue improves to get more days and miles in on the walks.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Measuring Rivers

I won’t deny I have problems with heights, looking down gives me nausea, but one thing I love is being in a cablecar on a cableway strung across a river, the wider the better, high above the flowing water, the faster the flow the better. I loved streamggaging for the USGS, especially the big rivers with the high cableway, to spend and hour or more going across and measuring the width, depth and velocity to compute a discharge (flow), and sometimes take a moment in the middle to just sit and feel the quiet place. 
I was only worried once during my career, when measuring Blue Creek above Hills Creek Resevoir, Oregon during a flood when I could hear boulders the size of cars (seen in followup measurements) rolling along the bed, moved by the the high velocity, realizing even with a floatation jacket (safety requirement) I wouldn’t survive if I fell in the river. The cableway and towers were well above the river, but it occurred to me when I took that moment to watch and listen to the loud sounds of those boulders I couldn’t see due to the high sediment flow but had a reality check on the power of rivers, no matter how seemingly small.
And of all the hundreds of wading measurements I, some up to the top of my chest waders, I never lost my footing or fell in the creeks or rivers. But there was a time on Gray Creek in the Middle Fork of the Willametter River basin, I had the scare every streamgager has at least once, find yourself in the middle of the creek or river realizing you can move forward across it or go back the bank you started .You were stuck there and this time the during the high flow the rocks on the bed were moving under and around me and started to move me downstream while the flow pushed against the upstream side of my body nudging me down stream too.
After a few minutes I realized I had no choice but to go forward with two possibilities, one I’d lose it and become part fhe flow to extracate myself out safely, or two, I’d be ok and get across, and then come back to make the measurement. The latter prevailed as I realized I was in the deepest and swiftest part of it and still standing, meaning I could finish it, which I did, and without getting wet except for the rain.
It’s the conundrums each of us have and live with.


I've written ad nauseam about my digestive problems and food, and while I won't go into those again, I'd like to report I have answers, from a naturopath and not gastroenterologists, about the cause of the problems.

To begin with the naturopath did a full suite of tests on stools, looking at 9 different indicators, such as yeast, bacteria, parasise, microbes, pancreatic output, etc. and did real and complete Small Intestive Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) test.

The gastroentrologist prescribed the SIBO test in February 2015, but the clinic did the wrong test, looking at lactose and gluten, not SIBO,  which the gastroenterologist didn't see, but even that test indicated a possible problem, which was ignored.

In addition the gastroenterologist looked for three known infectious bacteria in the stools, but not non-infectious bacteria and not for the amount of normal flora, meaning in short, they didn't do enough to rule out biological causes.

The naturopath also found I have a low level of pancreatic exocrine and a far higher level of inflamation immune markers, meaning I don't produce enough pancreatic enzymes to fully digest food and the system is overreacting to inflation in the small and large intestine.

The SIBO test showed I don't have SIBO but an overgrowth of three "opportunistic" non-infectious bacteria which are always present in the digestive system but kept in check by the immune system and other bacteria.

When the body can't keep them in check, then they proliferate in the system to replace "good" bacteria and causes an array of adverse reactions in the small and large intestine, the symptoms I've been having since November 2014.

The naturopath prescribed 3 herbal drugs known to fight the three non-infectious bacteria. She didn't prescribe antibiotics (naturopaths in Washington State can prescribe "common" antibiotics) because there are none for non-infectious bacteria overgrowths, only infectious bacteria in digestive system.

That would mean prescribing a universal antibiotic, which destroys all the bacteria in the digestive tract and rebuilding the bacteria after the period of the antibiotic. She chose to focus on herbal drugs which focuses specifically on those bacteria first, and will only prescribe antibiotics if they fail to work.

Anyway, that's the status to date, a month on 4 herbal drugs to fight the bacteria and flush it out of the system, hopefully leaving opportunity for all the good bacteria to rebuild the digestive process to normal and resume a wider diet of foods.

So I'll see what happens over the next month, but the good news is that I have answers, which the gastroenterologists didn't provide, and a treatment plan with options. It's up to the body now to do the work with herbal drugs to bring the overgrowths in check and improve the pancreatic enzymes.

What this whole process has taught me is that traditional medical professionals look for the obvious first, which makes sense since many medical condition are solved and treated from obvious symptoms and tests.

If that fails they go through the list of the less obvious in some order of common sense, experience, knowledge or learning, but there often comes a point or time they run out of answers, not for the want of opportunities to search, but for lack of interest.

It's sometimes easier for some to simply rely on what they know than explore what they don't know. This is true in gastroenterology when their knowledge with the biological side of the digestive system is limited, often by choice of the professional, to refer the patient than explore options.

This is what I experienced. They knew a lot of the physical side of the digestive system and searched for answers with tests they already knew, and lacking results, simply stopped looking, or worse, resorted to the obvious, "Take probiotics."

And that in the case of bacteria overgrowths is the worst thing you can do, add more bacteria to an overloaded digestive system. That and prebiotics or digestive enzymes which can worsen the problem than help it.

It also shows me the lack of resources for traditional medical science to treat less serious, but often equally adverse, conditions which don't fit into the text books. This is why gastroenterology has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, which to me is short for "It Beats the Shit" out of me.

And there is "Leaky Gut" syndrome and other conditions gastroentrologists are only beginning to address as they discover most digestive problems are biological in origin, the physical side being symptoms than causes.

But it's also why some, maybe many, gastroenterologist don't get into the biological side. It takes more work, time and interest to explore and learn, something many don't seem to want to do when they can simply prescribe a drug or do a proceedure to "cure" the patient.

This is where it's better to find a naturopath which has the knowledge and experience with the biological side of the digestive system. Many are now covered by health insurance plans, although treatment and herbal drugs aren't usually covered.

Anyway, that's the story to date.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Update.--After some food experiments, I've updated (removed for now) some foods from my approved list, below in bold type. Those removed are struck through.

Original Post.-- I've written ad naseum about my digestive problems, as anyone with IBS knows it's boring to themselves and more so to others to hear or read, but they persist because it's what they live with. I'm no different in that regard, but I try to avoid too much. Ok, less than a lot.

That said, I decided to post what is my diet I live with for foods I know work and everything else gives me mld to severe adverse reactions. I tell people I can write it on a 4x6 postit note and have room for doodles. So here goes the expanded and postit note versions.


Natural, organic Turkey breast and thighs, which I buy locally raised sold by the local Metropolitan Market. I've found local brands of Turkey far better for everything Turkey, especially taste. All the national brands are bland.

Hormel sandwich Ham, which is nitrate/nitrite and preservative free. Other similar brands (for additives, or lack of) are acceptable, but I get a good price on Hormel at several local stores.

Occasionally I can have seafood (Lobster, Crab and Shrimp - I love Tiger Prawns) and some fish (low fat such as Halibut, Flounder, etc.). I keep the Monterey Bay Aquarim Seafood Watch app on my iPhone to know what's acceptable from the world market. This is an app everyone should and use.

All other meats (beef, lamb, pork, bacon, etc.), poultry and most fish are off-limits.


Lactose, fat-free milk. You don't need either. I occasionally buy low-fat or 2% for drinks or recipes with need fat, but still Lactose free. The only real exception is whipping cream I make for drinks. Those pressurized ones are great you can flavor it.

Hard cheese, but specifically Gouda and Edam cheeses. No soft cheeses or spreads. I've tried a range of hard cheese, eg. Cheddar, etc., but all produce reactions or I don't like the taste.

Everything else in this catagory, especially yogurt and any dairy product with pre-biotics or pro-biotics, are off-limits.

Bread, Grains, cereals, etc.:

It's simple, corn chips, but occasional recipes with cornmeal. I also restrict the corn chips to brands which use canola, peanut or coconut oil, and are local brands. All the other brands which use oleic-free oil to lower fat taste like crackers (someone said carboard).

No wheat or similar grain and others when in small amounts in products, but wheat, barley, rye or similar grains, or oats are absolute no's.


Carrots and celery and occasionally peas.

Everything else, especially green or leafy, is off-limits. No starches, meaning potatoes, roots or similar plants.


Coconut and occasionally banans, some berries, and very occasioally oranges. Everything else is off-limits.


Just one, salt, but sometimes orange peel and occasionally a dash of pepper.


All the peanut butter I want, and other nut butters except I don't like those.

All nuts only occasionally but peanuts more often.


No foods which are or have seeds.


I live on protein drinks, coffee and water.

No tea (don't like it), sports drink, fruit juices, etc., especially any with additives with end in "ol" for sugar substitutes.


This means I buy very few ready made or off the shelf products. I read the ingredients and have eliminated almost all because of ingredients common to mass produced products, such as wheat, starches, spices, chemicals, preservatives, flavorings, coloring, etc.

What I do buy are cookies, mostly coconut and/or peanut butter cookies, and a few brands of crackers.

So that's it and written on a postit note:

Lactose, fat-free milk; Gouda/Edam cheese.
Sandwich Ham (caveats); locally raised Turkey.
Seafood and some fish.
Corn Chips (oil specific); cornmeal.
Carrots, celery, peas.
Coconut, bananas, berries and oranges.
Peanut Butter and nuts.
No spices, just salt.
Protein drinks and coffee.
Coconut/Peanut Butter cookies.

With that I generally don't mind the diet. I like the foods and have been creative at times to make combinations, such as Turkey breast salad (chopped breast, sweatened coconut, chopped juilenne carrots, celery, salt and mayonaise), and the like.

I also have a food experiment once a week or where I eat or prepare a food on the three strikes list - meaning I give a food 3 times if it makes me sick, the third time it's gone - an old food I haven't tried in a long time, or a new food.

An example is potato chips. I can't eat potatoes (any type) but I love Kettle brand potato chips, but my system can't handle them very often, so I buy a small (1-2 oz) bag to prevent from overeating them and the system overracting.

Another is vegetables or fruit, but almost always ends in digestive disaster. Grains are a definite no under any circumstance after several experiments with the variety of them. In part, it's not just the gluten, it's the natural chemicals in the grain and the fiber.

Anyway, that's it. I live with it.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Food and Cooking

I've written about the foods I can eat, and all the rest I can't, or occasionally try and eliminate if I have adverse reactions with them under the 3 strikes rule. That said, what I've learned is two things about food. Nothing new, just observations living on a limited diet.

First, when it comes to any type of meat, seafood or fish, taste matters the most, especially when you can only cook with a very few spices, mostly salt and some flavor spices, like lemon or orange peel. And the taste of meat becomes important along with who produces and how it's processed.

What I've found is the most flavorful meats are locally produced, usually free range or organically raised. Comparing the different brands of Turkey and Chicken it's not hard to notice most national brands are bland, almost tasteless where spices are necessary to flavor them.

I've found locally, or in some cases regionally, grown and produced turkey and chicken are flavorful on their own and only need a minimum of spices, often just butter and salt for me. And they're often have more texture compared to national brands

I'm sure there are a lot of technical reasons for this, the type (species) of Turkey or Chicken, the chemicals adding during the growth period, and the processing, all of which I only focus on those grown and produced without the chemicals and preferably free range.

Since I don't eat beef, pork - only some types and brands of ham, lamb and other meats I don't have much to say, but I suspect it's much the same. The only ham I eat are Hormel's naturally produced and Hempler's, a northwest regional company, which are also naturally raised and produced.

As for fish, well, it's easy, I live in the Puget Sound where fresh fish is not hard to find at local markets, but even then, you have to read to know if it was previously (recently) frozen or is actually fresh caught, meaning not frozen at sea.

Having fished in the Puget Sound years ago (it's free for any fish but Salmon), I've caught, cooked and eat fish the same day, and there is a big difference with fresh fish. But with Alaskan fish it's often processed and frozen aboard ship and thawed for markets.

This doesn't mean it's old, because it's often quite fresh, and usually still full of flavor, far better than fish frozen and shipped elsewhere. For me, though, I still have to watch what fish I eat. Salmon is often too oily, but it depends on the species, which are available fresh from late summer through winter.

If you haven't eaten Salmon, you do have to distinguish the various species of Salmon as they all have their own taste, texture and oiliness. You'll be surprised by the range if you have the opportunity to buy and cook the different species of fresh Salmon, meaning caught that season and preferably not frozen at sea.

And as a fisheries biologist reminds me, they only eat Salmon caught at sea, before it returns to their origins to spawn. They said it doesn't matter if they caught in the ocean or the Puget Sound, just not once it's in fresh water.

This is because the fish change when exposed to freshwater in the process to spawn and die. This process begins immediately when leaving saltwater into river esturaries and continues through their trip upstream to their spawning grounds. The exception is Steelhead Salmon/Trout which returns to spawn but then goes back to the ocean.

Otherwise, I've found most fish don't have enough flavor by themselves to enjoy. I try them occasionally, but usually realize it's more for the texture and few spices than the fish itself, so I only try it a few times a year when it's fresh in season.

Seafood is a different kettle of fish as they say. I love seafood (lobster, crab and shrimp), but again it depends on the species and where it's caught. For buying the appropriate seafood I use the Monterey Bay Seawatch fish guide for iPhone (app), see their Website.

Great resource you should have on your smartphone to buy the right seafood and fish, and if the seller doesn't identify where it came more on the package, ask them, and if they can't or won't answer, don't buy it.

Anyway, enough about food again and onward to cooking, which is fairly straight forward for me. I have a Breville Smart Oven, which I use a few times a week for almost all my cooking. I only use the oven with the range for occasional baking big items or large amounts, like cookies.

The Breville oven will take large single items easily, such as whole chicken, turkey breasts, etc., and it has multiple settings, such as bake, broil and roast (both upper and lower heating elements). The cool part is you just set the temperature and time, and then just wait.

All my cookware and bakeware are Calphalon. I have over two dozen pieces of their professional grade cookware I bought 25 years ago. I've never regretted throwing out every piece of cookware I had then for this cookware.

It makes a average cook like me better because it can't fail unless I do something stupid. The only exception are two nearly 50 year cast iron skillets, a small 6" skillet and a 10" skillet. They're handy with frying and easy to keep clean and ready.

With that I've learned is how much you can get out of the taste of food with the least spices. Most of the time I use just butter, sometimes olive or coconut oil, and salt, with occasional lemon or orange peel and natural raw sugar, and even less often with some real spices as food experiments, most with fish since most fish don't have strong flavors.

This is where the food is important as cooking brings out the best in the best poultry and fish. This is obvious to real cooks and chefs, but more so to simple cooks like me who lives on a limited diet to know I can enjoy the foods I can eat.

With respect to vegetables, most of the time I steam them in a double boiler. and only occasionally cook them according to recipes, usually broil, saute, etc. in butter or oil. My problem is that I love vegetables but my digestive system doesn't, at least the way it works now, which isn't working right.

I've alway experimented with the foods on my diet to make combination dishes which is where the taste of the meat is most important. An example is turkey salad with coconut and with celery and/or julienne carrots (with maynaise and salt). Simple and great tasting with the right flavorful turkey breast.

Anyway, some wandering thoughts. I think I wander to the kitchen for some turkey salad in a tortilla now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For What

Today I spent two hours travelling to a doctor’s appointment, to get there early as they demand, and then meet with the doctor for 10 minutes, half of the time was a lecture about what he wanted me to do, dismissing what I came to talk about and get help resolving a medical problem, to hear, “Thank you, follow the advice, and come back in a month.”, and then pointed at the front desk. For what I kept asking myself driving home. For what. Nothing resolved and advice I already know won’t work, but you have to prove it because some doctors don’t want to listen to their patients. They’ve already decided what’s best without hearing them. And for this you pay. For what I keep asking myself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What I Have Learned

I have no great wisdom since I turned 65 in 2014, but I have learned a few things going forward in life. Not big things, but important things I see in older people. And I'm not perfect with practicing them, and have to constantly remind myself to follow my own advice, but it's what I know.

First, since pinching my Sciatic nerve in July 2012 and starting walking two months later when the body and legs accommodated it, I've learned a simple rule, use your body. As much as you can, push it, even if it hurts the next morning.

Your body is the old adage about use it or lose it, and it's especially important as you get past 60 and more so past 70. It's easy to be lazy. You have to be conscious to not to be. It's a constant fight you wage against yourself and time.

For example, when you stand, stand. Don't lean against something, like the kitchen counter when working in the sink or on the counter. Put space between your body and the counter or sink. When you pick something up from the floor, squat. Use you legs to to move you up and down.

Don't use a prop to help you get down or up, if possible, use your balance and legs. Do this everytime. It's the practice but also the exercise for your whole body. When you get up, use your legs without using something to pull you up, even your arms, unless you need to, but learn to do without anything but your legs.

Second, walk. And walk a lot. I walk 6 miles days 20-24 days a month, down from 8 miles for medical reasons, but I plan to get back to 7-8 miles this summer, if I can and they resolve the medical issue. I also park far away from stores in their lots, which isn't a lot of walking, but it adds up.

The goal since 2012 has been to get back to hiking, and while I've worked to be fit again, I've frequently run into health issues which sometimes sets back my progress or slows it with physical problems. The problem is that all the medical science and professionals haven't found what's causing the latest problem, which is (my guess) a low grade bacterial infection, but that's another story.

When I go to Seattle I park in one specific lot close to the Interstate and walk everywhere I go downtown. When I'm home I often stop by stores on my walks home to carry stuff in the backpack or grocery bag. I'm still limited by the weight but it's enough.

Third, read newspapers. Some years ago researchers discovered one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp in old age, read newspapers. They engage you to read, to learn (Google and Wikipedia are  great tools when reading to learn more about places, people, events, issues, etc.).

Newspapers teach you about the world, the issues, the people, the events, etc. and engages your mind to learn more and see the greater scheme of life and the world we all live in. It teaches you about other cultures, governments, people, which are far more diverse than your immediate world.

I read 3 newspapers a day (NY Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal) and often read the previous day's newspapers in the recycle bin at Starbucks, such as the USA Today, and Seattle or Tacoma newspapers. I also subscribe to the Chrisitan Science Monitor Daily Briefing and Weekly magazine, which is great for positive news stories.

Fourth, find something you're passionate about to last the rest of your life and then some. Make it so you'll never run out of stuff to do and will die with a long todo list. Mine is photography and Mt. Rainier National Park. Make sure it's something you can do everyday of the year.

Fifth, listen to music. Not just the music of your generation and genre, but music, all genres and world music, all music. Just listen if only once to hear it. You'll find a lot of music you like you didn't even know before.

It doesn't mean you'll like it, and probably won't, but you'll have listen to know why than say you don't like it without knowing about it or hearing it. But more so listen to music from the all the countries, from their traditional music to the latest.

A good place to start is Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. Another is iTunes new music. Listen to the minute and half samples if not the whole songs and album, at least once. There are other on-line stores for music similar to iTunes. There are Website for artists. Give them a listen.

You don't have to learn the language but you can catch the tune enough to know, and there Websites for lyrics you can translate, but I focus on the music where the lyrics are just part of it than knowing specifically what they're singing.

When you read about a musician, especially from another country, read about them, hear the music they produced, learn about their music. You'll be surprised music is part of the history and culture of countries, just like the U.S.

Sixth, be a kid, if only to learn new things to realize it doesn't interest you. Find what small things interests you to just know, such as the native trees and plants where you live, the local birds through the season to notice their departure and/or arrival. Things which makes you keep asking and exploring.

Seventh, expand your world. Don't stay within your world, such as your faith. Read about other religions and faiths, if only to understand the basics of them, so you're not having opinions out of ignorance. Don't be mentally blind.

Start a blog. Write stories, opinions (reseached of course), whatever. Find one or a few social media sites and visit a variety of others' Web pages. I like Tumblr, but Pininterest, Facebook, etc. are good ones. Read the young generations' Websites there.

They will show you what the young people of the world are doing, thinking, writing, etc. Follow people in a range of interests, but especially include travel. See the world, see the peole, especially the young people, around the world.

Last, and something I learned from watching my father in his later years, keep the number of prescription drugs you have to take to a minimum, and think hard about those you do take, weighing the advantages versus the side effects.

My Dad at one time was taking 11 drugs, just over half to treat the side effects of the other drugs. I won't argue, I'm lucky to have a good, strong heart and a blood pressure at the low end of normal. But I have a block pulmonary artery (~15% blockage), but I've learned my body has adapted and adjusted to it and I've learned how to live with it.

I do have high cholesterol, and after trying statin drugs and health supplements to help, I can't tolerate any of them, and all the excercise and activity barely brings the bad cholesterol under the upper limit. But the good cholesterol has always been well above normal, along with other factors which makes drugs a choice than a requirement.

I also have Dysthymia, genetic, lifelong condition (runs in family), and occasionally worsens to low grade depression, but I've learned to recognize the symptoms and learned ways to, as they say, tread mental water through the episodes. It hasn't always been 100% successful, but the episodes always faded with time.

But most of all I haven't taken drugs for it. Years ago the psychiatrist who diagnosed me didn't recommend them then, and one of late still doesn't unless the worse episodes get longer, but even she cautioned against them for the side effects which are often potentially worse than the treatment.

In short, expand your world to the whole world. And above all else, don't stop living. It doesn't have to be 7 days a week, take mental vacations, but keep going back. See the world beyond the horizon.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weight and Fat

The original purpose and reason to start walkng back in September 2012 was to recover from a pinched Sciatic nerve in July which left me flat on my back for most of a week and unable to sit, stand or walk for very long for a month.

I spent that August walking short distances and recovering, before starting 2-3 miles walks. The back specialist then said surgery wasn't an option, which he didnt' recommend anyway as the relief from most surgeries are short-lived and leave a lifetime of lingering effects on the vertebra.

I've since had a MRI on the lower back in May 2015 (first in July 2012) and the (different) back specialist (specializing in sports injuries and the like) found more degeneration of the lower vertebra, normal for an aging back, but found the compression to have improved, still there but far less.

The fact then I had no pain was a surprise but attributed to the walking. But that's not the point with this post. It's about losing weight and fat. In July 2012 I weighed around 190 lbs, and for a 5' 9", early 60's man, you can imagine it was a lot of "extra" weight, aka fat.

At the time I didn't realize I had gained so much weight and fat. In June of 2006 I weighed about 155 lbs. I was running 15-20 miles a week and hiking 1-2 weekends a month. But then I reduced the running and hiking while taking some medicine for a medical condition.

The combination of the two lead to the weight gain. I had a clue of somehing wrong with the Sciatic nerve in June 2011 with my left leg went numb for 6 weeks. I had enough feeling to walk but not much else, but it went away and life continued.

So when I started walking I had no idea how much weight and fat I could lose or how fast it would be since all I was doing was walking. I stopped training with free weights for fear of hurting the back. But over time I noticed I was losing weight, so I upped the miles to 8 per day, 20+ days a month.

It wasn't until I reached 160 lbs I really noticed the differences in the body, mostly losing fat. This is where it started being interesting how and where on my body I lost fat. It's nothing as they advertise or write about losing fat with this or that training method or device.

In fact, quite the opposite. I lost most of the initial fat from the intramusclar and outer (skin) fat in the legs since that's the muscles walking uses. But then I started to lose fat around the body, such as the arms, hips, etc. everywhere except the chest and abdomen.

I learned the last place I lose fat is the chest and stomach, and even that's been uneven at best. When I thought I had lost most of, if not all, of the fat in the legs and around the body last year, I began to lose the fat around the waist (top of hip bones) and the chest and abdomen.

Until I got to about 145-150 lbs when I started losing fat in the legs and around the body again. Not fat I regained but fat that was still there. Not a lot, but enough to be obvious there was fat there before and not there now.

This has left most of the fat left on the chest and abdomen, and it's begun to come down again, but not very fast for two reasons, one obvious and one I learned of late. The first is the simple fact, I'm walking less miles per trip and less miles every month, so the distance isn't there to lose more.

Second is that with less weight it takes fewer calories to walk the same distance even at the same pace (14-15 minute per mile pace). So I'm not burning enough calories every trip and every month to keep the pace of weight and fat loss as before.

While some some would argue I can increase the weight I carry in the backpack, which is the plan for this summer, to add 5-10 lbs (free weights or water) or add miles to the trips. For now, both aren't possible with some health issues which allows me just enough to walk 6 miles with 10-15 lbs in the backpack.

The third is that I've learned that my metabolic rate has likely dropped due to the lower weight and better fitness level. This means the body needs fewer calories to work. This includes the basal (rest) metabolic rate (BMR), so overall I'm burning fewer calories, less coming from the fat I still carry.

This means after getting to near 140 lbs, it will take a lot more trips and miles to lose the last 5-7+ lbs of fat I want to lose. In additon, I'm also battling my genes. Yes, those pesking things which determines how much and the distribution of fat your body wants to normally carry.

Research has established it's easy to get to your "normal" body fat and weight level, but it's harder to get below it, so you have to exercise more or harder for each pound than being above your normal body weight and fat level. It's also easier to regain the weight and fat if you stop or don't keep the pace for losing it.

When you pair your genes and physiology losing weight and fat below the normal level takes a lot more work and/or time. This is showing as the rate of weight and fat lose in the last year, and especially this year, has slowed taking more miles per pound.

And almost all the rest of the remaining fat is on the chest and abdomen, the most visible part of me, or anyone for that matter, so it's my goal for the summer to work on that by my 67th birthday in the fall, to lose most of, if not all, of the remaining weight and fat.

I'm not focusing on the weight specifically, that's the result of losing the fat, so focusing on losing the fat will lose the weight. I plan to use walking trips in May to test the body for the summer walks here. But I know when I get there I can't let up, or my genes and body will simply add it all back.

So I also have to plan for the longer term trips and walks to keep the fat off and the weight where I want to be. It's been surprising as I've gotten to 140-142 lbs, how good overall I feel. The goal is to be  135-138 lbs which should keep the fat to the minimum and be able to manage any fat or weight gains.

And that's the last issue against the effort, simple age. The older you get past 60, the harder it takes to stay fit. The weight will take care of itself, I fight to fight my body just aging now on top of the rest of the issues against me.

In the end, it really just boils down to one thing, said by the back specialist, "Just get your ass out there and walk as far as you can as often as you can, and add a backpack and weight when you can." That I can do and keep doing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Shorts and Socks

I’ve worn shorts everyday since September 2012. Yeah, I haven’t worn long pants since then, just shorts above the knees no matter the weather we have in the northwest. I’ve learned to wear various lengths of socks based on the weather, namely the temperature, but also the wind and rain or occasional snow. That means I have a huge drawer full of knee socks, over the knee (OTK) socks, and yes, thigh high socks.
The knee high socks are worn when the temperature drops below 50 or above that if it’s windy or raining. Above that, it’s just regular ankle socks, which is from about May into October, where fall weather changes back to knee socks. The OTK socks are worn when the temperature drops below 40 and the knees demands knee sweaters.
I use a product called Body Adhesive to hold the socks up, It’s never failed, even in the worst weather. The higher socks are for temperature near or below freezing to keep the thighs warm. Not surprisingly most of the socks I buy are labelled women’s socks, but in reality socks don’t care the gender of the feet they’re on, only that they fit and keep the person warm with style.
I also had Gore-Tex rain pants cut off into shorts slightly longer than the shorts to keep the shorts dry, so both are above the knees. I hate longer shorts and have all the shorts altered to be 1″ to 3″ above the knee depending on the weather. I also have a few pair of gaters for snowy or very rainy weather. They work better than long pants every could and why I’ll keep wearing shorts.
What I’ve learned from 4 winters in shorts is that if you’re walking your legs don’t really get cold, unless there’s a strong wind, but then most good wool or thck cotton socks do well against the wind, And the legs don’t get wet since you’re moving, and only from the water from the shoes or occasional mud puddle you don’t see.
It’s interesting now that I don’t have any long pants which fit anymore. Having walked over 4,200 miles I’ve lost 45+ pounds in the same period, so none of my old jeans fit. Even some of the shorts are getting baggy, but a smaller size is too small. I’m between a small and a medium now. All that said, I like wearing shorts everyday, and don’t plan to change, and the weather surely isn’t going to change that or me.

Monday, February 29, 2016


I've written about the bacteria issues I have with my digestive system, ad naseum some might say, wondering why I dwell on it, besides the obvious I have to live with it until it resolves itself. And so here's an update from the last entry last December.

Two weeks go I finally had the colonoscopy the gastroenterologist was supposed to do last June but didn't because he wasn't satisified with the preparation. So this time I had two days of preparation, one two days before and one the day before. Even with that he wasn't satisfied but did it anyway, and the photos show a clean colon.

In the end he didn't find anything, but then I didn't expect him to find anything since the problem wasn't physical but bacterial, which was all flushed out with the preparation, so there wasn't any signs of it for him to see or take samples for biopsies.

And that's the end of the tests, besides needing and a new one because the gastroenterologist is leaving to be the director of another clinic. What I've needed is, as a gastroenterologist wrote, a gut bacteria specialist, but as the person also wrote, they don't teach that in medical school.

It goes back to the premise gastroenterology is about the physical side of your digestive system. They also understand the physiology of it in relation to the whole body, but are uninformed about the bacteria said outside of knowing what good, or what they said is good.

They have a few limited tests for known digestive diseases, infections and overgrowth because, again, the signs are obvious and there's lots of people who have experienced it, so there's a wealth of knowledge. But there is a dearth of knowledge about other bacteria which cause adverse conditions which aren't obvious.

That's shown up when the labs could on identify the bacteria which seems to the cause of my problems as "aggregate bacteria", meaning they don't know outside the fact they're bacteria. It doesn't phase them these bacteria are either not supposed to be there or not supposed to be in such huge numbers.

What's ironic is that one gastroenterologist suggested what I hear most common, try probiotics, under the assumption, "Good bacteria will drive bad bacteria out.", which isn't proven and some have said is pure nonsense, especially from gastroenterologists.

That's because probiotics, if it's the right kind for your digestive system, will only proliferate more bacteria and can or will worsen the problem, especially if it's the wrong bacteria for your digestive system, like adding reinforcements to the enemy, the last thing you need.

And that's where it's back to the old adage, "Patient heal thyself.", and leave to the body to find a way to get the bacteria in check or flushed from the system. And that's the reality. It's up to the body now unless sometime my PCP prescribes anti-biotic for another problem and it also solves this one.

What I Know

What I know, and have known the last few years since I started walking to town and back, a 6-8 miles roundtrip depending on the route, is that this is my last best hope to get into the shape I want to be the rest of my life. I walk 20-25 days a month no matter the weather, something I’m used to from 13 years of fieldwork. It’s shown as I was around 190 lbs when I started walking and now am 140-142 lbs after walking 4,260 miles. I still have another 5-7 lbs of fat to lose before I can walk to keep in shape than get in shape.
I know this because at 66 I know my body won’t get better if I don’t not just try but try my hardest to get and stay fit. There won’t be another time I can do what I’m doing now. Age simply isn’t on my side, unless I keep going, for the rest of my life. It’s the one truth I know about my body and my life, and the one choice I have when and where I can work hard to make it happen. From here on out, it’s the fight to keep from getting worse. 
That’s not just my life, it’s everyone’s life.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Father

My father celebrated his 75th birthday and later that evening he went to bed. He had accomplished the three things in life he valued most, paying off the 30-year mortage on their home, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and celebrating his 75th birthday, all in a span of about a year. He had a quintuple heart by-pass a year before just to survive long enough to achieve his goals.
When he went to bed he didn’t wake up the next morning. He was in a deep sleep nothing to wake him. He didn’t recognize anyone voice, not even his wife’s. He kept talking out loud to people long since dead as if they were alive. He died in his sleep two days later. He simply decided to die, without regard to who and what he left behind.
Suicide is defined as one intentionally taking their own life. It’s often restricted to deliberate acts, but sometimes it can be someone who just gives up on their own life. The death certificate says he died of natural causes, but where it is written that choosing not to live and giving up isn’t suicide.

One Thing

One thing I know. Either the rewards center in my brain doesn’t work, the neural network to it doesn’t work, or the chemicals aren’t produced to make it work. I know this because I rarely feel happy or excited. I’ve tried all the physical exercises to create dopamine, and nothing changes. I’ve tried all the activities for personal and professional happiness and nothing changes. I’ve even tried illegal drugs and they didn’t do what people said they would but were interesting experiences. 

The only thing I haven’t tried is prescription anti-depressants, which I won’t try because I’m more afraid of who’ll I’ll be on them than who I am without them. The one thing I know, and can rely on, is myself. On drugs I wouldn’t know if it’s me or the drugs, and that’s the one thing I won’t try, because I value my sanity.

Some of this can be explained by the diagnosis of having genetic, lifelong Dythymia 25 years ago. The psychiatrist then showed me how to recognize the signs when my Dysthymia worsens and I've learned over the years how to tread mental water, or as they say, practice sweeping the floor, during the worst periods.

And even with Dysthymia and a non-functioning rewards center, I would rather feel on the rare moments of feeling happy than the artificial feeling anti-depressants give people. I know the drugs help a lot of people, and they would help me, but it would also be, as the doctor said then, a lifelong need chasing the one that worked while living with the side effects, some of which would actually worsen my thinking.

So that's the one thing I know. Happiness will always be the illusive feeling I'll only rarely know. But I'd rather work for those moments knowing I know who I am, than the false sense of it on drugs. I can live with the reality, but not the wrong one.