Monday, September 30, 2013

No Wheat

I'm on a restricted wheat and really grain diet. Restricted meaning I can have some with foods which don't have an adverse effect on the digestive system, but that's only a minor issue with a little wheat. So last week I started a no wheat diet, losing the Ritz Crackers and some other small wheat-based treats.

The problem I found was replacing the crackers because the vast majority are made with wheat as the main or secondary ingredient. Rye and other grains are also off limits which leaves corn, oat and rice in flour form for crackers and oats in cookies.

In the research at a handful of grocery stores I found rice flour to the only other real choice for crackers by itself or in combination with other non-grain flours, such as corn, soy, types of nuts, etc. I found many of rice flour only crackers are effectively tastely and useless.

So far I've found two crackers, one with rice and corn (crispbread) and the other with rice and chestnut (also crispbread) flours to be good replacements and tasty with a variety of foods, such as ham, bacon, cheese, vegetables, PB&J, etc., which are my mainstay meal for sandwiche-like meals.

What I didn't anticipate was the adjustment the digestive system has to make with rice flour. Yeah, one of those types of adjustments. Lesson learned, eat small or sample-sized quantities first. Now if I can find oatmeal/flour crackers.

I'm looking at non-wheat oatmeal cookies recipes or ready made cookies. On that I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Good pain

I haven't decided if pain is good or not. Over the last two or so weeks the right knee and shin, which have been totally numb since July 2012 when the Sciatic nerve dropped me to the floor for 4 days, has been giving me pain, so I haven't decided if it's the nerves coming alive or real pain since it's just nerves.

The other pain is the muscle in both legs when and where the pain varys with the walk and later in the day after the walk. Some weeks I don't get shin splints during any of the walks that week and some weeks I get them for the first one to two miles into the walk for two or three consecutive days.

The last pain is the lower back. It fades in and out over the weeks from the normal mild pain from sitting too much later in the day or too long in one position too long at a time to the moderate pain where it hurts in the first few steps of walking but then fades with walking.

What I have noticed is that whatever the back pain, it always goes away during the walks, and only returns after the walk. I also noticed that during walks I noticed I can't stop for more than a minute or so because the legs feel tired and sore when I start walking again, and sometimes it fades with walking and sometimes not for the rest of the walk.

So I haven't figured out if the pain is just my body communicating with me for a variety of reason and it's not really pain as just noise or whining. At my age, some days that's all the body knows what to do, whine, and you have to tell the nerves whining and more so yelling doesn't help the conversation.

Other than the pain, I balance problems with both legs but especially the left leg, fades and returns, but overall is getting better. Not what it was before the Sciatic nerve problem by any measure, but better after all the ups and downs of it.

Anyway, that's it. It still sucks as hiking didn't happen this year and likely won't until next spring or summer. I'm still limited to 8+ miles where the legs hurt too much later with longer walks and 15-20 lbs with the backpack and even then there's back pain later.

On the plus side, I've lost much of the fat around the body and am slowly losing it on and around the abdomen, albeit slower with this fat, but it's better than a year ago. And no, I don't weigh myself to know if and how much I've lost. I'm trying to find a place (clinic, etc.) to weigh myself for free.

That's it for now.

I Thought

Update II.--It's been about three weeks since the toenail came off by itself and the toe in healing fine where I don't always need to keep it bandaged. I read it can take over a year to grow a new toenail, so it will be interesting watching the toe and nail return to normalcy.

Update.--Well, after taking the tape off the toe protecting the open blister and toenail, the toenail came off without any effort leaving the toe and skin underneath. Fortunately I've been treating it with Neosporin and bandages, so it's healing with what appears to be a new toenail.

I thought from all the walking my toes couldn't get worse. I've read and heard the stories of runners, hikers and ballet dancers and their toes, and realize I've been lucky to have had just black toes (3 middle toes on each foot). Or so I thought last week.

Well, for some reason I got a blister on one toe at the base of the toenail and when it drained it left an opening completely through the skin and the base of the new toenail growing over the old black toe. Right now I keep putting Neosporin in it with bandages while the skin heals to secure the nail to the toe.

Otherwise, the only thing holding the new toenail on is the scab of the old black toenail. Yeah, sorry for the yucky post but it's interesting to see how the body heals. Surprisingly the toe doesn't hurt, or at least not yet because it's bandaged to keep the toenail in place.

Hey, at least there's no pictures.

Friday, September 20, 2013

To and away

This month the walking hasn't been good for the walks, for the weather, the legs and feet being sore or tired, or whatever, but I kept walking to try and make a 20 day 8-mile per day month like August. I'm on track for that goal.

The point here is that even though the walks haven't felt physically good, except while I noticed I'm losing the weight (aka fat) where I want (aka abdomen) since much of the fat on the rest of the body is almost gone, the walks have been mentally good.

And that's because I feel I'm walking away from my thougtht of being old and death to thoughts of living. I suffer with genetic, life-long Dysthymia where there is no cure and the treatments vary from a lifetime of drugs or finding activities to keep it at bay.

With the walks this month, I haven't had that many thoughts about death and have had far more about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have a lot to do, far more than I have time, and I haven't fully embraced the motivation to do much yet as the Sciatic nerve still reminds me who's in control of my body.

But it's slowly getting better, both the body and the mind, as long as I keep walking and hope to resuming other activities, meaning running again, hiking in Mt. Rainier NP with a 30-40 lb camera pack, and hauling my camera gear to locations, within the next year.

For now I'm walking away from past ghosts and to something I know not what yet, but I'll keep walking there. It beats what I'm leaving in the distance behind me.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Seven Years on

I retired December 31st, 2005 and spent much of the next year following a fairly rigid fitness route and schedule so that by September, after turning 57 I could spend a few years on a personal project. Despite some setbacks I managed to get progress until March 2008.

From then for the next 3 1/2 years I spent the time chasing a number of health issues, first with a cardiologist trying to understand some issues with my heart which turned out to be a partial blockage of my pulmonary artery and a heart which is very healthy except a super fast acceleration time.

I did have a high cholesterol level, but it's been above normal most of my life. A small change in my diet, switching to lactose-free, fat free milk and dropping most dairy products rich in milk fats and cream got the level to the high end of normal.

Then it was my digestive system which took a second gastroenterologist in December 2011 to tell me they didn't really know the cause the adverse food reactions and bleeding small intestine, but then suggested changing a radical change of my diet, following a FODMAPS free diet, worked most of the time.

You can search Google for FODMAPS, but it pretty much wipes out most common foods, like wheat, most grains, most dairy products and many common fruits and vegetables. Add to that no beef, poultry, pork, and most fish and seafood, and no eggs, along with no green or leafy vegetables, you can see it's restrictive to the extreme.

That has helped a lot but still left an extreme food sensitive digestive system, and living on a restricted diet with occasional food experiment, which most fail with miserable results. It's still a healthy diet with supplements, but wow, extreme is an understatement. Then came the problems with my Sciatic nerve.

In June-July 2011 I pinched my Sciatic nerve which left my left leg, especially from above the knee to the ankle numb and weak where I couldn't put much weight on it without it collapsing. Nothing hurt, it just didn't work.

Then in June and especially July 2012 I pinched it where I was flat on my back for 4 days and took a month to walk short distances without pain, or sit or stand for more than a few minutes without pain. It took until September where I began walking.

During that time listening to specialists and doing research I discovered the only real treatment they recommend and that works for mild-to-moderate pinched nerve is walking. Something you can do as much and often as you can without any help.

You don't need drugs, specialists, or even a gym or trainer. Just get out and walk. And in the last year I've gone from walking 2.5 miles 3 days a week to 8 miles 4-5 days a week. I still can't carry more than 15 lbs without pain, carry big things (eg. laundry basket) without mild pain, or work bending over for more than a few minutes.

I'm progressing and that's the point, get my health and fitness back to something resembling normal, except I'm now 7 years older and the personal project which we (physician and I) discovered was part of the digestive problems (excerbating symptoms) has been on hold for nearly two years now.

I don't know when I'll get back to it, I hope to someday before I die, but it's one of those things you just don't know. Only time will tell and it's completely in my hands to accomplish and why I'm working on my health and fitness and getting out of debt.

It's frustrating to have lost the years not working on the project and find myself back to square one, only smarter but not better, but it beats the alternative of having it trash my life, my health and my fitness in the process.

The goal this coming years is to continue the walking, but trade some days (now 16-20 days per month) for running and add back weight training I dropped a few years ago. The running will take work as I have reoccurring shin splints and the legs still aren't 100%  with balance and numbness problems.

But it's a goal, and sometimes you can only keep trying and hope the opportunity isn't lost.