Monday, February 22, 2010

Colds and Flus

This is a little unusual, for the past two days I've had a sore throat. No other symptoms really, my chest hurts a little, a cough sometimes, and I had a headache all day Saturday, but really otherwise I feel like I always do. So I'm not sure if this is a cold or what. I'd say it was strep throat but I don't think you can get that after the age of ten. When I was a kid I would get strep at least twice a year, I remember it well, my gag reflex was so sensitive so I fought really hard and they used to have to tie me to the table to get a throat culture. In middle school and high school I continued to get sore throats but they stopped being strep, so I stopped getting cultured.

I'd also like to note that this sore throat started before I started the Alinia, I started that Sunday. Not that sore throat is one of it's side effects. I've also been excessively thirsty, but that usually happens when I'm getting sick. I don't think it's the Alinia...

I've been gargling chlorophyll and drinking lots of Throat Comfort tea. I was so happy when I discovered this tea when I was 18 and ever since then I've always had it in my cupboard for when the next sore throat hit, and they were always coming. But when my CFS started getting worse around 2006 I stopped getting colds and was finally free from sore throat cycles. I still always kept the tea around though. I didn't want to be without it if a sore throat hit.

It went on like that until April 2009 when Swine Flu was sweeping the nation and I woke up with my first sore throat in years. I was in New York, seeing Dr. Enlander for a check-up after I'd finished my eight months of weekly hepapressin injections. When I first saw Dr. Enlander he asked if I ever got colds, and I said no not lately, but I used to all the time. He said he found that with his patients. They never got colds, presumably due to overactive immune systems. That sore throat turned into my first flu since I was a kid. I never tested for it or anything, but because of the timing I've always just assumed it was swine.

Dr. Cheney also asked if I got colds and I said never, "except once I got the flu right after seeing Dr. Enlander." He said that could have been a good sign, that the hepapressin actually might have done something for my immune system. I hadn't considered that before. He also said he found that CFS patients weren't likely to get the swine flu, but if they do, it's bad. I don't remember exactly how he put it, but it left me with the impression that if you got it you'd be in the hospital fighting for your life. So when I got the flu again a few months later, I was a little scared.

I called his office and talked to his assistant, who seemed surprised I had it. Dr. Cheney said to stop the cell-signalling factors, double up on the klonopin and take lots of Inosine, which I did. I also did lots of naturopathic stuff like drinking garlic and oregano oil. My naturopathic doctor told me that to sweat out the fever overnight I should rub a homemade garlic/coconut oil concoction on my feet and drink oat straw tea before going to bed. I don't know if that's what did it but when I woke up my 102 fever was back to normal.

This sore throat isn't like the ones I get when I'm sick though. It feels more scratchy than sore, like I've been screaming in my sleep all night long. Not that it isn't sore too, and that it isn't constantly annoying. The tea isn't helping as much this time as it usually does. I hope it goes away by tomorrow and doesn't turn into something worse. Especially since today is my birthday.

This is going to be my first birthday without a cake. Last year I had one from Real Food Daily made with barley flour and maple syrup. In the weeks leading up to today I didn't want to plan any special food at all for my birthday since I was so nauseous all the time and so careful about avoiding all kinds of sugar. In fact I didn't want any special anything. I wanted to sit on the couch all day reading, but that isn't at all what happened and I've actually had a pretty eventful birthday weekend thanks to my friends and family. I probably pushed myself a little too hard. Not today though. Today I'm taking it very easy.

However, I'm excited to report that I've gone almost a week now without any painful nausea. The days before that weren't so bad either. Someone gave me some Chinese "Curing Pills". They say they're for good digestion. I'd take them after a meal as soon as I began to feel nauseous and the nausea would get a lot smaller. On Monday I showed them to my acupuncturist and she looked at the ingredients, some familiar like potchouli and angelica root, and some for which there are no english words, and declared that these weren't for digestion, they were just for the spleen. (Which made me wonder, just how bad then is my spleen? Mono hits the spleen, doesn't it? So it would make sense for me to have a lousy spleen.)

She made me some liquid medicinal herbal drinks. Two a day, to take after meals. They worked like the curing pills only better. I'd eat, feel nauseous, drink the medicine, and feel relief. By the third day (the last day, she only gave me six pouches) I didn't even feel like I needed to drink them. I was really worried about Thursday, because my appointment was Friday and it was a gap day with no medicine, but my digestion was ok on Thursday. It's been ok all weekend, even after she cancelled my Friday appointment for a family emergency.

I'm still careful about what I eat though. I got sick of blended raw avocado soups, so I've been eating more blended cooked soups. I'm still eating rice porridge every day. I love how easy it is to make in the rice cooker, I just made it today for the third time this week. I usually have it for breakfast, sometimes just plain cold mush, sometimes I add a little hot water to it so it's more like oatmeal. Once I added a little liquid stevia so it really felt like I was having a treat. (Stevia is a sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant that are naturally sweet. It comes in powder and liquid form, has no calories, and I've not yet heard anything bad about it.)

Other foods I've tried eating in small quantities: tofu (no tempeh yet, tofu is easier to digest) quinoa, roasted beets, and home made vegan ice cream.

Jim got me an electric ice cream churner for Valentine's day and I've already used it three times. We made mint chocolate chip ice cream using the recipe from the Pure Food and Wine cookbook: young coconut meat, soaked cashews, raw cacao nibs, coconut oil and vanilla and peppermint extract. The recipe calls for agave but since it is 90% fructose and Dr. Cheney said fructose was bad for CFS we used two teaspoons of raw powdered stevia instead. It gave it a nice green color and I thought it tasted exactly like it does at the restaurant. I thought that only I would like it, since my tastes are all off balance from starvation and lack of sugar, but my parents and sister (in town for my birthday) all liked it too.

It's too bad you can't buy ice cream sweetened with Stevia or I wouldn't have to be making my own all the time. There is some law that says stevia can only be sold as a dietary supplement, not as a food. I think I read in Skinny Bitch that the sugar industry is trying to keep it out of the country or something. So since you can't buy stevia sweetened ice cream, and since my ice cream making is going so well, I am thinking of opening a Scoop Easy. Stay tuned for a menu and a password...

Today I made vanilla ice cream using the recipe from the Cafe Gratitude cookbook. I didn't particularly like their vanilla ice cream, it's very nutty tasting, but it's the main ingredient in their chocolate shake, which may be the best food I've ever eaten. Before I gave up dairy (and a few times after) chocolate milkshakes were always my go-to comfort food. I've tried a lot of vegan chocolate milkshakes and none of them even come close to the "I Am Eternally Sweet" chocolate milkshake at Cafe Gratitude. (You have to say it like that when you order) I've only gotten up there for shakes three times in the last three years and tonight will be the first time I attempt to make it myself. I already made the ice cream using stevia instead of agave...and it still tastes exactly like I remember it from the restaurant.

The only thing I'm worried about is the shake recipe, in addition to ice cream, almond milk and cacao powder, it calls for the shocking addition of two dates. Two dates! Such hedonism! There was a time when I thought dried fruit was a healthy sugar substitute but after my dried mango addiction of 2007 I've been steering clear. So I don't know what to do about this date situation . I want the milkshake to taste exactly like it does at the restaurant....but...two dates? Right now I am considering using just one. One date. It is my birthday...

Actually, come to think of it, chocolate milkshakes also used to be my go-to relief for sore throats. Preferably from Bob's Big Boy. They'd numb my throat for the same amount of time it took to drink them, and I thought that was all the relief I could ask for.

I'm already gaining back a little weight too. If you've never experienced excitement at gaining weight, let me tell you it can be just as rewarding as the excitement you feel from losing it. Creeping towards 100 from either direction is equally thrilling to me now.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Alison! I never thanked you for your comment over at "Other Dumb Questions." It seems like we're coming from very similar places. It definitely still upsets me when people write me off for illness-related reasons or because I'm not as far in life as I "should" be, but some of that now is the fact that it surprises me. I've been careful about surrounding myself with people who understand and don't judge others based solely on their accomplishments, so I sometimes forget how asshole-ish the one I weeded out before are. It happens, though, and you're right-- I don't want to be them either!

    This was a really interesting post to me. It sounds like you've really explored the alternative therapies, and that's something I've only dabbled in. I'm honestly not completely sure what the spleen even does, though I've heard mention of it hurting in conditions like ours as well. Where did you find these Chinese "curing" pills? I take probiotics, but they're more preventative for nausea than something you take to calm it down... I'd love to find something that helps with the immediate problem when it crops up!

    I hope your sore throat's gotten better since this post. I get sore throats quite often-- they're part of my flare-ups-- so I keep a stash of Ricolas in my bedside table and a stash of soothing tea in the kitchen. I used to get colds all the time; now, they're not gone, but they're different. They never go full-fledge; instead, they just linger on for weeks and months. It's sometimes hard to differentiate between flares and a regular cold.

    Finally (gosh this comment is a novel!), congrats on gaining the weight! I've never gotten below 100 (I'm 5'9"), but when I was sickest I was below 120 because I just couldn't hold anything down AND I was living on my own and was sometimes too weak to get myself food. That last part's a little pathetic, I know. Anyway, it didn't take me long to gain it back, but it was definitely a relief... my body felt a lot healthier and stronger once I had the tools to make it keep food in my system. Funny how that works, right? Haha.

    Anyway, happy late birthday, and thanks for being my bloggy-friend!