Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘gluten-free’

Why we self-diagnose

This topic is a sensitive one. I don’t mean in any way that doctors don’t know what they’re doing, nor that they don’t server a valuable purpose in society. I need to clarify up front that I am not a doctor, not do I purport to be. I don’t even have the answers for me and my family, so I certainly don’t have the answers for anyone else. What I do have, however, is an enquiring mind, many books, the internet, and a wealth of health-related motivations to figure out what makes us tic.

So, with our slew of ailments, why don’t we spend more time in the doctor’s office? The answer boils down to two simple reasons. First of all, in the absence of a medical aid plan, we’re better supported by excellent nutritional supplements and being careful. This means we avoid smokers, stay away from sick people wherever possible, don’t eat things that make us sick, and don’t engage in dangerous activities. Dull? Perhaps. Safe? Pretty much.

Secondly, I was brought up to distrust doctors. My brother has Cystic Fibrosis, and Papa Bear, Goldilocks and I are all carriers. From an early age we were taught that an expectorant cough syrup would kill our sibling, and a doctor who prescribed this was a quack. We were introduced to the possibility that doctors could be quacks, and encountered proof along the way. This proof included my gluten allergy being misdiagnosed as anorexia (a diagnostic process that wiped out our medical aid and in fact led to an eating disorder, but that’s a subject for another post). My mom’s giant ovarian cyst was labelled hypocondria and my sister’s projectile vomiting was put down to teething. (In fact it was a serious lactose allergy). Goldilocks’ Tourette’s Syndrome was misdiagnosed ADD, and the ADD treatment made Tourette’s worse!

Not having much to spend on medical “professionals”, we prefer to be informed before parting with our cash, making sure we get the best chances for a successful diagnosis in each case.

Without our pick of hundreds of medical professionals attending to our various ailments, I almost invariably turn to my good  friend Google. Now, I’ve been researching my and my family’s health for over twenty years. I know what is relevant to us and what is not. I enter the symptoms and see which causes match our circumstances. Then I choose the easiest, cheapest, safest-sounding solution, and give it a go. If it works, I know I was right. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.

This is a frustrating, slow and time-consuming process. Given the rate at which I charge clients for my time, I don’t know if it’s much more affordable than going to see a doctor. Sometimes, when I feel as though I’ve drained every relevant drop of information from the depths of Google, yet I find myself no closer to a solution, the sense of despair is almost overwhelming. I want to give up, and hand over the reins to someone older and wiser, telling me what to do.

However, I have had more success looking things up than I have being hustled through crowded, germ-infested waiting rooms. I also know my and my family’s bodies much better than I would if we relied on someone else to tell us how we work. I have the satisfaction of not having spent hundreds of rands’ worth of grocery money on medications with as many side effects as, if not more than, the conditions they supposedly relieve. And to tell the truth, I haven’t been able to find a single doctor here who believes in the remotest connection between diet and disease. When I’ve explained our family’s success in living gluten free, I’ve been met with cynical patronising grimaces – without fail. How can I trust my family’s health to that?

At the end of the day, the reason we don’t go to doctors unless we’re beating at death’s door, is because there’d be no point. And so we muddle along, trying to figure things out as we go. Have you had success with your medical practitioner?

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Confessions of a self-loathing couch potato

lazy couch potato

lazy couch potato

Alright, I admit, self-loathing is a little strong. Let’s rather call it mildly dissatisfied and slightly guilt-ridden. That’s more like it.

Here’s the story:
When I was little, I was a bean pole. Straight up and down, I never battled to lose weight. (Of course, I was a child. Weight loss was far from my mind, just as it should be at that age – and now, but that’s a post for anther day). At some point in high school things started to change and even though I was far from fat when I got married, it wasn’t long before I fixed that. By the time I had Goldilocks I was a buxom 92kg! And let’s face it, no new born can be held responsible for ALL 38kg of her mother’s excess weight.

I lost the weight quickly after Goldilocks was born through the simple use of a lifestyle trick: cutting out gluten, lactose and sugar. (It turns out casein is the culprit rather than lactose, but again that story is not part of this one). When Red Riding Hood made her appearance, I’d hardly gained 10kg, and I lost it all pretty quickly.

Since then my weight has hovered around a mark roughly 5-10kg above my goal weight. It’s hardly been affected by how much I’ve eaten, and no amount of exercise seemed to change anything on the scale or my proportions. In fact, I was completely resigned to be a pear-shaped blimp with gradually expanding thighs and derrière. My favourite “chill protocol” was lying in front of the TV on the couch with a bag of potato or corn crisps (no wheat, please!), watching a movie with my man.

I really didn’t see the point of exercise since:

a – I always got sick as soon as I started a work out programme.

b – I was always far too tired to move a muscle.

c – No change occurred to my weight or shape.

d – I was close enough to my goal weight to be “comfortable”.

One day, quite by accident and without looking for anything on the topic at all, I stumbled across the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I was intrigued and after lots of research, I decided to give it a go.

Almost at once, I was hooked. I was amazed at how my body changed shape. My skin started to clear up. My breathing and concentration improved. My tics diminished and, for the first time in my entire life, I had a flat stomach. (Not permanently, but I’ve never had a flat stomach at all, so I’ll take temporary flatness, thank you very much). I shed the 4kg I had to go at that time to reach my goal weight, and since then my body keeps changing (slimmer and slimmer thighs and behind) while my weight stays stable. My girls and I started having regular bowel movements, which I’m sorry to share, but seriously, if you only go every 8-10 days and then you start going every day, it makes a significant impact on your quality of life!

An unexpected side effect was energy. I was feeling drained at first on the intro diet, and my sister suggested I start doing Pilates. I did, and the next thing I knew I’d started training for a half marathon. I started doing Body for Life in my “spare time”, while I was making supper, running a bath, watching TV – that kind of thing.

I’m now seriously considering investing in Running Shoes (note the caps), and I can no longer sleep in at all. If I do (like I did today, only getting up at 6am), I am less productive and aching to strap on my trainers and hit the tarmac. I’m addicted! I feel great and I want to keep moving all the time.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m scared to stop. I remember my old ways, my lethargy and exhaustion. My low-grade depression and lack of motivation. I don’t want to go back. I’m so worried about turning back into that person that I’ll sometimes run, do Pilates AND train weights in one day, just to stay focused and energised. When I was sick a little while back as a result of a mould allergy, it took a force of will not to go for a jog and make things worse.

So, here’s my confession:

Hi. I’m Mama Bear, and I’m an addict. I love running (and weight training, and Pilates) – and I never want to stop! My couch is a den of vice and iniquity and I fear to touch it lest I become reinfected with sloth!

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