I’m going to start this blogging adventure with some dry posts about my health. It’s important to me to start there because it lays the foundation for why I eat primal, and how it’s helped me. I have two conditions: interstitial cystitis and diabetes insipidus. The interstitial cystitis was diagnosed in 2004, although I’ve probably had it my entire life. The diabetes insipidus was diagnosed in 2009, and seemingly came out of nowhere, with no known cause. So what do these conditions mean??
According to the Mayo Clinic “Interstitial cystitis (in-tur-STISH-ul sis-TI-tis) is a chronic condition characterized by a combination of uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pain in your pelvis, which can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe pain.”
My case is more severe than that. Basically, the pressure and pain is caused by a lack of elasticity in your bladder lining. As a normal bladder starts to fill, it stretches to make room. Mine doesn’t. Mine, tears. So, it hurts. A lot. In addition, the foods or drinks that I consume, affect the acidity of my urine, and that affects the level of pain. For example, if I drink a refreshing glass of lemonade, that acid from the lemons gets into those little tears along my bladder walls. The pain from that is similar to when you get salt into an open cut on your finger, and it also causes muscle spasms in and around the bladder. It’s not fun, and usually I end up back in bed with pain medication and a heating pad until things calm down again. For the most part, I’ve learned which foods and drinks to avoid to minimize that aspect, but some days, my bladder just has what we call a flare anyway, and there’s not much I can do about it. This condition also means that my bladder doesn’t hold as much as other people’s do. So, I pee a lot more than your average Joe. All day, and all night. This part, I just deal with. I can spot a public restroom a mile away. I can tell you which gas stations tend to have the cleanest restrooms (Shell and Chevron), which mall stores or restaurants tend to have dirty restrooms (JC Penny and Chilis) and on a road trip, I will always make sure you get to stretch your legs plenty. 🙂 It’s just my reality. I accept it, and do the best I can to reduce the negative impact that it has on my life.
I know what you’re thinking….I know what diabetes is. This isn’t your typical diabetes though. According to the Mayo Clinic “Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone.” Basically, my pituitary gland doesn’t produce the hormone that helps my body regulate water absorption, so instead of my body processing the fluids I drink, they just get flushed out. I imagine that would suck on it’s own, but paired with my bladder, it’s not a good time at all. It also means that I tend to be dehydrated more often than not.
So…how do they treat that stuff?
Drugs. Lots of lots of drugs. I used to be on 17 pills a day, with no sign of ever getting off the medications. My day literally revolved around taking medications. (Which ones can be taken with food, which ones have to be taken on an empty stomach, which ones need to be taken X minutes before I eat….) It was exhausting. I’ve also had lots of physical therapy for the pain from the interstitial cystitis, and to re-train all of the muscles in my core to work properly. I’ve had surgeries where they try to manually stretch the bladder out for me while I’m asleep, numbing medications injected directly into my bladder, and botox injections to deaden the nerves in my bladder to reduce the pain. My doctors have always said that I have one of the worst cases of IC that they have ever seen, and that was before the complications caused by the DI.
A few years ago, one of my husband’s friends introduced him to Paleo. At first, we both scoffed at the idea. “I can’t live without bread,” I said. I thought that if I gave up grains, dairy, sugar, and beans I would starve. We kept our minds open, though, and after my husband started to read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, we decided that there might be something to this lifestyle. We had always thought that we ate healthy: low fat foods, lots of whole grains, and lean meats. However, I realized that I was eating grains (and lots of them) at every single meal. Cereal for breakfast, some sort of pasta, soup, or sandwhich at lunch, and dinner always involved pasta or rice of some kind. So, we made the choice to start replacing some of those of grains with more vegetables. “Eating more vegetables will be good for us anyway,” I thought. Little did I know just how good. I’m not going to sit here and say that Paleo cured me, because it didn’t. It did, however, give me my life back. I am off all of my medications, I haven’t had surgery in years, I have more energy, and the number of days where I am bed-ridden due to pain has been drastically reduced. I’ve also lost weight, and had a baby, which we had thought wasn’t going to happen for us, because of my health. So, as it turns out, I can live without bread, and it’s better.