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Thursday, April 08, 2021

I can See Clearly Now


"I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day." ~ lyrics from Bright Sunshiny Day by Jimmy Cliff


     It has been just over four long years since Les died. The last year of his life was a tough one on us both with my having both knees replaced. I've suffered from depression since I was a small child and throughout most of my life. Les' illness and death dropped me deep into a bottomless trough of grief, and some of the darkest years I've had since childhood. Giving up my life on the boat in the UK and struggling to find work in the U.S. was the final straw for me. I gave up on life. I moved in with my youngest daughter, my daughter-in-law and my foster daughter, and I let go of life, sinking into a depression so debilitating I spent eighteen hours a day in bed most days, and barely slept for four hours out of twenty four. I managed to take care of my end of family chores: cooking, cleaning house, household laundry, menu planning and buying groceries. The rest of the time I lost myself in books or movies or in my own head.
     I've been living in Oregon now for sixteen months. I finally did some research and chose a Primary Care Physician from the insurance coverage I have, after experiencing Posterior Vitreous Detachment of the gel filled sac in my right eye. It turns out that my choices included a Naturopathic Physician who is also a PCP, and specializes in gastro-intestinal diseases (like Crohn's). She is fabulous and I feel so lucky that I don't have to rely on a typical western allopathic doctor as my PCP. Dr. Crisp, being an ND as as well as an MD, is far more thorough in collecting patient history and ordering tests to determine health issues. She ordered an extensive panel of blood tests for me with life changing results.
     One of the tests indicated I have a genetic mutation which means I do not produce enough Amylase to break down carbohydrates. This explains why I have always detested cereal for breakfast and my body needs protein in order to begin my day on a good footing. There are digestive enzymes I can take but since I am heterozygous for this genetic anomaly (meaning I received this from only one of my parents, thus have only one copy of this genetic mutation), I can address the issue by drinking a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in eight ounces of water before my meals. I also have a genetic mutation from my mother's side which means I don't process lactase so I drink Lactose free (LF) milk, and use LF dairy products when necessary.
     The third genetic mutation is called MTHFR and is homozygous for me, meaning I received the same genetic mutation from both of my parents, producing a double whammy. I cannot process Folate which is vitamin B6!
     This has severe repercussions across the sphere of human health, causing birth defects such as neural tube defects in babies such as Spina Bifida and Encephalopathy. (If a pregnant woman takes prenatal vitamins then the baby will absorb the folate even if mom cannot.) Other health issues caused by folate deficiency are extreme fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, pale skin, heart palpitations, tinnitus, mouth ulcers often mistaken for cold sores, pins and needles in hands and feet, disturbed vision, irritability, depression, a decline in one's mental abilities such as judgement, memory, and understanding (dementia), reduced sense of taste, reduced ability to make and repair DNA and produce red blood cells which leads to anemia because one produces too few RBC's to move iron and oxygen throughout the body. Folate insufficiency can cause premature graying of the hair, and growth problems. A final serious issue with folate deficiency is a tendency towards severe depression and Schizophrenia.
     According to Dr. Crisp, statistics indicate that approximately 1.5-15% of the U.S, population have this genetic anomaly. That is 1.4 million to 52 million people! There are also repercussions with at least thirty-four pharmaceutical drugs and the inability to process folate. (capecitabine, carbamazepine, cholestyramine, colestipol, divalproex sodium, eslicarbazepine, ethosuximide, ethotoin, felbamate, fluorouracil, fosphenytoin, lamotrigine, mephenytoin, mephobarbital, methotrexate, methsuximide, oxcarbazepine, pancreatin, pancrelipase, phenobarbital, phensuximide, phenytoin, primidone, pyrimethamine, rufinamide, sulfadiazine, sulfadoxine, sulfamethizole, sulfamethoxazole, sulfasalazine, sulfisoxazole, triamterene, trimethoprim, valproic acid)
     Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug used to treat some cancers and most auto-immune diseases. It is one of the drugs the internist wanted to prescribe for me to "treat" Crohn's disease. Fortunately I refused to take it and opted for non-pharmaceutical treatment. The issue obviously is that 99.9% of western allopathic physicians do not do the blood panel tests like a Naturopathic physician will do. Inevitably this causes a person like myself to display side effects of a drug that is contra-indicated for someone with the MTHFR mutation, Instead of ordering the blood test for this genetic mutation most doctors will prescribe other pharmaceutical drugs to address the side effects, causing a chain reaction of side effects and drug issues that really can and do endanger patients' lives and mental and physical well being.
     Alcohol strips the body of B vitamins so those of us who cannot process folate should avoid alcohol to any degree. This stripping of the B Vitamins by alcohol contributes to some of the severe issues experienced by alcoholics such as brittle hair and nails, mental confusion, memory issues, depression, and DDTs when stopping alcohol intake suddenly.
     Finally one of the side effects I need to watch for is DVT--Deep Vein Thrombosis which can cause a stroke induced by a blood clot. This leads me to wonder about the issues that have arisen with the Astro-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccination. Is it possible the individuals who have suffered from strokes upon receiving this vaccination do so because they are hetero or homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation?
     Dr. Crisp prescribed a methylfolate brand of Vitamin B complex for me. I've been taking it for a week now and it is astonishing to me the difference it has made in my life! I no longer drag around feeling like I've been reincarnated as a limp dish rag. I am no longer completely physically and mentally exhausted. I wake up in the morning and I have energy like I had when I was in my teens and early twenties! It isn't a fizzy, jittery energy like one gets from caffeine or sugar; it is a calm, buoyed, good feeling of energy that is sustained throughout my entire day. At the end of the day when I am tired, I now experience tiredness and not exhaustion. It had been so long since I have felt this way, I had forgotten there was a difference! I thought to myself, " Jaq you are just old now. You've had a very difficult life and the stress of sixty-four years of living, surviving, losing Les, starting life over repeatedly; it has just taken its toll on you and this is just the way life is."
     Additionally I am no longer dragging the abyssal bottom of depression and grief. I no longer feel like life is hopeless and I just want to die and get it over with. I no longer feel as though I am struggling to make it through one more day. I feel calm, serene, and my thoughts are no longer foggy. Before I started taking the methylfolated B vitamins, I had real trouble following other people's thoughts to a conclusion. Everything seemed hazy and confusing and my memory was full of holes and yet my mind raced to try and absorb information throughout every sleepless night. For four years I have suffered from Anhedonia--the inability to find pleasure in anything. That is gone now and I find myself actually smiling for no reason except I feel like a completely different person.
     I have other non-pharmaceutical prescriptions from Dr Crisp. I start one at a time for two weeks before adding another one, so I can judge for myself what, if any effects I may be experiencing. I just added 5-HTP which she prescribed to help me sleep. This is actually a hormone which boosts Serotonin levels, helping one sleep better by converting the Serotonin to Melatonin. It aids in weight loss by making one feel fuller, and inhibits the production of calories produced by carbs which improves blood sugar control. 5-HTP improves the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, and migraine headaches. I've been taking this for three days now and I have slept six hours a night and awakened feeling rested for the first time in nearly eight years.
     I am fortunate that my health insurance coverage also covers Chiropractic care and Acupuncture. I'd never had Acupuncture before but I decided to give it a try. This is a treatment which involves unblocking energy nodes or points and allowing energy of Chi to move freely. Witches work primarily with energy--their own, that of nature and the earth, and other beings. I've worked with energy for over thirty years so I was anxious to begin this therapy. I've had three treatments over a month and it is extremely interesting; very subtle--at least for me. My Acupuncturist is working on physical and emotional health points. Some people cry, experience very vivid emotions, and memories well up when emotional points are triggered.
     The first treatment was on physical points only. It didn't hurt at all to have the needles inserted. At the end of the session I sat up and thought, "Well I don't really feel any different." I almost didn't book a return appointment. About halfway home I suddenly felt a bit light headed and realized I felt as though my spirit had slipped sideways maybe, but it wasn't tethered in to my physical body as deeply as before I had the session. I drove home slowly, drank a lot water, and took a nap. When I woke I felt good, and I could feel my energy zipping up and down my spine. The second treatment began on emotional node points. I left feeling good and realized later that afternoon I felt as though a literal ton of weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have five more treatments approved so I am looking forward to each of them. Between the Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and supplements I no longer have any physical pain in my body due to arthritis or anything else! It is such a blessing to move without chronic pain.
     I am grateful to my daughter Shiery (Sparky), my daughter-in-law Kelli, and my foster daughter Mary, for their kindness, encouragement, love and acceptance of me in the awful state I was in when I came to them. I thank them for making room for me in their family and helping me find my place within it. I hope soon, to be able to take up writing again and perhaps painting, which I have not done for over thirty years.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs