In past posts I’ve mentioned that I have been fighting with a systemic candida infection. In September of 2014 I put myself on an extremely low carb diet and I stayed on it for a solid year. Well, I got off for a week at Thanksgiving cuz I thought I was healed, and then of course there were those days where you’re just a mess and you have to choose between eating what’s not on the diet, or not eating at all, but generally I was pretty strict. When a year later I was still having symptoms every time I let off the diet I knew I needed help. Continue reading “On Being Healthy”
Taking a momentary break from my self reflection and mourning, I would like to talk about where I am going next. I have a few goals:
- I will write a book. The theme of the book is the mythology of economics, in other words, it is the explanation and analysis of the Story that economics weaves for us about who we are and the world we live in. It is a critical work which will not only tear apart the foundation of a pseudo-science that has long ago outlived its use for society, but will also prescribe a solution to the problems it has caused for us. It is a happy book full of hope and promise for a better future, something economics has not been able to promise us since I was a little girl.
- I will consult as a freelancer. I have held back from this because I don’t know how to get started. Well, just yesterday I read a page on a woman’s blog where she offers writing services. Just like that. “If you want writing services, please contact me. My fee will vary based on the type of writing and projected time to completion.” So, if she can do it, I can do it. So I will. Just like that.
- I will return my legs to 100% of their ability for Sunday practice. I have been suffering and struggling with over training for nearly a month now. When I look at the rides I have been doing over the past four months, it is no surprise. While I am still reeling from a major bike related loss, I think I have enough stability that I can stop using cycling to medicate my anxiety, depression, and loneliness and start shaping my miles into something that will make me stronger. It is no longer enough for me to just ride, I need to ride with purpose. My coach said he will make me a training plan as I grow as a rider, but that I should prioritize both recovery and my Sunday practices above all other riding activities.
Goal number three is the most well formed, present, and exciting for me right now. It is also going to be very difficult. I am still struggling with my candida infection which means that fueling for my training rides is always a monumental task. Currently I am focusing on fat based fuel sources and just making sure that I have enough of them available on a daily basis to satisfy my caloric needs. When that becomes more stable I will shift towards incorporating the fats into more balanced meals, as opposed to just eating handfuls of sesame seeds as I am doing now. I am pretty confident I have enough protein, so right now the calories are the most critical.
The second part of my plan to accomplish goal number three is adequate rest. I ride compulsively, like alcoholics drink, and I know that. I am currently considering a 1-ride plan. That is, I am allowed one ride per week that has no purpose whatsoever except that I want to be on the bike. I can spend it commuting to work or riding with Mieko or some other friend (assuming I find one), but I only get one. Other miles are either easy recovery spins or tits-out leg burns. No pointless miles.
I hope to accomplish goal three in two weeks, but it’s ok if it takes me three. No matter what, though, I want to see what 100% of my ability looks like come August. I need this in order to know how to plan the rest of my year. I only have 10 months before race season starts!
I’m tired lately for so many reasons.
My sweet little girl-weasel has been fighting illness for a solid month now. At first she stopped eating and then ran an extremely high fever for half a week. Her weight dropped precipitously and she started coughing in the night, making a sound like screaming in pain. Three courses of antibiotics and three mysteriously, and suddenly, swollen and useless feet later and we are finally beginning to understand her condition: congestive heart failure. I’ve been feeding her the majority of her meals for a month now, alarms set on my watch to go off throughout the day so I don’t forget, and taking her to the vet twice a week for the whole length of her illness. I feel like a single parent without a road map: I don’t sleep at night because every sound she makes wakes me, I don’t eat properly because my focus is on her, I never leave my house to socialize because I have such a tiny, wonderful thing in my care.
I keep myself entertained by cooking and rewatching the same 7 films I have downloaded onto my hard drive. Lately they all make me cry. I think my feelings are getting stopped up inside me and the movies pull the plug on the pressure valve and they all come gushing out. I don’t even know why there is so much cry inside me. One guess is that this is years of suppressed emotion, years of self imposed “strength” finally being stripped away and detoxified from my heart, like that cough that lingers long after the cold has passed. I’m trying not to fight it, though the reflex is to choke the tears back every time they well up. It’s natural, is it not?
I find that my emotions tend to come in waves. I’ll get a wave of happy and a wave of sad. Sometimes they’ll overlap each other and I’ll get blubbery looking up at the night sky on the way home. Lately I seem to have tapped into a well of past anger. I’m sure it’s just a massive time lag as the experience when I remember the episode is every bit as bitter as I knew it should have been back when I was busy being rational and cool headed and completely missing my life as it was happening to me. Everything that upsets me now comes out as bitter hatred, whether it’s for the constant construction that I can’t seem to escape no matter how far away I move, or the memory of past lovers’ disregard for my feelings or needs. The other day I nearly lost it because my most recent partner wants to consult my past partner, a man-child who is in our social circle, about being involved with me. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the two of them talk about, but somehow it made me feel like a commodity being rented out and before I knew it I was spitting rage at the very idea.
Most likely, I am just tired. Everything I do these days feels like a struggle and when I get myself on top of one task, I find I’ve let another fall apart. My stomach is upset, so I go back to my candida diet only to find that my body can’t produce enough heat to keep me warm in the evenings and I end up burning up all my oil to bring the house to a tolerable temperature. Next thing I know I can’t make it to the grocery store because I have to buy more oil and I have to decide if I want to be full and cold or warm and hungry. In the background, my little girl is waiting for me, depending on me, and there is no one to help me out but me. Living alone — not having a family — it’s difficult. It’s not the way humans were built. I often wish society would get it’s shit together and realize that it’s collectively killing itself, but it’s a long way down before we hit rock bottom. It’s long, and it’s lonely and it’s incredibly tiresome.
I’m very tired these days.
I diagnosed myself with an overgrowth of Candida albicans in September of 2014. I had been fighting with an array of mismatched and otherwise inexplicable symptoms, including adult “non” acne, bipolar like depression, soft stools, and chronic vaginal yeast infections. In addition I required as much as ten hours of sleep on a regular night, and sometimes up to fourteen if I had had a particularly rough day. I had seen doctors for each of these issues separately and was frustrated by how often they would come back saying there was nothing wrong with me. If I don’t have acne, what are all these red bumps all over my face?!?
Luckily I’m both stubborn and inherently suspicious of the scientific community. So eventually I landed on candida as a potential explanation for my difficulties. I started a low carb diet, with zero pasta, bread, rice or potatoes, root vegetables only in emergency situations, maximum of half an apple’s worth of fruit in a day, and always mixed with yogurt or in a smoothie so as not to hit my blood stream full force, zero added sugar, massive quantities of active culture yogurt, natto and a daily clove of raw garlic. I quit mushrooms and even laid off soy sauce — in Japan! — for the first two weeks. The result was a two day stretch of carbohydrate withrawal, a two week stretch of mental carbohydrate withdrawal (where anything starchy looked delicious, but my body did not crave it the same way), followed by a steady improvement of my symptoms. In one month my vaginal candida healed. After two months it didn’t come back. After three months my skin was relatively red-bump free and my bowel movements were on the whole generally regular and solid. In the fourth month I relapsed.
Proponents of fancy or trendy diets can rave all they want about the “ease” of their diet, how “tasty” the allowed foods are, the health benefits, the moral superiority, but the truth is that in the modern world wheat is king and corn is emperor. It’s nearly impossible to take starchy foods out of your diet and still participate in society. I found myself feeling isolated from my friends because I was the one who couldn’t go out to eat anywhere but a family restaurant (think Denny’s) that would serve a la carte. I had to quit beer and almost all other alcohol, too, which meant people always felt awkward when it was time for drinking parties. On top of that, the world is so fast and full that I think any human would find it a challenge to prepare all of their own meals today, but almost any pre made meal or snack today is just saturated with sugar. I found myself spending whole days feeling hungry and light headed because there was just nothing that I could eat. Naturally, after I was confident that I had things under control, I started to reintroduce small quantities of the forbidden carbs into my diet. That’s when things went awry.
It’s hard to know, without writing it all down all the time, how much wheat someone consumes in a day. A sandwich, a cream sauce, a steamed bun — they all have nutrients attached to the wheat part, so it’s hard to think of the wheat as separate from the whole. For example, how much filling needs to be in a sandwich to justify the fact that it’s being put between bread slices? So, I relapsed. I was under a lot of stress between work and my sick weasel, and I didn’t have the time or energy to go out shopping AND cook. The first sign that things were bad was the poo. Then my skin started to break out again. Finally, back came the crotch rot. I was hoping I could just tough it out until the stressors went away, but no go. I had to go back on my diet and I had to do it immediately.
I quit the carbs again four days ago. I cooked with garlic, ate double portions of natto, made my own kefir and chugged it. I’m happy to say that my body is already starting to rebalance itself! The vaginal candida is all but gone (fastest I’ve EVER healed from one of those!) I’ve had a few good poos mixed in with the slushy ones and my skin hasn’t produced any new bumps in a week. It’s frustrating to have to be so strict with myself, but it’s comforting to know that it pays off and that I can be in control of my health. I hope I don’t have to stay on such a strict diet forever, but for the time being I’m just trying to be at peace with the fact that my body had gotten overwhelmed by all the unnatural crap that had been thrown at it since my youth. I’m trying to be kind to my body, and to my spirit, because we are all trying really hard in a very human unfriendly environment.
I’m three weeks in to my candida cleanse diet. The first week was the absolute longest, with the cravings for pasta and other simple carbs so strong that my sides could be bulging from dinner and I would still feel the ache like emptiness in my stomach. Since then I have slowly felt the tug less and less. I’ve never fought with an addiction, so to speak, but I am pretty sure that I had become addicted to carbs.
Since then I have started to get accustomed to this new eating style. I can go to most restaurants now and find something to eat. I thought I would feel frustrated on the days when what I really want to eat is just not available, but in fact I’ve found that my body is easier to satisfy than I expected. If I give it enough vegetables, and I find I prefer them cooked or smoothied, and a satisfying chunk of protein, I tend to be ok pretty independently of what the details are. It’s surprising, even though I know the importance of listening to one’s body, that one’s body can actually be heard as loudly as mine is.
Physically I feel amazing, and light! For months I was bogged down with this bloated and heavy feeling. I thought I was eating healthy, but my weight was up by about three kilograms above the top of my happy range and nothing I did would budge it. I knew I was retaining water, but I would drink until I just couldn’t drink any more water and it still wouldn’t flush out. Climbing or riding I felt this unnatural heaviness in my limbs as though there was more strength in me but I just couldn’t access it. Now that has cleared. At night I don’t get the gas and bloating that was messing with my sex life, just this clean feeling of not being hungry any more.
Emotionally I’m a different person! In the last five days I have suddenly rediscovered my raging insatiable sex drive. I had spent so long fighting yeast infections that I forgot my body craved sex! One evening the feeling came back with a vengeance and left me almost in a cold sweat. Certainly it’s more convenient, as I believe Aristotle pointed out, to not have a sex drive, but to me it’s a sign that my body is alive and healthy and so I’m happy for it. I’ve been sleeping better, too. Most nights I sleep the whole night despite my housemate snoring like a chainsaw and not waking up to his alarm in the morning. My head is clearer during the day and most importantly, that unbearable sense of dread and hopelessness for the future has lifted! I feel as clear now as I did the first week I took antidepressents, only this time I’m not on medication. Moreover, I’m not afraid that this is a passing break in the clouds. I feel like this is me, the way I’m supposed to be, and that my chronic anxiety and inability to focus and get done the basic administrative tasks that lube the life machine were just symptoms of a temporary illness.
Part of me is sad that I don’t have a doctor overseeing my healing. I would like to have some kind of medical test or something to prove that this syndrome of dullness and irritation that is lifting from me truly was the result of a chronic, systemic candida overgrowth. But at the same time I am happy to see that I have the power to return my body to health without the need to be poked and prodded and lectured by someone with a degree who thinks he knows my body better than I do. Medicine is nice, and when it comes to catastrophic injuries and things like that, it’s a good thing to have in one’s social toolbox. However western medicine does not talk to the body and that’s a major source of information on how to heal that gets left out of the picture. It doesn’t heal on a holistic level, just takes away symptoms here and there. So in that sense this is really a good thing.
Since I’ve been tracking my physical and mental condition for three weeks now, I actually know where I am in my cycle! I should be ovulating in the next week, which is when my yeast symptoms have been the strongest in the past. I’m starting to crave carbs again a little more than I did a week ago and part of me wants to say it’s fine to have them now because I’ve been so successful, but I think I’m going to instead interpret this hunger as a sign that the candida is not yet cleared from my system. I would like to observe one complete cycle without candida symptoms before I give myself the green light to allow various sugars back into my diet. It’s unfortunate that it takes so long, but unlike many women who are dieting to “slim down,” I am dieting for health and I have a clear goal and a timeframe, and rigorous documentation of my progress. I am not worried that I won’t succeed!