A New Page

There is a new page under the Sorcerer’s Cauldron: Food – the Theory.  I’ve decided on the best course of action for a diet.  In short, the focus needs to be on 1-ingredient foods…  With this, I’ll start working on eating differently and stop reading about diet and food, get into something a bit more interesting.  Take a peek, suggestions are more than welcome.  And if anyone knows how to make granola, a good, easy, sugar-free recipe would be appreciated.  I think looking at thyroid levels and the impact on the brain would be an interesting direction to go, see if I can get deeper than I got before.

Eating Accident #1

It won’t earn me a Nobel prize in science, but I can definitively state that an oatmeal raisin cookie and pierogi diet is not optimal for people with fibromyalgia.  You heard it here first. I’m miserable.  Everything is sore, the white-noise pain is way up, shoulders and back really sore, hands stiff, pretty bad tummy and digestive tract.  I suspect anyone else who did a cookie-pierogi crash diet would be having similar difficulties.  Still, in the name of science, I looked at the ingredients of both to see if anything pops out as a ringleader for distress.

Pierogi… These aren’t so bad ingredient-wise.  Water is the first on the list.  There is, however, an incredible amount of salt in them, which could account for the swelling in my eyes and joints this morning.  Not too bad for sugar at all, not too great on nutrition, but nummy.  There are mono and diglycerides, sodium acid pyrophosphate, disodium phosphate, and yeast extract in the potato flakes and dehydrated cheddar cheese.  Not the unprocessed, “pure” food I’m supposed to be aiming for.  Still, I suspect these aren’t the real problem with today (aside from the salt content).

Oatmeal raisin cookies.  Craisin, actually – dried cranberries rather than raisins.  A source of antioxidants, right?  Okay, no rationalization.  The first ingredient on the label is sugar.  No significant source of vitamins. “Invert sugar” is listed before butter – what’s “invert sugar” and does it cancel out regular sugar?  Leavenings is one of the ingredients listed as less than 2%, but the ingredients… sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, acid phosphate of calcium.   Top that off with mono and diglycerides.

Mono and diglycerides are emulsifiers.  So when you want to mix oil and water, you need them to keep the oil and water from separating again.  It looks like there’s a bit of buzz on the internet about how bad these products are, one person even going so far as titling her blog “Stop Killing My Kids,” but the main issue is really about transfats, which these can contain.  Asking food manufacturers to stop using emulsifiers is pretty silly.  If people want food manufacturers to stop killing their kids, they need to start cooking for their kids instead of plunking processed food in front of them, probably while they play on their iPads during dinner.  Never mind.  I’m off subject.

The real culprit, plain and simple, is sugar.  I ate a HUGE amount of sugar yesterday.  I can go off topic all I want, but that’s it right there.  These were actually not horrible things to eat.  I ate too many and irresponsibly.  It was nummy and kind of fun in a rebellious sort of way, and I’m paying for it today.  That’s the way it is.  My fault – I accept the responsibility, the pain, the brain fog, grogginess, and general physical malaise.  I’m stocked up on good things to eat this weekend and will get better.

The Problem of Food

I admit it.  I messed up.  There was an oatmeal raisin cookie accident and a cheddar cheese pierogi disaster today.  On top of accidental eating, I’m having a terrible time keeping track of food.  I haven’t even started really putting together a diet that I’m supposed to follow.  It’s just kind of tedious to say I ate this at about this time, much less how much I ate of that food, what the calorie intake was, the fat content, the artificial ingredients, the vitamin value, yada yada yada.  I prefer just to think of food as satisfactory or nummy.  Or of course yucky.  And then there’s the whole actual food preparation, spending the time cooking and cleaning.  Add to that the cost of decent food…  Arg.

So I have to buckle down and think rationally about food, put aside the tediousness and embrace the possibilities of eating differently and being mindful of what I eat.  I know the direction I have to go.  I still have to get into the specifics and look at balance, but in short:

  1. Reduce meat intake.  I’m going to keep eating eggs.  Protein has a balancing influence if I’m feeling shaky or a little nauseous for whatever reason (usually eating something bad).
  2. Increase granola-type snacks.  The trick is to stay away from peanuts and to make the granola as “pure” as possible.  No preservatives, artificial flavors, no added sugar.
  3. No more Cliff bars.  They’ve been giving me a tummy ache in the afternoon.  I need to come up with something else easy for lunch/snack time at work.  Coconut/almond Kind bars have been okay, but they’re pretty expensive.
  4. Increase vegetables, including plant proteins, fresh and frozen.  Will work on different stir fries.  Iceberg lettuce gives me a belly ache, and I don’t care for salads all the time.  Again, dishes have to be as “pure” as possible – fresh or frozen.  There are some very good frozen vegetable mixes that you can either microwave or stir fry.
  5. No chocolate.  Yogurt for dessert.  No oatmeal raisin cookies.

I’m struggling with looking at this and just being a little bored.  I will most definitely still indulge in spaghetti when I need a little comfort food.  I will go out to eat when I want.  And I will indulge in a very occasional Talenti gelato.  It’s just reality.  Every now and then after one of THOSE days, you just gotta do it.

Again, if I can balance some of the bizarre chemical imbalances that come with fibromyalgia, maybe there will be a reduction in symptoms.  A reduction in symptoms would allow more activity. More activity would reduce symptoms.  Can I put myself into a positive cycle and break the vicious cycle that fibro is?  We’ll see.  I’ll give it a try.

mSync (not the Boyband)

During the hearing conference the other day, in between squealing hearing aids and Wanda’s instructions on how to adjust her volume, Dr. Lim talked not just of Robocop solutions to tinnitus. He also talked about Multimodal Synchronization Therapy (mSync).  It’s not a boyband.

Obviously Robocop-type brain therapies are invasive.  Maximally invasive, because they’re leaving bits and pieces in your brain that will talk with other bits and pieces outside of your skull.  The reason they are looking at doing this is so they can effectively target very, very specific parts of the brain – targeted therapy for targeted problems.  mSync is a method that theoretically will target and modulate those very specific parts of the brain without being invasive – no bits inserted and none left behind.

Very simplistically, mSync stimulates multiple pathways, essentially all the different senses – hearing, taste, smell, touch, sight, as well as motor, cognitive, and limbic pathways (which is the system in your brain that helps to regulate mood and instincts) – in a very specific way to stimulate one specific part of the brain (like all roads leading to Paris) which will relieve tinnitus. Right now, the guinea pig (literally – they’re up to guinea pig experimentation) has undergone a combination of auditory and somatosensory pathways (hearing and touch), which seems to have worked out pretty well for the guinea pig.

And what does this have to do with fibromyalgia?  First of all, the limbic system is one of the systems that are a bit out of whack for fibro patients.  Secondly, if they can come up with a non-invasive way to treat something like tinnitus, which is a condition that results from the brain forgetting how to communicate with itself, it seems like that would be a good indication that similar treatment could work for fibromyalgia, which is very much a similar condition – our brains overcommunicate, kind of like the boy who cried wolf.  “Pain!” he shouted, and all the neurons fired up the torches.  “Oh no, just kidding,” he said, but alas it was too late.

During the lecture, Dr. Lim mentioned treatment for pain several times, but it is not at the center of their research at this time.  Just want to say – keep going, Dr. Lim – I’ll be watching.

And Hello Kenya and Canada!

I feel so cosmopolitan!  Kenya and Canada have popped up on my map of where people have viewed this site.  Hello world!  I would love to go to Kenya one day, just in case you’re looking for a house guest.  Canada – I’ve been there but must go to Quebec and Toronto. Never been there… Again, if you need a visitor, I’m happy to help :o)

Hello Ireland!

Can you believe it?  Someone in Ireland found this silly website!  No, I don’t believe it either, but Hello Ireland!  You have a beautiful island over there – truly emerald.  I spent too short of a time over there about a decade ago, but I’ll be back….

Blast from the Past

Back in the 1940s and 1950s there seemed to be more of a focus on the treatment of fibrositis (as fibromyalgia was known until someone objected to the implication of inflammation in the name) rather than on characterizing the condition, as the focus seems to be now.  Of course, some of the treatments are a little different, including Novocaine injections, which I think is brilliant, and they can inject me all they want.  There’s mention of a belladonna cream, which I will have to check out, and a B diethylaminoethyl dehydrocholate, which I’m not getting my eyes on except that maybe it’s some form of bile acid.  It’s only mentioned once in 1948 by one author who was going to do a trial of it with 200 fibro patients.  Can’t find the results of that trial…  There’s an isotonic glucose solution, massage therapy, neostigmine therapy (it’s an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor – um hmm), and much more.  Most articles simply say “treatment of fibrositis.”

Reading some of the descriptions of fibrositis maybe does indicate that formal characterization of the condition was necessary.  There seemed to be a strong connection in doctors’ minds between fibromyalgia and Dupuytren contraction, which is a problem with hands and the fingers pulling inwards.  However, since then it doesn’t look like there’s much of a correlation between the two, and Dupuytren can be corrected with surgery, I believe.  So, yes, sorting out what fibro is (as best is possible) was a good thing.  What I’m actually impressed with is the amount of the hey-let’s-fix-this attitude there is.  Not to say that doctors today aren’t interested in fixing the problem, but there is a distinct tendency to characterize the problem over and over again.  This looks like it may have started in earnest in the 80s, but it looks like the 70s was when there was a stress on management over treatment with a further emphasis that fibrositis, unlike arthritis, does not cause joint destruction.  As soon as that message becomes clear, then treatment options decline, and characterization takes the forefront.

Just an observation, and a very broad, generalized observation at that.  I’d love to see a little bit of a swing back.  We’ve characterized this condition to death now.  Let’s throw some crazy ideas out there about how to get rid of the sucker.

Brain-Machine Interfaces

Yesterday I went to a conference at Mayo Clinic put on for patients with hearing disabilities.  It was a very interesting conference, filled mostly with elderly folks with hearing aids, cochlear implants, walkers, and jaunty canes.  At the start of the first speech there was a little chorus of squealing hearing aids while people adjusted their machinery, and one woman toward the front of the group kept muttering loudly to a companion until she said loudly enough to interrupt the speaker, “Well now you have it too loud! Turn it down!”  The speaker just laughed and greeted the woman: “Hi Wanda, good to have you here again.” When Wanda’s hearing aid was taken care of, he continued.

The main speaker was Dr. Hubert Lim from the University of Minnesota, who spoke about tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, etc, in the ears).  I have seen some correlation of tinnitus to fibromyalgia and have intermittent tinnitus myself.  My dad, who also has chronic pain issues, has fairly severe tinnitus, as well as hearing loss.  Mostly, hearing loss and tinnitus are considered side effects of fibromyalgia, which worsens with onset of fibromyalgia, probably because of the neural sensitization which comes with fibromaylga.  I’m not sure if onset of hearing loss/tinnitus can be connected with fibromyalgia, however.

As Dr. Lim spoke about the different potential treatment methods for tinnitus they are currently working on in the lab, it was hard not to think that these may be methods for treating chronic pain.  He did mention that pain is one of the things they were looking at with these treatments.  The most promising methods have to do with inserting mechanical bits in the brain, like cochlear implants, essentially neural prosthetic or brain-machine interfaces.  This of course raises a lot of questions, not just about the practicality and safety of these types of treatments, but also about how this is the beginning of machine-human hybrids – I kept seeing Robocop.  But that’s going overboard in a lot of ways.  As the second speaker pointed out, if there is a way to make your quality of life better, is there any real reason not to take it?

I have read an article about deep brain stimulation as a possible treatment for fibromyalgia, and most of the parts of the brain that were involved with tinnitus are also related to bits of brain that are affected by long term chronic pain.  This raises the question in my head – would the treatments that help with tinnitus (if they come up with a definitive treatment) also help with chronic pain/fibromyalgia?  Can the solution to chronic pain lie in a brain-machine interface?  Could Robocop be the answer to everything?

The Blood-Type Diet

I took a look at the blood type diet and must admit, I felt like I was reading a horoscope or something.  According to Dr. D’Adamo, I should avoid crowds of people, loud noise, negative emotions, smoking, strong smells or perfumes, too much sugar and starch, overwork, violent TV and movies, lack of sleep, and extreme weather conditions (hot or cold).  The only thing he was off on was the violent TV and movies.  Anyone who knows me well knows I love a good crime story and good old fashioned horror movies, but really not slasher movies…  Everything else made me hiccough a little bit in surprise.

If looking at my blood type can give that accurate of a personality profile, what can he do with diet?   I can eat carbs and digest them well!  That’s very good news.  I can’t digest and metabolize animal protein and fat.  Vegetarian diet.  Rats.  I love being a carnivore.  Essentially, he says to eat pure, fresh, and organic foods that are in their most natural state.  No processed foods.  I have a sensitive immune system and this will help avoid the development of life-threatening diseases.

Of course, a good diet with plant proteins rather than antibiotic-riddled meat products, and eating fresh, unprocessed foods – that’s going to be good for everybody.  So I looked for a medical article to see if anyone has done any research.  Yep, they have.  The conclusion is that Dr. D’Adamo’s diets are simply good, sensible diets, and yes there is benefit in following them but only because they’re good, sensible diets.  I think they would need to do more testing, however, because you’d have to follow people eating outside their blood type, for example an O eating for a B, to see if there are still benefits or fewer benefits, etc, before really making a determination.  I can’t see that they did that, but I haven’t really read the article thoroughly either.

Still, the personality thing is striking.  Stress is a big factor for type A people.  Makes me start wondering about whether anyone has looked at the blood types of people with fibromyalgia.  Wouldn’t it be funny if we were all type A?  Not too likely, no, but funny.