Archive for the ‘gall bladder disease’ Category

Ultrasounds and Other Funny Things

After months, no years, of speculation I finally got up some Dutch courage, got a prescription for and made an appointment to have my achy, bile producing gall bladder examined. Mind you, I did make an appointment years ago for the same thing but at the last minute had my usual cup of tea with whole milk thus rather purposely sabotaging the whole thing. You see, I knew I didn’t want to lose anymore organs that Mother Nature had blessed me with and if someone suggested the need for removal I would probably be forced to submit to the knife, so it was milk in my tea and appointments  be damned that morning.

This year I would not make the same mistake because the rules had changed. My instructions were very clear, nothing to eat or drink after midnight, nothing. With that in mind I made an “arrangement” with my local hospital to see me very early in the morning, after all a girl has to have her cup of tea with real milk to start her day and normally my days start pretty early. At 7:00 a.m. that morning I would at long last have my test.

I made my appearance at 6:55 and after checking in with the receptionist I plopped my menopausal butt on one of their comfy chairs in a room meant to look like a very commodious livingroom where I patiently sat for 20 minutes (of course an emergency trumps a scheduled appointment every time). After several rounds of “weather on the nines” I was called back and brought to a pleasantly lit room and directed to lie on a cloth covered examining table.

With clothing still on but towels protecting said clothing, my abdomen was covered with a very warm, viscous gel and soon things were beeping and ponging all over the place. The tech was massaging the area over the gall bladder with what appeared to be a microphone but in reality is called a transducer. At certain points the transducer would be gently but firmly pressed in and then it would beep and with each beep a new point of reference was made as the sound waves bounced off my organs plotting a map of my gall bladder.

“Mrs. Peterson could you turn to your left and lie on your side now?” (I’m just wondering, what if I said “No”?). The microphone/transponder continued to ping and pong with each new position she placed it in. It was sending and receiving wave after wave of sound from my innards and within 20 minutes “we” had created  a picture of my bile producing organ plus the right lobe of my liver from the anterior and posterior regions.

“That’s it Mrs. Peterson, you can get up.”  Thus our assignation ended as unpretentiously  as it began, barely more than 2 sentences after entering my dimly lit meditation room I was outta there and on my way home to my most anticipated morning cuppa tea. As far as an exam goes this one could not have been simpler nor less painful.

Later that week, on Odinsday (the day I devote to the care of my grandson), I had to pick up a Spectracell test at my functional medicine doctor’s office and when I arrived with my grandson in my arms the OM (generally referred to as office manager but in this case wife of and mother to the doc’s children) informed me that my test results were there and in between talking about Odin (they have three grands themselves) I got my news.

The radiologist reported that “there were NO stones, NO sludge, NOT EVEN thickening of the walls of my gall bladder”. What? You, my dear reader, may recall that over the last three years or so I have devoted no less than 12 articles to my blasted gall bladder and it’s resultant aches and pains. Just type in “gall bladder” in the box marked “Search” I am sure I counted 12 blogs that come up with that requested subject. How could there not even be a thickening of the gall bladder wall?

I am not complaining, even though the previous sentence sounds distinctly like one. However, it does make one pause to wonder what to think now. If  you have lived for several years thinking one thing and now have been forced to believe something else it is hard to make that change of direction but here are my thoughts on the outcome of this procedure.

First, I do take supplements specifically for thinning bile and aiding the gall bladder with its work, so they might be doing what they were designed to do. I haven’t been following the gall bladder diet very well because that just didn’t seem to be doing any good and no wonder if it wasn’t really my gall bladder that was being a grouch.

Second and interestingly, around the time I asked Donna, my Reiki healer, to work on my gall bladder and thyroid much of my achy and complaining gall bladder symptoms went away. That persistent feeling of fullness disappeared and my bowels became about as normal as they ever can or will be. Could Reiki be the key ingredient? Donna did see a yellow “vortex” (yellow being a healing color) whoosh out of the middle of my body while doing her treatment and whether or not you believe in the healing power of Reiki you have to admit that is pretty remarkable given that things did change after that.

Third and last, could there be another issue I am dealing with? My liver did have a tiny cyst that was visible to the radiologist but my doc seemed unconcerned and I honestly cannot see the link between a cyst and the inability to digest fat and the feeling of fullness.

There are just so many possibilities but at this point I am done worrying and blogging about my gall bladder. You will hear from me on other subjects but this one is behind me. I continue to take digestive enzymes with every meal as well as Beta TCP (beet root and taurine). Probiotics are a regular part of my diet as I eat fermented veggies and raw milk kefir and I will continue to do so. Most importantly, I believe in eating a healthy grain free diet at least 80% of the time. (We won’t talk about the other 20%).

In conclusion, I hereby resolve that, if nothing else, I am keeping my gall bladder and that is the last you, dear reader, will hear of that.

Until next week,

Kris

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When a Little of This Leads to More of That

In researching last week’s blog on progesterone I happened across a headline that read something like “Estrogen Dominance Leads to Increase of Gallstone Formation”. It would normally go totally unnoticed if not for the fact that for several years now I have experienced a feeling of fullness in my upper right quadrant at times and occasionally a sharp pain under my right shoulder blade in my back.

The aforementioned symptoms are all signs of gall bladder issues and I am always looking for a non-surgical solution to the problem. Personally I have no desire to lose another organ after losing my appendix in 1987. But what amazed me the most was the fact that this pain associated with what ostensibly has to be gall bladder attacks has increased in the last few years since I started using bio-identical hormones, specifically E1 and E2 and it was only with reading the headline that it dawned on me that my increased levels of estrogen may be part and parcel of the problem.

After digesting that particular bit of news, I started to aggregate more information from various sites to see if, in fact, with higher estrogen levels your chances of gall bladder attack increased. There may very well have been a “Duh” moment when, after hours of research, I remembered what our esteemed medical professionals always sited as the the 3F’s of gall bladder disease, fat, fertile and forty all things that also occur at a time of your life when your estrogen levels are what? At their highest.

I am not going to report all the facts and figures of every study I found nor can I verify the facts and figures of the studies I read. I also have drawn no conclusions, so this is a work in progress. I can report that whether you look at holistic sites or conventional medical sites like The Mayo Clinic estrogen dominance is always mentioned as a possible exacerbating factor in what amounts to decreased function of the gall bladder and liver.

The why of this is simple, increased estrogen can increase cholesterol in the bile and lessen gallbladder movement, increasing the risk of gallstones. If you, like me, already have a low functioning gall bladder due to hypothyroidism even a slight increase in estrogen may increase your chances of gallstones and gall bladder attack.

Okay I said I hadn’t gone in any one direction but perhaps I have come to one minor fork in the road. I am seriously considering the cessation of my bio-identical hormones. This is not an easy decision and it is not a decision that is in concrete. I firmly believe that women’s bodies are healthier with hormones than without (after reading countless books on the subject). That said, if you are a woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, you need to know that increasing your estrogen levels may also increase your chances of developing gallstones? Especially if you can answer nearly all the questions on this  Do you have gall bladder dysfunction? questionnaire with a “yes” or “maybe”.

The good news is some symptoms can be controlled with diet and exercise and following many of the suggestions on Deb Graefer’s site  has made a difference for this perplexed menopausal woman. I decided, if I do nothing else, to make an appointment with a homeopath/MD and my appointment is at the end of August. She feels she can balance my hormones with homeopathy and I hope she can assist me in what, at the moment,  seems like somewhat vain efforts to save my gall bladder.

If you have any wisdom or a personal experience to share on this subject, please feel free to comment. I know, and you know, if I reach any conclusion on this little matter of cholesterol/bilirubin stones congregating where they don’t belong, I will let you know, as they say, yesterday.

Until next week,

Kris

Almost Nirvana and Other Madness

This week’s blog is for my fellow thyroid sufferers and other “spoonies”. A thyroid friend contacted me the other day and asked how I was doing (Hi Olivia) that got me to thinking that I hadn’t reported recently on the status of my health. There isn’t really anything earth shattering to report, nothing fabulous or horrific but I feel after a year on T3 only, and hitting more than a few bumps in the road, things are nearly there, almost nirvana (but superstition keeps me from saying anything more).

I will do a quick rundown of the past year for those who might be unfamiliar. I have had hypothyroidism for 15 years give or take a year. In those years my dose of Syn-crap was constantly inadequate and being increased every time I had my blood drawn. I found a good doctor who would let me try Armour in 2010 but after about a year on Armour I was still having problems with an irregular heartbeat that began three years prior to trying Armour (things started out quite well on Armour but then Forest Pharmaceuticals changed the formulation and the irregularity came back with a vengeance).

I decided to go the “T3 only” route in April 2010 after reading Stop the Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe and investigating various health forums that she introduced to my world. I had been battling this irregularity for more than three years now and despite what my doctor was telling me (you need to see a cardiologist) I knew  my heart was reacting to something akin to an improper release of adrenaline and that had to be caused by one thing, my improperly treated thyroid. I fit the description of a person with a Reverse T3 issue, basically an inability to get enough T3 to the thyroid receptors because they are blocked by T4. If the receptors are blocked by T4 the T4 is not converted to T3 as it needs to be for the thyroid to use it, so you are always under treated and have a resistance to any thyroid medication that has T4 in it.

Around this time last year, that is July Fourth and approximately 3 months on T3 only, I suddenly started having panic attacks, inability to sleep through the night, a feeling of not being able to swallow, diarrhea and a basal temperature of 98.2 -98.4. My daytime average wasn’t that high and other factors led many with whom I consulted to feel I was suffering intolerance. Adrenal fatigue can lead to intolerance issues, so I tested my adrenal health. The tests showed challenged adrenals, not full blown adrenal fatigue but low normal results especially midday, so I did try Isocort and then hydrocortisone but by and large those made me feel worse. [In retrospect, thanks to many talks with Nanci, I have concluded that my adrenals were weak but should never have been treated with anything containing hydrocortisone but hindsight is 20/20 as they say].

I “cleared” in July and had to drop my dose from 125 mcg to 68.75 mcg. I stayed on the Isocort (taking it like this 3-3-2-1) and gradually increased my dose of Cynomel according to my temperatures. Increasing according to my temperatures meant that I actually increased too much and too fast and eventually developed a bothersome tremor in my hands. It was so pronounced that it made my job (dental hygienist) difficult but the good news is I never had to quit working despite what I would call the rigors of clearing T4 from my receptors.

Last autumn was actually pretty miserable as I diligently climbed my way back to taking  125 mcg of T3. I was constantly taking my temperature three times a day and finding it sub normal over all, sometimes even my basal temperature was below 97.6, so I would up the dose despite the tremor and sleepless nights. Things weren’t great, I didn’t feel “normal”, my temperatures weren’t “normal” and I was getting discouraged.

Christmas was the nadir of my T3 only treatment. I had increased and decreased and now I was taking 118.75 mcg. It was Christmas Day and we were in Bayfield, Wisconsin with family an activity that usually brings me joy. That weekend I hardly slept, my heart was racing constantly. Basically, I was miserable, so I decreased again despite my temperatures  (which still weren’t normal) to 112.50 mcg. Nothing improved, nothing.

To make this now long introduction a little  shorter, after talking online for months with several helpful “thyroid friends” (to whom I am most grateful) this last winter, in February, I decreased dramatically to 50 mcg of T3. Miracles of miracles, almost overnight all of my objectionable symptoms disappeared, my temps didn’t come up but I finally felt human again after months of, gosh I hate to be dramatic, torture. I honestly couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I could go upstairs without feeling breathless, I was sleeping the sleep of normal people, my thinking was clear, my tremor completely disappeared and miracle of miracles my irregular heartbeat was better than it had been in years.

Enter Kris today. I am enjoying summer in Minnesota (yes, it finally has arrived), my new grandson and relatives visiting for the Fourth of July. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 spread out in four equal doses the last one being as I turn the light out at bedtime. My daily average temperature is sub-par but my basal is within normal limits (97.8) and as long as I feel “human” I am sticking to 50 mcg of T3.

I know my current regimen flies in the face of everything my gurus on the RT3 site recommend but my heart is as regular as it has been in years and the other night I actually found myself sleeping on my left side. That is a significant event only for those of us who have experienced the sound of a pounding irregular heartbeat. When you lay on your left side the sounds of your heartbeat are magnified and, needless to say, unbearable when those beats are irregular. When I awoke sleeping on my left side I knew I had passed a milestone in my treatment.

I have my daily supportive routines like taking at least 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt every day, twice a day. I take one Thorne B #12, Thorne folocal if I take additional B12, Krill oil, antioxidants with 2000 mg of Vitamin C, and Bio-Astaxanthin every day. Other days I might add Vitamin D3, Vitamin A, Zinc Picolinate Plus, Super K, Chlorella and Spirulina.

Three times a week I put a scoop of  Boku Superfood in my morning smoothie which consists of some form of protein powder (SunWarrior or Mercola’s Whey). I am currently not following a gluten free diet but my carb intake is very low during the week and only on the weekend do I eat more carbs. I guess you could call it carb loading for a day or two which is sometimes recommended by exercise coaches.

All in all, I feel my health this summer is far better than last summer. My blood test panel showed improvements but certainly not perfection. My hormones are all low but my SHBG was very high, so that is the explanation for the low levels of my sex hormones. I know I need to compensate with higher doses of Estradiol and Progesterone but have yet to find a doctor who is knowledgeable in treating with the Wiley Protocol. My gall bladder still troubles me but that has been ongoing for years and I now understand that a sluggish thyroid lends itself to a sluggish gall bladder, so I take the necessary steps to keep it as healthy as I can. I have a very dry burning mouth at times and my eyes feel dry, so I suspect Sjogren’s but there is no diagnosis of such a thing and with a diagnosis I am not sure anything would change. I use natural lubricant for my eyes and I have very good oral hygiene.

Does my heartbeat still trouble me? Sometimes I can feel it “skip a beat” but instead of panicking I take it in stride and soon things are normal again. It is never precipitated by exercise, so I am not fearful. My blood pressure is nearly perfect if on the low side. My energy is good but I am careful not to overdo as I feel my adrenal health is still compromised (indicated by my low temperatures of 98 degrees most afternoons that I check). My sleep is the best it has been in years and I often don’t wake at all or if I do it is only once and I go right back to sleep.

My wish for all the “thyroid friends” and “Spoonies” who read this is that you, too, can find your peace. Just know that some day you will turn the corner and find your self again. Even if it is fleeting, for that singular moment just enjoy the experience of  being you again.

Happy Fourth of July,

Kris

News on the Supplement Front

As Sunday is devoted to writing my blog today is Mother’s Day in the USA, so I wish every mother, be they the proud mothers of babies, adult children, puppies, kittens, employees, or even spouses (yes everyone needs to be mothered now and then) a very pleasant day filled with happiness and pampering.

Last week I updated you on my latest blood test panel and I thought as long as I was “updating” things perhaps it was time to talk about some new supplements, good and bad. Let’s talk about the bad ones and get it out of the way. It is a short list and bad isn’t really descriptive, ineffectual is the word.

Jigsaw Magnesium is tops on my list of ineffectual and I can offer no explanation other than they do use fillers. the fillers are necessary to allow for slow absorption and very little effect on the bowels but the product doesn’t work for me. I was asked by the company to review their product and I told them about my experience. To their credit, and I think they are a good reliable company, they apologized and offered a refund but couldn’t offer a reason why I continued to have leg cramps and other complaints whilst taking the maximum dose per day. It didn’t cause any stomach complaints, no gripping bowels but it didn’t seem to help with anything and I have quit taking it. I should have taken the refund as even my spousal unit finds Pure Essence Ionic Fizz Magnesium more to his taste, so the Jigsaw Magnesium sits in my cupboard unused.

I looked through my supplements and the only other one that I will not take is a True Health Krill oil sold by Dr. Michael Cutler. The company offered a really good deal for the krill oil, so I paid very little for 30-1000 mg capsules ($7.95) but the capsules are coated with lemon oil and I burp the lemon oil all day. This may not be an issue for other people but lemon oil  and orange oil additives do not agree with me and I avoid flavored fish or krill oil supplements for this reason. I guess I would prefer a fish oil burp to a fish oil burp that tastes of lemon or orange and in most cases if it has no citrus additives and is fresh fish oil or krill oil it will cause no production of excess gas and thus no “fishy burps”.

With my “Not taking those again” list behind me I can address the new supplements that are a part of my daily routine. I will skip a few of my old reliable supplements too allow room to talk about the new ones. I don’t know about any fellow blogging readers but I find there is only so much room in a weekly blog and I don’t want to ruminate too long and lose your interest.

My most interesting supplement that I added within the last month or two is a B-12 supplement that comes in a gum form, B Fresh Breath Freshening Gum  (It does contain xylitol and there was a rather damning article this week about the chemical nature of most xylitol produced these days. It would be best if you knew your xylitol was sourced from birch bark and from trees found in the USA). Especially if you have Sjogren’s your mouth is dry all the time and it is a problem that can be helped with a bit of chewing gum as the mere action produces saliva but don’t do any prolonged chewing as it is hard on your TMJ (5 minutes is about right). Many of us with thyroid issues have dry mouths and low B12 levels, so the combination seems a little like supplement nirvana to me.

Each piece of gum provides 125 mcg of B12, which is nowhere near the amount of B12 a person needs to raise low levels of B12 but it can’t hurt you to take 125 mcg more B12 per day (you excrete excess B vitamins with the exception of B6 which should not exceed 50-100 mg). I love the big bubbles you can create but I can only recommended you imbibe in bubble making in the privacy of your own home. The looks generated by the site of a silver haired female of “middle age” driving a cute little Jetta diesel wagon blowing gigantic bubbles of  pink gum from her mouth are priceless.

My gall bladder package of supplements also seems to be a winner. I have irregular flare ups with my gall bladder and when it happens these two supplements seem to greatly relieve the discomfort. To soften gallstones and thus taken every day at least once a day is a combination of orthophosphoric acid, inositol and riboflavin in a supplement called O.P.A. or Super Phos which instead of Riboflavin has Choline Bitartrate. It is best taken in apple juice but I use water. The other supplement that will always be around for those times when my sluggish gall bladder complains is  Gallbladder Nano-Detox by Premier Research Labs. It is a probiotic generated formula full of herbs that aid with gallbladder function.

If you find yourself complaining of indigestion or  burping frequently (often either a lack of a gall bladder or because of a sluggish gall bladder) I also recommend Thorne Dipan-9, one or two capsules prior to eating. During the meal Nutricology Ox Bile should be taken and varying the number of capsules you take is recommended. With a snack perhaps just one capsule, with a meal 2-3 capsules. Throughout the meal Betaine HCL can be taken or if taken after a meal you have to experiment to see how many capsules bring on a pleasant warm feeling. I find three is perfect for me taken after a meal but I am going to try one at the beginning, middle and end to see if I get more or less indigestion when indigestion is the problem.

While some blood test results last week were not perfect my CRP was very good. A high CRP is directly related to the amount of inflammation in your body. Inflammation is the cause of many a malady including cancers. My CRP was very low and thus a reflection of a low amount of inflammation. I am not the only one to report that by taking 1000-2000 mg of Krill oil every day inflammation has been reduced.

My latest Krill was from iHerb but Mercola sells Krill oil in capliques which are easier to swallow and made from fish gelatin for those who object to animal products but not fish in their supplements. I did, by the way, try fish oil supplements recently but they are just too big and hard to swallow, so I went back to krill. Me thinks I should have added fish oil to the “Not taking those again”  list but I may try again and see if the size still bothers me.

Also for inflammation reduction I am taking Chlorella and Spirulina as a greens supplement. Greens naturally reduce inflammation and I have experienced the eradication of cysts on my fingers and toes with the consumption of green drinks.However, recently I have shied away from green drinks because of their goitrogenic effects and my thyroid takes priority over any other minor complaints I have. Greens in general, but especially chlorella and spirulina are high in Vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and chlorophyll and they help our bodies deal with any increased levels of radioactive iodine that may be with us as a result of the nuclear meltdown in Japan.

My friends and I find our cupboards full of disused supplements because in our experimentation we find supplements that worked and supplements that didn’t seem to make any improvements in our health. First we have the collections of supplements that our doctors recommend. We try them and even though doctor recommended they aren’t right. The other source of supplementation recommendations are the plethora of online experts. They each have a company they support and thus a supplement that is just the thing to cure what ails ya. At long last, after much experimentation, I am finally finding the supplements that I buy repeatedly and the ones I will never buy again (many of them doctor recommended). I hope some of my suggestions assist you in making the right decision for taking control of your health but if not don’t give up just try, try again. The answer will be around one corner or another and then, you too, will have a collection. Not one you brag about but a collection none the less.

Have a healthy, happy week,

Kris