Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vampires and Viruses

About a week and a half ago, I came off my fourth round of antibiotics in as many months for this blasted sinus/bronchial rubbish that has been plaguing me. I started getting congested a few days ago and decided that I cannot continue this vicious cycle any longer. I therefore started my vegetable juice program again (I admit I have been lax the last several months) and am throwing a couple cloves of garlic in my evening juice. This does afford a rather strong taste and probably makes me quite rank (I have no sense of smell to speak of) but it does seem to be helping keep the congestion to a bearable level and is certainly reducing my risk of being attacked by a vampire.

On another note, exercise has been going well. I started riding the exercise bike about three and a half weeks ago and have not missed a day since. I am still planning to begin riding my bicycle to work but will probably begin over Christmas break rather than waiting until graduation. I've also been doing pull ups every two or three days and recently threw push ups into the mix. I've noticed a big difference in my stamina and general well-being from the exercise. To heck with losing weight - I'd rather be what I am and feeling good than 5 lbs heavier and in an iron lung.

I visited a new doctor yesterday - one specializing in infectious disease. For the first time from a medical professional, I received an educated speculation as to what may actually be wrong with me. He is of the opinion that I have a sort of virus that invades cells and lives within rather than attaching and killing them. This makes it impossible for the immune system to attack and destroy the virus. In addition, this virus tends to attack the thymus, which can be thought of as an educational center for immune system cells. Therefore, my body is weak to other sorts of neevils (read The Magician's Nephew). He went into a great bit more detail but I kind of got information overloaded. The crux of the matter is that there is no known cure, but it is a very cutting edge field and this doctor is one of the prominent researchers on the subject. At least now I have a general idea of what's happening. He recommended getting in contact with a T-cell research lab at UCLA or USC so that is the next step.

I'm actually pretty excited about this news and optimistic that there may be a solution waiting to be discovered.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I have decided to actively pursue excellent health. I've come to the conclusion that no one is going to "cure" me. I've also come to the conclusion that I should be exercising aerobically, contrary to what Dr. Fuhrman recommended (see my post here). I bought an exercise bike near the end of May and was pretty good about doing it for a couple weeks but then the food poisoning incident happened and I skipped a few days and never got back into it. I started again a week ago and am making pretty quick progress. I am already noticing improvement in how I feel. I also installed a pull-up bar in the garage.

I am taking a holistic approach to anaerobic exercise. I'm attempting to do exercises that exercise a muscle group or the entire body at once, rather than isolating certain muscles. I'm also attempting to get all my equipment (from here on out) free, used, or constructed from cheaply obtained materials. The pull-up bar is $20 worth of black iron pipe. I'd like to get a punching bag and a speed bag (the tear-drop shaped punching bag) which will work my entire upper body and also afford an aerobic aspect.

My goal is to be fit by the time I graduate from USC. This date is 261 days away. I hope to buy a road bike upon graduation and begin riding to work (~9 miles one way). I think this is a realistic goal, as long as I stick to it.

The diet is going well. I eat good stuff pretty much all the time and have begun cooking quite a bit more, as much for my parents' sake as mine. This encourages them not to overwork themselves since dinner is better fresh than heated up and also encourages me to cook. I enjoy cooking for the whole family - it's kind of a bummer to fix a great meal and sit and eat alone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

June and half of July update

Well, it's been a bit of a health roller coaster over the past couple months. In the middle of May I came down with a sinus/bronchial infection (actually, it had been festering for months and it finally got the better of me) and was put on antibiotics. A week and a half after I got off the antibiotics, I got food poisoning from some outdated veggies and the infection came back. So I went back on the antibiotics for another couple weeks. In the middle of all this, I went to see a pulmonary specialist (lung doctor). I had a pulmonary function test, some x-rays, and a CAT scan. The conclusion was that my lung capacity is reduced (duh) so the good doctor put me on a couple inhalers and ordered a bronchoscopy (basically a vacuuming of the lungs).

Since then I have been doing OK but not great. I can say that I genuinely like this doctor. He is proactive and admits when something is out of his league. He is not hesitant to consult other specialists (he issued a referral for an infectious disease doctor). My immunologist does not share these traits. She is of the opinion that she has found the solution and that I must be doing something wrong if it isn't working.

I'm sticking to the Dr. Fuhrman plan but have modified what I had been doing slightly - I eat eggs or turkey most days simply because I need extra calories. I am still having trouble gaining weight, partly due to the challenge of fixing 2000+ calories of healthy food daily.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Finally, a bit of relief

Tuesday morning on the way to the bus stop, I physically could go no further after one block. I walked home and coughed for probably 10 or 15 minutes. That afternoon I talked to the doctor and she prescribed Avelox for the upper respiratory infection I undoubtedly had. I have now taken 4 doses and am feeling immensely better. My lung and sinus congestion are practically gone. I can walk to the bus in the morning without having a coughing fit. I guess I have had a low-level infection for a long time that just kept getting slowly worse.

Now that that is being cleared up, I think I have a fighting chance at actually making some real progress health-wise as long as I stay on the proverbial path nutritionally. I am going to see a pulmonary specialist to get an evaluation and kind of a baseline of where my respiratory system actually is.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Slowly but surely

For the first time in quite a while, I can honestly say my health has been improving ever so slightly over the last week or so. I can attribute this to a few different things. I finished the semester last Friday, which instantly removed the most influential stressor in my life. I have also been VERY careful about what I have been eating. Following my diet 110% is going to be crucial to recovery. I've also been making sure I get 7 hours of sleep or more a night and will not hesitate to take a nap in the afternoon if I'm beat.

I weighed myself last week to get a baseline. I'm not going to share beyond that I'm significantly underweight. My goal for the time being is to gain 5 lbs per month. That means I have to eat more - and make sure it's good stuff and not just empty calories. I have been making a protein smoothie on a daily basis and have also been snacking quite a bit between meals. I think the additional calories are also contributing to my generally better well-being.

My lung and sinus congestion is just noticeably better. Monday was the only day this week that I had a coughing fit on the way to the bus stop - the rest I got a little winded but not bad.

I am going to start keeping the food journal again. Mostly just to see exactly what I am eating and how I feel the next day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Good news, sort of

Well, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth and busting people's chops who were in places of authority, I got my infusions switched back to Crescent Healthcare (the home health people) so there will be no more monthly (or month-and-a-half-ly as it usually turned out to be) journey to the infusion center and sitting there and getting depressed while being infused with the wrong medicine for seven hours. Whee!

On the other hand, my lungs are in pretty rough shape. I get winded doing the simplest of exhertional tasks. I am continually congested and coughing up mucus. I have a feeling part of my problem is simple atrophy. I do almost no cardiovascular exercise (Dr. Fuhrman said it would probably make me lose weight) so I never really get my heart and breathing rate up and stretch the lungs. I plan to remedy that situation after the semester is over. There is also an underlying problem that is making me produce all this mucus - otherwise I would eventually cough everything up. That I'm not sure about. It may be diet - but I'm sticking to Dr. Fuhrman's plan about 90-95%. I need to get rid of that 5-10% and make sure I get my quotas of everything. It's a challenge to eat when one is not hungry, and if I overeat I often get sick.

Overall, though, my health has been OK. My digestion is acceptable but not great, and generally plateaued when I'm not 2 weeks late for my infusion. Both my parents and my youngest brother got pneumonia and I never caught it. I think my body is actually fighting it, which is kind of amazing. I'm sure that's another part of my lung problem - I have scarring from years of pneumonia and bronchitis when I was a kid.

Once the semester gets out and I have less stress and a more regular schedule, I think I will have time to cook all the right stuff for myself and get on a regular exercise plan.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Still plateaued...

Well, sad to say, not much has progressed since the last post over 2 months ago (!). I am still fairly congested, still not eating enough, and still not exercising enough. Yesterday I had my monthly IVIG infusion (2 weeks late since the infusion center is horrible at scheduling) and am feeling a tiny bit better today. This could also be due to the 9 hours of sleep I got last night. Sitting there for seven hours in a sterile doctor's office type of environment is a bit depressing. I decided yesterday that I would make a goal for myself to be healthy by the time I graduate with my Master's degree (May 2008) with the hope that I can someday be off this program. I don't think I can do it once a month for the rest of my life.

I need to get back on some sort of journaling program. I think I'll go back to the daily food journal, writing down everything. Then I'll transform that into some sort of a checklist that tells me what I'm missing and what I'm eating bad.

Now every time I eat something bad or even think of eating something bad, I think of the infusions.