Rheumatoid Arthritis – I Can’t Believe I Did It!

In case you didn’t know about the adventure we were undertaking, you may want to check out this short post: http://rapaleo.momswithra.org/wp/?p=361

Because we had little idea how long it would take or if it was even possible to get into the cabin area, we left very early.  We were up at 4:00 AM, on the road by 5:15 with a stocked car (donations for those who stayed and are rebuilding), and at the National Guard checkpoint by around 8:00 AM.

Starting to pack the car for a trip into flood ravaged Glen Haven.  Supplies for the folks who stayed.

Starting to pack the car for a trip into flood ravaged Glen Haven. Supplies for the folks who stayed.

For us, we took a wagon, adjustable walking sticks, extra food and water, backpacks, hats, rope, etc…

The National Guard was checking folks for ID and validation they had property in the area.  Luckily, my aunt and uncle had supplied us with that documentation.  We were able to pass the first N.G. road block and carefully make our way down a road that had sections/entire lanes missing.  At a certain point, there was another road block.  We were told not to pass that one, but to park and walk in.  We parked the car, got out the wagon, loaded it, and set off down the now severely damaged road, where there were points where the asphalt was intact, but there was no soil under the asphalt.  There were telephone poles down and wires everywhere.  There were cars barely visible in mud.  Although the river was much lower, it was still high and running outside its normal course.  Although I had seen pictures of the town, I couldn’t figure out what was what.  It now made sense.  All of the landmarks were gone; cabins and businesses were gone down the river like they never existed to begin with.  I took several videos to send to my aunt and uncle, so they could get their bearings before their trip up.  We walked through town.  The Town Hall had crashed into the General Store and had 20-30 feet of debris piled up against it.  Past the General Store, the town ceased to exist.  Everything was gone, including the road.  Where 2 small creeks joined, there was now a raging river running down what used to be the road.  This was a week after the rains stopped.  I wonder if the course of the river will be forever changed.

When I hear about folks refusing to be evacuated, I used to think of them as insane.  For this area, it sort of makes sense.  The folks who live here year round are used to being snowed in for long lengths of time.  They’re generally well stocked and are true “mountaineers.”  Those folks that stayed built 2 bridges that were very helpful for us, as we had 2 rivers to cross.  The first was made of 2 fallen trees with boards (likely scrap wood from what used to be homes) secured between them.  The second was… well…. terrifying.  It was an extension ladder, pretty fully extended from the bank of the river to a downed tree in the middle of the river.  There was then another extension ladder from the downed tree to the bank on the other side.  Both ladders had wood on top of them, wood that appeared to be cracking.  At this point, we packed our backpacks, left our wagon behind (something we figured would happen), said a prayer, and over the extension ladders we went!  I’m not sure if it was comforting or alarming that there were life jackets on either side of the river.  At this point, I realized I was not a mountaineer, but so proud of the folks for their craftiness and honored we were allowed to cross there.

Extension ladder bridge.  Note how narrow the far side is.

Extension ladder bridge. Note how narrow the far side is.

From that point, we had hoped to wind our way along the road, knowing it would be down to rock and debris, but thinking it would be slowly passable.  WRONG!  The old little dirt road we were trying to get back on was now one of the two creeks, rivers, whatever you want to call them.  Anywhere near the valley floor was not going to be possible to walk.  Luckily, some hardy folks happened by and told us about a trail.  So, up the big mountain we went!

I was so glad to have my walking sticks with me.  At times, the terrain was steep, and my feet don’t have the bend in them that they should.  My walking sticks seem to help keep my posture good (not sure how that works, but I usually end of with low back pain walking long ways without them, but not at all with them).  They also help me with stability.  We kept walking up, a lot higher than I wished we had, and was afraid we’d be too high up to get down to the cabin.  The cabin is right on the river, but we had a hard time finding it through the forest trees.  I was becoming discouraged at this point, when I saw a home I recognized, and knew we were close.  I can’t believe my husband found a way to get down the mountain side that I was able to do.  I can’t begin to describe it, other than to say I couldn’t photograph it as it was so high.  But down we went, careful as the ground had been wet.  Boulders and small mudslides had come down, leaving behind a very unsteady loose path.  We were now at the bottom near the river, maybe 200-300 feet up from the cabin, but of course, on the wrong side of the river.  At this point, I realized my limitations.  I was not going to be able to cross the river, nor was my son (who, by the way, was such a trooper!).  My husband tied a rope to a tree, tied it around himself, and slowly (and to me terrifyingly) made it across the river.

The cabin was in very good shape considering its proximity to the river.  There were trees down, the footbridge is gone like it never existed, and there’s some deck damage.  The erosion is crazy, and there’s little of anything to walk on at the opposite side of the river.  The mountain side is probably 3-5 feet from the river.

Extreme erosion with exposed tree roots, which will probably kill the trees.  Note the fallen tree to the left.

Extreme erosion with exposed tree roots, which will probably kill the trees. Note the fallen tree to the left.

 

A year ago.  Bridge no longer exists.  Bank of the river behind us is mostly gone and is now a jumble of tree roots, which will probably die and fall.

A year ago. Bridge no longer exists. Bank of the river behind us is mostly gone and is now a jumble of tree roots, which will probably die and fall.

After my husband finished making all of the repairs he could and helped out the neighbor with a bit of food and water (she, a true mountaineer, stayed behind and is watching over everything), he came back across the river.  In the pic below, note my crocs, my shoe of choice for years, worn only that day in case I had to get real wet!

At the river, getting ready to ascend the mountain.

At the river, getting ready to ascend the mountain.

So, we went back up the mountain.  This was hard.  Twice, I had to ask my husband to give my butt a shove so I could get up.  Still, we got up, came back down the trail, went back over the scary ladder bridge, got our wagon, went over another bridge, then made our way back through town to the car.  I’m trying to remember how long the walk took, but I believe the round trip (including cabin fix time) was close to 7 hours, maybe more.  By now, there were several folks in town, and the fire station was open.  We loaded our wagon and a man’s ATV with supplies we brought in (food, dog food, nails, screws, cleaning supplies, toiletries, water, gloves, masks, etc…).  We took them to the fire station.  We tried to make contact with some friends of my aunt and uncle’s before leaving, but they were probably out building a bridge somewhere!  We then left and were home by about 8:00 PM.  What a day!

So, how am I doing?  I thought I had to be crazy to take something like this on.  Maybe insane.  Yet I did it, and I did it without too much difficulty, granting I didn’t try to get across the river.  I did take 2 ibuprofen, 1 after we ascended the mountain from the cabin, and the other in the car on the way home.  My neck was stiff while driving home, either from the backpack or using the walking sticks so much. By this morning, I feel remarkably great, I daresay better than my husband.  In all fairness, he had some extra duty (crossing the river, fixing the cabin, carrying heavier things, helping our son) than I did.  Still, my body feels really good, and in fact, I have definite increased range of motion in my knees (can somebody explain that?)  So, the trip didn’t “do me in” as it would have pre-Paleo, and I surprisingly rocked that adventure, given my 17 years with RA.  And I’m celebrating it!

Video: During Flood, Town Hall Crashed Into General Store

 

 

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Dare to be Strong

As many of you know, Colorado has flooded beyond recognition.  The areas impacted are the size of the entire state of Connecticut.  Try imagining that!  I have family who has a cabin we frequently visit in Glen Haven.  Pretty much the entire town was washed downstream.  To understand, check out this video of a year-round mountain couple who toughed it out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DjmYEyqjAy0

Anyway, it might be crazy, but after over a week of waiting, we’re packing the car and trying to get into the cabin.  Rumor has it that it’s still standing, but the footbridge is gone, the deck is damaged, and the cabin likely took in water.  My family hasn’t made the trip yet, but hope to next week.  17 miles of road is washed out, so we’re taking an alternate way, which is turning a 2 hour trip into a 3+ hour trip, plus walking.  Our best hope is that we can get a car within 2.5 miles of the cabin.  From there, it’s HOPEFULLY 1 – 1.5 miles of walking on what used to be a paved road (all crumbled and buckled, but should be walkable), then crossing a once crazy river (the folks that stayed supposedly have built a foot bridge over it), then 8/10ths of a mile of washed out dirt road/very rough terrain.  The last 8/10ths of a mile involves getting over 4-5 small bridges that are no longer there.  Typically the river that runs there is low enough to get wade across, but probably not so much now.  We many not get in, but we’re gonna try.  We’re also bringing supplies to the folks that stayed…. nails, screws, dog food, water, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, toiletries, food, etc….

Assuming the cabin is still standing, we plan to shut off the water (already having freezing temps there at night), take pictures, get some personal effects out, take photos, shore up anything we can tackle, then get back to the car and out of the danger zone (don’t want to be driving on damaged roads at night) before dark.  It’s ambitious.  It’s especially ambitious given my rheumatoid disease.  Yet I’m excited for the challenge!  Wish us luck!

Rheumatoid Disease – My Elbow

I’ve had rheumatoid disease for 17 years.  My elbows, strangely, have had very little RA activity.  I’m thinking there may have been 2 times in 17 years they may have hurt.  With that said, one day, around 2006, I was carrying my son in his infant car seat/carrier with the handle in the crook of my elbow.  Out of nowhere, I had this sudden awful pop with extreme pain.  It lasted only a few seconds, but my elbow never straightened again.  After the pop was over, it didn’t hurt either.  At the time, I think I thought it would heal on its own after a few days.  But it didn’t.  It really didn’t.  And with the extreme flare I was having, this issue didn’t even register on the “problem” list.

I let the issue go, as it didn’t bother me, and does it really matter if my elbow doesn’t straighten?  Fast forward several years, and yes, it matters.  As I started my exercise program, I started noticing pain in my elbow, pretty mild.  Fast forward 2 more years, and exercise is rather irritating my elbow, which now seems to also set off a tiny spot in my shoulder.

I finally had enough.  I’ve been trying to get more stability in my neck by building muscle, but this involves arm work, and hence elbow/shoulder issues.  I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon today, based on my rheumatologist’s recommendation.  Well, I was disappointed.

 

They did an xray, which showed no reason for my elbow not moving.  My joint space is a little more narrowed than normal (duh, I’ve had rheumatoid for 17 years!), but nothing too scary.  2 doctors looked at it.  They didn’t seem to agree 100%.  Doc #2 (the guy in charge) thought it was soft tissue damage/contractures of the elbow muscles.  He said normally they’d do an MRI pre-surgery to figure out what was going on, but because this issue was so old, I probably wasn’t a surgery candidate, and the MRI wouldn’t be purposeful.  I questioned that stating that obviously this is worsening, and I’d like to know what’s going on so I can limit its impact.  He pondered that, then agreed to refer me for an MRI.  It concerns me that he was very willing to write the whole thing off as hopeless without investigating what’s actually going on.  They both seemed quite shocked that there was a pop, and then my range of motion was immediately gone.  They both seemed to think that couldn’t happen (it would have gradually been lost over time I think is what they thought), and I must be crazy.  Doctor #1 also talked about some potential bicep tearing and a possible labrum tear in my shoulder.  Don’t exactly know what that is yet, and they gave me no advice on it, so I guess I’m pinning a lot on the MRI.

So, should your elbow ever go POP and not straighten, get your butt to the doc right away.  <sigh>  I hate learning lessons the hard way!

Rheumatoid Disease – Sadness & Stress

Part of me has always wondered if the way I deal with stress causes my RA.  I internalize things a lot, get very “revved up”, then get exhausted and crash.  This has been a week for that.  This may be a long post, and it’s more of a therapeutic post for me than a true rheumatoid disease post for you, so I won’t be offended if this is not interesting to you.

On Monday, afternoon, our students had left for the day when one of our parents called saying there was a severe high wind, hail, pouring storm heading for our school, and if possible we should leave.  Since kids were gone for the day, I left about 15 minutes early.  It was just barely starting to rain.  It’s about 5 miles on a busy city street with poor drainage before I get to the highway, then 20 miles from there.  Colorado gets severe storms with hail and tornadoes frequently, so this was not alarming at first.  As I was driving down the street, the rain was coming down so hard, it was challenging to see.  There was hail, but it was pea sized, so not too alarming.  But then the wind picked up, and I started seeing large (could easily break through my window) debris flying through the air.  Then, as if out of nowhere, water was EVERYWHERE.  It was deep, and I was expecting to feel water on my feet at any moment.  I wanted to pull off the road, but everywhere I looked was covered in deep water.  It was deep enough that the thought of flowing away was scaring me.  Yet the wind was blowing so hard that I feared a tornado was soon to arrive, plus I was scared to stop.  I kept going with the thought that getting on the elevated highway would get me out of the water, but may leave me more prone to the wind.  I got on the interstate, and there wasn’t a car to be seen.  I suspect there was flooding, an accident, or just a mass of pulled-over folks right behind me on the highway, and I drove like a bat out of hell, considering how much water there was.  I came out the front end of the storm shortly before arriving at home and managed to drive my son home from the bus stop as the storm arrived (much diminished than it was at work).  I later learned 12 inches of hail fell where I was.  I was shaky by the time I got home, and it took me a while to calm my body down, but all was well.  Sort of….

For those of you who’ve never been to Colorado, picture a relatively square state cut in half north to south.  To the west, you have all mountains.  To the east you have flat high desert plains.  The keyword is desert.  Denver, somewhat in the middle of the state, is on the plains with the mountains only a few suburbs away.  This is one of the sunniest places to live in the US and the mountains are beautiful.  BUT… water is scarce, and to make matters worse, it’s been in a drought, complete with many many large scale fires the last 2 years.  To make matters even worse, global warming has caused a pine bark beetle problem.  The mountains aren’t getting cold enough to kill these little buggers, and the mountains are full of millions of dead trees as a result.  Combine this with drought and very hot weather, and you can see why we’ve been on fire for 2 years.  We do get rain, and it generally comes in short (20 minutes to an hour) severe thunderstorms.  Hail and tornadoes are common.  I believe my county is 4th in the US for number of tornadoes.  Out here at my house, our yard is made of clay.  It is mush when it rains, and houses have to be be built carefully because our soil easily shifts.  We don’t handle vast amounts of rain well for that reason.  If it absorbs, the ground is very unsteady.  Mostly, it runs off.  Our average annual precipitation is a mere 16 inches.

Although the news weather folks were calling for rain chances all week, they didn’t raise any red flags that this wasn’t much more than our typical afternoon thunderstorm stuff.  They did say it was an unusual monsoon pattern (monsoon is the term they use for our typical afternoon severe thunderstorm patterns we frequently get in the summer).

We got some more rain on Tuesday, then more Wednesday.  Nothing all that alarming, although our yard was more saturated than I’d ever seen it.

Photo taken from our front porch in 2005.  This is a slightly more severe, but still typical, monsoon afternoon thunderstorm.  To the right is a farm.  Their irrigation canal that runs along the edge of our property, backs up, flooding our road, and it really bad, our driveway.  This flooding probably took about 30 minutes of rain.  It flooded our basement.

Photo taken from our front porch in 2005. This is a slightly more severe, but still typical, monsoon afternoon thunderstorm. To the right is a farm. Their irrigation canal that runs along the edge of our property, backs up, flooding our road, and it really bad, our driveway. This flooding probably took about 30 minutes of rain. It flooded our basement.

Wednesday night, I had family in town, and they all came for dinner.  A weather alert went off, and my 2 uncles and aunt left, fearing flooding of their basement with the extreme saturation we’ve already had.  My dad spent the night, as I was taking him to the airport in the morning. 

Thursday morning, we turned on the news to learn our town had gotten over 5 inches of rain during the night, while Boulder and other areas had 7 inches.  Keep in mind our average YEAR brings us 16 inches.  Things were very flooded.  I got my dad to the airport, passing through 3 minor road floods.  A few hours later, my aunt and uncle who live north of me, took my other uncle to the airport.  They reported the river, which flows through my town all the way up to theirs, was very full, but not flooding.  All day Thursday the reports were coming in.  Boulder, much closer to the mountains, and many mountain communities were a mess.  7 inches of rain, when falling in the mountains, falls down to the mountain valleys where the rivers and roads are.  This concentrated water overflows the creeks and small rivers, washing downhill and out into Boulder, Loveland, and Ft. Collins, all of which are plains communities up against the mountains.  On top of that, Aurora, a southEAST suburb of Denver, far from the mountains, as well as my town, far from the mountains, were flooding.  The rain continued pretty hard all day Thursday, and by afternoon the reports were coming in of mountain communities having all roads washed away.  People, homes, and cars were washed away.  Several entire communities were cut off.  No phones (landlines or cells), electricity, water, or sewer.  Water treatment facilities were overcome and raw sewage was flowing out with the rivers.

My aunt and uncle have an adorable tiny 1 bedroom cabin we visit frequently in the summer.  It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place, but it’s right on the river and wonderful for kids.  It’s close to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We love it.  Thursday, morning, my aunt and uncle called their neighbor, who lives there year-round.  As they were speaking, the line went dead.  As far as we know, she and many others are trapped on the wrong side of the river.  News reports have been talking about the plains communities hit, and are not addressing this little town (or many others) in the mountains.  Finally, today, Saturday, somebody managed to get a video out.  It’s so bad, words can’t describe it.  The whole main street minus 1-2 heavily damaged buildings was entirely wiped away.  The Town Hall smashed into the General Store.  The river is partially flowing down what used to be the road.  You can see the people stuck on the wrong side of the river, and you can see a helicopter arriving, which gives me hope they’ll eventually get folks out (doubtful they can land a helicopter in the valley where the people are trapped).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stghpQxrbUQ

Then, Friday afternoon around 4:00, with little rain falling Friday, new severe flooding erupted.  The high rivers had reached Interstate 25 many miles away (20+ miles?).  This is the main north-south highway through Denver and all of Colorado.  It was closed and flooded.  The flooding moved east, dozens of miles away, where several rivers merge.  People were not warned this would happen.  They were caught off guard.  Mostly farms and small towns, they were inundated with a wall of 3-5 feet high/mile wide/fast moving water with no warning at all.  People ran for their lives, leaving homes, horses, cows, and pets to fend for themselves. While my aunt and uncle were looking for news of their neighbors near their cabin, this flood hit their hometown completely unnoticed by them, who had been watching the news nonstop all day. Luckily, their area of town escaped unharmed.  This flooding was predictable, but people were not warned.  The flooding continues even further east today, with entire towns being evacuated.  This water is still pouring out of the mountains.  We’re anticipating more rain through tomorrow.  An entire week of rain, this has never happened in my 22 years here.

And I want to continue my post and my frustration, but as I write, rain is coming, rivers are rising again, and I need to monitor (for whatever its worth) the news.  More later.

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Storm passed with minimal rain on Saturday at our house.  We had significant rain today, Sunday, but all is well here.

Here are my frustrations.  Maybe I bring this on myself.  Maybe other people feel this way.  Maybe I’m insane.  I’m probably insane.  Well, really, there’s little doubt.

I think that despite all of this technology to keep “connected,” we’re as disconnected as ever.  An enormous part of our state has been flooding, but life went on as normal.  The district where I work (although I don’t work Thursdays and Fridays) didn’t cancel school.  Some schools in that district had to be evacuated on Friday.   The police departments were begging people to stay home, off the roads, out of harm’s way, but school went on as normal, work went on as normal.  Helping your neighbor sandbag be damned, economic productivity is top priority.  Go to work, go to school, ignore the dangers going on around you, ignore the people in need, people need you to go to work and be productive, not help one another.  Watch our newscast, but stick your head in the sand, and DON’T GET INVOLVED, unless, of course, you want to donate money.  As I sit here on Sunday now, the Bronco game is on without even having an update ticker run across the bottom of the screen.  As the Broncos play in another state, we’re having more rain, more evacuations, re-evacuations, and additional towns and counties declaring emergencies.  But here, be entertained, don’t help, watch this.

At least this morning we got word that some of the folks/cabin neighbors we know are cut off are ok.  We didn’t find this through the news or county updates.  We found this through other neighbors, who did get out, completely lost their homes, went back yesterday, and helped zipline people across raging rivers, and later on tweeted who was out and who decided to stay.  Still, some names are missing.

Is that what we’re supposed to do?  Maybe I’m abnormal, but I want to do something.  I have a hard time understanding how folks who have lost their homes and evacuated are able to get back in and evacuate others who are stuck while the county/FEMA/other agencies say “it’s raining, we can’t fly, we’re investigating how we can get in to these people.”

Maybe part of this I bring on myself.  Maybe I shouldn’t watch the news.  Maybe I shouldn’t care.  My grandmother, who had problematic health her whole life, used to say, “I have enough problems of my own.  I don’t need to take on anybody else’s.”  I think about that a lot.  She had severe crohn’s disease and outlived all of my other grandparents to the age of 90.  Maybe there’s a lesson there?

That’s just one issue.  There’s more.

I feel like I’m stuck.  I feel like I’m a cog in the wheel of a life that’s dragging us straight to the depths of hell.  And I can’t get out of the wheel.

How does a state, which has had 2 straight years of severe drought, record breaking heat (the days leading up to the flooding, we were breaking record high temperatures, as we have been the last several years) and fires, suddenly drown in water?  What the heck are we doing to our world that we can go from severe, prolonged, water restricting drought to having an entire year’s worth of precipitation dump on us in less than a week?  FYI, some areas of Colorado have had more than 16 inches of rain this week. 

Here I am, while other have no homes, no shelter, no food, eating my Paleo food in my warm home, typing on my laptop, and driving my car.  Begging pardons for those who don’t believe in global warming (I do), but I think everything I do is damaging our planet.  Every grocery bag, battery, device that plugs in, drive to work, etc… is heating up our planet, and mother nature is reacting.  And here’s the kicker, all of that damage, which I am sure is hundreds if not thousands of miles of roads will need to be rebuilt, bridges rebuilt, homes rebuilt, electrical lines rebuilt, sewer lines rebuilt, phone lines rebuilt, businesses rebuilt will be done.  The remaking of these things will cause further environmental damage, and those poor folks who lost everything will again become cogs in the wheel of damaging our fragile planet.

What if, just what if, everybody had solar?  What if those cut-off folks were able to produce some of their own electricity?  The urgency of this situation of people being cut-off wouldn’t be as great.  Electric lines wouldn’t be as important.  What if people were routinely growing 25% of their own food?  What if you were ALLOWED to have chickens in your back yard?  Allowed to have a garden (follow Oak Park Hates Veggies)?  What if 25% of people had aquaponics?  What if we said, “screw the perfectly manicured grass front lawn,” stopped dumping chemicals all over it, and grew veggies?  Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?  That’s what my husband says.  Yet, I think he is almost as interested in being self-reliant as I am, but perhaps for different reasons.  I want off the cog.  He wants more security.

Did I mention Colorado is heavily fracked?  We have oil wells all over the place too.  I wonder what happens with fracking and massive flooding?  The Fukushima of the oil world?  I think we’re just beginning to find out…. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_24095949/colorado-flood-evacuations-broken-oil-pipeline-weld-county   At the same token, we have mile-long trains carrying all giant cars full of coal past our town to the power plant every day to generate electricity.  How big is our planet?  How can we continue to burn everything on it?

Did I mention this showed up out my kitchen window Monday morning?  They’re supposedly removing an old oil or gas well.  I’m nervous.  They were supposed to be done 3 days ago.  They, like everybody else, worked through the flooding.  Ok, my pic won’t upload.  It’s a giant towering rig, complete with a flag on top, out my kitchen window, making lots of noise and smoke, and surrounded by lots of cars, trucks, and a trailer.

I went to church this morning to check in with folks.  Basements flooded, barns flooded, church roof was leaking, some, like us, were dry.  Part of the sermon was on the deaths and rebirths we have in life.  It got me thinking about the death and rebirth of my health as well as some other deaths and rebirths in my life. I can’t help but think this somehow related to me getting off the cog.  Or maybe I am insane…. or having a midlife crisis… or maybe I’m right in thinking the world has gone crazy, and I don’t want to be crazy.  Most of all, I’m finding all of this extremely stressful for some reason.  Help!  I’m drowning in my own thoughts!

Definitely insane 8-O

FYI, the Bronco game ended.  The 5:00 news was cut to about 10 minutes, barely mentioned anything of importance on the flooding, and started another show right on time.  Syria.  I guess that’s more important than what’s going on right here, right now.  Pay attention to that, not this.  **** (that was me swearing)

 

 

 

 

RA News – Celiac Disease or Rheumatoid Disease?

This is important, and complicated, and very very important, and I hope folks read this.  It might be long!

I am a flippin nut, and I know it.  There are times when I would like to go to med school and become a doctor, as I feel I’m too stupid to understand a lot of the medical things that I read.  Lucky for me, my husband has a biology degree, and he can usually put things into terms I can understand.

I started reading about the leaky gut theory a good 12 years or more ago.  The medical community crapped on it as a theory, but the more “alternative” medicine stream was running with it.  The theory is that we eat stuff we shouldn’t, it irritates our intestinal lining, and stuff leaks through the lining and into our bodies.  Some of these things look similar to other proteins and such in our bodies, and therefore confuse our bodies leading to various autoimmune conditions.  The early things I was reading long ago talked about eliminating foods, one at a time, then reintroducing them.  For the few things I did this with (dairy, meat, gluten, sugar), this did not make any significant dent in my rheumatoid disease until I got rid of everything at once (all grain, all animal milk, all legumes, all nightshades).  Now it works.  This is the Paleo Diet I’ve been doing with great results for the last 20 months.

Now, Robb Wolf, one of the Paleo gurus, has a weekly podcast I recently discovered that’s been going since 2009.  I listened to 6 more recent episodes, but found them so intriguing that I started with podcast #1, am currently on #9 and intend to listen to them all in sequence.  There are about 200 of them, so this will take some time (especially since I’m listening to some 2-3 times!)

In a few of his podcasts (around #s 6-8, I think), he’s been talking about transglutaminase.  What the heck is that?  Well, I’m still not exactly sure (can somebody put a medical education in my head to make me smarter?).  The bits I do understand (hopefully correctly) is that transglutaminase has its hand in nearly everything our bodies do, and it’s reactive (aka, doesn’t like) gluten.  Therefore, eating gluten can cause transglutaminase to become mad and piss off any number of things in our bodies (think autoimmune diseases!)  Robb cited a research study where 135 children with type 1 diabetes were screened for celiac disease (celiac disease is autoimmune reactivity to gluten, which causes extreme digestive issues, see this article).  For the mostpart, the children did not meet the criteria for testing positive for celiac.  They were tested further by examining the last layer of protection between the intestines and the body (aka, if “crap” gets through this, it ain’t staying where it’s supposed to), and found that in all of the children, that barrier (can’t remember what that last barrier was called) tested positive for gluten reactions.  This would seemingly indicate that although these children did not have the classic stomach issues of celiac disease, that they did, in fact, have it.  Could this cause type 1 diabetes?  Robb Wolf argued that yes it could.  I agree!

So, I wondered, has anybody looked at this transglutaminase crap with rheumatoid disease?  Well, guess what!  YES!  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21794776

You know what their conclusions were???  With CD being Celiac Disease, ACR being American College of Rheumatology, and RA being rheumatoid arthritis, this is their quote:

CONCLUSIONS:

It is possible that CD may be the correct diagnosis in a patient with polyarthritis, even if the patient meets the ACR criteria for RA. In other words, CD should be considered among the differential diagnoses in a patient with poly-arthritis.

Holy crap, people!  My head is spinning!  Are we all gluten sensitive?  Maybe more than gluten?  What does this mean?????????????

I would LOVE some comments, please, please, please.

And I love Robb Wolf.  I’m only on podcast #9 of 200 or so.  What else am I going to learn?

Recipe – Chris’ All Good Soup Starts with Bacon Soup

This is my husband’s recipe.  It’s awesome!  I went a bit crazy with the camera today, but it was fun!

  • 6 slices of bacon, diced
  • 2.5 pounds of chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large carrots, sliced
  • 5 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or substitute with 1 tbsp dried)
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 4 cups (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water

Saute the bacon on medium heat (stir occasionally) in a large pot until it looks like this.

Bacon.... all good soup starts with it!

Bacon…. all good soup starts with it!

Get out a large frying pan and cook the chicken separately on medium heat until cooked thoroughly.

Cook chicken thoroughly in separate pan, stirring occasionally.

Cook chicken thoroughly in separate pan, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, add the onions to the bacon and cook about 5 minutes or until slightly translucent.  Next, add the celery and carrots to the onions and bacon, like this….  Cook about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

To the bacon and onions, add celery and carrots.

To the bacon and onions, add celery and carrots.

Add Italian seasoning to the bacon.  Add cooked chicken, including the brothy stuff into the bacon pot.

Add the chicken.

Add the chicken.

Add broth, water, and basil.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  It should look like this….

Simmering soup

Simmering soup

Enjoy!