Rheumatoid Disease – Perfecting Homeostasis

When I googled the definition of homeostasis, I got this: “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”  I heard this term recently, and thought it to be a great way to think about my RA issues, but there might be a much simpler definition: balance.

I realize more and more every day that I can control so much of my health, especially my rheumatoid.  I know there are many people out there who haven’t taken this journey, but I really believe it can be done.  Will it cure me?  Probably not.  Will it allow me to live many more disability free years?  I think so.  Will it treat my pain and fatigue?  Absolutely!

Here’s part of the deal though. I’m up and down.  The last 6 months or so, I’ve been up and down a lot.  Leg cramps, kidney stones, low thyroid (a medication issue, not really anything I can control as I will need to take the meds forever as I have no functioning thyroid), some RA pains (mild), and lately some reflux (still trying to figure that out!)  Does that scare me or bother me?  A little bit, but not as long as I get back to my balance, my homeostasis.  In my best recent homeostasis, I’m 133 pounds, have a little bit of muscle/strength, no fatigue, no pain, sleep well, feel good.  In my best recent homeostasis, I’m happy, have more energy, and am less prone to a shock to my system.

How do I get to my perfect homeostasis?  I’m not 100% sure, but I’m working on defining it.  I’ve determined that it needs better definition, but I also believe that my perfect homeostasis definitions may change over time.  Right now, I’m thinking about my “best” homeostasis rather than perfect, because I think my “best” can still improve.

Here’s what I know about my best homeostasis:

  • It includes the Paleo Diet, which has impacted my RA, triglycerides, energy, pain, blood pressure, fatigue, weight, liver function, thyroid eye disease, cholesterol, and more all in a positive way.
  • It includes keeping my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone around 1.0 (or crazy things happen to my body).
  • It includes exercise, particularly light to moderate strength work.
  • Good sleep.
  • Near perfection in all of the above

Here’s what I think I know about improving my homeostasis, but I’m still working on:

  • Improving vitamin D level (dang it if I can’t get above 26).
  • Improving magnesium levels (which I hope will improve glutamate issues I have)
  • Juicing.  I think this helps, and I’ve gotten away from it.  I have to revisit.
  • Better gut health, which I think has improved, but still needs work I “think” around fat digestion and gut flora.

Here’s what I’m currently struggling with:

  • Leg cramps, which might be low magnesium.
  • Reflux which might be caused by my magnesium supplement.
  • Getting back to 133 pounds.  I got up to 145 when my thyroid levels tanked, dropped to 140, and have stayed there for quite a while.
  • Getting my stress under control.
  • Getting back to exercising, which I think got messed up when my fatigue kicked in due to low thyroid.
  • Can’t wait until I’m out of work for summer, so I can focus better on some of these things.  It’s so much easier to decrease stress when I’m not working!

Random things that I do to mess up my homeostasis:

  • Sit out in the cold and rain to watch my son’s baseball game
  • Change shoes
  • Get stressed out/take on more than my body’s capability
  • Sleep too much (yeah, I have more issues with too much sleep than not enough)
  • Eat out when my food might be cross contaminated with non-Paleo things.
  • Cheat too much with dark chocolate??? (RA? reflux?)
  • Drink green tea or have balsamic vinegar (hives)
  • Go to bed too early
  • Drink alcohol (seem to tolerate rum better than anything else)
  • Getting cold in almost any fashion
  • Not being perfect
  • Probably thousands more things

About being perfect.  I can’t be.  I don’t think anybody can be.  Sometimes I want to have an alcoholic drink or eat an entire bar of chocolate after a stressful day.  And you know what?  I can, and I do.  I just know it will break homeostasis, and I’ll have to be better the next few days to get it back.  What happens if I don’t get back to my rules?  Well then, my homeostasis will change for the worse, and I won’t get back to the happy place I was.  That won’t work for me.  I make choices daily that determine how my body will react.  If I continue to make the wrong choices, my body isn’t going to be the happy place I want it to be.  So, I try not to make too many wrong choices.  I choose the harder diet and the stricter rules because it pays off.

What’s your best recent homeostasis?  What can/do you do to change it for the better or worse?

FYI, it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m up writing this because I stayed out in the cold and rain at my son’s baseball game.  I got too cold, came home and got in bed too early, and I’ve been awake since 1:00 AM.  I made the decision to get out of bed, as this break in sleep will likely help me have a better RA day tomorrow than sleeping too long.  Decisions.



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