I’d made the decision to try to improve my overall health by adopting a new lifestyle. As I described in my previous post, I believed that a paleo diet made the most sense from a scientific perspective and that an overall lifestyle outlined in Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint” seemed practical and most importantly maintainable. However, before I started this new phase of my life I wanted to perform some tests to make sure I had a record of my health markers going forward.
I had a few existing health problems before starting on this journey, but nothing that I considered major. The most serious was related to Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or reflux as most people know it. I also had a large bump on my upper eyelid that was the result of a blocked oil gland. Other than that I felt a bit tired from lack of sleep after having our baby girl join our family at the start of Janurary, 2012.
My GERD symptoms are not that typical. I would only feel some acid coming into my mouth once or twice a month and had no heart burn problem. However, I had one big symptom that would occur at random intervals; my sphincter would close and stop food from entering my stomach when I ate. Often It would just be a slight delay before I could feel the food or drink entering my stomach, but sometimes it could take minutes or even get to the stage where my saliva would build up in my oesophagus and I’d have to depart to the toilet for relief.
My gastroenterologist did an examination of my oesophagus and stomach by shoving a camera down my throat on a long tube. Thankfully I was not awake when this happened! The results confirmed the irritation of my oesophagus and that I have a hiatal hernia. Apparently the acid was coming up from my stomach and irritating my lower oesophageal sphincter. Then when food came down the hatch it would sometimes cause the irritated sphincter to spasm and close.
Treatment was to take a drug called Nexium daily to lower the acidity of my stomach, thus allowing things to calm down and the sphincter to heal. Then I could gradually come off the drug and hope that things would return to normal. However, that plan never worked! I was fine taking Nexium every other day, or even every couple of days, but as soon as I stopped the symptoms would return in 7-10 days.
At this stage I concluded that I would have to take Nexium for the rest of my life.
I must admit, being male, I don’t spend as much time as my wife in front of the mirror cleaning my face and in particularly my eyes. This fact has obviously contributed to me getting an eye chalazion twice in as many years. This occurs when one of the many oil ducts on your eyelid becomes blocked, gets infected and inflamed. A sty is a bit different from a chalazion in that the sty is obviously infected and quite painful. My chalazion was just an annoying bump resulting from inflammation that would not go away after months and months.
I’d been my GP and to see two specialists about this problem. My wife wanted it removed as she had to look at it, but the specialists insisted on leaving it alone and let it go away naturally.
I went with the specialists, so it was still there before I started on my new lifestyle, much to my wife’s dismay.
My gastroenterologist ordered a barrage of blood tests. I honestly didn’t feel like standing up after the lady had finished taking out all the blood needed. I think it was around seven vials! I also had to do a urine test and stool test.
I’ve never had to do a stool test before. They gave me an appropriately coloured (brown) plastic container, similar in size and shape to the one for the urine test, but the lid included a built-in spoon/scraping device. Not being an expert in these matters I asked for advice on how best to take a sample. The women at the counter seemed as perplexed as me and said “just use the lid to scrape a sample.” Oh really? Wow, I would have never guessed. Thanks for the help! In the end I managed to do the deed without contaminating other body parts, a miracle!
The following day I received a call from my doctor’s assistant that I needed to come in to discuss my test results and that I had to see another specialist! The assistant was not able to tell me why I needed to see another specialist, saying that that I needed to see my doctor to discuss the matter. I was then told to come to her office in a week’s time because the other specialist was only free then!
I was slightly nervous (to put it mildly). Was it cancer, an infectious disease, something that required surgery. My mind was a flurry of activity covering all the hideous possibilities, so I called back and asked to see my doctor as soon as possible.
I went the following day to find out that my cholesterol was quite high, but that was not the big problem. I was told that I have a chronic, autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the result of my own body attacking my thyroid gland. With the thyroid under attack my levels of the thyroid hormones are often too low (hypothyroidism), but can spike to high levels (hyperthyroidism) when part of my thyroid breaks away because of the attack by my immune system.
I was relieved to hear that it is not life threatening and that the medication is quite cheap. Unfortunately, I was told I would have to take a pill every day for the rest of my life.
Luckily a free spot came up with the other specialist, so I was able to go and visit him later that day. In my next post I’ll talk about the visit to my endocrinologist, more about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and the treatment options.