Why I follow the Paleo diet
This is my story of what led my to the Paleo diet.
About 2 ½ years after my dramatic weight loss I fell and seriously injured my back. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and a bulging disc in my low back. I was home bound for three months and I packed on the weight. Then when I was able to return to work the company laid me off. I tried to keep my head up but the economy and politics made it really hard. This was after the 2008 economy crash and salary rates dropped by $10,000 so every company kept telling me I earned too much at my last job so they can’t afford me and are afraid I’ll leave them for a higher paying position. That higher paying position didn’t exist.
In the meantime, I worked hard to strengthen my back and lose weight. I strengthened my back but the weight would not come off. I almost became obsessive about weighing myself. Then I gave up and got frustrated.
I took an odd job of working with City Harvest coordinating volunteers collecting donated food at the end of business, at the largest farmers market in NYC (Union Square Greenmarket). When my unemployment ran out I started doing pet sitting and other odd jobs to bring in any income I could. Eventually, I took a part time job working as an aide to an elderly woman in my neighborhood. That got me out of the house and doing a lot walking, so once again the weight came off when I wasn’t trying.
It was then, however, my back pain started getting worse. So I went to a different back pain specialist who started me on steroid injections. The injections helped dramatically with my pain. A little known fact is these steroid injection side effect in women is heavy prolonged periods the cycle after the injection (I talking two weeks along with the heaviest bleeding I’ve ever had). Oh how could I forget the cramps too.
At the same time, I started getting hot flashes and night sweats. My doctor ran hormone and thyroid blood tests but everything came back normal. A few months later at a regular check up with my doctor I complained again so he ran thyroid tests again, which came back normal again. A few months after that I started having severe pain in my hips. The pain was so bad I could barely climb the stairs in my apartment, let alone the subway stairs. I would calculate extra time in my commute anywhere so I could avoid the subway stairs. I knew I was too young for this pain. I told my pain specialist who had x-rays done, which showed nothing. He gave me a steroid injection in the hip the pain was the worst, which didn’t help at all. I was popping pain pills pretty regular.
Plus, during all this time I had been getting headaches that had no explanation either. I was rather frustrated with having all these symptoms but no reason.
Then in June 2014 I woke up one day with severe pain in my left arm plus my entire arm, hand, and fingers where numb. Not good for anyone, especially when you are left handed and can’t even hold a pen.
My doctor had an x-ray done and he confirmed I had a pinched nerve. I went to the pain specialist who looked at the x-ray and said my neck is “too straight”. I didn’t know that was possible. He ordered an MRI of my head and neck.
In the meantime, my primary doctor ran another round of thyroid tests because my ENT discovered I have a goiter and finally I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I started on Synthroid 25mcg. It takes several weeks to feel the effects of the medicine.
Back to my pain specialist and he looked at my MRI and said I have a bulging disc in my neck which explains the headaches. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere. I agreed to try the steroid injection in my neck. Unfortunately, it didn’t help much.
Meanwhile, I started researching hypothyroidism and ways to help myself feel better through homeopathic methods, such as food. Plus, my neck was getting bigger which I figured that meant my thyroid goiter was getting bigger. It had been a few months and I really didn’t feel much better so asked my doctor to increase my Synthroid dosage to 50mcg.
In January I developed Shingles. I really felt seriously depressed at this point. If you have never had shingles I hope you never get it. It is THE most painful thing I have ever experienced and I’ve had my appendix rupture & given birth to two children. It’s a year and a half later now and I still have occasional flares up of pain (PHN).
Changing my diet
At this point I decided to try a gluten free diet and get strict with not eating dairy. I knew I had become lactose intolerant but wasn’t strict about not eating dairy. At the same time, I had to have a fine needle biopsy of a nodule on my thyroid. The pathologist who did the biopsy is a thyroid specialist. He took one look at my thyroid and diagnosed me Hashimoto’s Chronic Thyroiditis. He told my doctor to run a TPO antibody test and recommended I see an endocrinologist. The TPO came back at over 800 when normal is under 35. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into any endocrinologist for three months and my primary doctor had no clue how to treat Hashimoto’s disease. He actually didn’t believe I even had it even though the lab numbers proving I do were right in front of him.
So I was left to only help myself with no medical guidance. I continued with my gluten free diet, my hip pain disappeared. Plus, I lost a lot weight. After three months of being gluten free I realized I stopped getting migraines. When I finally did get into the endocrinologist he thought I may have Grave’s disease, which causes hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto’s disease, which causes hypothyroidism. I researched again and found it is possible to have both. But, I had to wait another three months to get the results after having the blood work done. The doctor said the results came back inconclusive, meaning I could have had it in the past and went undiagnosed.
Meanwhile, my neck pain and headaches were getting worse. I was taking daily pain medication, which I wasn’t too happy about. So I opted to have radio frequency ablation done. That was the most painful procedure I ever had while I was still awake. It took four different office visits for the full procedure to be complete. But the procedure was successful and I was able to stop the pain medicine. However, my doctor did order another MRI which showed I now have a herniated disc, 2 bulging discs, and degenerative disc disease in my neck. That explained my increased pain.
During this entire time, I got so thin from eating a gluten free diet that my sister said I was the thinnest I had been since I was 14.
This experience made me be ever more conscious about how the food I put in my body affects the way I feel. Eventually I stopped eating foods that fall into the nightshade category, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, because they cause inflammation in the body. I have inflammation in my spine and my thyroid.
I have attempted several times to do the strict autoimmune paleo diet and I am not successful. I really need a live support person.
I have gotten lazy with my eating and therefore have put on some weight. Plus, I can tell by the way I feel my thyroid is getting sluggish.
All of this is what led me to the paleo diet. I’m don’t follow it strict, but I do what I know is best for me. Everyone is different.