Friday, July 26, 2013

MTHFR treatment, month three

So, things are still going well, but maybe not quite as great as before. Still WORLDS better than before I started working the the latest doctor - www.revolutionarymd.com.

SUPPLEMENTS LIST
1) L5Methylfolate
2) Methylcobalamin
3) P5P
4) NAC
5) ALC
6) Vitamin C
7) Vitamin D Oil
8) Cholacol
9) Protofood
10) Okra Pepsin E3
11) Zymex
12) Fish Oil
13) DF SP Complete (nutrition shake)
14) OptiCleanse (nutrition shake)

(Not a small list, by any means).

LIFESTYLE CHANGES
1) Cut back on alcohol (didn't eliminate it though)
2) Dairy free (as opposed to occasional little bits)
3) Gluten free (about 95% there, probably need to do a little more research)
4) 5 meals a day as opposed to 3
5) Starting Yoga & Pilates - doing occasionally right now, working up to 3 nights a week
6) Epsom Salt baths every other night
7) Weekly chiropractor adjustments (technically not a change, but part of the program as-is)
8) More frequent walking/longer walking. (i.e., was walking the dog 3 times a day x 5 minutes -- now walking the dog 2 times a day x 5 minutes plus once a day for 15 minutes - plus a 15 minute and a 30 minute walk every day at work)


Additions that I need to get taken care of... money has been an issue lately - so as I can get discounts and/or other options and/or the money gets a little more flow-y my direction-y; we'll address these.
1) Regular lymph drainage massages
2) accupuncture
3) purchase an LED light treatment device for chronic muscular/tendon-related pain

All told, my energy level is still vastly superior to where it was before. Not quite where it was two months ago... but pretty darn good. Pain kind of comes and goes. Epsom salt baths have helped the most... but the leg pain comes back at about the 36 hour post-bath mark with some severity as well as kicking up a pissy-fit if there's going to be any weather changes. The pain in the upper back - best described by a friend - feels like someone poking me between the shoulder blades with the end of a broomstick.... that's pretty constant and uncomfortable these days. I rarely am pain free there. The chiropractic treatment is helping a little... but within 30 minutes or so of treatment, it's hurting pretty bad again. Tooth pain is much reduced (but what do you expect when I only have seven teeth left and the rest are dentures. I'm having some denture pain, but am scheduled in a week or so to get fitted for new liners for the upper dentures and hopefully that'll help some.

All the peripheral nuerologic symptoms are down to a level so mild that it's pretty ignorable.

About the only other symptom I have that is still giving me fits is the occasional 'can't think' 'can't focus' 'out of it' stages. The issue is that I have a few hours a few days a week at work where it kicks in and I'm pretty useless. No one is complaining, thankfully I have enough good days and good hours that folks around me at work are excited I'm there to pitch in... I just wish I was able to be a good performer consistently and not get into those 'ugh' times.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cutting the Cable - but still love TV? Here's what I'm doing.

I have been spending TOO MUCH money on my cable bill. Too much! For too long! But, I kept paying the bill because it was SO HANDY having DVR set up. I loved, LOVED having my favorite shows just 'appear' in my Recordings menu without me having to pay attention to what channel they are on, when they come on, when the season starts, or anything. Once I have set up a series recording, my work is done and I just get pleasant news when a new episode appears in my list to watch.

BUT. I was paying an ungodly amount of money for the convenience. $120 a month x 12 months = $2,400. Because I liked the convenience.

I had purchased a Roku device last winter as a Christmas gift to myself, my son and also gave one to my other son.

One of the benefits of Roku is that it's REALLY easy to add Netflix and watch movies/old shows on the TV very conveniently. Streaming online on a laptop isn't family television - it's watching a computer monitor. Streaming to the TV though? Nice. Convenient.

But, Netflix doesn't have recent television episodes. And, while I'm also sort-of thinking about Amazon Prime - they don't have recent television episodes either.

Hulu Plus though? Does. Some. Some are limited to PC only. Still not 'quite' as convenient as my previous DVR experience with cable... you have to know to go check for the most recent episode. But, better. Plus they have a lot of shows not found on Netflix nor Amazon Prime. I just wish that the studios wouldn't put the "web only" (i.e., pc not Roku) limitation on their deals with Hulu Plus.

Vudu - Vudu is a pay-per-view or purchase option for movies and/or tv series. I just popped down a $20 charge to purchase the First Season of Defiance (otherwise only available via PC on Hulu Plus or SyFy.com). That means I can pop-up and view any episode in the season at any time on any PC with a roku device (which are all of our TV's)... and get to watch it as often as I want. What I'm thinking is that there are probably two or three shows that I would want to do this with. Falling Skies is one that I'm debating buying the latest season of... because I will rewatch it repeatedly. In my opinion, this is handier than buying a DVD season collection, because I don't have to store the DVD's find them - figure out where the case is, etc. AND I don't have to store the data on any hardware - it's all stored on Vudu - you are just buying the 'rights' to stream it when you want to.

And the last piece of the puzzle? I haven't done it yet. But here's how I plan on catching new shows on the network and/or series that might not be free on the other services, but also not worth owning the season as I won't watch them a dozen times.

1. Purchase an HD-tuner for my son's desktop PC
2. Install free-ware DVR software on son's desktop PC
3. Configure his DVR software to utilize his existing PLEX Server which already can stream from his PC to any Roku box

This will get us the ability to record from the free HD networks in our area. I don't have an HD box now (as I was using a cable box, I didn't need one)... so I'm not entirely sure which networks are free these days. Obviously, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS... but maybe FOX and some other networks as well...

As it is, all of our DVD movies (well, almost all, still working through the pile) have been converted to digital format and/or downloaded the digital copy and are available via PLEX. This lets us all enjoy any DVD from our collection on any Roku on our TV's without dealing with the DVD itself. This is especially useful now that my last DVD player has died. I'm debating about buying a Blue Ray player - and may still - maybe. But the digital copy is easier and preferred. So, let's say that Son #1 is watching movie XYZ. And I get to watch the first hour of it before I have to go somewhere. And Son #2 gets to see 5 minutes of it, and decides he wants to watch it from the beginning. Son #1 can keep watching from where he is. Son #2 can go into the other room and start the movie over again from the start. And I can come home in 15 minutes and start the movie in a third room over from the 1 hour mark where I had to step out. You cannot beat that for convenience. Seriously.

Now, some of these are monthly charges. Some of these are one-time expenses. But I'm saving a LOT of money.

Here's a one year comparison on expenses (including the purchase of all devices):

CABLE - $2400 - year 1
ROKU & services - year 1:
 - 3 Roku devices = $200
 - HD Digital Tuner = $100 (probably less, but I haven't finished deciding which device is best)
 - 12 months Netflix = $100
 - 12 months Hulu Plus = $100
 - Vudu purchases - (doubling, plus extra over what I think I'll spend in case I end up buying more than planned)  = $100
Total = $600

So, in the first year, alone - I should expect to save around $1800. But the savings next year?

CABLE - $2400 - year 2
ROKU & Services - year 2
- 12 months Netflix + 12 months Hulu Plus + Vudu purchases = $300

Second year and later savings??? $2100 per year.

Is it as convenient? Nope. It's not. But it's pretty darn nice.

Now, some folks will wonder why I'm not including WiFi and Interenet expenses into my calculations - after all - you don't need to pay for Internet with Cable to watch tv; but do if your streaming. The reason I didn't include it is because I WAS ALREADY paying for high-speed Internet BEFORE I cut the CABLE. Lots of folks do. So, in my calculations, it's a wash. For everyone else - it's probably a $40 to $60/ month additional expense. So the savings wouldn't be quite as dramatic... but if, like me, you arleady have a highly networked/internet life .... then maybe it's time to consider swtiching over to other options.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Moving in next door

I live in a really quiet apartment complex. It's a little run down. It's a little under-tended. My neighbors tend to be either young couples or older women and/or couples. It's in a great neighborhood (though a little too close to the Interstate). And it's the least expensive apartment in the area that has decent-sized one and two bedroom apartments WITH A WASHER AND DRYER in unit. Which is awesome. Plus a nice pool. Plus a hot tub (though I really wish they could swap up the plumbing on it so the hot tub could be open year round... right now it's only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day along with the pool. It's nice, but who has a hot tub they can't leave in use over the winter?

Knowing it's a good place to live, my future daughter-in-law made a choice to move in. Not just into my apartment complex, but into the apartment across the hall from me. As in, she didn't want to move if she couldn't get that apartment.

Truth is, we get along well, really well. But I'm not sure we get along that well... lol. My son and I drive each other crazy when we live together. But thankfully, we won't be living together, just almost.

We plan on sharing wifi - I will probably need to invest in an extender on the wifi...

We plan on sharing school drop off and pick up duties... which means neither of us needs to pay for daycare.

They watch my son often as it is, and borrow my car sometimes and help with tending to my animals when I take trips. I watch their son often as it is... and help tend to their cat when they are traveling... all of that becomes SUPER easy when it's across the hall. We frequently have family game nights and make meals together.... again. Super easy to do when it's going to be so convenient. They come over all the time to use the pool at my complex now... and now... without having to drive over, they can do it anytime they have a half hour or so instead of when they have a whole afternoon. Plus sometimes, with only one car between them - they often get stuck at home without being able to drive over to come swimming... once they move, that won't be an issue any more.

Add the fact that both their son and my youngest play together well, and will now have a built-in playmate to do something together outside and my son might be more inclined to go out to play.

All in all, it seems like a really good deal.

Only they are really young. And they tend towards fighting if they've been drinking. And there is a lot of drama in their lives. My life is drama-free right now. Things are going to change. They move in on the first - AND they've signed a two year lease.... yikes. I'm hoping that with clear boundaries that things will work out as well as we both hope for.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

MTHFR - a layman's definition

MTHFR is an abbreviation for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase -- which I couldn't even attempt to pronounce. 99% of the people just skip right to using the acronym, because holy moly there are a lot of sylables in that name. My biggest issue is that every time I see the acronym my mind fills in the blanks with curse words... which is actually apropos as if you have this? It's something you probably feel like swearing about.

What it is, it's a gene. We all have that gene. But some of us, have defects in that gene.

99% of the doctors practicing western medicine and following studies based on about five years ago, will tell you that there is very little to worry about. It comes with a slightly higher risk of cancer (which as long as you are doing normal, healthy prevention - shouldn't be an issue) and a slightly higher risk of blood clotting (which, until you have a clot is usually not something most people worry about).

1% (well, that's probably an over-estimation)... probably .005% of the Doctors though are figuring out that it's so much more than that.  The issue is that not everyone with MTHFR defects gets ill.

MTHFR defects are proven to impact the methylation process. Standing alone, there's probably not much impact to a single genetic issue. But if you combine other defects in the other genes that impact the methylation process OR if you combine these defects with either a poor diet, and/or high exposures to toxins and it's a recipe for trouble.

I went to http://www.23andme.com and I ordered the $99 DNA test. I ran those results through Genetic Genie. And through that, I found I have 13 genetic defects within the Methylation cycle, five of which are homozygous.  The rough rule of thumb that these specialists are finding is that if you have a couple of defects, you'll probably get sick in your 80's (and let's face it, if you get sick in your 80's who isn't going to blame it on 'getting old'). If you have five to ten of them, you'll probably get sick in your 60's (that's when my mother got ill). If you have more, you'll probably get sick in your 40's (that's what's happened to me). But, you might experience symptoms your whole life. Being fatigued (but in today's world, who doesn't get tired), dairy intolerance and/or gluten intolerance (which, let's face it almost seems like a trend it's so common these days). Looking back at my life, I remember my mother insisting I get tested for diabetes when I was 18 because I was always so tired. I had chronic tendonitis in my wrists and forearms starting in my mid-20's.... dental issues my whole life... all with possible links to methylation issues.

The methylation process has two primary jobs. I'm going to speak to each one individually.

It is responsible for processing and converting B vitamins into a form that the body can use. Sadly, what this means is that most fortified foods (almost anything containing flour in the US, as well as lots of cereal and lots of juices, etc.)... is almost always fortified with Folic Acid, B12 (in cyanocobalamin form) and B6 vitamins. All of which can be virtually toxic to someone whose methylation process isn't working correctly. I have been told twice that I've gotten toxic by taking a single, over the counter pill of B6 daily. I've also been told a dozen times by a dozen different doctors that it's not possible to get toxic on a single, over the counter pill of B6. Guess what. If your body can't break it down into the form it can use? It builds up in the blood and becomes toxic. I've also been told that a) you can't get too much B12 (cyanocobolomin) and that b) you can't get toxic on it. But, my blood tests show off-the-charts high levels of B12. Maybe MOST people dont' get toxic on it. Maybe MOST people find that their body can eliminate it in urine. But NOT EVERYONE. And ? MTHFR defects account for 60% of the population. It's COMMON. Now, having one genetic defect might not make a difference. Having 13 HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE TO ME.

Generally speaking, if you don't get cancer or blood clots - but have this and are ill. The doctors won't look for it, nor treat it. Because they just don't know enough about it. BUT I wish they would look at their test results and realize that if you have all the symptoms of B vitamin deficiency (which in it's worst case, is lethal) AND you're B vitamins are sky high on all the test results that it's not a case of hypochondria. There's probably a reason behind both - and that reason is highly likely related to defects in the Methylation cycle.

The second job that the methylation process has is to help break down and eliminate toxins.  If it's impaired, then suddenly the 'safe levels of exposure' probably aren't as safe. A lot of people with chemical sensitivity, high mercury levels, etc. THAT WERE NOT EXPOSED TO HIGH LEVELs are probably also people who have MTHFR. Because the body just can't break down the chemicals into a form that can be easily eliminated as well as it should. Again, the number of genes and the amount of exposure would account for why not everyone with MTHFR would automatically have issues at a younger age. But with time, and toxic build up over the years, eventually you would hit a limit. I truly believe this part of the impairment in the process is related to why MTHFR people will have higher rates of cancer.

So - with B vitamins not getting utilized as well, and toxins building up - it's a pretty easy link to think that a lot of people with undiagnosed, unexplained chronic health issues AND MTHFR defects might get better if they help support the MTHFR cycle. And that's what the specialists who have been working on this over the last five years have found.

First step - find out if you have any MTHFR or other Methylation Gene defects. It's a $99 test. Seriously, go find out.

Second step - find a specialist - this is the hardest part. There are maybe two dozen who 'get it'.

Third step - follow the recommended protocols. It usually starts with taking bio-available forms of B vitamins that skip the methylation process and give you the vitamins in a form you can use. It usually includes lifestyle changes and diet changes to eliminate sneaky fortified foods and reduce toxin exposures. With no other health issues - the specialists are finding patients are RAPIDLY seeing DRAMATICALLY improvements within mere days or weeks of treatment.  NOTE: vast majority of treatments don't include prescriptions. Over the counter supplements and making better, educated, healthy choices? It's worth it! It really is.