Unexpected Breakthroughs

I’ve had quite a few surprises since I last posted, most of them good, but a few not so much.

The kittens have gotten to the point where they can use a litter box, if they are so inclined. I planned to put them in their “crib” on Saturday (the crib is a large plastic bin with wheels – it’s bigger than the the cat carrier, but it still keeps the little dudes contained and out of trouble) and introduce a litter box. When I woke up, Michael had already moved the kittens to the crib. Good deal. The little girls have sprouted their milk teeth as well, and have shown an interest in eating softened Baby Cat kitten food. They are mostly on the bottle at this point, but it’s nice to see them try food without being forced. At the first feeding since the kittens were moved to the crib, I noticed one of the black boys (we’re calling the larger one Bear and the smaller one Inky) squatting in the litter box. “No way,” I thought, but when he moved, there was the clumped up cake of cat litter (corn based litter, for those who worry). The next morning I noticed a lot of little pee spots in the litter box, so it seems that they all know how to use it. What a great development! These are the easiest bottle-feeders I can recall having.

I’ve achieved my goal of finishing three WIPs to account for the sock I cast on. The good news is, I’m not feeling the itch to cast on a new project – in fact, I’ve been content to finish old ones. As part of my second wave of projects that must be completed before casting on a new one, I’ve made progress on Robert’s boot socks. I was planning to work on the hemp shopping bag as well, but I just wasn’t feeling the project, so I switched it out for the beach skirt that I am designing. The newly cast on socks are part of the three active projects as well. I am doing a lot of traveling, so it’s nice to have that small project to carry around.

I decided that the circle rug did indeed need a border after all. I figured that if I kept thinking about it and feeling guilty for not adding a border, then that meant it was needed. The border helped to soften the edge I left when joining the long strip.

I also finished the Everyday Tweed sweater. This is one of the less pleasant surprises of the week. I made a small size and I followed the pattern. I even made the slightly differing dye lots work with a bit of fancy color work. Still, the sweater didn’t come out right. Somehow, it’s too large around the neck and upper back – the fabric actually bunches up and folds over at the top. It looks nice, though, so maybe I’ll wear it around the house over another shirt on cold days. <sigh>

(the comic is “Rhymes with Orange”)

I also achieved another goal that wasn’t on my list, but it’s something I’ve been trying to achieve for about two years now. (click to enlarge)

I finally broke 200 in bowling! Sweet! My next bowling goal is to get a clean game.

I’ve saved the best for last – I think we’ve finally had a breakthrough in figuring out what is wrong with me. It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll tell it as concisely as possible.

Earlier this week I watched an old episode of Mystery Diagnosis that has been waiting around on my TiVo. Ever since the onset of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’ve tried to get as much information as possible about what could be wrong, both by actively researching my symptoms and by just putting myself in the way of information. The episode I watched was about a kid who kept having hypoglycemic episodes. His were far more severe than mine – he actually had to be hospitalized for his condition. It turned out that he has a genetic condition that causes his pancreas to produce a lot of insulin, regardless of how much he needed to deal with the sugar in his blood.

I thought about my symptoms, and after assembling the puzzle pieces, some things started to make sense. I had a strong reaction to the new supplement. My primary care physician thought it had to do with the ATP in the supplement (ATP is the currency your body uses to transfer energy). I guess that I had so very little ATP that the small amount in the supplement was overwhelming to my body. Well, then I had to wonder, why am I not making ATP? My chiropractic endocrinologist/nutritionist then began to suspect mitochondrial malfunction, and ordered tests for antibodies for that, and a few other things. Those have not come back yet, as far as I know. Working from his theory, I researched what else might cause mitochondrial malfunction. At some point it became obvious – how can the mitochondria produce energy if they aren’t getting the fuel needed to do their job?

I have three known conditions: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (also known as PCOS, which is basically early type 2 diabetes: the patient is declared insulin resistant, but I am coming to suspect that insulin resistance may not be the only cause of the syndrome), Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune low thyroid) and immune system malfunction (overactive, generally). Of these conditions, the one to look at is the PCOS. What if the syndrome is not caused by insulin resistance, but overproduction of insulin? What if I make too much insulin, just like the boy on Mystery Diagnosis, and when I eat, the blood sugar does not get into the cells like it should, and is instead whisked away into storage before I get the chance to use it. It would be like putting so much of your paycheck into savings that you have little to no spending money, to the point where you can’t even pay your bills. I’ve always had high triglycerides, which are your body’s way of storing excess blood sugar. It’s a form of bad cholesterol (sugar combined with some fatty acids).

I brought the idea to the chiropractic “endocrinologist” (I’m going to call him Dr. B), and he said that he had actually discussed that very same possibility with the chiropractic neurologist (Dr. A) the day before. There are several possible causes for the overproduction of insulin, but I only know of two: an insulin producing tumor (called an insulinoma) or a genetic predisposition to produce too much insulin.

Overproduction of insulin (also called hyperinsulinemia) would explain every single symptom I’ve had. The brain cannot store its own energy, so low blood sugar in the body means the brain isn’t getting enough fuel. A doctor on Mystery Diagnosis said that repeated and/or chronic hypoglycemia has the exact same effect on the brain as drowning and being revived repeatedly (because the brain doesn’t store oxygen either). That was the comment that led me to further explore the insulin problem.

I told Dr. B that I wanted to do an experiment. I said that I wanted to add complex carbohydrates to my diet (I’m supposed to be on a grain-free diet right now, per the neurologist, and this involves adding back grains) with protein to slow the absorption. The idea would be to monitor my blood sugar closely to ensure that I didn’t overdo it. I tried this experiment over the last four days (maybe three and a half – I didn’t wait for approval, I was really just telling him what I planned to do with the intention of stopping if he raised a compelling concern). On the first day, I started to sleep better (I now stay asleep rather than waking up repeatedly). On a later day, I started to feel actually refreshed after sleeping (for the longest time it was just like I lost consciousness for a few hours, and when I awoke I was just as tired as when I fell asleep). I’m still sleeping a lot, but I think that’s because I have an enormous energy debt to pay back to my body, and it will take time to do that.

The catch is, I don’t think I can keep this diet up forever. If I do, my triglycerides are likely to go back up, increasing my risk for heart disease. Dr. B is concerned that the carbohydrate load will stimulate even more insulin production, and if that happens, it will eventually become impossible to keep up with it. What I really need to do is find the cause of the high insulin load, and treat that. Depending on the cause, that can be tricky business, and it may mean surgery. But this is getting a little too far ahead – I haven’t confirmed that my (our?) suspicion about the insulin production is correct. It could just be really strong insulin resistance as well (the idea being that insulin tries to get the sugar into the cells, but it can’t so it stores it instead. I’ll explain that further if it becomes the operating theory). I foresee a lot of testing in my future.


One thought on “Unexpected Breakthroughs

  1. I’m so glad to hear you have a new theory, and quite possibly another piece of the puzzle.

    That’s so interesting about how the brain doesn’t store energy. I always wondered why after a hypoglycemic episode, it took me two hours to feel normal again after eating. But that makes sense now.

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