Monday, November 25, 2013

3 Hours In Heaven, 3 Days In Misery. Yet There Is HOPE!

morning (Photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt)
Last Monday, which was 7 days ago, I woke up and felt like in Heaven. I went to bank and grocery store, then stopped by a coffee shop for a couple of coffee (hazelnut flavor with french vanilla creamer). I did all of these during one trip, which was quite an achievement to me! I found I was able to smile to people with ease (yes, even smile was energy taking for me for many years) and driving home with a feeling almost could be described as "euphoria". After I got home I turned music loudly and danced like when I was 18!

It was a few hours in Heaven! Really.

About 11 o'clock I went into kitchen to cook my lunch, and found I need some tomatoes. "Sure, I will go get them." I heard myself saying that with confidence. So I rushed out again to grocery store. Just when I was about to be impressed by the fact that I could handle all these things without a bed break, I realized I was reaching the limit of my energy. On the way back from grocery store I "prayed" desperately that my improved condition could keep me stay away from another serious crash, which I hadn't had one for a while. Well, it didn't. My heart started malfunctioning (felt like lack of blood or oxygen) around 3pm and it got worse and lasted for whole 3 days! I did not feel better until Thursday evening (my Wednesday class cancelled). Fortunately, I felt better on Friday, and during whole weekend I felt decent and was able to keep all my weekend classes.

Today is Monday again. Good news is, I have been feeling quite "heavenly" again. This time I was more careful to not have "too many" physical activities.

Living with unknown chronic condition is like walking on the thin ice, you never know when the ice would break. But, despite all of these, I still found my condition has been improved a great deal during the recent 2 or 3 months, first by taking the herbs (beginning of August), soon by completely eliminating regular outdoor exercise (I do yoga stretch daily, which helps blood circulation excellently).

Looking back, since more than a year ago, gradually, I found most of my symptoms were gone: shortness of breathe (the worst), stomach disorder (not much better than the worst), back pain, arthritis, constipation (chronic, for over 3 years long!), and many more (yes, I was totally and chronically screwed!)! Now my heart condition (which was the root problem for all) is pretty much the only symptom that still attack me from time to time. However, during the absence of heart problem - which is still very serious, I definitely feel much more alive. I do hope, after this year - my snake year, my condition could be back to my own "norm", so I could start exercising (walking or biking) regularly. And if I could keep doing that for several month, I could have a "remanufactured" physical health condition!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Progress Made

Pictures of herb samples from categories of Ch...
Pictures of herb samples from categories of Chinese Herbs Tonifying Herbs: Herbs that Tonify the Qi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've been feeling decent for a while (more than half month), except Thursday last week, when I had crash due to cleaning the kitchen floor. It took a couple of days to recover. I think the progress was made by multiple efforts:
1, almost completely cutting off exercises (walking ad biking), only stretch everyday;
2, Chinese herbs;
3, good diet;
4, good rest.

I will keep going like this and see how far I could go.

I realized my "fighting spirit" is very harmful to my health recovering. All these years, as soon as I felt better, I went to walk, or bike, then crashed after. I know my problem is energy, so this means, whenever I had a little energy saved, I used it up by exercise. So basically, I need to stop pushing myself like I was so used to in my first half of my life. I was right to think that life style (even personality) was the primary cause of all this mess. Of course changing life style or personality is nothing easy, but not impossible. And there are always many "blind spots" to discover: first walking (over 10 years ago); second rest (sleep, about 4 years ago); third diet (about 3 years ago); fourth, Chinese herbs (over 2 months ago); fifth, quit exercise (now!). Interestingly, each time I found something I thought it was the "last piece of my health puzzle".

P.S. I was highly annoyed by an incident another day when I encountered a person, who showed a kind of attitude like: What? you are still not well YET? or didn't you mention how much you had learned about health? She didn't say those words, but I just "imagined" all of them by her expression. People just don't know how complicated the condition is. Well, I better not even mention it. But I did, in case someone read this blog, so at least more people would know a little more understanding toward this so called "invisible illnesses".

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Exercise Needs To Be Stopped!

By all these years experience, I think I got enough failures to convince me that exercise is more harmful than beneficial to me, at least during this period of my life. It needs to be stopped. If I desperately need to go outside walking, maximum 15 minutes!
Astragalus is still working. I found it works better when I am not exercising, or more specifically, walking. Stretching is the only type of exercise my body allows me to do. So I should just respect that. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is Change Possible?

1986, Hua mountain in China. It is
one of the most dangerous places
in the world. I wish I could that now. 

Change is not an easy task, especially when we talk about the changes of our life styles. And if the lifestyles are directly related to our personalities, changing them would take a life time to accomplish, or, it's simply a mission impossible.

The reason I bring this topic is because it seems like I need to do some serious change in my life, otherwise I may forever live with my chronic illness.

Just a while ago, I discovered some Chinese herbs that made some tangibly positive effects on me. I am very certain about the effects and very happy about the discovery. However, my progress has not been a straight up line, but up and down. This, I realized, was caused by my personality: I always "overestimate" my condition, overdo what I am actual capable of, so at the end my actions overdraw my energy, lead to "crashing" down, for days, some time weeks. Unfortunately, this would happen even more often when my condition was improved.

Had I not taken all these risks would my condition be different? I simply don't know, because my condition is so weak that the "risks" I am talking about here were literally nothing by normal standards, such as walking 10 minutes more, or shopping one more store, etc. Also, the line between "able" and "not able" is extremely blurry during recent years of my illness. However, I do remember many time, when I reached a point that I hesitated about doing or not doing, continuing or not continuing, I usually choose former, and then suffered consequence later, almost without exceptions. So the question is, why couldn't I choose the latter?

There is a Chinese old saying: "changing the world is easier than changing a personality"(江山易改本性难移). I now have full understanding of this adage. I guess for all my first half of life I have accustomed to this "toughness", fearlessness or even recklessness, and fully identified myself with such character: this, is who I am and without being like this, I am nothing but a living dead. But now everything seems just opposite: I am half dead by being "myself". I even realized how lucky those people who do not need to change their personality are, because adventurous spirit is a quality so enjoyable to possess. Yes, I like to be adventurous, and I also had fun for 30 some years in my life when I was able to be like that, but now, the reality I am facing is, being myself, or suffering consequence. The truth is, I had already changed in a great deal, people who knew me 20 years ago (even 10 years ago) would hardly believe who I am now (of course, the "change" still is just physical wise, inside I am exactly the same person). But it seems not enough. My physical condition requires me to act like a complete reserved and "timid" person who must always choose not risking, always tell people and myself "no, I can't", instead of "yes I can!" (NO MATTER HOW TERRIBLE IT SOUNDS TO SOME "POSITIVE" PEOPLE).

Can I do that? I am not sure, but I like to try (guess I already made progress here :-), because this is by far the last hope I've got, if I wanted to live healthily, if I wanted to be that "original self".
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Herbs Worked This Time!

Astragalus membranaceus--黃耆/北耆
Astragalus membranaceus--黃耆/北耆 (Photo credit: jennyhsu47)
Auguest 2nd, 2013, Friday, was the day I like to remember. On that day, I started taking some herbs that I had hitherto not "believed": astragalus root (黄芪), Chinese dry red dates (红枣). Before that day, for years, I often suffer serious shortness of breath. Even overall condition improved during recent years, but I never found a way to get rid of them completely. During the past several months, ever time after I walked about 30 minutes, sometime even only 25 minutes, I crashed with breath and heart problem. I also had talking issue, feeling extremely difficult to speak, almost each class was a (more or less) struggle. But on the second of last month, after I made tea with these two herbs, I felt these symptoms were immediate relieved (I was be able to talk on the phone all the afternoon). And that weekend (Sat and Sun) I finished all my classes without much difficulty. The following week I had a serious crashes but the fault was mine: I overestimated my condition and went out with a friend. After that I learned to be careful and since then, I felt better and better each day, no crashes, all my daily routine works were handled with ease. And most importantly, I could walk at least 30 minutes without any crash!

It was about 3 years ago that I gave up Chinese herbs. I found they weren't helpful. I tried all kinds of Chinese herbs include these two (astragalus and red dates), together with many others, some by my own researches, some by Chinese doctors' suggestion, but never felt any discernible effects. What made this time so different? I have been wondering. Honestly I do not know for sure, but these are what I could think of right now: first, my condition back then was extremely bad, herbs alone might not be enough. I was probably right by focusing on diet and rest, because those are so essential to all our physical function. Secondly, I believe how I took those herbs back then was not "right". What I did mostly was putting them in soup, so basically I only had them when I ate my meals, thus the amount might not enough. Also herbs could be over cooked with soup. In case I was prescribed Chinese doctors, there were always many different kinds, and I drank only two or three times a day. I never really focused on these two herbs alone.

The way I take these herbs this time is super simple: just put them in a big thermo bottle, pour in boiling water and wait for about 10 minutes, then pour half the tea out of thermo into a cup (ready to drink), and refill thermo with hot water (This is how Chinese people drink tea). During morning I would drink about 3 cups of it, afternoon, another 2 or 3 cups. As I keep refilling water, the herb tea gets thinner and thinner toward the end of day, so I pretty much finish my "ritual" around dinner time.

I also put some other type of herbs in the tea, such as lycium (枸杞) and ginseng. For red dates, I like to eat them separately more than with tea because they really taste good. All these additions, I did it based on some researches and my "hunch". Not sure if they worked the way they should, but I was sure astragalus root and red dates worked.

My taking action on Chinese herbs this time, caused by a conversation I had with a Chinese friend who knows Chinese medicine in good deal. I told her how I gave up with herbs and only believed in diet. She disagreed and insisted that herbs were nutrition, not "medicine". And she insisted astragalus root should be good for me. After thinking of my condition, reckoning about the fact that I had been focusing on diet for almost 2 years, still nothing fundamental occurred, so I decided to open my mind again, trying something I didn't believe. And I am glad I did!

What astragalus (or together with red dates) does to me is enhancing my immune system. At least this how I feel like. It this sounds abstract, let me put it this way: astragalus obviously stopped my hunger problem. For all these years, if I didn't eat right or enough, I would feel extremely weak. And when I felt hungry, I felt I was dying (heart function would be messed up, shortness of breathe would occur, and dizziness), instead of just hungry. Now, after drink this herb tea, I do not feel I need eat much. As matter of fact, I started eating very little, and still feeling energetic. This change was so drastic and so "concrete" that I could not deny the fact by assuming it was my mental illusion (needless to mention that I did not believe it before I tried). Astragalus also "accidentally" cured my UTI - the symptom that brought me to ER, because two or three days after I took herb tea my UTI symptom was gone completely (antibiotics worsened my heart and breath problems so I had to quit it). By the English documents I read online, astragalus can be poisoning and has some side effects, but some Chinese documents suggest the side effects of astragalus are very little (probably it has the least side effects among all known herbs, or not any more poisoning than some foods or daily drinks, such as coffee and tea!). For these 30 days, my experience told me that I did not feel any  side effects (I take ~30 g each day).

Red dates, by Chinese medcine, is good for people who have anemia. Though I was never diagnosed of anemia by modern medicine, I was always "diagnosed" of anemia by Chinese medicine. Regardless the conflicted interpretation about anemia, eating lots of red dates indeed made me feel different. Overall, these two herbs together seems to be the best for women who have general energy problems, as traditional Chinese medicine believes.

I really feel my energy rushed back to me during the past month. I have reason to believe, had I tried these herbs by this way (tea) 2 years ago, my past 2 years would be different. Of course, other than taking herb tea, I believe lots of other things I did also worked: low carb diet, getting rid of coffee, tea, and spicy foods, lots of water (of course I had to reduce water intake after I started drinking herb tea). However, the drastic energy change took place precisely on the day I started this herb tea!

I would not say I am recovered totally. No, far away from it. But good thing is I can exercise daily now, and I know by doing this, my heart condition - the root problem of all problems - would eventually be solved! I will reduce the amount of astragalus root (from ~ 30g to ~20g each day) for this month, and see what would happen this month.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Turning Point?

10 Secrets About Your Metabolism That Can Help...

About a week ago I rushed into ER due to UTI condition, since then I found that I have been experiencing a major change, a positive one.

Slow metabolism has been my primary issue for years. I had been suffering chronic constipation forever  (over 3 years, I would say). It was an obstacle to many other progresses. But this time, by curing my UTI, my constipation problem seems to be alleviated in a considerable scale. Lots of water certainly did its job. However, it is not water alone, ridding of caffeine (include tea!), low carb diet seem to be all important reasons.

As long as my metabolism back to normal, my energy should be (it is) much more improved, and I should be able to exercise regularly. And as long as I could exercise everyday, my heart problem will be gone soon and I should be back to health again!
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ER Experience

Just spent whole night last night busy with my first ER experience in this country. It was "interesting"! First I went to Duke hospital after 2am this morning. After waiting for over an hour, around 4am this morning, I asked a lady who sat beside me how long she had been waiting, she said she was there since 11pm, and someone was there since 7pm. So I figured that I could not handle this (waiting for this long without a comfortable bed is simply a mission impossible), decided to leave for home.
A while later, since my symptom was not relieved, I called UNC hospital emergency department, and found they was no waiting line at all. I rushed there and got everything taken care of, and came back around 10am this morning. I am grateful, only wish I went to UNC first so I did not have to waste so much time in Duke Hospital.
Hope I could never go back there again!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Diet Changing & Stopping completely Walking and Biking

After almost one month relapse, my energy is getting back gradually. I have been feeling quite good for about  one week. What I did this time, by "listening to my body", are: 1, cutting off white rice, coffee. This helped me with constipation problem; 2, very importantly, I almost quit walking and biking completely for over a week. This helped resting my heart, so I don't get crash; 3, doing lots of stretches, which helps keeping my blood circulating without burden my heart.

So far, it works quite well.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Some "Interesting " Change

For almost all of my life I was afraid of "cold". I usually felt terrible during winter, and started to feel better during spring, but recent year my body seemed to have changed. I feel good during autumn, winter is OK, and early spring I feel good too, but between spring and summer, the extremely humid weather makes me feel terrible - I feel very easy to get tired, all my arthritis problems would get more serious, and lots of "crashes" due to my heart malfunction.
I have reason to believe one of very important reasons of this change is due to the significant amount of parasites my body carries. During spring, all kinds of lives revive, include parasites. So during this time, the immune system of my body gets busy in dealing with all the parasites inside my body, thus working on my daily life routine would be a burden to the immune system, and consequently I easily feel tired.
Sound very simple, but I am quite convinced.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Relapse, That's What It Is.

Sick in bed
Sick in bed (Photo credit: tpholland)
It's has been 9 days. Yesterday after I did some gardening I felt really good, so I thought I would varnish one of my painting. However, the cap of varnish bottle was too tight, I tried a little too hard, then, my heart went "wrong", I had no choice but lied down for all the evening. Today, I was not totally recovered, but I did feel better afternoon. I canceled my weekend classes again, in order to rest more. I want to make sure that I am in "working condition" before I resume my classes. Yes, I am going to "spoil" myself.

Now I have to think what I did wrong, cause this relapse. Honestly I do not know for sure. Looking back, the previous several months, I was doing pretty good. The only thing beside "too much" exercise was coffee. I always had a couple cups of coffee each day. So I will completely get rid of it until I can regularly exercise every day!
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Still Not There Yet

I was extremely happy that I made two friends in "real world". One of them visited me yesterday. We had great time. However, after she left, I knew I was in "trouble". The rest of evening I had to lie down in bed (otherwise my heart would malfunction). Today, I found that I was not recovered, so my class has been canceled.
Friend's visit was not the only cause for my temporary slipping back. I biked yesterday morning, did a little grocery shopping, all these add up, cause this "minor" crash!
I know I will be back to my "normal" probably later of today. However, I found, talking is still one of the most energy taking thing for me to do. And what this tells me is, I am still prohibited from social life.
Maybe, this is my fate. I am fine just living with myself and I can live happily. But if talking, a function that most people would not even feel a slightest problem is continue to be a big problem for me, that only means I am still in great energy "shortage". And as I get old, this would inevitably cause me more problems.
I figure that since this year, so far, averagely, I am about 70% of myself. My goal is not only recover to my own 100%, which is only 80% (or even less than) normal healthy people, but to some 110% of myself, somewhere close to normal health standard. So, a long way to go.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Free From Too Much Cooking

Foto de una carretera en la cual se destacan a...
Foto de una carretera en la cual se destacan anuncios de los restaurantes de comida rápida KFC, Wendy's y Taco Bell entre otros. Picture of a highway in which fast food ads are featured:KFC, Wendy's and Taco Bell among others. Taken in Bowling Green, KY. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think my condition is improving, though not so obviously. One big change recently is my diet, I started eating out. My stomach seems to be more tolerant and I could eat lots of different foods from restaurants, especially fast food restaurant. Eating many "junk foods" doesn't seem to be bad at all. Actually I feel better, due to the diversity of foods I ate. Another good thing about eat out is, I do not need to stand up too much like I did before when I had to cook. I realized, since cooking requires lots of standing up, cooking too much also means to burden my heart. That could be one reason my recovery was so slow.
This change gives me lots of free time, I feel so much happier to be able to get away from kitchen. But still, I need to watch closely about what I eat. If my stomach demands, I will
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Another Small Crash & A Little Doubt

Yesterday, I felt good all day until 6pm, then crashed after about less than 2 hours gardening work. Frustrating.

Some time I had to wonder, my heart might suffer some permanent damage, because I have been doing decent job on diet and rest for over a year. It seems, every time when I felt good and tried to make a next move, I crashed. I heard long time ago that if our health condition don't get recovered by 40 year-old, it would be very hard to recover completely. I am close to 50. So chance seems slim. If I could not make further improvement, it would be very hard for me to live a quality life because it would be very hard for me to convince doctors that I have health issue, and accordingly get financial help from government which I deserve since years ago (part of reason that I recover so slowly is because I had to make living. However I am not worried too much because I believe my worst was gone).

But still, I refuse to accept this as fact, only a theory. I am about 70% recovered, will try my best. I hope after this year I will see some fundamental change.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Small Crash

I had a small crash these days after I over walked in the past Tuesday. It was a deja vu, since most of my crashes were due to the same reason: over exercise. It was inevitable, because I walked in trail, when I found I was tired, I still had to walk the whole way back to my car, during which I knew I was doomed!

For years I have been made same mistakes over and over again. It happened always during the time I felt good. It is frustrating. Good thing is, it's not a relapse but a small crash, which takes me about several days to recover (I thought it would only take 1 or 2 days, but today is the forth day, and I don't feel completely over yet).

Another thing is, looking back, my health condition went straight downward since I started cooking at home, when I started my art classes, in 2009. Even though I tried my best to cook well, still, I found my own foods were some time worse than those from malls. Plus, cooking is hard for me, because the worse thing for my weak heart is standing, and when I cook I have to stand most of time. Recently I felt so tired of my foods so I started to spend lots of money eat out. Strangely, I felt better! I guess it is the diversity of foods that gives me some energy. I need to discover some new good good foods in restaurants, not only Chinese, but also American foods. I really like steak sandwich. It gives me lots of energy.

More and more, I found there is not certain way to make me feel healthier. I just need to follow my instinct, my stomach.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Improvement!

37 minutes walking on Tobacco Trial yesterday, 40 minutes today, no crash, even feeling better after. This is my new "record" in at least two years. I am happy for that. Diet is the "hero" of this improvement, I would say.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Start!

English: An orange sunrise at the ocean in Sou...

Since my last heart attack in October, I pretty much found the last piece (hopefully) of my health puzzle: over-exercise. And since then I rest a lot, and found my energy increased day by day.

To say "over-exercise", I don't mean 45 minutes running on treadmill and followed by 10 weight lifting. No, I mean a few minutes more walking (my average time of daily walking is about 25 - 30 minutes, even less). My body, especially my heart, seemed to be pushed a little hard by my previous biking and walking improvement. So I had to slow down a little. Even though I knew this piece of puzzle long time ago, I had not really learned the right control. I walked or biked a little as long as I felt I could. However, this time I canceled these activities completely for a short period of time. And it worked! It was exactly what my heart needed!

For several months (that is from November to January), I started feeling incredibly easy on my daily life. I am able to handle all routine tasks and even some extra energy to enjoy myself. Yes, I still have some symptoms, but those are no more "fatal" ones like my heart and breath problems, which knocked me down totally. I realized this means that my body energy storage increase. And my careful diet certainly was the hero of this achievement!

This year is "Snake" by Chinese zodiac calender, I am snake. In my previous Snake year (12 years ago) I got my green card approved, this time, I hope my health will get some fundamental change, which will serve as "green card" for my new life.

I've already seen the light!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Depression Or "Depression"

For all those who seem to be depressed and lack energy, people just simply label them as "depression". However, there is a significant difference between "I can do, but I don't want to do" and "I want to do, but I can't".