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Elise Manion

Author of Contemporary Romantic Fiction

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Health

Keto Me

DISCLAIMER: This article is about me and my own results. I am not a doctor, nor a licensed health-care professional. Eating Keto is a personal preference.

Last spring I changed doctors. If you’ve read my previous posts about my dad, you’ll understand why I switched…. we shared the same primary care physician; you know, the one who said his cough was related to something called The Hundred Day cough, when really it was lung cancer. <insert a sarcastic eyeroll here>

But I digress.

When I established with my new doc, she printed out a lab slip and off I went to get my blood drawn. My results came back with a resting glucose of 107. Anything under 100 is considered normal, and I’d never had high glucose before. Unfortunately, type-2 diabetes runs on my father’s side of the family and I’m of an age when these things begin to show up. To say I freaked is putting it mildly. And so the research began because I was not going down the Metformin road, or any other prescription drug with hideous side effects, like chronic diarrhea. NO. WAY. Don’t believe me? Talk to someone taking that stuff, or you can just listen to all the hideous side effects listed in the commercials.

Image 10-27-18 at 4.51 PMAnd so began the research. I found a ton of sites dedicated to regulating blood sugar with proper diet, exercise, and prescription medicine, but there were also sites talking about disease as being diet related and that most of these “diseases” could be treated just by eating right. Things like cancer, autism, asthma, and diabetes. Then I found a Netflix documentary called The Magic Pill.  It blamed the standard America diet (S.A.D. – how apropos) on the increased amount of dietary diseases over the past century, linking the amount of carbohydrates vs protein vs fats indicated in the pyramid to chronic inflammatory disease. One segment even studied the effects of a ketogenic diet on middle aged people with type-2 diabetes. It was an eye opener. Actually, the whole documentary overflowed with data from not only the United States, but Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Europe, going back over the past century.

Eating Keto means we get our fuel from good, healthy fats instead of refined sugars and grains, i.e. carbohydrates. In my case, I also eliminated all processed foods, and added non-GMO and organic foods. That means that I don’t eat bread, corn chips, potato chips, Cheetos (oh man, this was a hard one because I was eating a small bag everyday at work!), fruits, potatoes and starchy veggies etc. And absolutely no sugar. None. Not even honey. I was motivated because I did not want type-2 diabetes.

I began eating this way at the end of May, so I’m working on 24 weeks now. Since then I’ve dropped almost twenty pounds, my head feels clear, and I haven’t been sick. However, I’ve been craving things like fried rice, or a fully loaded baked potato. Then, again, it’s football season and the need to eat nachos and chicken wings, along with other bar food is right in my face! What I think is strange, though, is that I don’t crave bread. The only time I want a cracker is when I want to put something yummy on it like brie.

These cravings occurred right before my follow-up appointment. My doctor congratulated me on the weight loss, lectured me that while Keto is great for initial weight loss, there’s really no scientific evidence that eating this way can be sustainable. She recommended that I begin adding back into my diet healthy grains and fruits. I immediately bought some grapes! Yay! I also had my blood drawn. Before I get to how I feel adding back some carbs, here are the results from my blood test, which I thought were interesting according to this brief explanation of cholesterol on WebMD.

  • Total Cholesterol: April 143, October 132
  • Triglycerides: April 115, October 53
  • VLDL: April 23, October 11
  • LDL: April 67, October 61
  • HDL: April 53, October 60
  • Fasting Glucose: April 107, October 99
  • A1C: This test wasn’t given in April but my October number is 5.0. The normal range is 4.8 – 5.6 so I’m right where I should be. Thank Goodness!

What blew me away were the Triglycerides! Triglycerides are the amounts of fats traveling in the bloodstream. Keep in mind with a Keto diet, 70-80% of my diet consists of healthy FAT, such as avocados, unrefined coconut oil in my coffee or tea, whole milk, Avocado oil in my salad, or on my keto friendly “sandwiches” which are meat and veggies wrapped in provolone–what a yummy lunch; and healthy seeds and nuts. I want to stress that I didn’t always stick to it. On Sundays during the summer, My Man and I like to go to the movies and there is no way I can watch a movie without popcorn and all that wonderful butter! Even with about four cheat days a month, my numbers are great!

Naturally I wanted to celebrate by … EATING SOME CARBS! I took a small snack of grapes to work, and My Man brought home some Mexican food. As of this writing, my guts are NOT. HAPPY.  I didn’t overdo it on either the grapes or the delicious dinner. Most of my meal consisted of the carne asada, with a few bites of refried beans and rice. We shared it. However, the icky gut feeling began with the grapes! I don’t know what it means, but I do know that I have to be very careful when reintroducing healthy carbs.

For now, my cravings have stopped. I will re-introduce natural carbs, like potatoes and apples at a slow pace, maybe two days a week and see how my guts feel. Otherwise, I’m sticking with Keto. As I progress, I’ll keep you updated.

If you have any insights into Keto, type-2 diabetes, or healthy eating in general, please give me a shout out in the comments.

 

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The Cancer Won; Healthcare Failed

In a previous post, I wrote about my father’s diagnosis of metastatic melanoma to the lungs and liver. At that time it wasn’t known that the nodules had also spread to his brain. Though he fought the good fight, my father succumbed to this horrific disease on March 20th, just two weeks to the day after receiving word from his oncologist that the nodules in his lungs had grown significantly and that the treatment (immunotherapy) wasn’t working. The oncologist recommended hospice for the next month or two. Dad was sixty-eight when he passed away.

Melanoma is a sneaky bitch. In my father’s case, he developed a brownish spot on his cheek ten years ago. It wasn’t dark and we all thought it was just an age spot, even his general practitioner. He said he had a treatment that would “bleach” the spot so it wouldn’t be noticeable. It was an in-office procedure and the spot scabbed up and went away for a few months before returning a hideous dark brown to black. The doctor said nothing.

When Dad went to the dermatologist, it was found to be melanoma and they did surgery to remove it. He was left with a huge “z” shape scar but it healed so well that after a month or so the scar was barely visible. When they removed the section, it was determined that the cancer was “lateral” and that it had not spread. He would be fine.

That was three years ago.

Last year, my father developed a cough; a nagging, nonproductive tickle that was so bad that he would lose his breath. He had other symptoms, too, like shortness of breath and becoming exhausted after minimal exertion. He told his general practitioner, who told Dad not to worry, that he was only suffering from “the hundred day cough.” Then my father told his cardiologist, who monitored him for a possible heart condition, other than his high blood pressure and AFIB (irregular heartbeat). Still the cough persisted, but the cardiologist found nothing unusual otherwise.  Dad then told his otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat doctor) and was told it was probably allergies. In the mean time, he kept up his regular appointments with his dermatologist who proceeded to burn off any skin lesions or irregular spots that were found on his body, but the dermatologist said nothing about his cough.

No one thought to order a chest x-ray until eight months later. Hello? HE HAD A COUGH.  Shouldn’t that have been the first thing to order, especially with his history of melanoma?

Needless to say,  my faith in the medical profession is greatly shaken.  I am beyond angry that my father lost his life because this wasn’t detected a year ago. I am frustrated that no forewarnings, no scans, no check-ups were advised after the initial lesion was removed from his face. I’m heartbroken that he wasn’t given any information about melanoma; no brochures, no literature, no anything. No talk about metastasizing lesions or survival rates by stage.

None of us saw this coming because we were told they “got it all.” Had my father been given some basic information about melanoma instead of just a pat on the back and shown the door, maybe, JUST MAYBE, he’d be sitting next to me right now helping me blog something different, like good treatment options, diet, sun protection, CBDs, etc. But no advice was given. He was just sent on his way.

Through the course of his short illness, there were roadblocks left and right in treatment and in the way insurance handled billing. He was even denied cough syrup! Ironically, once he was on hospice, the cough syrup was covered. Nothing made sense.

I have a lot of questions, lots of thoughts going through my mind but trying to remain objective is difficult because Dad is in Heaven now. Though I know that he is no longer in pain, and in a much better place, Mom and I are still missing him greatly. I can’t help but think that the gaping hole in our lives left by my father’s death could’ve been avoided if only ONE of his physicians had taken him seriously and looked at his chest last April.

My advice to anyone diagnosed with this heinous form of cancer is to make your doctors listen to you. Don’t let them sweep your symptoms under a rug or offer antiquated diagnoses like “the hundred day cough.” Make them do their job.

Snow Day

img_3087-1  Yep, it’s a snow day but technically I don’t have to be back to work until Monday! Wasted, right? Not at all.

Normal romantics would wax poetic about the wonderland that has been presented to us, or the fun to be had on the slopes. Uh no, that’s not me. I can’t think of anything worse than stuffing myself into a snow suit, driving up a hazardous mountain road, climbing onto a ski lift that whisks me up to a frigid mountaintop to discover that the only way back to safety is to hurl myself down a steep slope on two sticks strapped to my feet at a hundred miles an hour while praying that I don’t slam into an unsuspecting tree. Whew!

My natural response to this kind of weather is to scoff at the hideousness of snow, proclaiming my allergy to it and cursing the horrible roads, the ice, and worrying that My Man will be driving in the mess with other drivers who either aren’t careful or are drunk from hanging out at the ski lodge all day.

Snow is messy, cold and dangerous. No sir, snowy days are best observed from the comfort of a warm home, or a writer’s lair. Perhaps even from a luxury cruise liner off the Coast of Alaska. (Hmm, I’ll have to think about that one.)

However, when you’ve got no where to be but in your own head, there’s nothing better than a snow day.

I love the coziness of a fireplace while watching the fluffy stuff drift gently to the ground. I’ve got my mug of warm liquid goodness next to me. Franklin (my Weenie Dog) is happily snoozing on the new doggie bed I purchased on sale from Amazon for my office. The space heater is adding that extra warmth, and the quiet of the snow outside is allowing the voices in my head to be heard inside, loud and clear.

Plus, there’s the added bonus of our wonderful neighbors and their snowblower (Bob doesn’t mind his snow suit and he loves that snowblower!) doing all the snow removal for me and the rest of our sweet cul-de-sac. *winks* Honestly, My Man and I have the world’s best neighbors. Every time we contemplate a For Sale sign we look at each other and ask, “If we go, how can we take them with us?” But that’s a topic for another post. LOL

Run Over By The Cancer Truck

My dad was diagnosed with cancer a week before Thanksgiving. To say that we were hit by a truck would be putting it mildly. My father is only sixty-eight, far too young to receive such devastating news. I’ll be blogging more about this as his treatment progresses because there have been some snags—for lack of a better description—that involve Medicare, scheduling, and the general attitude among the medical field that I want to discuss in finer detail.

Today my question is this: Do you think that your doctor should have the final say in your treatment or should your insurance <insert company name here>?

My dad has metastatic melanoma in his lungs and liver. Melanoma is not treated with radiation or chemotherapy anymore. Today it’s treated with either immunotherapy, which helps the body fight it on its own, or if the melanoma has a mutated gene (BRAF) it can be treated with a new medicine that targets the specific mutated cancer. If my father is found to have this mutation, his oncologist believes that the treatment for it works faster than immunotherapy. The plan was for the oncologist to order more pathology on the biopsies taken from his liver to determine whether or not the mutation was there. Once the report was back from the pathologist, the oncologist would meet with my dad and a protocol for treatment was to begin. His appointment was planned for yesterday.

Keep in mind that through this whole process, a weekend or holiday would interfere with scheduling. So even though the oncologist would say we needed a test or scan done ASAP, we were still waiting a week in between these “ASAP” tests and appointments. Frustrating doesn’t begin to cover it.

After some confusion and delays, my parents finally met with the oncologist yesterday for the results. Here’s where the question above comes into play. The pathology report was sent directly to MEDICARE, not to my father’s oncologist, so the doctor has no idea whether or not my dad’s melanoma carries any kind of mutation. It will take Medicare (read GOVERNMENT) two weeks to process this information and get back to the doctor on whether or not THEY will APPROVE his treatment for the mutated melanoma, if he indeed has it. Let me say it again; the TREATING PHYSICIAN does not have access to the pathology report until after Medicare has read and processed it.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? Granted, there’s only a fifty-fifty shot that my dad has this mutation. Thank goodness that his oncologist will begin immunotherapy treatments—once every three weeks—beginning next week (eh hum, this will be discussed in another blog), as a proactive measure for now. If the report finally comes back saying he has the mutation, he will finish out the immunotherapy and then begin the new treatment.

Again, am I crazy to think that that report should’ve been handed to the DOCTOR first and then submitted for insurance and not the other way around?

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