Posted on Tue 23 Oct 2012 at 9:42 AM PST. Filed under Personal.
I haven’t updated this blog for some time now. In the meantime, I had surgery, removing a benign tumor. That type of tumor (fibroid) is supposed to be found only in the uterus, but in my case it was glued on the cervix and bladder. Three surgeons refused to operate on me because of the bladder proximity. I was lucky to be sent to a Stanford professor, who happens to be an uro-gynecologist and who graciously accepted me as a patient. The doc said that he was thinking about my case for weeks, because there’s no bibliography or other documented cases like mine, so he had to improvise. My guess is that 10 years of IBS had fucked me up so much on the inside, that my body couldn’t even get… a tumor right.
The surgery went well, and I’m currently in bed, recuperating. Docs said that I can still have children. I have four incisions, two of them large. The biggest pain is the catheter that I have to live with until the end of the month. I had my ups and downs in the last 5 days since the surgery: low blood pressure, high pulse, headache, pain in my kidney (because of a ureteral stent used during the operation), high and low temperatures. I’m currently feeling better, but I still can’t get up for long time from the bed, and I feel nausea when I eat. On top of all that, I’m suspecting a C-Diff infection, since I was given antibiotics, and my gut flora is a very sensitive place because of previous C-Diff infections and IBS for 10 years.
My husband, JBQ, was a champion throughout this whole ordeal, and he has been taking care of me so much. He really is an amazing human being. I made this for him:
It’s been a year exactly. 3rd of September 2011 was when I found back my health, after 10 years of hell and seclusion. The Paleo diet saved my life. I have already written the good things I got from the Paleo diet, first at 6 weeks on the diet, then at 4 months. Here are the remaining problems/fixes a year on:
* Sleep apnea: GONE.
* Asthma: It was coming and going for a few months, now it’s completely GONE.
* IBS-D: It’s very rare to have an incident of IBS-D now, it only happens if I consume over 200gr net carbs for a number of days in a row.
* Period pain: Comes and goes, but I have found that I have an “atypical” fibroid, and a polyp (both existed pre-Paleo apparently). I will have surgery for those soon, and then my period pain should just go away for good.
* Alopecia: More hair, although not way too much. Definitely an improvement over a few months ago.
* High blood pressure: I got this in August because of a medicine I was given for my fibroid (that’s being here pre-paleo). When the medicine went away from my system, so did my high blood pressure. I’m not worried about this.
* Weight loss: In one year I lost 25 lbs. I still have another 30 lbs to lose, but I’m one of these people that their thyroid freaks out if they go too low carb (ketogenic), and sends them to hibernation (excess rT3). 95% of the people won’t have this problem though, I’m a bit of a special case on this (I guess my lineage is Neanderthalian…).
* Fatty liver/high triglycerides (they go together): Still there, because weight loss doesn’t happen to me as easily as for most other people (although I didn’t try to lose weight very hard, I was eating normally). I’m thinking of going raw vegan for most of the day, and Paleo in the evenings to combat this. It’s possible that genetically I have the double e4/e4 APoE gene, which means that I can’t digest/use fats properly. The problem in this case is that half of the researchers about this say “eat more fat”, and the other half say “stop eating fats”. Go figure. Update: I got tested, I’m APoE 3/3, so all is ok in that front.
* B12 deficiency: due to a bad gut all these years I can’t absorb it (I found out about this deficiency in May). It’s gone with supplementation now, and my gut heals over time anyway. Soon I won’t be needing supplementation.
Posted on Wed 13 Jun 2012 at 3:56 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
I only started getting seriously interested in non-video visual art in Oct. 2011. For a month, while reading books about art etc, I had flashes of artworks (not artworks I’ve seen before, but new ones, created by my head). I stopped being that interested in visual “static” art around November, and the flashes disappeared. Started getting interested in visual art again in April 2012 (collages etc). The flashes returned!
I get some astonishing *abstract* visuals flashing in my head, usually when I have intense thoughts about random stuff (3-5 times a day). No, I’m not into drugs btw. I’m certain that these flashes are healthy, my brain is simply deep into creative mode (I’m left handed btw). Another artist I asked about it told me he has the same kind of flashes too!
Only problem is that I don’t know how to materialize these visuals, especially since I can’t paint in canvas, and my Photoshop skills are mostly about sketching and photo-manipulation. If only there was some hardware we can hook our brain up to capture these images! As much as my collages might look lame, my art flashes look really amazing! I wish there was a practical way to bring these to life and share!
Posted on Wed 7 Mar 2012 at 3:05 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
When I was a kid in Greece, after finishing my homework, I would run around my village’s steep mountainous terrain, and hang from olive and fig trees, usually upside-down. I had a particular time for this “meditative exercise” of mine: in the summers it was between 4 and 5:30 PM. The sun would have just send down its golden light, and everything looked so beautiful and serene, with only a few goat & sheep bells audible in the background, as they were returning to their stables from a day’s grazing up in our mountain’s top. The view was magnificent: from my village you could see miles and miles away left & right, while at the far front there is another, bigger mountain, just to keep us all in perspective.
This was my bliss. And I was getting it almost daily, in high doses.
When I say “bliss”, I mean it. It’s a very specific feeling, one that can’t be easily described in words. It feels like everything is fine with the world and that there is absolutely no worry, about anything. It’s the ultimate happiness, an explosion of nirvana when the peaceful surroundings touch your inner self.
This was a feeling that I was self-medicating on, since my childhood was pretty bad overall. I grew up in poverty, for one. There were many times we had no money to buy bread for instance, one of the reasons we immigrated back to my dad’s village from the bigger city we were living. My parents would constantly fight, and violence was common. I also can’t claim that I have a gift in making close friends. Acquaintances plenty, but not close friends. Other kids would just not understand me, I was always the weirdo in the bunch. My geeky interests were simply different than theirs, and this only became more evident as I entered my teen years.
So this daily run at the stair-step fields at my village was much needed. It kept me happy, I was able to tap into nature somehow in a way that I could really see it with its true colors. Nature was honest with me. I felt connected, part of a bigger whole, but still being me. I guess you could say that I was getting “naturally high”, in a way.
We moved to a nearby town when I was 12 years old. Without access to our big vegetable garden and our beautiful hens in the village anymore, my mom binged us on grains and potatoes; that was the time that my health started declining originally (my first symptoms were some hair loss, and lack of focus when trying to study). I suddenly lost my ability to be happy and one with nature. I still managed to get glimpses of this very specific feeling, but only rarely, and only for a few seconds. As the years went by, I lost the ability almost completely. Maybe in the last 20 years I have had this feeling 4-5 times overall. In the meantime, my health declined more. Sure, I have been happy many times in that time-frame, but that “bliss” feeling is very specific, and just different of just living a “good, happy life”.
And then, Paleo happened to me, 6 months ago now. Nearly all of my health issues have already resolved away, and my life, at last, has started taking a shape that’s not all doom & gloom. I suddenly felt that I still had a chance. During the first 4 months on Paleo, the feeling of bliss came back 2-3 times, at random points. In addition, my ADD was getting better, my situational depression vanished, and anxiety & brain fog was winding down too. My husband noted all this, and many times asked me… “WHO are you?“. He couldn’t believe that the real me had emerged after years of being miserable. See, I became sicker just 3 months after moving to the US to live with him, so in the 12 years we’re together he has seen very little of a happy-me. Not fair for me, and even less fair for him.
Because weight loss was sluggish with plain Paleo for me, I moved to Paleo-ketogenic on January 22nd of this year (25-40 gr of net carbs per day maximum). I knew that a ketogenic diet is the best diet for everyone’s mental health (not only for those with certain disorders), but I thought that the plain Paleo diet gave me most of what it would be possible for me to absorb at this point. Not so. The Paleo-ketogenic diet made me much happier, much more focused, more driven, and with an exceptional mental clarity — in less than a month’s time. I now know what it means to really be healthy and feel “good”. My husband told me a number of times this past month that I radiate from the inside, a rare thing to see in any human being. Additionally, on Paleo I’d still get SIBO/IBS-D symptoms 2-3 times a month too (down from 4-5 times a day on SAD), but since I went Paleo-ketogenic in January, I have had zero symptoms.
As for that specific feeling of bliss, let’s just say that I got it multiple times, in a single month, since I went Paleo-ketogenic. I expect it to become ever more prevalent as the rest of my body heals from years of bad health. Happiness is coming back, big time. I’m considering staying in ketosis for as long as possible, perhaps for life.
Update: Apparently this feeling of bliss has a name, it’s called “ketosis euphoria”, it’s known to scientists, and it’s essentially a natural “high”. Weeeeee…
Posted on Wed 29 Feb 2012 at 2:27 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
I feel like randomly ranting today, haven’t done this in a while. Soooo….
- I haven’t watched actual TV in months. Just a few Netflix movies here and there. I find everything on TV boring and stupid. The last good show was SGU, and before that LOST. TV (and especially sci-fi) becomes worse and worse as time goes by, as I wrote before. I’ve lost all hope for a truly deep sci-fi show.
- I stopped following indie music as closely lately. I need a new hobby. Something to do with art though. Maybe I should just shut up and finish my sci-fi movie script (yeah, the one that will never get shot).
- I run a few miles a day, almost every day. I also follow the Paleo-Ketogenic diet, but weight stays put for the most part. I’m close to giving up forever, and never restrict myself from food again. I’ve lost only 20 lbs since I started Paleo 6 months ago, others lose that weight in just 2 months time without moving a finger. The upside of a Paleo-keto diet though is mental clarity (even more so than plain Paleo). I has it. I know what I want, and most importantly, I know how to get it.
- I’m thinking of trying bungee jumping (yes, that’s my mental clarity talking). I spent years of fearing heights, but Paleo-keto was able to mostly alleviate this (obviously a mental) condition too. It’d be like giving the finger to my brain. Weeeeeeee…
- Do you believe in a “calling”? Meaning, that you feel compelled to do something, even if it might be bad for you? Kind of like, life asking you to do something, because it’s the only way you push yourself forward and evolve as a person? For example, it’s how some people might leave college or their families and move to LA and live homeless, while trying to succeed as artists, just because they felt an inner “calling”. Well, I’ve been feeling this in the last month, but of course it’s not about moving to LA to live homeless. It’s about something else. I’ve been fighting it, because it wouldn’t be good for me if I failed. But if I don’t try, I’d never know for sure. These thoughts have been consuming me in the last month, and it’s the reason I haven’t blogged much. So far I’m steering clear of it though.
- In the mornings, after I wake up and turn on my laptop, while the CNN page is loading, there’s always the same wishful-thinking thought on the back of my mind. A headline, reading: “Massive triangular UFO over San Francisco – Ongoing“.
- I’m going to buy the iPad 3, since I don’t have a tablet (I held off from buying any all these years). I hope this time its webcam is HD. I wish it would have a built-in SDXC slot too with support for Canon h.264 files, but it won’t. The iPad could actually be a great “proofing” device on location.
- Some sort of Artificial Intelligence is coming big time these days with Siri/VoiceActions, it seems. It’s nice to see this, given I’ve worked in the field 15 years ago. It always was one of my favorite domains in technology. In fact, it might be my MOST favorite part of technology. Maybe because it’s by definition sci-fi.
- Haven’t shot any new video in months. I sent a few requests to some bands, none came back to me. I obviously suck. Even if I shoot/edit their videos for free.
- My mom in Greece is pathetic. I love her, but she is pathetic. Today she told me on skype that she wanted to buy new clothes in order to look… “successful” to others, for having a son-in-law who works at Google. I mean, that’s the definition of a small-minded person, right there. Not that I ever expected more of her, she only had 6 years of schooling in her life. This is not meant to be degrading for JBQ, mind you, since getting employed at Google is NOT an easy feat. But damn, if we were to be proud for nothing we personally did, then we all deserve a supernova’s radiation passing through our bodies and blowing us to bits.
- For the record, I’m not proud of anything I ever did. Ok, maybe my time with OSNews had its glorious moments around 2003-2005, but apart of that, I don’t think anything I did ever mattered. Which is why I have this “calling” calling me all day and all night. Or, I’m just in middle-age crisis and I need to wait it out to pass. Pass the bourbon.
Posted on Sun 29 Jan 2012 at 10:47 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
Woohoo! New hair!
After years with female alopecia (thinning hair), at last, I seem to be winning that war. The smaller, younger hair you see below (click for the bigger image), did not exist a few weeks ago. My hairline now grows half an inch lower in my forehead too! My husband noticed too and he’s as delighted. If this good luck continues, I expect to have most of my lost hair back within a year or so.
So, how I did it:
1. I follow Paleo (I moved to Paleo-ketogenic 1.5 weeks ago). I eat lots of fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, home-made lactose-free probiotic goat yoghurt fermented for 24 hours, home-made goat kefir fermented for 36 hours), as much pastured offal as I can find in the market, home-made bone marrow broths (bones cooked for 12 hours), kombucha decaf tea, Greek Mountain Tea (one of the magical herbal teas for health), coconut oil, and a bit of raw & unfiltered local honey — among other “forgotten” foods by our civilization. I also take the iFlora multi-probiotic occasionally for my (now almost-cured) IBS-D.
2. I supplement with a lot of stuff (not all every day), mostly with: D3, Mg, K2, C, PQQ, Q10 Ubiquinol, 500 to 1000 mcg biotin (no more than that per day), and most importantly for hair: E d-tocotrienol. I bought the Dr Best one from Amazon because it was the only one with a respectable amount of tocotrienols in it, that didn’t also include a-tocophenols. These two are antagonists and they cancel each other out, so be careful what you buy. I use Cron-o-meter to estimate daily what vitamin I might be short on.
That’s it. It took 4 months of following this regimen diligently, and I got results! I fixed a lot of health issues this way, but regarding my thinning hair, the problem was hormonal, and it now slowly fixes itself back. If you’re losing hair because of genetic factors, I’d expect fewer results, but I believe that purely hormonal hair problems are reversible.
Update May 2012: After that initial bout of new hair, I got no new ones after that. Update June 2012: Scalp test now shows that my alopecia is “probably genetic”. I will be monitoring the situation and I’ll be updating here over time.
This is the Greek village I’m originally from, called Skiadas (my dad’s village). The name in Greek means “Hades’ shade” or “Hades’ shadow”, since my village is built by the Acheron river, close to where the Cerberus and the entrance to the UnderWorld was located according to the ancient Greeks. According to the myth, when Plouto had too much of Hades’ darkness (or too much bickering from Persephone, his trophy wife), he would come out to the living world to rest, but because he hated the sun (he was the God for the UnderWorld, and his eyes were not used to the light), he had to find a place that had shade for a long time. The sun is obscured by a large mountain in front of Skiadas, so we don’t get sunshine there earlier than 11:00 AM for most of the year. A perfect hideout. The supposed actual entrance to Hades is nearby another village, which is where my mom is from. I guess you can say that I have a creepy lineage…
I only lived about 5 years in Skiadas overall, but it’s my real home. At 00:45 sec you can see my school (now deserted, I went there for 3 years). You can ignore the terrible local music in the video btw… That kind of music has become my nightmare since I was a kid, as I was often forced to line-dance to it (social pressure).
Now that my health is back on track, next time I’m there I will be able to shoot a proper video of my village and its people. Maybe I’ll shoot it as a documentary.
Posted on Fri 30 Dec 2011 at 9:29 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
I wrote an article a few months ago about the amazing health results I got from Paleo in just 6 weeks of using the diet. In the list, there were some items that were marked as “work in progress”. Well, here’s an update on these health problems on the 4 month mark.
* Eczema: Gone.
* Teeth sensitivity: Gone.
* Muscle atony on right arm/hand: Gone.
* Fibromyalgia-like pain: Gone.
* Sugar addiction: Gone-enough to be thinking of trying a ketogenic version of Paleo.
* Period pain: Comes and goes, depending on the month, but not as strong anymore.
* IBS-D: Depending on the week, and how careful I am with my probiotics, I might get one bad incident, or not.
* Alopecia: No new hair (yet), but they don’t fall as much anymore. (update:new hair is here!)
* Sleep apnea: This is reduced compared to pre-paleo, but it has returned, I get it about 2-3 times a month. It should go away as I keep losing weight (I’ve lost 16 lbs so far).
I will update again on the anniversary of the first year. If it continues like this, I expect sleep apnea, period pain, and IBS-D to have gone completely by then. The only real question-mark is if I will ever get new hair…
Posted on Tue 1 Nov 2011 at 1:34 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
In early evening there’s this amazing golden light that would enter the bathroom from the small window in my mom’s home in Greece. JBQ’s shadow looked beautiful, I had to snap it away to capture the moment. He had just come back from swimming in the sea.
Posted on Fri 14 Oct 2011 at 5:32 PM PST. Filed under Personal.
It’s been 6 weeks already. I’m in the middle of my 3-month milestone, a usual milestone for people with gut issues on a healing diet. Several foods will be added in my diet in small quantities after these 3 months, namely, tubers: parsnip (παστινακι), swede/rutabaga (γουλιά ή μεγα-γογγυλι), turnip (ρεβα), and sweet potatoes (γλυκοπατατα). Currently, the only starchy root vegetables that I eat are carrots, and more rarely beetroots (παντζάρια), and various kinds of radishes (ραπανακια). Beets are sweet & starchy like carrots & radishes are, but they contain “simple sugars”, so they get easily digested in the stomach, before they arrive in the gut and feed overgrown bacteria/yeast.
Regarding the rest of the stuff I eat, ordered by daily quantity: allowed veggies, meat/fish, fruits, eggs, nuts, raw & unfiltered honey, herbal tea (chamomile, Greek Mountain Tea, Kombuscha decaf), and small quantities of salt (with iodine). I cook with coconut oil, olive oil, duck fat, or butter. I also eat offal, game, and I make bone broths (very important parts of the Paleo diet). I avoid all other sugars (including artificial sugars), legumes/soy, white potatoes, and all grains (especially wheat). That’s the Paleo part of the diet.
“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates, father of modern medicine
Because of my gut issues, I follow the SCD‘s diet advice (a diet similar to Paleo, but lower carb, that tries to restore bacterial balance), so I also eat a home-made lactose-free probiotic goat yoghurt (goat casein is much more tolerable than cow’s, since it’s closer to human’s). Unfortunately, there is no such product in the market so I have to make it myself. Rarely, I also eat small quantities of lactose-free goat cheese. I try to avoid cow and lactose-ridden dairy in general, and milk (although I might try raw goat milk in the future). I supplement with various vitamins, mostly D (since I rarely go out), and probiotics.
Why the proper diet can fix so many ailments? Explained.
In these six weeks, I’ve become a different person. A host of medical issues that I had, or I didn’t even know I had, are either gone, or on their way to eradication. For the first time ever, I feel truly happy and thankful for the life I have. Sure, it took a few weeks for my body to switch from burning carbs to burning fat, but I made it in one piece (I went through the “carb flu” or “die off” phase, and had dizzy jolts). All good now. In detail:
- IBS-D & SIBO: from 4-5 liquid bowel movements a day on average, ruining my non-life, down to 1 a week. Work in progress, as I’m still rather irregular. It can take a few years to fully heal a leaky, bacteria-ridden gut. (Update: I’m more regular now, after taking 2 multi-probiotic pills per day, rather than 1 pill every few days as I used to).
- Pre-diabetic hypoglycemia (was on my way to Type 2 diabetes): GONE.
- Candida in my ears (earwax smelling like cheese): GONE.
- Sleep apnea: GONE (according to my husband who previously had to endure my snoring). I now feel rested and I wake up fully energetic. I spring out of the bed. In the past, I was waking up tired and like a zombie (even as a kid).
- Eczema in my forehead is in remission, very little of it remains. Work in progress.
- Dandruff / itchy-scalp: GONE.
- Constant urge for scratching everywhere in my body: GONE.
- My upper-left-central tooth was super-sensitive. After several beef bone broths, vitamins D3 + K2 and some calcium, the sensitivity now has gone down to half, and it’s getting better day by day.
- Teeth plaque seems to not be accumulating anymore. I just need to clean up the one I already have and I should be plaque-free from that point on. I rarely floss.
- Depression and thoughts of suicide: GONE.
- ADD (couldn’t focus on anything, couldn’t really read books since I was 12): GONE.
- Anxiety/stress: GONE.
- Pee urgency (I had recurring bacterial infections): GONE.
- Muscle atony and less strength on my right arm/hand (hypothyroidism?): much better after the 5th week on the diet.
- Asthma/allergy-like inability to breath deeply after eating some foods: GONE.
- Acanthosis nigricans (discolored axilla): GONE.
- Sugar addiction: GONE.
- Period pain: Much less than before. Although this will require 5+ months to get fixed properly. I expect pain-free, lite periods that don’t last more than 3-4 days (they now last 7 days, and they’re heavy).
- I used to have acne spots a few days before my period: GONE.
- Irregular period (especially in the last 2 years): GONE (the last two times, while on the diet, it arrived exactly on the 28th day)
- Popping sound on the inside of my ear drums: GONE.
- I can now sweat properly, an ability that I almost lost about 20 years ago.
- Taste buds regrown (sugar kills taste buds). Now I can eat 99% cocoa dark chocolate like a boss. Before, I could only eat super-sweet milk chocolates.
- My skin is visibly better, according to people who saw me months ago the previous time.
- My ability to smell is now stronger, although this is still work in progress. I hear it takes 3 months to come back fully.
- Chronic anger towards… everyone everywhere and fast-lighting anger: GONE.
- Fibromyalgia-like pain on my neck/shoulder: better, but it’s still work in progress.
- Black circles under my eyes: GONE.
- Stomach bloating: GONE.
- Excessive gas: GONE.
- Occasional heart-muscle pain: GONE
Why the proper diet can fix psychological problems? Explained.
And of course, I lost 10 lbs too so far. I had a plateau for over 2 weeks, but that went away after I cut down the number of fruits and nuts I was eating daily (I was over-doing it, in order to feed my sugar addiction). I now eat 1-2 servings of fruits daily, and nuts only once every 2-3 days (except peanuts/cashews which aren’t nuts). I need to lose another 45-50 lbs, since I’m still obese. A much healthier obese person though. Things that still need fixing and I had no visible change yet: my female-pattern alopecia. I will know if I will get new hair in a year or two (it takes 3 years for some roots/hairs to renew, as they’re on a cycle).
As you can see, I have/had a number of ailments. Not enough to finish me off, but enough to make my life miserable. I bet most people have similar problems, but they think that these are “normal”. They’re not! We’re meant to be healthy until the day our body simply gives up from natural old age.
One thing that SCD/Paleo can’t fix though is… my laziness. I feel more alive now than ever before, but I’m still not thrilled about exercise. I just need to open that front door, step outside, and walk, walk, walk.