Lethargic, but Seizure-Free

Lethargic, but Seizure-Free

Tomorrow will be around two months and two weeks since I’ve eaten meat. I made it about two months vegan before deciding to ease into a more vegetarian diet, to give myself more flexibility. I ordered a veggie pizza with cheese from the grocery store and ate a few slices, then saved the rest for the next day. I felt no different that night, but the next day, no more than ten minutes after eating the leftover pizza, I had what my neurologist calls an “aura” seizure (feels like a long bout of lightheadedness followed by an hour or two of grumpiness, nausea, and a headache).

The cheese, I thought almost immediately. It had to be the cheese. After all, I hadn’t had a seizure in weeks. What also hadn’t I had in weeks?

It made sense. I have Catamenial epilepsy, which means I have seizures during hormonal changes–primarily when I ovulate, or have a period–and there are hormones in dairy products, even the kind made from cows which haven’t been injected with anything to help their production. Adding these hormones to my diet seems to affect my own hormonal balance.

It took a week or so before I worked up the nerve to try cheese again, just in case it might have been something else. But during a family emergency, I had no choice. I didn’t have a seizure–that I know of–but wound up with one of my “electrical headaches” (basically feels like someone is crumpling tinfoil in my head).

So I decided that was it, and have decided to give up dairy for good. Since then I haven’t had any issues.

Now I do still have the occasional egg, as some might have guessed from my recent recipe post: Tiny Vegetarian Quiches, and so far I haven’t had any issues from them. I make sure to buy the local Amish eggs, which are certified Humane, free range, hormone-free, etc., etc., which makes me feel better about eating eggs.

Now for the exhaustion

One of the reasons I decided to try switching to a vegetarian, or even a light meat clean-eating diet, was because of this sudden wave of fatigue which seems to be clouding up each and every day. Things have stopped getting done. I watch TV. I’m lazy. I hate it! I made a list of potential suspects:

  • Burnout (this stay-at-home momma might need a mini vacay)
  • Depression (not surprising, considering I’d weaned to a lower dose of Lexapro)
  • Cabin Fever (haven’t driven in 2.5 years! It does things to you!)
  • Nutrient Deficiency (though an extra B12 supplement gives me headaches)
  • Meds (Most likely, especially since I read Lexapro interacts with Klonopin and makes you more tired)
  • Allergies (Also likely)
  • Unknown

Once I had my list, I started to try a few remedies.

  • I called my doctor and talked to her about switching me from Lexapro to something else and she started me on Zoloft. So far, I’m getting more done, but the exhaustion hasn’t left me.
  • Maybe I was sleeping too much? Decided to stop the snooze button and just get out of bed. Didn’t seem to work.
  • Tried Yoga first thing in the morning. All it did was relax me, which made me more tired.
  • Instead of eating a breakfast on the run, or drinking my coffee in front of the TV, I sat at the table to write a morning blog with a bowl of oatmeal and my coffee. That seemed to work. It turned a few gears and got me moving. From there I began working on a list of things I needed to get done around the house, and even got some gardening done. It was refreshing!
  • I’ve started to have less “lazy” meals. For instance, instead of throwing a vegan TV dinner into the microwave, I’ll make a yummy chickpea salad sandwich with a ton of veggies and nutritional yeast for an added vitamin boost.
  • DRINKING MORE WATER. Apparently it doesn’t take much to get dehydrated and feel fatigued. Whenever I start to feel a little run down, I go drink a big glass of cold water and it seems to perk me up.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from having epilepsy, it’s that our bodies are a work in progress. We are always learning what works and what doesn’t. Although I’ve gained a deeper understanding about what makes my brain go haywire, I’ve run into a road block of exhaustion. Is it the meds? The pollen? Or is it something I’m not getting enough of, like water or B12?

Fingers crossed I find out soon!

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I Went Vegetarian for a Meal….and Hated It

I Went Vegetarian for a Meal….and Hated It

Going plant-based in the summer is tougher than I thought it would be!

Yesterday made one month vegan wooot!

It was also the first time I knowingly hopped off the plant-based wagon.

You see, the past week has been the most difficult for me. I’m not sure why, but I started to crave things like pepperoni pizza, cookie dough ice cream, cheese. My mouth watered when I made Goo a turkey hot dog for lunch one day. What was wrong with me? I’d never been a *huge* fan of meat, so I figured going vegan was going to be as simple as cutting out the things I didn’t care for. So why was I craving it? Ravenous for things like pepperoni when I barely gave it a second glance when it was “allowed?”

Was that it? Was it because I was telling myself “no”?

It got worse. I started to make mental lists of all the foods I would never eat again: ice cream on a cone at the fair, root beer floats, baked potato soup, marshmallows roasted over dying charcoals.

It doesn’t help that it’s summer, that fairs are in full-bloom, that a BBQ happens once a week, that every amusement park I go to–even just the pool–has nothing but cheese and fried meats on their snack menu.

But I also thought back to when I was pregnant. I was told that when you crave something, it’s your body telling you that you need something. That you’re deficient.

I thought about all of the foods I wanted, and I began to see a pattern. They were loaded with fat, grease, calories.

While craving these things, I had also begun to notice a constant “woozy” feeling. Plant-based food had begun to nauseate me. All food had begun to nauseate me. Which made me eat even fewer calories. It was a vicious cycle.

That had to be it. I simply needed more fat in my diet.

I listened to my body. I ate gobs of peanut butter on crackers and added oil and butter to foods to get more fat. But it just didn’t seem like enough. Was this diet really better for me? After all, the evidence on both sides of the argument is contradicting. Is there anyone I can trust to tell me the truth?

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal:

It’s a tough diet, full of foods I don’t know how to cook, and it takes a lot of work to make sure you’re getting enough of everything…I could just go vegetarian, but the whole reason I gave up milk and cheese was because I don’t agree with the practices to obtain those things. My morality, can I handle it? Can I push aside that feeling and go back to using eggs and cheese, even when I know I’m harming others to do so?

After a short talk with my husband, and a discussion on Twitter, and after reading this blog article, I began to see that vegan is only a title. A label. A word. Removing the title would free me to listen to my body, to say “I could, but I don’t want to.”

And then I did it. I pouted and said “I want baked potato soup.” So that’s what I had. Baked potato soup with a bit of cheese, and a salad, also with cheese, and ranch dressing.

I thought I would feel better afterward physically. I thought I would be able to handle it mentally. After all, I was taking care of me and that’s what’s really important, right?

But I didn’t feel like I was taking care of me. In fact, after I ate it, I just felt gross. The food wasn’t as great as I remember it tasting. Certainly not as fresh as the foods we’ve been eating. There was nothing “rewarding” about it.

And because of it, I doubled my sodium intake for the day. I just felt bleh.

I went vegetarian for a meal, and I hated it.

While I am annoyed at myself for letting the weakness get to me, I am glad I did it. I know now that plant-based is exactly where I want to be right now. I don’t really want cheese or pepperoni, I just want the freedom of knowing I could if I wanted to, but that I don’t want it. I also need to get a little more salt and fat content into my diet. Time to buy some trail mix and chow down!

And seriously, Lina, they do make vegan marshmallows. I could totally roast some on our if-it-ever-happens camping trip.

So I made it one month vegan and gave myself the ultimate test. I won’t beat myself up over it. All I can do is accept what I’ve learned and move on.

And I’ve got to remember my initial goal. It wasn’t to be a “perfect” vegan, but to be a better me than I was yesterday.

Keeping My Husband Healthy

Keeping My Husband Healthy

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He messaged me yesterday from work on Monday:

“I feel weird.”

His stomach hurt, he was nauseous and weak. He couldn’t quite explain how it felt. But I knew that feeling. It happens when I don’t get enough calories.

I didn’t make him go vegan, did not demand he give up meat because of my new lifestyle choices (it’s the same with Goo, but she was born a vegetarian. Seriously, I can’t even get that kid to eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs). However, Chris made the mistake of watching Earthlings, and has gradually decreased his meat intake ever since. In fact, according to him, he hasn’t had any meat since Friday of last week. So he’s been eating vegetarian for four days!

But while Goo will promptly grab a snack from the pantry or ask for a second sandwich at lunch, my husband is the kind of person who will forget to take care of himself. So I know he hasn’t been eating enough to make up for that lack of calories, and according to MyFitnessPal he needs to be eating over 3300 calories per day!

As soon as he came home I handed him a banana and a B12 supplement. Then I made two huge stacks of Vegan pancakes, complete with walnuts, blueberries, banana slices, and maple syrup. Chris and Goo stuffed their faces, drank soy chocolate milk, giggled about the silly dreams they had last night, and when the plates were clean my husband felt much better.

I’m all for him going vegetarian, vegan, or even continuing to eat meat, but I want him to be healthy about it. And with the poor guy working ten hours a day and returning to college in a few weeks, it’s sort of my responsibility as the stay-at-home mom to make sure he has a full stomach at the end of the day.

So, if I’m going to be making all-vegan for dinner, I’m going to have to make it calorie-packed, and I’m going to have to make enough for an army. I thought it would be hard for me to reach 1600 calories. But getting him 3300????

Needless to say, I have a stack of pancakes in the freezer!

Making Sure I Get Enough B12

Making Sure I Get Enough B12

I hit three weeks vegan on Monday! Wooo! Unfortunately, last week I didn’t feel as amazing as one expects when switching over to a plant-based diet. In fact, I felt pretty bleh most of the time.

Reason number one was my Lexapro. Even just going from 20mg to 10mg made me feel awful, with the brain *shocks* and the headaches and the nausea.

Reason number two was B12, which is a vitamin not many think about when worrying over my lack of meat intake. Most talk about the protein. How you getting protein? Protein protein protein. But there are more important vitamins. Like B12.

So…what happened?

I lost my appetite. Entirely. I was no longer excited to eat fruits and veggies and quinoa. Nothing looked good. In fact, the whole idea of food kind of grossed me out. Read more

The Struggle of Feeding my Carnivorous/Omnivorous Pets

The Struggle of Feeding my Carnivorous/Omnivorous Pets

I watched a documentary called Pet Fooled the other day, and learned all that corn and wheat nonsense in Kitty’s and Howl’s dry food is not so great. It got me thinking, as Howl has been having tummy issues for the past few weeks. The following afternoon I called my vet to discuss my concern over a possible UTI–he wasn’t going potty and wasn’t drinking water–and she expressed concerns over a possible kidney issue.

What? Not my puppy!

Luckily–phew!–he did start going potty and drinking water again, but she also told me over the phone to stay away from rawhide. Especially because he eats it. Like the whole bone in an hour.

“It could bind up his system,” she said.

Later that evening I noticed the warning label on the back of certain rawhide treats, explaining that overuse could lead to gastrointestinal upset.

Needless to say I felt pretty guilty. While I’m over here eating the best foods I can find, and feeding my husband and daughter what I feel is good, healthy food, I’m feeding my dog and cat pure junk. Read more

A Visit to the Doctor

A Visit to the Doctor

© Lina Forrester

After a few years, I finally have a new primary! She’s a nurse practitioner and she rocks!

My old doctor was crabby, and just plain rude. She mocked me at one point when I finally got the courage to come in for PPA/PPD and I burst into tears right there in the middle of her office. Needless to say, I was more than relieved when she left the practice. But, since I’m rarely sick, I didn’t need a new one until now.

I had to discuss my medication, Lexapro, as my neurologist refuses to “own” it. I take it for my depression/anxiety that, despite my kid now being four years old, is still lingering enough to ruin whole days. Read more

Why Go Vegan?

Why Go Vegan?

I think last year if someone told me I would be going Vegan in July 2017, I’d be pretty startled. I mean, I haven’t always been a carnivore, and my anxiety disallows me to ever really enjoy meat, but I do like my hard-boiled eggs, my cheese, and my yogurt.

I would have wondered if future Lina was doing the right thing. Was she being healthy? How was she not starving? Was she eating weird stuff like tofu and tempeh and seaweed? Read more