Well, many reasons really. But mainly because having any autoimmune problem sucks and I’m hoping I can eat my way into remission. I’ve been suffering with daily bladder pain now for a year and over the last six months (after much reading and research) have come to the unhappy conclusion that what I’m suffering with is Interstitial Cystitis.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) can encompass many symptoms, but typically sufferers experience intense pain, pressure and/or discomfort in the pelvic or bladder area. Some sufferers also experience the need to urinate frequently and it’s often very painful when they do. Think about the worst water infection you ever had. It’s basically like that… but every day. Essentially, your immune system is a bit confused and thinks there’s an infection in your bladder, so it keeps attacking it leading to all that discomfort.
It sucks. And it can get really painful.
I had a week a few months ago where I was in INTENSE pain every day. Many people with IC find that the pain gets more intense later into the evening and just as they are getting ready to sleep. This is the case with me also and has led to many sleepless nights, especially back before the summer when I was still fairly clueless as to what the hell was wrong with me.
When we’re talking about pain here, we’re not talking about a dull ache or a throb, we’re talking about it feeling like someone is sticking a pipe cleaner up your pee-hole, while someone else has found a nerve down there and is twanging it like a guitar string.
IC is not your run of the mill bladder infection and can’t be treated with antibiotics… or anything actually. There is no cure. It’s a mystery as to what causes it and some people live with this illness for years eventually becoming incapacitated in some cases and finding themselves unable to work.
But there is hope. Some IC sufferers have found that restricting their intake of certain foods (or cutting them out completely) has led to their symptoms subsiding and them being to manage the condition far more effectively. This was music to my ears. Finally, I thought, I will no longer need to rely on my doctor (who just keeps prescribing me antibiotics anyway – really??) and can take back control of my life.
I want to go for a long walk and not be worrying where the nearest bathrooms are.
I want to lie on the sofa and not worry that the position I’m in might bring on an attack.
I want to have sex with my boyfriend and not have to worry about the pain – and his hurt and worried expression.
You see, Interstitial Cystitis really does seep into every moment of every day of your life. The constant underlying nagging pain is exhausting. It can be tempting to slip into a really negative way of thinking, which is dangerous, and I imagine would be hard to get back out of.
So, when I saw that cleaning up my diet could clean up my bladder, I figured I’d give it a shot. I had heard about a paleo way of eating a couple of years ago from some friends living state-side and I started to look into it a bit more. It all made sense and slowly, but surely I started to adapt and become a modern-day forager in a world full of grains, legume, dairy, and processed food.
My symptoms improved DRAMATICALLY. Since I started living more of a paleo lifestyle, I haven’t had one sleepless night due to pain. I tend to wake up pain-free most mornings, giving me half a day off from the discomfort. But it does get worse in the evenings again… and then sometimes I’ll eat something and I’ll be incapacitated for an hour or two as I let it work it’s way through.
So, although paleo has really helped ease my symptoms (and is making me so much healthier and more positive in so many other ways), it hasn’t freed me of this stupid IC malarky once and for all. And I’m in it to beat it here, not just to get a little bit better and be satisfied.
So what now? Recently, while reading Robb Wolf’s excellent book, The Paleo Solution, I came across a page that mentioned the Autoimmune Protocol. This page mentioned a bunch of paleo-friendly (or grey area) foods that because of their abundance today can still cause problems in people… especially those who are autoimmune. I was pretty horrified as that list contained a bunch of things I’ve been throwing down my throat since going paleo, including eggs, nuts, seeds, and tomatoes – I’m a sucker for tomatoes.
After doing a bit more research, I came across some really interesting and resourceful sites, including The Paleo Mom, AIP lifestyle, and Autoimmune Paleo. After having quite a painful weekend (and a horrendous reaction to green chillies the other week), Boyfriend and I talked about it and figured that trying the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet for 60 days wouldn’t hurt. So, here it is. I’ve downloaded these amazingly useful guides on foods to eat and foods to avoid from Autoimmune Paleo and stuck them up in the kitchen – a reminder for me when I’m cooking, but more so for Boyfriend who has been amazingly supportive and just wonderful in accepting a lot of the changes that I’ve brought into the kitchen. I will also be sending copies ahead of anywhere I go for dinner and I’ll probably avoid eating out for the next 60 days wherever possible.
I’m 100% serious about this. Getting my health and my life back free of pain and negativity is worth any price, especially when it’s just a few eggs and nuts.
Thanks for supporting me in my journey 🙂