Brain Retraining

This is a long overdue post on the second protocol that I began in December. If you haven’t been following my blog up till now, I am testing three separate protocols in an effort to improve my health. See my previous blog posts for the first protocol. Brain retraining is the second protocol and the most intriguing.

The explanation can get complicated if not done sequentially and comprehensively, so I will do my best to be brief yet thorough.

Brain retraining involves mostly the limbic system that is responsible for emotions and memories. It is also our “ancient” brain and our subconscious brain. It is closely connected to our autonomic nervous system, that flight or fight response.

Our limbic system can become hypersensitive and begin responding to things that are not a threat. But our body responds as if it is! We can respond to triggers of all kinds. Neuroscientists have shown that we can rewire our brain, or limbic system to NOT react or respond to these triggers. Neuroplasticity! 

The program I have been following was used at the Mayo Clinic so that is why I chose this one. The Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program has been quite amazing. I have to say that initially, I was skeptical. Some of the techniques used are NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), meditation, mindfulness, yogic practices, visualization and more. I already used most of those in my daily life, but the specific techniques are unique.

I wondered if it would work for me because he originally intended the program to be for people with chronic fatigue syndrome but has since realized it helps so many others. I have been astounded at how much progress I have made in recovery. I have been able to decrease some of my meds for mast cells. I still have much more to do as I still struggle with pain.

The support provided is incredible, from online webinars, to free apps, support group and email support. If you have any questions about the brain retraining program, feel free to leave questions below or email me at janhemspteadrn@gmail.com.Gupta

December and January Updates

I know I have been missing for quite a while so I decided to give some December and January updates. I have been super busy, mostly with family. December 13th, my 87 year old mom fell and fractured her hip. She was shoveling snow, yes shoveling! She is a feisty, headstrong woman who is totally independent. She was cleaning the snow off the top of her car (yes, she still drives) and didn’t want to leave the snow that she removed from her car onto the parking lot for someone else to fall. So she took a foldable shovel that we did not know she had and started shoveling it out of the way and slipped.

She required surgery and subacute rehab. As many of you know, I have not been able to drive in over a year due to cardiac issues but luckily, my husband was on vacation for two weeks, so he drove me back and forth, first to Albany Medical Center, only 20-25 minutes away each day, then to her rehab that is 50-60 minutes away, depending on traffic. She is doing amazingly well. I don’t know why I’m surprised. She’s a tough cookie! Here she is practicing getting in and out of a car in rehab. Mom in car in rehab

Now that Brian is back to work, my twin sister is doing all of the daily visits, since I can only get down there on weekends when Brian returns from his business trips. Soon, she’ll be going home because she is making remarkable progress.

Then I had several medical appointments in Boston at Brigham and Women’s. I will update about those appointments in an upcoming post because I will discuss information I learned from some testing done. The trek to Boston is always an all day deal, a three to three and a half hour drive each way, several hours at the appointment and a few stops on the Mass Pike. I’m always wiped out when we get home.

The very exciting update that I have is the new addition to our family. Since our beloved dog, Buddy died 7 months ago, I have been greatly missing him, his calming dog energy and the unconditional love only a dog can provide. I am in the process of attempting to get a balance service dog but the application process is difficult and the wait is long. A 2-3 year wait is typical for balance dogs.

So with the advice and help of a friend, Justine Blair Carroll, who owns Dharma of Dog, a dog training and behavior service in Saratoga, NY, we contacted Perfect Pets Rescue, Inc. There we found our sweet Twinkle, a senior dog who had been in a kill shelter and scheduled to be killed that day until someone saw the twinkle in her eye and took her out for foster care until she could be adopted.

I knew as soon as I saw her on the website that she was ours. I saw the twinkle in her eyes too! I had no intention of getting a senior dog with the pain of losing Buddy so fresh. But there was something so special about Twinkle. And she is!!!

We picked her up Friday night and it’s only Tuesday and she has acclimated into our lifestyle so well. It’s as though she has always been here. We are smitten with her. Love at first site for us and her.

Even if you are not a dog person, it’s tough not to smile at these pics.Twinkle

Twinkle sleeping
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Making Homemade Yogurt

As I was reading about the Special Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), one of the most essential things that Elaine Gottschall discussed was the importance of homemade yogurt. Initially, that concerned me because I have been dairy free for over 2 years. I only allowed myself occasional fresh mozzarella, which is the one cheese my mast cell specialist okayed. But I noticed a rash when I ate it more than once every couple of weeks, so I stayed away from all other dairy.

I couldn’t decide how the homemade yogurt was going to fit in to my dairy free life, but I was determined to at least try it. Since I had previously had the least trouble with goat’s cheese, I decided to try it with goat’s milk. Elaine’s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, has detailed instructions on making the homemade yogurt because her process is different than typical yogurt making. The yogurt has to be fermented at least 24 hours so the lactose becomes galactose which is a monosaccharide. As I mentioned in the previous post, all of the carbohydrates must be monosaccharides.

So I decided to make it easy on myself and ordered the Yogourmet electric yogurt maker. I did not like the plastic container it came with to hold the yogurt, so I also ordered Wellbee’s 64 ounce Glass Jar that fits into the Yogourmet. Yogourmet comes with the freeze-dried yogurt starter and the thermometer. Getting the milk to the correct temperature and cooling it to there correct temperature before adding the starter are important.

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Wellbee's jar

The first time I made the yogurt, I enlisted the help of my hubby. I wish I had a video recording because it was kind of funny. Even though I had read through the directions, it was a new process and we were running back and forth from the stove to the sink to the counter.  I’ve now made it many times and it’s easy.

I also make fruit compote using just frozen organic fruit, a little water and honey. I add a couple of spoonfuls of this to the homemade yogurt each day and it is delicious! This one is mango but I have made mixed berry, blueberry and peach.fruit compote
I’m even happier to report than I have had ZERO reaction to the yogurt. This was a huge surprise to me. I did start out with just a few spoonfuls the first time and then a tiny bowl. Now I have a small bowl each day. The SCD also has several recipes with homemade yogurt as one of the ingredients.homemade yogurt

It’s important  to add here that there are several SCD recipes on the internet that are NOT really SCD legal according to the original SCD as written by Elaine Gottschall. I am strictly following the original diet initially to allow ample time to assess whether it is effective for my mast cells.homemade yogurt

So far, so good… Continue to follow to see more meals, foods and reactions.