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

Baking Fun on SCD

As I have continued on the Special Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), the most fun has been experimenting with baking. Because the SCD is totally grain-free, baking is done completely with almond flour. In Elaine Gottschall’s book that I previously referenced, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, she explains the need for blanched almond flour. This is almonds with the skin removed. Because almond flour can be costly, I have found a brand on Amazon that is not only really good, but cost-effective.

I have made many different muffins, breads and breakfast treats using this almond flour. My husband, Brian, has been thrilled with each recipe. These were the Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins from Lucy’s Cookbook that I referenced in the last post. Next to it is Lois Lang’s Luscious Bread. We use that recipe to make our sandwiches. It slices and toasts well.

cinnamon coffee cake

Here is a pic of a sandwich made with the bread. It is a small loaf, so Brian usually makes two sandwiches. I also poached some pears for my lunch this day, because initially, only cooked fruit is allowed for better digestion.sandwich with bread

Also from Lucy’s Cookbook, I made Apple Cobbler. It was similar to my old apple crisp recipe and very good. Each time a make something, I get a thumbs up from Brian. apple cobblerapple cobbler cooked

 

 

 

 

These Parmesan Onion Rolls are absolutely delicious! We use these as hamburger buns, for chicken breasts sandwiches or anything you’d want a moist, tasty roll. Interestingly, I had not been able to eat Parmesan for over two years, but I have no problem with these.

Parmesan rolls

Hope you liked the pics of my baking fun. I have been enjoying myself, experimenting with different recipes. Some of our favorites are Apple Cinnamon Muffins, Banana Muffins, Carrot Cake Muffins and Peanut Butter Brownies.

The best part about these recipes is that they are high in protein because of the almond flour and low in sugar. They do all have butter as the fat, but I sometimes cut down a little on the amount without any change in taste or texture.

And the even better part is that I have been able to enjoy and tolerate without any mast cell reactions all of the recipes except for one… the lemon blueberry muffins. This is the second time lemon has caused a reaction, so it is safe to say lemon is out… for now.

I am having fun baking the SCD way and will continue trying new recipes. I am now two months into SCD and doing well. I have learned a few things about my body, it’s reaction to SCD and how to go forward. Stay tuned to the next post.

 

Priorities for Healing

I have not posted in quite a while. The past few months have been challenging, but before I share some of the craziness, this is how I chose to focus on my priorities for healing. It is so easy to let your own health take a backseat when there is chaos around you… especially if you are a natural caretaker like me.

A close family member had an anaphylactic episode for the first time. She has the same diagnoses as me, but our trauma center was not familiar with it and did not believe her. She ended up in ICU and I had to be there every day to manage her care with the assistance of our mast cell specialist.

Then, I had an episode of anaphylaxis… that scary throat closing kind. My typical had been more cardiac with low blood pressure and low heart rate previously.

Next came several weeks of crazy low heart rates in the 30’s and 40’s, causing me to be short of breath, lightheaded and unable to stand for more than a few minutes.

Then my husband, Brian, had a freak accident. He fell on some unmarked liquid on the floor of a hospital he was visiting for work. He fractured his lower leg in two places, requiring a long leg cast, no weight bearing and minimal activity to prevent surgery.

Lastly, I celebrated my 60th birthday. I had told Brian two years earlier, as I lay in ICU after an anaphylactic episode, that if I was still alive at 60, I wanted a birthday party. This is significant because I had had so many back to back anaphylactic episodes that my physicians were unable to control, that I was not sure I’d still be here. Plus, I am an introvert and dislike parties. I had never had a birthday party. Brian’s leg mishap occurred right before my party, so my kids and I had to do all of the work. My kids each live 30 minutes and 40 minutes away, so I tried to take the bulk of the responsibility.

Here is what I have learned…
1. I cannot care for everyone else and leave myself to last. Hard lesson for me, the forever nurse.
2. I focused on the things that support my health, both physical and emotional. I cooked food to nourish me, meditated more each day, journaled my feelings and gratitude and let go of non-essentials (like my blog and cleaning).
3. I did more of the things that bring me joy. I fed and watched my birds, pet my loving pet, Buddy, colored in my many adult coloring books and spent time with my kids. They are not really kids at 29 and 35 but they will always be my kids.
4. No guilt allowed, over anything. I did the best I could do, with a heart rate that was so low, I wondered how it was sending enough blood to all of my organs.
5. Because I have such difficulty sleeping, I did not focus on the number of hours I slept (or did not sleep). I went to bed each night with the intention to let my body rest, to meditate and listen to soft music with my earbuds. No stress.
So… my family member survived the anaphylaxis despite the hospital. I survived my anaphylaxis well too. My heart rate is still way too low and my cardiologist is discussing pacemaker with my other specialists. Brian is doing much better. He is now in a short leg cast after 6 weeks in that uncomfortable long leg one. He still has a long way to go, but he’s more independent now, so I can have a bit more time for me. And my birthday party was wonderful! I saw family members that I had not seen in almost a year and couple of close friends who are near and dear to me.

Life is good. Remember to make YOU a priority for healing.IMG_4127