It comes down to what we eat

Gentle Reader,

A friend sent me a TED talk by Dr.Terry Wahls  on MS this past week.  In the 5 minute screening she recounts her productive life as a research scientist up to the debilitating onset of MS.  Seeking the best care medical professionals had to offer, her condition worsened.  Driven by her inquiring mind to know as much as she could about her disease, she began to experiment with different foods and supplements.  As her condition improved, she increased her dependence on whole plant foods, greens, reds, yellows, blues, purples and lessened or stopped eating altogether all refined foods, meats, dairy, sugars, grains.  Exercise became possible.  Brain function and mobility returned to better than normal.  All drug intake stopped.  Take a minute to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Arthritis caused by spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis is not Multiple Sclerosis.  I realize this. I would challenge anyone suffering from the pain and loss of mobility caused by arthritis to eat the diet Dr. Wahls describes and discover how much this pain lessens and mobility increases.  Every other system in the body improves with this diet.

Now, most people will not be able to eat this way day in and day out.  I don’t. For instance, yesterday I ate 1 meal on the run, getting off for choir practice with a protein shake in my car.  The next two meals I ate in the company of church members, lunch with a homeless community meal; dinner with the group of people I traveled with to Nicaragua in February.  My defense is supplementation.  The Carotanoids, Flavonoids, the Liver Cleanse, the pre and pro biotic do their best to take the place of the diet Dr. Wahls recommends.  When I am home, like today, I will eat this way.

You may have decided this blog is becoming too much of a harangue about diet and lose interest in following my Monday posts.  Before you go, just think outside the box, if you will, and consider the value to your health of a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, natural oils and proteins from plant sources.  Think of the future you dream of with your children and grandchildren, of travel and gardening, of skiing and hiking, of knitting and sewing without pain well into your 80’s and even your 90’s.  What is the price you are willing to pay for a pain free future?  We pay for our health sooner or later.  A wholesome diet and supplementation put the money up front and could lessen the cost of healthcare in our later years.  Think about it.

I am too harsh and unforgiving.  I love you just the way you are and would gladly listen to your stories about ways you have found to alleviate your arthritis pain.  If you do experiment with the Dr. Wahls diet, let me know how it goes.  If you want to fill in the gaps with “foodlet” supplements that are guaranteed to make you feel better or your money back, let me know that, too.

Be well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

BetsyBell’s Health4U

206 933-1889

Seattle, WA 98116

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Ankle replacement? How bad is it?

 

Gentle Reader,

 

Have you dried off from your most recent visit to the Y’s water aerobics for arthritics?  Not there yet?  Today I want to share information about replacing those joints that just keep hurting so much that you prefer to sit or lie down rather than try to move through the pain.  My favorite website for the latest procedures is Johns Hopkins Medicine.  This week they have an article about ankle replacement.  Replace your ankles?  Oh, my goodness.  It would have to be really bad before I’d do that.

 

My own experience with arthritis in the ankles came as a result of breaking the left ankle while cross country skiing in 1997. The snow conditions were our usual white cement so often prevalent in the Cascade mountains.  The Women on Wednesday group I ski with had chosen the Swan Lake trail that begins along Lake Kachess and then rises through twists and turns to an upper plateau. We have never made it to Swan Lake. It must be there somewhere.  Our ski day usually begins with a couple hours of climbing on skis, then lunch in a nice trail side spot, followed by another 20 minutes uphill to warm up.  Then we usually turn around and come down.  These logging roads are never groomed except by the occasional  snow mobile.  Snow mobiles can create moguls that make skiing even more challenging than breaking trail.  If the uphill has been through new snow, even cement (heavy) snow, the downhill can go quite well.  On the particular day of the breakage, I was doing my usual fast downhill and on one curve, planted the tip of my left ski squarely into a snow bank.  My body continued on.  I could hear the snap.

 

It was possible to ski out the remaining 4 miles or so by keeping the left leg slightly bent and the foot rigid in the boot, using the polls and right ski to snow plow.  On the bus, a fellow skier and nurse, filled a sandwich bag with snow and wrapped my ankle with an emergency tape.

 

The next day, an x-ray revealed a hair line fracture which they cast. I was in this non-weight baring thing for 60 days and a walking boot for another 30 days.  I worked hard to keep the muscles functional with all sorts of floor exercises including leg lifts in all directions, and was ready to walk as soon as they gave the go ahead.

 

Now, fifteen years later, I am getting little twinges when setting off on a hike or long city walk.  Do I stop?  Is it harmful to keep going?  I can report that I may slow down a bit, exercise great care in foot placement and gait, and above all keep going.  So far so good.  The pain doesn’t stop me and the ankle is still functioning well.  Will it get worse?  Probably.  Will I go for surgery someday?  Who knows.  I would recommend doing every possible thing before going there.  If you do read the article at the link, you’ll see that people have good results.  Are they hikers, cyclists, climbers?  Or are they people who just want to be able to walk around their house when the pain has become so unbearable they are confined to a chair?

 

Osteoarthritis and arthritis caused by injury often come down to the same thing as one ages.  I prefer to take hands full of supportive supplements to 3 Advil because I am sure that the supplements strengthen tissue and feed cells for better all over health.  Advil will mask the pain for sure.  It is pretty conclusive that vitamins, minerals and protein build healthy tendons, muscles and bone.  There may still be pain.  Try an herbal pain inhibitor first.  Shaklee makes a good one.  If you want to explore these, go to HiHoHealth dot com.  We have a Pain Relief page there.

 

The Johns Hopkins site on arthritis gives good information about the other joint replacements as well.  Good luck if you are facing this decision.  If you want to talk more about your options with a person who has been dealing with arthritis for 35 years, I’d love to hear from you at 206 933 1889.  If you would like to comment, please do.

 

Do well, Be well and Keep Moving,

 

Betsy

 

 

 

Hiking the Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainier 1990/2006

Gentle Reader,

The Goodwill Games brought 2300 athletes from 54 countries to Seattle in the summer of 1990.  My husband, Don Bell, chair of the public forum, Target Seattle: Preventing Nuclear War, in 1982, helped organize the representatives to the games from the Soviet Union.  Our house, a few blocks from the University of Washington football stadium where the opening ceremonies were held, was full of Soviets, young Russians in their 30s and a few Uzbeks from our sister city, Tashkent.  During the eight years between the first events in ’82, many groups traveled to and from the Soviet bloc including cooks (Peace Table), a team making and taking prosthetics and organizing competitive handicapped soccer matches here and abroad to name just a couple.  Many had been in our home.

In the middle of this pre-Goodwill Games opening swirl, my youngest daughter, Ruth and I worked in our spacious dining room preparing the food for our 13 day back packing trip on the 95 mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier.  Visiting Soviets–Uzbek and Russian–were mildly curious as we assembled a large metal bowl full of homemade granola and protein powder and then filled zip lock bags for each morning.  A second bowl contained all the ingredients for our favorite gorp which we mixed by hand, digging deep into the M & M’s, roasted almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cherries, peanuts and dried plums.  Salami sticks, blocks of hard cheese, rye crackers were divided for lunches.  We put together mixtures for the evening meals: peanut butter soup (too rich) and other quick meals, not all freeze dried.

My next youngest daughter, Eleanor, arrived a day before our early departure for the Ranger Station where we obtained our permit and assigned camping spots along the route.  She lived in Berkeley where she was in graduate school and took the train up to join us.

Less than a year earlier, I herniated disc L5 and began the therapies to get myself to this point.  We divided the gear, a 3 person dome tent, stove, sleeping bags, mats, clothes and food so each had about 36 pounds.  The girls probably carried more than I did.  I did not have hiking poles which turned out to be foolish.  I now use them on every hike except the short 3 – 4 mile ones in the city parks.

Our permit sent us counter clock wise around the mountain starting at Mowich Lake in the upper north west corner.  Others had secured camping spots high up on the ridges.  We had to settle for the valleys of the Mowich River, the North Puyallup and the South Puyallup rivers, Paradise River, Nickel Creek with Summerland the only up-slope campsite.  Our disappointment turned into delight as we were on top of the world each mid day and could skinny dip in the high lakes unnoticed.  We planned food pickups at Longmire where a car was parked with the next section’s food in the trunk, and again at Sunrise where Don was to meet us with the last segment’s food stash.

I fared well hiking carefully, thinking Pilates moves with each step.  I favored the left leg worrying that it would not sustain strength over the full 13 days.  Eleanor suffered knee pain from the extreme up and down each day.  We descended 2500 ft our first day, carrying full packs.  The next morning we gained 2400 ft by lunch time, took a dip in Golden Lake and descended 1400 ft to our riverside camp site.  I’d been training on stair cases and was managing well.  Eleanor was having so much trouble; she decided to leave the hike and took the car home from the Longmire parking lot.   After picking up a hiking stick and salty gorp (we forgot the need for extra salt when sweating so much), Ruth and I got our campsite settled and then hitched a ride up to Paradise lodge in a camper van from the Narada Falls visitor overlook.  Enjoying a pitcher of beer in the bar at Paradise, we eves dropped on a group from Minnesota just down from summiting Mt. Rainier.  The flatlanders had a tough time with the altitude, and a couple of them could not make the top.  I realized I had no intention of ever climbing a snow capped mountain.  Little did I know then that I would attempt Mt. Shasta in 2005 reaching 13,000 ft.

Hiking around Mt. Rainier weaves in and out of civilization and wilderness. Within 200 yards of a paved overlook, crowds of summer visitors trip along in high heels, flip flops, pushing strollers, tipping back cokes and munching on chips. Into this scene emerging from 4 days in total wilderness appear 3 women, sweaty headbands, heavy boots and packs, unwashed faces and unkempt hair.  We did not dally, but pushed through the milling groups to find the forest trail again.  Only at Longmire and Paradise did we take advantage of the amenities.

By day 7, my right leg and hip were becoming so painful it hurt to take each step.  The right side had compensated for the weaker left leg and ankle.  Using my new walking stick with each left step put more stress on the right side.  It was an eleven hour day covering eleven miles, up over snow fields and through spectacular fields of flowers, high bubbling streams, and alpine moon scapes above the timber line.  One special moment I remember all these years later, I lay down on the trail to rest just a few feet from a large rust, grey and back marmot slowly nibbling his way across our path to the lupine beyond.  We could hear him ripping flower heads and chewing.  Carrying my stick in both hands and putting each foot down as evenly balanced as I could, we finally descended into Summerland in the dark, head lamps locating a camping spot.  All I could do was get into the tent and stick my aching feet straight into the air.  We managed to fix dinner and were sound asleep without seeing the incredible beauty that awaited us in the morning.

From Summerland to the White River camp ground is a short distance.  Thy day was hot and clear.  In the wash house, we washed our hair hoping to look presentable for our men who were meeting us in the late afternoon.  It was August 8.  We began the 2000 ft. ascent in bright sunshine.  Half way up the 2000 ft gain from White River to Sunrise, heavy weather caught us.  Clouds, thunder and lightning moved in quickly followed by hail.  The alpine trees are so short at that elevation, they offered no protection.  We put on everything we had to keep dry and warm and hurried up the last couple of miles, a stair case to the Sunrise parking lot to find Don and Ruth’s boyfriend sitting in the car with the windshield wipers going full blast.  They convinced us to abandon the last segment of the hike, 35 of the 95 miles still to go.  When we got to the Mowich Lake parking lot to retrieve our car, clear sky and full sun greeted us.  Mt. Rainer makes its own weather and the storm was confined to the Sunrise side of the mountain   So disappointing.

Persuading me to quit was not too difficult. I doubted my ability to do the last 35 miles.  That remaining section of the Wonderland Trail haunted Ruth and me.  We tried again to do it from Mowich to Sunrise in 2000 and were snowed out again on August 10th.  Finally after I had trained and climbed Mt. Shasta in July of 2006, I felt was strong enough to carry a pack, and we completed the Northern loop in August.  Our circumnavigation of the mountain did not end on the Wonderland Trail.  Those permits were all taken.  We began in mist hiking in from Lake Eleanor through Grand Park, a little known back entrance to the Park from the north. The second day we walked in heavy wet weather, moisture coming up and in sideways from the water laden plants along the narrow underused trail.  On the third day the sun broke out to reveal the most glorious infrequently visited section of the park, Yellowstone Cliffs.  Climbing out of Carbon River to Seattle and Spray Parks in hot sun, we breathed the fragrant air, eyes feasting on a sea of wild flowers and deep green grass.  Spreading our wet gear out on high rocks to dry, Ruth and I read, sketched and languished lazily before finally hiking the last miles to meet our waiting family.  We could now claim the Wonderland Trail, 95 miles of absolute glorious wilderness.  My first 60 miles celebrated my 53rd birthday.  The last segment celebrated my 68th

This blog post is a reminiscence of triumph over injury, of doing a great physical activity against all odds.  I know you have had similar triumphs.  I hope you are inspired to keep moving.  Do not give up. Leave a comment with your story.

Be Well, Do Well.  Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

betsy@hihohealth.com

http://hihohealth.com