Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shingles, Weight Maintenance, and Food Addiction Recovery 2017, hint, there's an anti-viral for that!

*** If you have shingles or think you do, go to your doctor, get diagnosed ASAP!!!!!***

The accounting below is based on my own experience. Your diagnosis and treatment can and will differ.

Here's my scoop on the latest in my weight maintenance challenge: Shingles. Yep!
Early in March 2017

QUICK DIAGNOSIS : The short story.Due to fast action on my part, I went to my doctor and got diagnosed and on anti-viral meds (Valacylovir for 7 days) within 8 hours of the rash appearing. Rash and most of the mild pain went away in 14 days.

Pain: The pain has been mostly mild to slightly moderate. I have not taken a single pain pill. Doc was going to put me on Gabapentin for pain, if needed. Early use of the anti-viral probably saved me a lot of pain. I suspect it will save me from PHN- postherpetic neuralgia. If I can avoid long term nerve pain, I'll be very pleased. 

Research Pre-Diagnosis: After I saw the nasty rash, I was 99% sure it was shingles, so I made the earliest appointment I could with my PA.

Mainstream: I googled ONE mainstream source of info: NIH Shingles  I will trend to a 85% use of mainstream medicine when sick with common, treatable diseases. My doctor or PA and I are the top decision making team together.

Take-away: Get the anti-viral meds since the rash was <72hrs old.

Paleo/ LCHF/ Keto: I googled ONE article that was written by someone on the internet who used mainstream medicine and functional medicine and had a prior Auto-Immune disease. Back Country Paleo shingles information.

I'm picky and choosy when selecting off mainstream medical advice. Too much woo and down right miss-information on the internet. With Back Country Paleo,  I liked how Sue navigated her shingles case. And I had already decided to use an anti-viral, so I was interested to learn from Sue. I grew up in a rural area, next to a small-ish medium sized city, so the rural fixes are of interest to me.

Take away from Sue: Get traditional treatment, improve your gut bacteria and inflammation later via your regular Paleo/ AIP food template.  Exactly how I like to roll. A very good example of combining mainstream with principles that keep your immune system well. I have to keep my GI system running  as part of a low inflammatory life anyway, so this approach fits well into my post shingles living.

Dealing with my existing diseases: the Food Addiction is still in remission
You'd better believe that my food addiction voice came out to play a few times. "You're sick, poor thing, don't worry about your food template right now....." "You'll be in pretty bad pain soon, eat whatever, go easy on yourself, it's okay to eat extra carbs". WHAT!?

Good news. I have trained myself to recognize destructive thought patterns. I did NOT give into food addiction. I told another living person I would not due to the acute illness or potential pain management. That I would get through this disease without "using" food.

So far, so good. As always, my food addiction voice can show up without warning, even after the event. Knowing I stay true to my abstaining food template  24/7/365. I can ask for and get support with the same speed keeps me well, safe, and in remission.

I weighed in daily, just data, no big deal. Really I just cycled between 2 weight plateaus within my weight maintenance range. It's very interesting to me how things like viruses effect my weight.

Had Shingles early March '17, small weight change

Post Hashimoto's Disease and Shingles:
So far so good, I'm taking great care in the post acute phase of Shingles. I'll be 20 years post Hashimoto's disease this summer. Generally,I try to stay as well as I can as I age to avoid another round of a different auto-immune disease.  Hypothyroid is a super easy treatment for me by using the synthetic thyroid hormone, Levothyroxine- AKA Synthroid.

How I dealt with Shingles:
I've now gone from the acute phase (rash, teeny tiny almost not there blisters, fatigue, some cold intolerance)  to the more chronic phase (mild pain) and am on the mend.

Working: If I were contagious, for only a few days in my case, I was completely covered by 3 layers of clothing at all times while out of the house. I had almost no visible blisters that healed up in 2-3 days. This kept small babies, pregnant ladies not previously infected with chicken pox, and the immunocompromised (treatment and or elderly) safe.

We are talking teeny, tiny, almost couldn't feel blisters.

Since I don't see patients in a hospital or clinic setting in my current job assignment, I arranged to work at home until I got onto the anti-viral meds. I stayed clear of all kids, elderly, and any child bearing females.

Eating: I kept my same food template, adding in chicken broth, probiotics, and I ate some tasty sauerkraut I had on hand. 3 meals a day, 1 Tablespoon of the Diablo Sauerkraut seemed to keep my GI system running well, despite the disease and the treatment.  The day I forgot to eat the kraut while on the anti-viral meds was pure misery. Of course, it could have been the meds, the disease or both.

Batch cooking: I had most of this in my freezer already cooked
Beef off the bone and chicken broth broth and sauerkraut all help my GI system, seemingly. I cooked up some beef short ribs in the Instant Pot and put them on romaine, with radishes and cilantro. Tasty!

You or family WILL get sick. Prep food before that happens so all you have to do is microwave.

GI stuff: I needed to eat sauerkraut at every single meal while on the anti-viral. After the 7 days, I tapered and now eat fermented at one meal every 2-3 days.

I also craved salt before I got the rash, so much so, that I finally ate salt out of hand a few times and salted my water with pink salt a few times.

Other symptoms: I had some cold intolerance and fatigue. Both mild compared to Hashimotos like 1/3 the strength. I could still function and never fell asleep at dinner. LOL.
Long beach walks helped me

Other Treatments: Exercise if you can
Walking: low to medium to medium high intensity walks helped much of my nerve and skin pain. The first 10 minutes was a little painful, but walking seemed to decrease my skin pain for 6-8 hour blocks.

Short Showers: My showers in the AM increased my pain so fast showering, moving to washing my hair every other day helped decrease skin/nerve pain.

Gym: I had some weakness, so I took a few weeks off the gym and kept doing home pushups and stretching.

Of course, I'm thinking about prevention now: 

Root cause: 5-6 medium stressors that appeared one by one in a 2 week time frame in Jan 2017.  Nothing that is unsolvable, nothing that I couldn't or didn't ask for help and got it, but perfect storm conditions.

ALL things that were outside of my control. ALL things that are dealt with now and are humming a long just fine. And I was meditating, taking long walks at the beach and thinking I was going back to normal. Nope!  I really thought I was doing well. What a kick in the butt. Sigh.

All the sea glass collecting in the world wasn't enough to keep me off the edge, this time. Infections happen, squeaky clean food and living or not, sometimes you get sick.

Contributing cause: Going against my gut feeling in Sept 2016 and NOT paying $200 out of pocket to get the shingles vaccine. My insurance doesn't cover the shingles vaccine until age 58 (I'm almost 51), so I made the decision, in conjunction with my doc and good health, to wait.

The vaccine won't prevent a Shingles outbreak, but the severity may be lessened. I tend to react well immune wise to vaccines. Guess what I STILL have to do this Fall, yep, get a shingles vaccine and pay out of pocket. DANG IT. Even if you have had shingles, the vaccine may help future outbreaks.

What is working now:
1. Early Diagnosis so I qualified for the anti-viral Valcylovir
2. Keep other diseases in check by eating in my food template
3. Batch cooking, with a special emphasis on beef, sauerkraut
4  Priority on exercise sleeping and meditation and, setting limits
5. Getting any other vaccines and prioritizing my extra cash for prevention, insurance or no!

What did not work in the past:

1. I didn't always go to the doctor when I needed to go.
2. I almost developed type 2 diabetes as a result of my Food Addiction being out of control.
3. I bought "sick and comfort food" like frozen dinners, icec ream, and candy. Ugh!!!! NOPE
4. I said yes to all people, no matter what. Couldn't set a boundary to save my life.
5. I ignored my gut feelings. Poor risk management skills.

Have you gotten shingles? I know many cases are much, much worse than what I had. I'm very fortunate.


  1. Bless your heart! (sorry...I'm a Southern girl; I can't help it, LOL)

    I got shingles several years ago. I had shooting pain in my lower right back for a few days - didn't think a whole lot about it because I tend to have pain on that side with hormonal processes - but when I went to the bathroom one Friday afternoon and felt something very weird in that spot, I immediately thought it was shingles and got to a doctor.

    Like you, catching it early meant a less severe case and no lasting issues. I was more uncomfortable than anything for a few days.

    My younger brother had a much worse case on his head a couple of years before me. I think he still has residual issues from time to time.

    I'm glad you're doing better and were able to keep your routines relatively normal.

    BTW, I recently read "Never Binge Again" by Glenn Livingston and have implemented the cognitive techniques he outlines. I realized while reading this post how much of his techniques you use, even though you've likely not read the book. What you refer to as your food addiction, he calls the Pig. He teaches techniques for keeping the Pig caged.

    My Pig also likes to squeal and rattle his cage when I am sick, but now that I recognize it's just him I am able to ignore him and keep him in the cage. I was sick a couple of weeks ago and stayed completely on plan.

    Praying you continue to improve and experience radiant health!

    1. Thanks, Mickie!!! Interesting book recommendation. I'm glad more authors are writing about abstaining over moderating all foods. I called mine "The Disease". I certainly wasn't a bad person for not being able to moderate (except to my WW leader who couldn't infect me with obesity again- even by getting right in my face)

      Anyhoo, I'm very grateful that I had a mild case. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. deb, oh yeah, I've been strict gluten free since 2011, with my last big unintentional gluten exposure in Nov 2014. Hope that you are staying gluten free for your health.

    2. Chuckle. Thanks for replying to my comment, even after I deleted it. I decided it was just too long (and probably only interesting to me} so I deleted it, then didn't have the oomph to rewrite.

      If I ever get to the ocean, I plan on searching out sea glass!


  3. Thanks so much for writing this all out, I didn't know a thing about it.

    You might have said - I assume you had chicken pox as a child (that is prerequisite for shingles right?) - ? I had the actual chicken pox as did all of my kids. Does the vaccine hold for life (if you get shingles vaccine in your 20's does it hold forever)?

    1. Thanks, Vickie for stopping by. Yes, to have shingles, you would have to have had chicken pox. 98% of us in the US did back in the day, before the chicken pox vaccine.

      The vaccines (either chicken pox or for shingles) only act to lighten the disease (may be some prevention), but the vaccines are not 100% in prevention. I do think that it has been shown that there are fewer complecations with a lower viral load.

      My doc told me that I could get a shingles vaccine 1 time and that would be it. It may be different based on the drug, additional drug studies, your current immune status, etc.

      Also my doc told me that the well known Clinic I go to would not administer the shingles vaccine, I would have to go to the Pharmacy to get it if insurance was going to pay... If not, I may be able to get a good price for cash at CVS minute clinic. Whatever.... I'll let you know what the end note is this fall. I'll probably pay out of pocket for a pneumo vaccine, too, but may try to get my insurance to pay with the help of my doc......

  4. Wow! So sorry, Karen. Do you know how you got it. My stepfather got a very bad case of shingles a few years ago in his late 70s. It affected his nerves and he had to walk with a can for a while (that made my mom very unhappy). It took a while to heal and then when he had hip surgery the nerves were injured again for a short period.

    Are you taking a probiotic to deal with any gut issues? I saw a dermatologist over the summer who wanted me to take an antibiotic for two months every day!!! I did NOT do it. I was way too freaked out about messing up my gut. She wanted me to take an antibiotic like what they give for acne. Now if I have major surgery or an infection, I most definitely take the antibiotics they give me because I don't want to risk infection but I have zero desire to take one on a voluntary basis.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Hi Ali, Yes, I have had the varciella virus dormant in my nerve cells since the early 70's when I had chicken pox. Many stressful events added up to a higher level of stress (even though I thought I was dealing with it well, it was too much out of my control within 2 weeks or so).

      So stress can trigger shingles, that's the most likely thing. I had a super mild case in an area that was okay to deal with (left back and hip only).

      Antibiotics: Yeah, I'd take them in a second since they can lower inflammation. I'm a lot more concerned about the primary inflammation and it's trigger for more auto immune diseases. Like with the anti-viral, I can always bring my gut back online after the treatment is over and some during the treatment. And that buys me time to figure out if there is a dietary component to the skin stuff.

      I used to love getting a z-pack for my sinus infections because my cystic acne would clear up. Now I know dairy was the component (grains, too) and removing dairy and grains = almost no sinus infection. Win-Win.

      Infections and inflammatory processes are some of the things I can improve on Paleo, but not necessarily make better in the long term, depending on the cause.

      On the other hand, I'd rather abstain from dairy than to take antibiotics for my acne.

      Since I just turned 51, I think that my pain level was lessened. Sorry about your step father. If someone has had shingles, they can have a lot of empathy. I had to finally stop people from telling me how dang painful they had it. I knew from reading my age and fast action would likely make for an easier time of it.

      I really wanted to avoid the Gabapentin, but would have taken it to sleep and take the edge off. Whew!

  5. So sorry to read you have had / are recovering from Shingles.
    Have to agree with you early diagnosis is best ...

    Thinking of you

    All the best Jan

    1. Jan, thank you! I'm very much on the mend, but did take a month off the gym. Just coming back online fully, so this weekend, I'll go back. I enjoy LCHF for being able to be sick AND maintain my weight comfortably. Whew!!!

  6. Very sorry to hear that you have shingles. Good thing you caught it early!

    1. Elizabeth, yes!!!! I had so many tell me about how painful shingles were for them. I really wanted to avoid the Gabapentin since that's a major leauge drug. Whew.