A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was dealing with a recurring health issue, so I wanted to give you an update on that and tell you about how I’m handling it.
To be honest, the last month has been a real doozy for me physically and emotionally. I’ve already talked about my anxiety spiking, and a big part of that has to do with this issue.
Based on what I’ve been going through, I’ve been on an anti-inflammatory diet through eliminating certain foods, adding others in, and taking a bunch of supplements. I thought I’d share both that diet and my story in hopes that I might help anyone else with inflammation of any kind.
But first, let me back up…
Eight or nine years ago, I lost my sense of smell for a year. Because smell and taste are so closely related, I also couldn’t taste anything. And it started to become hard for me to breathe at all through my nose.
At the time, I was so into my holistic lifestyle that I stupidly never even considered going to the doctor. Instead I went to a homeopath (who was amazing) and through six months of supplements and diet change, I actually got my sense of smell and taste back about 50% of the time, but it still wasn’t great.
This all sounds like not that big of a deal, right? I wasn’t in any pain and could live my life normally. While all of that was true, it was really frustrating. I found that I ended up overeating because I wanted to taste so badly, and the breathing became a serious issue, especially at nighttime. I would wake up constantly, short of breath.
Finally by some stroke of luck I made a friend, who, when I told her about my problem, didn’t miss a beat and said that I had nasal polyps. Polyps, for those of you who don’t know, are benign growths that grow in your nose and sinuses, blocking your airways. Sexy, right? I called an ENT that day.
After confirming my friend’s diagnosis, he put me on Prednisone for two weeks. It worked and I could breathe and smell for the first time in what felt like forever! I remember tearing up walking past the flowers outside of the bodegas in the city (where I still lived) because I could actually smell them.
But then they popped back up within a week and I was back where I started. So I had the surgery which was incredibly painful, and forever changed my dreams of getting a nose job!
During my follow up appointment, my doctor told me that the polyps were a form of chronic inflammation and that it would be a problem for the rest of my life.
But I was young and could finally breathe and smell, so I didn’t really pay much attention to him. Since then, I hadn’t had any problems, just more congestion and sinus infections than most people.
Until last month….
Back to present day.
One morning last month, out of nowhere, I couldn’t hear out of my right ear. It was totally clogged up and I was super dizzy. I thought maybe it was a sinus infection or something so I waited a week and it got worse and worse. At one point I was so dizzy that I was scared to hold the baby standing up.
At that moment, I made my first ENT appointment in eight years. After a hearing test (I failed in one ear) and a bunch of other tests, she finally looked up my nose (again, so sexy) and saw that my polyps were back. I was not expecting that…
I immediately burst into tears (so embarrassing), and all of my emotions from the first time around came back. I can’t explain why this is so difficult for me but my new therapists insists that losing any of your senses is a trauma (first taste and smell and now hearing).
I started a round of Prednisone again and, like last time, the polyps disappeared. While I was taking them, I realized how hard it had been to breathe for the last few months. I finally wasn’t congested and I felt so much better. Within one day of being on meds, I could hear again and wasn’t dizzy at all.
But last week my ear clogged up again so I went back in.
Again, like last time, they came back within a week. Ugh. So now I’m on stronger steroids in hopes that I won’t have to have surgery again.
So here’s what I’m doing to avoid surgery…
When I first worked with that homeopath in the city and shrunk the polyps by 50%, he had me on a super strict diet where I couldn’t eat any gluten, dairy, sugar, or alcohol… for six months. It helped a lot but I was miserable.
Anel and I started dating during that time, and on one of our first dates he took me to eat a bagel just to prove that I wouldn’t explode or something. I mean can you tell why I married the guy?
I am much less congested without any dairy and gluten, and when I drink, I can’t breathe through my nose at all… Although tequila and vodka don’t seem to bother me as much.
So I’m trying to stick to the rules below without making myself insane.
A fun side effect is that I’ve lost the end of my baby weight! Within two weeks of starting this, people kept asking me what I did to lose weight and complimenting me on my glowing skin. That kind of makes up for the fact that I can’t have a glass of wine when I want one.
My anti-inflammatory diet…
Caffeine (except one mug of green tea/day)
Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli)
Fiber (I add flax and chia seeds to everything I can)
Garlic, onion, scallions, leeks
Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oils)
Dark leafy greens (kale, chard, etc)
Supplements (in addition to my multivitamin):
Fish oil (high in Omega-3s)
Curcumin (the chemical in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory properties)
I don’t know for how long I’ll be doing this, but I’ll keep you guys posted. For now, it makes me feel better but it’s also a giant pain in the butt. I’m just hoping that it helps enough to avoid another surgery!
Update: After a ton of emails and Instgram messages suggesting The Whole30 diet, I’m looking into it and might take it on with Anel sometime in the next month. We’re nervous but excited about how it will make us feel.
Photos by Carter Fish.