The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

I can eat!

Bumblebee on goldenrod

After five months running to the outhouse at the drop of a hat then nine additional months on a severely restricted diet...I can eat! I'm a bit giddy with the flavors. Fruit between meals! Dishes seasoned with onions and garlic! Ice cream! It's like walking out of black and white and into color.

So what fixed me? I hesitated to make this post and I'm still going to keep it short. But since so many people deal with irritable bowel syndrome, I thought it was worth pointing out a potential light at the end of the tunnel...even if the light didn't come from the direction I'd thought it would.

Red sassafras leaves

I'll start with the slow-but-relatively-sure approach that did appear to be making a difference over the first year --- lots of rice to rest my gut, a low FODMAP diet to prevent additional irritation, increasing my morning walk to two miles per day, cognitive-behavioral therapy plus major life changes to lower my stress and anxiety levels, and the biggie...time. This combination of treatments really might have healed me eventually even if I hadn't accidentally pulled out the big guns.

But that's not what let me start eating again. Progesterone was.

Tickseed sunflowers

Earlier this summer, Mark talked me into visiting a holistic doctor who ran a battery of tests and concluded that, despite my age, my progesterone levels were at perimenopausal levels. Warily, I agreed to a daily hormone pill...and within a couple of weeks I was getting an extra hour of sleep per night while also feeling relief from tricky women's troubles that had crept into my life over the last few years. Two months in, I began testing the foods that used to mess me up and finding no ill effects. Could my grumpy gut really be as simple as a hormonal imbalance?

I'm a bit leery of staying on progesterone forever, although I have commited to the crutch until our move is complete. In the meantime, I figure I might as well add yet another stress-relieving gun into my arsenal. Time to learn to meditate!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Good for you!

Your remarks led me to look into the functions of progesterone. It's really interesting to read how involved our biochemistry is. It is kind of a miracle how this complex machinery of our bodies can keep on working for so long.

I'd imagine that you've disected the Wikipedia page on progesterone word for word by now. :-) It seems there are many factors that could contribute to a low blood level of progesterone. It might not be possible to determine what the exact cause in a single person is, unless it is something glaringly obvious.

As an aside, I've been trouble-shooting low volume production processes for two decades now. It has been rare that I've been able to really determine a cause for a problem based on a small run of parts; there are usually many different sources of variations. I'd expect that for similar reasons medical studies are always done on groups, the larger the better.

No doubt there is a docter out there that would love to delve into your problem. But who wants to be a research subject? :-/

So even if taking some extra progesterone seems like a crutch, go for it!

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Aug 27 10:41:37 2017

I am so pleased for you that progesterone has done the trick for you and that you feel well and can eat what you want to - it must be such a joy -after what you have been through. Like you I would not like to be on a hormone long term, but I do urge caution when coming off any hormone - do it very, very gradually. I cannot emphasize this enough and I speak from personal experience, hormone swings can send you on a real dive. I am sure your doctor will advise and you will be fine. Wish you all the very best for your forthcoming move. I really enjoy your blog and your other writing.

Comment by Anonymous Mon Aug 28 12:32:18 2017

So glad you're finally feeling better! Though it's not considered an appropriate topic to discuss, I really appreciate you sharing your digestive trials and solutions because they may be very helpful to people going through similar experiences.

On your road to relaxation/mediation, I suggest looking into ASMR videos. I have a very difficult time meditating (which I blame on being attention deficit.. Oh look! A squirrel!), but I have found ASMR to be incredibly relaxing. Since I've never managed to 'successfully' meditate I can't say how they compare, and it did take a little time to find what triggers I enjoyed, but ASMR has given me a way to relax and center myself that nothing else has. You may be much more successful with meditation, in which case ASMR might just be a nice supplement to your relaxation routine, or entirely superfluous.

Comment by Rae Mon Aug 28 14:49:55 2017

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