Friday, February 17, 2012

Anti-inflammatory Mo

Prior to this FET, I gave you guys a bullet-point list of all the things we did this cycle in the name of regret management...from IVIG (which I guess I need to sign up for treatment #2 of), to lovenox, to acupuncture.

Something I didn't mention because I hadn't decided what to do about it yet was diet changes.

This January, for my fortieth birthday, Will took me to a health spa in Miami Beach. We are far too plain and no frills to be spa-type people, and the whole experience was nice enough, but really surreal. One of the things I did that weekend was see a nutritionist, which I have never done before. I was completely honest with her about both my diet and about the very real practical limitations to fixing it, such as me often not making it home from the hospital until after 9pm at night. And cooking after that? Ain't going to happen. She was great and had lots of helpful tips on how to improve things, what frozen meals are healthy (think Amy's or Kashi), what snack items would be good for me and easy enough to actually have happen (like peanut butter on rice crackers, or lentil chips with hummus, or sardines with baby carrots).

One of the other things the nutritionist had me do was a bunch of blood work to look at food sensitivities. I don't have any food allergies, but she gave me a test that was supposed to see if my blood serum reacted with approximately 150 different food items. The results give you a list of foods you reacted to, with 4 being the worst reaction and 1 the most minor (0 if no reaction at all).

And lo and behold, I came up positive on over 20 food items. No 4s on anything, thankfully, but a couple of 3s (Filbert nuts - who even knows what that is?! brazil nuts, and eggs - which is a major bummer), several 2s (brewer's yeast, alfafa, oysters, tomatoes), and a bunch of 1s (including bakers yeast, lemons and limes, navy beans, yellow wax beans, cranberries, kidney beans, mushrooms, almonds, vanilla, and wheat). The nutritionist also had my blood tested for gluten sensitivity, which I tested in the intermediate range for at 27 (above 20 is positive and above 30 is moderate to strong positive). The results were mailed to me about two weeks ago.

And at first, I was like - you've got to be kidding me - I can't cut out wheat and gluten and eggs and tomatoes. What is left?! I tried to dismiss the whole thing in my mind. I've been eating these foods all my life and am not aware of any reactions whatsoever! What a bunch of hooey!

And then I thought...upcoming FET...possibly your last...regret management...remember regret management?! Ugh. So the day before the transfer, I cut all of these foods out of my diet. I have not been 100% perfect - there have been a couple of things that I started noshing on before I realized eggs were an ingredient, and I did have one rice-crust pizza that had tomato sauce on it.... But I've been probably 98% adherent. It is tough. Especially because I don't really believe in it whatsoever.

But I'm thinking that if there's anything I can do to reduce inflammation in my body, anything that might stimulate an inflammatory response that could adversely affect the pregnancy, I'm going to give it a try. At least until the pregnancy gets a little more established. Or, really, let's be honest. At least for today. Because it has been hard to eat following this, and so many of the things I like are now off the list of possibilities. And I still don't get home until 9pm many nights.

So a little crazy, I think, and probably doesn't matter. But in the spirit of wanting to have done everything in my power to give this pregnancy a chance, I am sticking with it for now. This plus the boatload of drugs I am on (aspirin, claritin, prednisone, pepcid, lovenox, vitamin D, supplemental folate, multivitamin, fish oil, progesterone, estrogen). Phew.

These are the kind of crazyish behaviors that have evolved in me after 6 failed pregnancies and 7 IVFs. I chuckle at myself, and I remain a total skeptic about much of this.

And then I dip another rice cracker in my tub of organic lemon-free hummus.


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  1. Not crazy at all when it's all about regret management. If it makes you feel better, I've been researching having my silver/mercury dental fillings safely removed. I only have two of them, but still, I've read a few negative things, and you know what happens when we read ; )

    Good luck with all that you're trying to do!

  2. Hey, Mo, I've also done the anti-inflammatory diet route--with varying degrees of success--throughout this process. I was particularly paranoid about wheat, as gluten intolerance has been linked to miscarriage. I've never actually been tested, but I definitely feel better if my wheat intake is next-to-nothing.

    Have a good weekend!!

  3. I know how hard it must be, but with articles like this one floating around: it's not a bad idea to try to reduce inflammation. So I'm sorry that you're dealing with the crankiness of major diet changes and major meds, but with numbers like you have, perhaps this regret management thing was a VERY GOOD IDEA! Holding lots of hope and saying lots of prayers for you.

  4. I absolutely know what you mean about regret management - losses carry such a burden of regret, even when we know intellectually that there is no fault and regardless of whether the food sensitivity thing is right or not, eating more healthily can't hurt. Heck - I'd have stood on one leg, chanting, wearing a feather boa and eating cat-food if someone told me it would bring me a baby, so cutting out a few dietry items is certainly worth a go ;-)!

  5. if its not too much of a pain in your a$$, dietary stuff seems a pretty easy thing to add to 'the list'.

    have fun this weekend- hope you will be able to update about your betas from the boonies! take it easy, too...

  6. Filberts are hazelnuts! So just don't eat Nutella, basically. :)

    Good luck with all this juggling...

  7. I commend you for your discipline and tenacity in sticking with a restricted diet! It is very hard, especially when you don't have overt symptoms of sensitivity or allergies after you eat something. I think in your case it makes sense to try everything and right now it seems to be working! Once the pregnancy is established, you can loosen up your restrictions. Good luck!

  8. Filberts = hazelnuts (moderately common in the US; in Europe, almost inescapable especially in chocolate. Now, I like hazelnuts OK, but I do NOT need them in every single variety of chocolate bar!) In high school I used to babysit for the Bertz family, and it used to amuse me to no end that the father's name was Phil.

  9. I study what causes inflammation and how to decrease it for a living, so this is a topic near to my heart:)

    Let me put it this way- the inflammatory potential of a tomato or eggs is probably equivalent to a BB gun. Then there are the bazookas- that would be stuff made on bacteria, which if it gets in your bloodstream, can produce enough inflammation to kill a grown man in a day.

    Prednidasone has enough power to neutralize the bazooka almost completely (I use an equivalent in my experiments all the time). Vitamin D mimics some of its actions on many immune cells and does the same thing, but to a lesser extent. It also has other ways of regulating inflammation in the immune system. IVIG, in some mysterious way, is also a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

    So if you ever slip up and have a tomato or an egg, just rest assured, you've got it covered:)

  10. I have to say I do buy into the nutritional info - especially on avoiding inflammatory foods if you think you may have an overactive immune system. So yeah I think avoiding wheat and food from the deadly nightshade family (like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant etc) is a good thing to do... it can't hurt right?

    Also if all does go well (and I can't tell you how much I am hoping it does!) I think it's a good idea to avoid wheat during pregnancy anyway as it can add to water retention....

    Wishing you all the best with it Mo! You're amazing!

  11. I think what you are doing is perfectly sensible.

    I say that as someone who is skeptical of the nutritional stuff or, more accurately perhaps, of the value of its broad application. But I was totally gluten free in the 3 months before my one successful IVF cycle and almost totally so throughout that pregnancy (I did relax a bit by 3rd trimester).

    Um, given what you are listing (and acknowledging that this may be assvice since you didn't ask for help, so you know, feel free to stop reading here) -- let's see. I am not seeing dairy on your list and am thinking there must be gluten-free, nut-free commercial cereals available; or you could do a homemade muesli from gluten-free rolled oats plus "OK" nuts (crushed walnuts) and assorted dried fruits (not cranberry). For a quick meal I'm a fan of smoked salmon (which keeps a long time in the fridge), cheeses, and some combination of crudites, fruits, and olives; another veggie that works for me and is quick is frozen chopped spinach warmed up in the microwave and topped with cheese or with balsamic vinegar (is that OK? I'm not sure; it may contain gluten or yeast) stirred into it (not both together, at least, not for my taste buds). And/ or sprinkle some nitrate-free bacon or proscuitto strips (heated to avoid listeria concerns) across it? There are lots of good rice/wild rice/quinoa/lentil dishes that can be bought prefab, made ahead, and stored in the fridge to be warmed up. Also what about a quick-bake-in-the-microwave potato + sour cream and whatever toppings are your choice? And last but not least, I'm pretty sure any Breyer's original ice cream that doesn't have vanilla in it would be consistent with the restrictions you list?

    Alright. Hope something in there is helpful. One of my adult stepkids has an autoimmune condition and has gone gluten- and soy-free *and* vegan (except fish) -- to good effect -- so I'm not entirely unaccustomed to running through a mental list of "possible/not possible" depending who's coming for dinner!

  12. you forgot to post the pee stick!

  13. Hmmm...Mo you are giving me food for thought. One day I want to go to a nutritionist to do some testing - I've always been intrigued. My problem is that avoiding wheat for me seems virtually impossible! I could probably do without dairy if I had to, but wheat? That would be a nightmare. But in the name of getting pregnant I'll entertain just about any wacky idea...
    I cannot wait to hear the results of your official beta, am SO SO hopeful for you.

  14. I don't see it as crazy at all. I think I'd do the same. What could it hurt? If it helps in the slightest bit to keep you pregnant, then it is well worth it in my opinion. You can't just go half-assed when it comes to regret management.

    Still so excited for you! :)

  15. Know what you mean about regret- management :) This diet sounds interesting... enjoy :) xo

  16. I'm skeptical, too. When I was dealing with chronic migraines many years ago, I tried eliminating a bunch of things including gluten. I found no difference. But in this instance, it can't hurt to try this right now. Although, if you do slip or cheat a little, I wouldn't worry. As for quick food when you get home from work, Trader's has a ton of good frozen stuff. The selection is big enough that you should be able to find things that work with these restrictions.

    BTW, almost all soy sauce contains wheat (often listed before soy), so stay away from Chinese food.

  17. Not crazy at all, not one bit! I went GF after my stage IV endo diagnosis ( I was having a ton of abd related symptoms) and also notice I am soy sensitive as well...I feel sooooo much better now (I've been Gfree for over 3 yrs now)Rudi's & Udi's make delicious GF baked goods, many flavors of chex cereal are GF, Lara bars are a life saver & I really like glutino brand Chocolate & PB granola bars : ) (to name very few) I swear that my egg yield results (# & quality/fert rate) were wildly improved post GF diet and it's really the only thing I did differently.

  18. Delurking to share that in my years of TTC, I followed a strict gluten/dairy/caffeine/alcohol/sugar/nightshade free diet, ate pretty much only organic foods, went to acupuncture 3x/week, and m/c'd 5x during this fun time.

    I had my LO after CCS at CCRM-- so for me I think that all that deprivation didn't make the difference.

    Having said that, I'm a big believer in no regrets, so as long as you can stand it, do it! (I did for 3 years, but in my first tri gave up b/c all I could keep down was saltines and cheese!)

    Just to keep in mind in case you slip up or change your mind :-)

  19. This does not sound crazy at all. I saw one of the top neurosurgeons in the country in regards to treating my Chiari I Malformation and he suggested the Paleo Diet. It eliminates lectins from the diet by avoiding carbohydrates as well as any processed food. So no wheat, beans, soy, or dairy. As was mentioned lectins can cause an immune system response in sensitive people. Since following the diet the swellling in my brain has reduced and surgery is no longer needed and my daily headaches are gone. As a medical professional I was very skeptical that a simple change in diet would yield these kind of results

  20. Seriously are a genius!! You are NOT crazy at all!! The fertiles will definitely think you are crazy but the IFers will not. I think the fact that you went out and found this stuff out may in fact help someone else out. I am a big believer in the power of foods and thus by eating "clean" of potentially/subtley allergenic Mo're giving this little embie all you've got and more.

  21. I just saw you last post and I'm soooooo hoping this is it!!!!! Woot!

  22. thinking of you mo! hope you get a great beta today...

  23. Hi there Mo, long time no speak :) I'm the "Waiting In Sunshine" mentioned in Melissa's BlogHer article someone posted above.

    I have so much to say and am silently cheering you on over here, and crossing everything for you.

    Since unknown Celiac Disease turned out to be my IF mystery diagnosis, I'm all for your diet. It can't hurt, and no regrets!

    If anyone out there wants to read my story and how all this came around, here is a link:

    I'm happy to pass along my GF tips! Let's all share our favorite foods!!


  24. Just started reading your blog ... As someone who has buckets and buckets of regrets, I applaud you for being proactive in your regret management. I discovered the immunological and clotting aspects of IF too late to conceive using my own eggs, but I'm 100% positive that one or the other or both were factors, and that low-dose aspirin was one of the keys to my maintaining a successful pregnancy (using donor embryos). Wishing you all the best as you move forward!


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