Saturday, October 08, 2011

Interactions: 45lbs gained in 9 days; 11lbs lost in 90 minutes

Well... that was an interesting week.

9 days ago, I became ill, with what seemed to be a mild flu. At the same time, I started retaining water pretty badly, and my joints swelled;  I was severely fatigued, had a lot of pain, digestive disturbances, severe insomnia etc... None of which really alarmed me, because that's pretty much what happens to me when I'm sick these days.

After a few days, most of the flu-ish sickness was gone, but the other symptoms remained, and were worsening. In particular, the peripheral neuropathy (mostly paresthesia) was pretty bad, as was the water retention; and it was pretty clear that my medication was not only not working, it was making things worse. I was also having pretty bad muscle weakness, aprticularly in my hands, and I was ridiculously fatigued.

This happens sometimes too; because several of my medications (my anti-inflammatories, my omeprazole, my testosterone, the stimulants for my excessive sleepiness, my diuretics etc...) can cause pretty severe vitamin and electrolyte deficiencies, and when they do, they stop working.

Usually when the edema gets out of control, and the non-inflammation type pain gets bad; stopping the diuretics, stimulants, and anti-inflammatories for a couple days helps; particularly when I make sure to keep my potassium intake up (using potassium chloride supplements twice a day, and drinking lots of OJ).

Instead, things kept getting worse. By yesterday, I had gained 40lbs (by this evening, it was 45lbs). My blood pressure went up from my 115-125/170-185 normal range, to as high as 160/95 (which I attributed to my edema being crazy this week).

Two days ago, I couldn't make a fist, and I slept for 14 hours.

I called my doc and scheduled an appointment and blood test for next Monday (the earliest I could get non-emergency).

Today (well, yesterday now) things got a little bit better...

My edema was still awful, but the neuropathy was a bit better, and I wasn't really sure why.

I don't think it was from stopping the medication... I think it might have been from what I was eating. Between Thursday and Friday, other than my "normal" things, I had eaten some dark chocolate, some almonds, cashews, peanuts, some dried fruits and raisins, some black beans, some milk, some goat cheese, some quinoa...

All foods high in magnesium... and mostly high in B vitamins.

As it happens, while I was sick I hadn't been taking my vitamins, because I couldn't stomach them. I could barely force my potassium down my throat without vomiting (I heaved up when I swallowed it each time, but I forced it down). I also had diarrhea, and I didn't eat much for four or five days; but I did drink plenty.

I had thought I was keeping up on the electrolytes, between the gatorade, the OJ, and the chicken broth (besides the obvious benefits of OJ and chicken broth, I always drink full sugar gatorade when I'm sick, and add some powdered potassium chloride to it, plus taking my potassium pills; because at the very least it keeps me hydrated, and stops me from becoming electrolyte depleted; and hopefully between all three gives me enough calories to keep some strength up when I can't eat); but I forgot about two really important things.

Magnesium, and B vitamins.

You see, without magnesium, and B vitamins, it doesn't matter how much in electrolytes and minerals you consume (in particular potassium) your body won't be able to use them (and may in fact, void them out).

It's actually a vicious circle; because becoming deficient in any one of them, causes the others to become more deficient; and that causes the others to get worse etc... etc...

Low magnesium also causes muscle weakness, pain, pins and needles, excessive sodium build up (and thus excessive edema),

I was in fact consuming enough potassium; but apparently I have been living on the edge of hypomagnesemia and probably systemic magnesium deficiency, probably for months, without realizing it. My diet often has a lot of magnesium in it; but I'm on a number of drugs (listed above) that in addition to causing potassium deficiency, and various vitamin deficiencies, also cause magnesium deficiency.... and again, there's that vicious circle thing I mentioned above.

Gatorade doesn't have any magnesium.

... and apparently, neither does my normal multivitamin; which I hadn't realized. I supplement the other vitamins and minerals that I get deficient in, but I didn't think of magnesium. I assumed my multivitamin covered it, and since I hadn't had a problem before...

When I got sick, and my diet shrunk down to crap for a few days, and the fact that I stopped taking my vitamins for a few days;  I must have slipped over into full magnesium deficiency and hypomagnesemia; which then made me hypokalemic and B deficient, even though I was taking the supplements again. No matter how much I took it didn't matter, because I didn't have enough magnesium to use what I was taking in, and the body just excretes out unused potassium and B vitamins.

So, I had Mel grab me a magnesium supplement, took a max dose, along with a big dose of B1 and B6, and my potassium supplement; and I waited for a while and took my diuretics.

After 30 minutes, I started peeing.

After 90, I had peed six times, and lost 11 pounds. After 120, I had lost 15 lbs.

The pain and weakness in my feet and hands is going away. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to sleep normally tonight... or as normally as I can while my body is doing its best to expel the extra 45lbs of water it accumulated over the last week.

Amazing how a couple hundred milligrams of a single mineral can make such a difference...

Update: by the time I woke up for the day (after not actually sleeping until 9am, since I was up every 20 minutes to pee all night long), I was up to 22lbs lost in about 11 hours. Actually 26lbs if you count the fact that I drank about 4lbs worth of water in that time.