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My Immune System is Buggered

I have no idea why it’s been happening to me lately, but I have gotten terribly sick at least three times in the last 2 months. I understand that pushing the limits at New Years and a long weekend trip to Vegas is always going to test the body, but without fail, whenever I’ve had a slight binge or excessive weekend, I’m out of business for at least a few days. So, I think it’s time to start helping my immune system and take care of it a little better. I’ve been living by myself for about 8 months now and I thought I was doing okay, but for a bloke who drinks far too much soda and relies on his pasta and curry cooking skills, it’s time to branch out a little. sam2

So my first bout of sickness came after New Year’s. Given I was in the company of a lady who was sick herself, and leaving pretty much everything on the dance floor at the concert I was bound to wake up feeling a little sorry for myself. To my surprise, New Year’s Day brought a very peaceful and relaxing day, though it was to be the calm before the storm. I tried to go to work on the Thursday and didn’t even make lunch, breaking out in sweats and chills, body aching and feeling absolutely horrendous. The next four days were spent in my bed watching TV, feeling sorry for myself, and getting in some soup once I thought my stomach could take it.

A few weeks had passed and I was back feeling somewhat like myself when I took a trip to Vegas for Presidents Day long-weekend. I’ve made a number of trips to Vegas now and they’re never just a normal night out and coming home at a reasonable hour. It’s always pushing it to the limits, lying in the Jacuzzi next to your bed watching the sun rise still sipping on a drink, hitting the Black Jack tables and smoking cigars until you’re satisfied you’ve lost enough money, and generally trying to party like the rockstar you wish you were. Couple all that with trash food and yard glasses of alcohol and you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Again I returned home and spent one day feeling okay, just a little tired and hungover as you would expect. But as history would have it, late that night I started to feel horrible. Sweats and chills again, throat ache, body aches, headache, inflamed sinuses, the works this time. I tried to tough it out and head to work, but again I failed, with my boss telling me she didn’t to catch whatever I had and sent me home at 12:30. Back to bed, NyQuil, cough lozenges, sleep. Two more days stuck to the bed trying to at least eat a banana with the medicine I was taking.

The weekend came around and I tried to keep it very low-key. I was feeling much better so I decided to go for a bike ride, I ate as normal, got to sleep early, and had just one beer for the whole weekend. Come to work on Monday and my stomach is churning. Could it be the Mexican truck food and their pastor fries? I spent the day at my desk trying to drink as much water as possible and even ate a bit of pasta to give my stomach some sustenance. I made it through the day, headed straight to bed and writhed in pain as my stomach felt like it was going to explode. I tried to lie as still as possible and forget about it all, but then came the trusted headache as always, just so I couldn’t have 10 minutes of calm and relaxation. I try and sleep it off, but by 11pm I was up and again in terrible pain. I ran to the toilet and lets just say it was like I had turned a fire hose on full power from both ends. Not a pretty sight.

So, what the hell is going on with my body? Sorry for the possible too much info, but this has gone beyond a joke. Lately I feel I’ve tried to be as healthy as ever. Let’s run through it:

  • I go to the gym at least 4 times a week, including a good stint in the steam room to sweat it out a bit more
  • I’ve tried to cut out soda to just the weekends
  • I cook pasta at least once a week with peppers, olives, garlic, spinach, mushrooms, chicken, capers and other goodies I can get my hands on
  • Other dinners would include steak, sausages, various curries, soup, a green salad here and there
  • I try and drink 3-4 big cups of water a day
  • I sleep for about 7 hours a night
  • Banana smoothie every morning
  • Snacks at work would be bagels, toast, Oreo’s, various biscuits and tea

Even if overall I’m feeling okay, for the past few months I can barely recall a time where I felt close to 100%. I’ve always got a headache or stomachache, no matter what I eat or how much water I think I’m drinking. I’ve always thought part of the problem is due to the processed foods here in the US compared to Australia, being much harsher on my stomach. To a degree I feel that it’s still a problem, but there are a few food groups that need working on, and a big concern lately that I know is getting me down—stress!

Stress has been killing me lately, and as a 24-year-old from Adelaide, Australia, now living in LA that just doesn’t sound right. But with being a foreigner there’s obviously restrictions on the amount of time I’m allowed to spend here, and that has definitely been playing on my mind lately. My visa is set to run out in the middle of June this year, but thankfully I’m moving forward to get that extended for up to 2 years. Sounds easy enough, but with all that comes many uncertainties. Will the department of labor approve my visa, and will I make it through the various other stages? The time-frame for going home and getting the visa is very short as well, and includes flights home, flights to Melbourne for my visa meeting, costs that I’m sure to incur with the new visa, and then another flight back to LA booked far enough in advance that it won’t cost a fortune, but with enough time for my hopefully approved visa to be sent back to me in the mail. Oh I also have to decide whether to buy a car now or not. If I do and my visa falls through I’m left with trying to sell a car and repayments in LA when I’m back home in Australia. Will buying a car put me back financially where I’m not in a position to afford all the costs that will come with the hopeful new visa? Should I just buy a motorbike? Cheaper to buy and run, but LA roads are bad enough in a car, so I think Mum would like me to put a halt on that.Nuts

Yes, yes, these are all my little problems, but they are starting to take their toll, and as I repeat being a 24 year-old, this just can’t be happening. So, first step, add some more beneficial foods to my diet.

Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews) – Walnuts are great inflammation fighters, and as I’m not a fan of fish, I can get some much needed healthy unsaturated fats from these bad boys. Almonds are a good source of fiber, and high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E. Cashews are rich in iron and zinc, great for delivering oxygen to all of your cells and building your immune health.

Purple, Blue, Red, Orange, and Yellow – Colors like these in your fruit and veg are great sources of antioxidants, critical to protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. The three major antioxidant groups I need to be focusing on—and considering what foods I still enjoy—are:

  • Beta-carotene – Apricots, carrots, green peppers, mangoes, peaches, spinach, sweet potato, and watermelon
  • Vitamin C – Berries, cantaloupe, honey dew, kiwi fruit, oranges, yellow peppers, and strawberries
  • Vitamin E – Broccoli, nuts, pumpkin, red peppers, olives and spinach

These are surely some easy adjustments I can make to my daily food routine. Couple this with returning to the gym and doing a bit more cardio as opposed to going solely for the beach body, plus of course being more upbeat about my visa situation and focusing on the time I have here now rather than the possible lack thereof, and I don’t see what my body has to complain about. I’ll give it a month or so and report back, hopefully with some positive results and an immune system that isn’t falling apart at the sides.

 

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One Comment

  1. Marilyn Olsen
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so very much for writing this piece. As I sit with ice packs on my knees (which are on fire), I am re-thinking my whole approach to my immune system problems. I have RA which has stolen a great part of my mobility and plan of life. I planned to be a somewhat young grandparent if at all possible. I have a wonderful daughter who has a terrific son of almost seven years old. I had wanted to be in his life every day like my “Grandmother-in-crime” was with me. She gave me so many happy times and I so wanted to do the same with my Grandchild or Grandchildren. I’m fifty-six years old now. If I didn’t have the love of my family, some sporadic and certainly not enough visits with my Grandson and an otherwise blessed life, I really wouldn’t care to be here. This isn’t meant to be taken as a “poor pitiful me” or “suicide” statement. It’s just the way I feel. I respect the love and guidance of God way too much to take my life.

    On a completely different topic of the authorities responsible for regulation of pain medicine… There needs to be a COMPLETE OVERHAUL involving chronic pain patients. The people who sell or abuse these medicines, have all they want while people who really need it and have never abused it, cannot get any help. It’s completely insane. If I had enough energy, I’d seriously try to lead some movement on behalf of people like me who really need help. It would make the difference for me between despair and having more productive days. It’s hard not to be angry feeling with Physicians, but the government authorities have them scared to death that all they have worked for will be taken from them if they prescribe pain managing drugs. Instead, they need to push more harmful drugs, even possible cancer inducing type drugs. It has taken the Physician’s judgement options away. How does anyone expect them to “Doctor” properly while having to run a business 95 percent of the time instead? So sad.

    Sorry for the “diatribe-on-the-side”. Just venting. Your piece was very informative, helpful and inspiring. Good luck to you with your visa, your immune system and your life in general. The US could stand more people like you here. :-)

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