Culture

13 Weeks: A Dull Column

Seriously, it’s a little weird to be writing my 13 Weeks column and not have much of anything to complain about.

shutterstock_98114993

I just got back from taking a friend out for her birthday. We ate at Jax’s new seafood restaurant in Glendale (Colorado, “Godless Glendale”, the little enclave inside Denver with slightly more liberal rules for bars and restaurants. And stripper joints but we didn’t go to a stripper joint.) I had a frutte de mare salad, octopus and squid and clams and mussels in a vinaigrette, then an iceberg wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese, and a piece of monkfish sautéd with duck fat on a bed of a little bit of risotto with wild mushrooms and sautéd spinach and some nice chicharrones as a garnish.

Tasted great, and dinner only cost as much as a week’s groceries. But you’ve got to splurge every so often, and as a high-fat low-carb meal it was pretty much exemplary. I seriously do recommend the restaurant, although they seem to have a little bit of organizational trouble due to the weather getting cold enough they had to close their outdoor seating. But it is mid-October in Colorado, you have to figure it would get a little chilly. (In fact the first ski resorts are about to open.)

I took my blood sugar just now, about an hour after dinner, and it’s 91. Morning blood sugar has been good too. My weight has bounced up a little this week, but “bounced up” from 264 means it’s more like my lows from a couple weeks ago.

And I feel good. That last 5 pounds seems to have made as much, or more, difference as the preceding 30. I feel somehow skinny. I’ve had people — like a barber I hadn’t seen in a while — comment on how much weight I’d lost.

My mood is better. People who have depression will tell you, it’s not just a bad mood or feeling sad — it’s more like all that and a mild case of flu, body aches and all, along with a foggy, thick-headed feeling. And, well, I’m not feeling that.

Of course, the question is “why?” And if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that one or two or three weeks is too little to judge. But there are some things I’ve been doing.

shutterstock_98582927

First, of course, was the two-week course of probiotics. That does seem to at least have come the same time as this. Of the folks on the 13 Weeks Facebook page, sending email to [email protected], or commenting here, several of them have also had pretty good results with the probiotics. But then, one of them dropped them after a few days because her morning fasting blood sugar went up.

Still, there’s some reason to think it’s connected. Besides the weight loss and blood sugar changes, there is at least some evidence that mood disorders are associated with gut bacteria differences too.

I’ve also made a few other changes. I’ve been tapering the Prozac slowly back down to 20mg — just changing it, with no taper, from 40 to 20 every day did not appear to work well. For the last two weeks, I’ve been taking 40mg one night and 20mg the next; shortly I want to change that to 40mg every third night.

I’ve also been tapering off the omeprazole (Prilosec) which I’ve taken pretty much every night since I had an esophageal spasm that put me in the ER three years ago. (As I’ve said before, if you want to get attention, be a fat man in his 50s with chest pain.) Now, I had an endoscopy last year; it was normal, with just the changes you’d expect from someone with a lot of reflux, but not the changes that would make you worry. I’ve cut out wheat, and as I have mentioned in the past, that seems to have largely resolved my nearly life-long stomach troubles. And omeprazole has a whole raft of side effects, although the more interesting or dramatic ones clearly haven’t happened in three years. The one that I really cared about is that omeprazole can cause weight gain or prevent weight loss. But in general, it’s probably a good thing to get off it in any case — bodies usually self-regulate reasonably well, why not give mine a chance?

Unfortunately, omeprazole withdrawal leads to rebound acidification. So I’ve been cutting the omeprazole, and using ranitidine and antacids. It seems to be working, and I’m down to half my old dose.

So, next week will be one full year since I started this column. I’ll be looking back at that year, and talking about the future, in the next column. In the mean time, I’d like those of you who have been following to give me some responses. Have you found these columns useful? Do you have your own success stories?

Let me know in the comments, or mail me at [email protected], and let me know what you think.