I figured the easiest way to share my experience with you was through answering a detailed questionnaire that I created, focusing on how my vegan diet has been interacting with my Lupus. I will blog weekly sharing my progress reports with you. It will be the same set of questions every single time, so that you can see the improvement and changes to previous weeks, and as my journey continues.
Please keep in mind my future progress reports will not be this long, I promise! With this initial one I needed to go into more detail about my symptoms and what I usually experience on a daily basis, so that you could fully understand my medical background.
PROGRESS REPORT #1
- How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
I am on my 22nd day of eating vegan, and I am loving it!
- How do I feel today?
I feel pretty good today. I feel light and airy…like physically. I never would have used those adjectives to describe how my body feels, but it really is how I feel! I am very happy with the progress I have made and my commitment to the vegan diet.
- How is my energy level?
My energy today is quite stable. It is better than normal, so I can’t complain. Fatigue is a huge battle I have been struggling with over the last year. I could remember a few years ago I would be juggling 2-3 jobs, working 2-3 weeks straight with no days off and I was completely fine. Tired, but fine. Now if my fatigue sessions kick in, I struggle to get out of bed. I’ve had episodes where I would stay in bed for an entire weekend being completely drained and exhausted from just lying in bed.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?
My rating: 3-4Joints: After the first 4 days of my vegan diet I noticed a dramatic change in my joint pains. The mornings are when my joints are the stiffest, especially in my hands. I would struggle to tie my own hair, or squeeze toothpaste on my toothbrush. It felt as though my fingers would break if I applied any pressure to them. By midday they would warm up and be more mobile once my steroids kicked in, which took a few hours. Over the last couple days I have noticed some of the stiffness in my hands and hips has returned, but again still better than the normal amount of pain I am use to. Skin: I get scalp rashes that turn into very itchy scabs. It is extremely annoying, because I can’t help but itch them and pick off the scabs. The amount of rashes on my scalp has definitely decreased since starting my vegan diet. It’s fantastic! I also have a very common symptom of Lupus, which is called the butterfly rash. It is typically characterized by the appearance of rashes across the cheekbones and over the bridge of the nose. I have always been very insecure about my butterfly rash. I would never leave my home without some makeup on to hide it. A few months ago I found an all natural moisturizer containing only six ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, and propolis extract. Yes, I know beeswax is not a vegan product-I have yet to make the full transition in the all the products I use as well. Since starting this all natural cream I have seen a tremendous improvement in my butterfly rash. It is not as red and noticeable anymore. For the first time ever I was comfortable wearing no makeup around my boyfriend of almost two years!! That tells you how insecure I was about my rash. With the vegan diet I can see my skin and my butterfly rash continuously getting better. It seems to have lessened the severity of my rash, which I am so grateful for. The fact that I can feel comfortable leaving my house, or being around my boyfriend without any makeup on is truly a wonderful feeling that I thought I would never have. Fatigue: Over the last twenty days I would say my fatigue has definitely improved. I have yet to experience another morning where I wake up and realize I cannot leave my bed that day, and have to cancel all the plans I had. It is extremely exciting!! 🙂 Some days I can feel my fatigue slowly lurking up on me, but when it does I just try my best to listen to my body and stick to more relaxing activities, like reading. Kidneys: The problems that I face with my kidneys is a great amount of water retention in my legs, and a loss of protein in my urine. My nephrologist recommended I cut down on my sodium intake, because that would increase the water retention I experience. Before I would eat a bag of chips and immediately see the swelling in my calves, ankles, and feet. Since starting my vegan diet I have yet to have my legs swell up once! Yay for no more pregnant lady legs! 🙂 I still have been eating chips, and yet still no swelling! As for the loss of protein, I won’t know those results till I call my nephrologist and ask. I get routine lab work done every month to monitor my blood count and urine to ensure everything is stable.
- Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
I have been experiencing this new symptom of ‘lightness’ – it’s fabulous! I have yet to have a food coma, which I use to have on a weekly basis. Food coma: when you experience sleepiness, tiredness, and sluggishness after a big meal. Lightness is the complete opposite. Lightness: when you experience lightness physically, a boost of energy, and a feeling of content and satisfaction following a light and healthy meal. After my meals I feel energized, it’s fantastic. I feel as though I have been cheated all those years feeling sluggish after a meal and like I need to take a nap. How is that logical? Why should I feel the need to sleep after a meal, when eating food is your source of energy?? Now that I am eating the right way I get to experience how my body is at it’s optimal level. I will gladly take this symptom everyday of the year!
- How long have I been off my steroids?
It has been 19 days. Eeeeek this is surreal!! All my medications have a warning label that says, “Do not skip doses or discontinue unless directed by your doctor.” I remember when I would miss a dose – oh my goodness it was not good. I would have severe stomach pains to the point I wouldn’t be able to leave my bed. I would feel sick and completely off all day. After the fourth day of my vegan diet I wasn’t noticing anymore pain, so I decided to stop my steroids. Since that day I have experienced less of my symptoms, it is absolutely crazy!
- Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
One of my best friends took me to a wonderful vegetarian and vegan market near her neighborhood called, Happy Veggie. We discovered great meat substitutes for me, which I was quite excited to try. Since going vegan I have not experimented much with meat substitutes as my protein source. I have been sticking to legumes, tofu, quinoa, and my organic brown rice protein powder. This market had freezers full of vegan products! I purchased vegan tiger prawns, which were made from potatoes and soybeans. They look just like the real thing and have the texture combination of squid and prawn. I absolutely love them. They take on any flavour you marinade or dress them in. I also purchased vegan dumplings, vegan lemon chicken, and vegan bean burgers which I have yet to try. Finding these new vegan products will help keep meals exciting for me!