Chelation Chronicles – 2H 2018

This blog post is focused on my chronic health issues, specifically, learning to detox heavy metals using the Andy Cutler Chelation (ACC) protocol.  In early July I posted about my first six months of learning about and starting ACC.  I was unsure whether I would continue to track my chelation progress, but given that my brain fog comes and goes, it has been helpful for me to write things down.  It has been enough of a rollercoaster that I think others would benefit from following my experience, so I am going to continue where I left off with my first Chelation Chronicles blog post.

July

18 July.  I am feeling like crap – the worst I can remember since starting chelation.  I posted to the ACC group on Facebook looking for advice, and it’s pretty clear that I’m dealing with redistribution from my dose of ALA being too high.  I just have to do everything I can to mitigate the discomfort (manage the headaches, rest as much as possible).  One good suggestion was to do just DMSA on my next round, to clean up my system and get back to a good place.

20 July.  This has been the worse week health-wise that I can remember in a long time.  I have been so tired, so foggy, and super down in the dumps.  During the first round of ALA I felt amazing – I had tons of energy, I felt so incredibly positive.  I was really hopeful.  But the second round (combined with the cumulative fatigue of six weeks of work travel) finally caught up with me.  Acupuncture helped a little, but less than usual.  I am looking at my work calendar and I can’t figure out how to take a day or two off without falling irreparably behind.  How to balance that with needing more rest than I can get on evenings and weekends?  I know what the answer should be, but I struggle to take the time off …

24 July.  I finished Round 17 yesterday, with DMSA only.  It was a shorter round than usual; I started on Friday at 5 pm and ended with the 2 pm dose on Monday.  I also started the Chinese herbs (for energy and water retention) that my acupuncturist provided.  I have been taking 6-6-6 on the ACE, but I barely notice it now.  In the past I used to get heart palpitations from 3 pills!  I think the herbs helps, because I felt well enough to walk both days of the weekend, and I also did some clean-up in the house that I wouldn’t have had the energy for last week.

25 July.  It seems funny to be thinking about the next round already, because it’s only Wednesday.  But, I need to decide what chelators I’m going to take.  Should I do DMSA only again, or try to add in ALA?  I have more work travel coming up, so I can’t afford to have another bad week.  The ACC admins suggested halving the dose of ALA (to 6.25 mg).  Now I’m wondering if I should start with 3 mg just to be on the safe side … especially after (re)reading that longer rounds at a lower dose are more effective than raising the dose.

27 July.  Yesterday I finally felt like myself again.  As discouraged as I was at first, I’m glad I took a week off of ALA to get back to ‘normal’ – my current baseline, at least.  I have been keeping my work days short (e.g. no more than nine hours), going to bed early, taking Chinese herbs for energy and Kolorex to keep some yeast / candida symptoms at bay.  I have had energy to clean and organize around the house, do some writing at work, and play with my kids.  It feels good!  I started a new round at 5 am today, and I’m doing DMSA (12.5 mg) and ALA (3 mg).  I decided I’d rather go low and slow and never feel that crappy again.  Happy (as always) to be starting another round – this one is #18!  If all goes according to plan (though of course with this health stuff, that’s a dangerous assumption), I am about 20% of the way done …

31 July. I have had so much energy that I haven’t wanted to take the time to sit down and write a blog post. Boy, do I have a lot of news to report! I am starting to see a build up of positive changes or ‘gains’ that are more substantial than I realized at first. Here is a little retrospective. Please keep in mind that a few years ago, I was spending all my weekends on the sofa, sleeping 10-12 hours a day, and taking 3-4 hour naps on the weekends. I’ve made a lot of changes to get to where I am now, but I have not had weekends like this since I was pregnant with my oldest son, who turns eleven tomorrow.

My dad turned eighty in July, and for his birthday I decided to create a keepsake book with stories from him, as well as photos.  In early July (during my six weeks of back-to back travel), I found the time, the focus, the energy, and the patience to go through fifteen years’ worth of Apple Photos libraries, and pull together my favorite photos of him.  I pulled together almost 1800 pictures from my digital collection – way more than we can ever use in the book!  But I also realized I needed to curate pictures from before the digital photo era, and to collect the stories from him.  During my first round of ALA 12.5 I was at my parents house with my family.  I found the quiet time to interview my father 3-4 times and collected some great stories for inclusion in the book.

A few weekends ago I was on my second dose of 12.5 mg ALA.  The weekend itself was really good (though the redistribution afterwards was so bad I lowered my dose to 3 mg).  I started going through all the family archives I have been storing at my house. Some of them are from the 1800s!  When I started looking through our storage room, I realized that there were ten full boxes of family photos, by far the biggest category of stuff in the basement. One of the side effects of being sick is that I went from being hyper organized to having our house packed with disorganized piles of stuff.  When I realized how much stuff I was dealing with, I found a place to do high end scanning, and started to organize everything. I bought some archive boxes, started to dismantle photo albums, and put aside the pictures I need for my dad’s book. With everything consolidated and/or our for storage, I was able to really look at what was left that needed to be organized.  I am now down to one plastic tub and two archive boxes worth of photos.  All the remaining stuff is organized, being scanned, and then ship back to my parents.

Two weekends ago I finished reorganizing our storage space. As part of cleaning things out, I donated two carloads worth of stuff to the Salvation Army, put aside things for electronic recycling and then found a place where I could drop it off.  I also cleaned up the kids’ toy closet and put aside some of the nicer things to give to friends with younger kids.  Those spaces look completely different. There is nothing on the floor, there is room on the shelves, and everything looks significantly less cluttered.  While I was hauling boxes up and down, I realized that we have three blankets that are losing trim, and I also found a place to get those repaired and got them in the car for drop-off.

Last weekend put those other few weekends to shame!  On Friday after working all day, I made a huge batch of chocolate ACE (adrenal cortex extract) for the kids in anticipation of chelating over the weekend.  On Saturday I went for a ninety minute walk, I made a warm breakfast for the kids, I hung art in the third floor bathroom (we’ve been in the house two years), I cleaned up the kids arts & crafts closet, our junk drawer, I configured a new network booster, I re-arranged the furniture in my office / studio space, and I set up a laptop area for my oldest son in preparation for his birthday.  I also spent some time learning how to play Fortnite in Playground with my kids.  On Sunday, I organized the beading area in my work space, and I vacuumed out the kitchen cabinet where trash and recycle get stored.  That may not sound like a huge deal, but I haven’t used the vacuum in so long that I didn’t know where we kept it, and I had to ask how turn it on!  (We bought it new two years ago and this was the first time I used it.)  Later, I hung more pictures in the basement, started to re-do one of our photo collages, and organized the kids’ class photos by year in preparation for making their keepsake books, too.  I found a place to donate the picnic table my kids have outgrown, as well as a few picture frames we don’t need any more.  I got those items photographed and posted, and organized meet-ups with buyers for Monday.

I used to have a nickname TorNATo.  No-one has called me that in ten years.  But last weekend my partner said “Oh.My.God Tornato is back!”  I hope that’s true, though I know I am only at the beginning of this journey, I feel so excited and so hopeful about the future.

15 August.  I finished Round 20 while traveling back from California.  I managed to switch time zones and not mess up the round, which was pretty amazing if I don’t say so myself.  Today is my second redistribution day and I feel pretty good – definitely better than this time last week – I took a lot of Advil and Alka Seltzer Gold to get through last week.

The DMSA / ALA combination is fine, but I’ve done more than the 8 weeks of DMSA, and now I can drop to once a month.  I’ve heard that it can be hard on people with autoimmune conditions, and (while I’ve been fine) I don’t want to push my luck, either.  So, we are waiting for DMPS to come in the mail.  Depending on when that arrives, I will do a round with that alone to see how it goes.  Since ALA is more effective with a D-chelator, I will do DMPS three weeks out of four (assuming all goes well when I try it), and drop the DMSA to one round a month.

17 August.  I started Round 21 this week.  When I have had a few minutes, I’ve been reading the Facebook ACC archives to better understand what the dump feels like, and if I’m in it.  I suspect I am.  I was super positive and energetic just a few weeks ago, but now I am feeling sort of apathetic and lethargic.  Combined with having to lower my ALA dose, it seems really likely that I’m in the dump.  The timing is just about right for it, too.  In addition, I’m beginning to notice that some of my symptoms are worse – my PMS, achey legs, fatigue, and heightened food sensitivities (especially histamine-related stuff).  I just don’t feel as fantastic as I did on round a few weeks ago, either.  So, I feel kinda crummy.  I am still functional and I don’t feel horrible.  If this is the worst of the dump, I’ll just hunker down and deal with it.  But it’s definitely taking an emotional and physical toll at the moment.

I did take the day off to reflect on what I need to do to take better care of myself.  The short version is time.  I don’t have time to think about what I need, because I am always racing from one thing to the next.  As I’ve gotten deeper into the chelation process, I haven’t stopped doing anything, so as I get more tired, everything takes longer.  That is a doom loop – it leaves me with even less time than before.  I have to reflect on whether I can scale back what I’m doing at work, or if I’ve just gotten to the point where I need to take my short term leave (not all at once, likely, but rather over a period of a few months) so I can take better care of myself and my family.

My big learning in all of this is that I don’t want to be sick.  That is why I don’t want to talk about it at work, I don’t want to be fussed over, and why I struggle to take time off from work.  Denial (or just muscling my way through) is way easier.  Though, now that I’ve realized what I’m doing, hopefully I can start to actively make changes for the better.

24 August.  The DMPS arrived exactly three weeks after I ordered it, so three of us are going to try it this weekend.  My DS11 and I will both start on 5.0 mg, and Stephanie will start on 2.5 mg.  For me, I’m taking DMPS as an alternate D-chelator, as I don’t want the yeast issues caused by DMSA to get out of control, but I want the benefits of taking a d-chelator and ALA together.  For DS11 it’s because his arsenic is off the charts.  The ALA will also get the arsenic out, but we’re hoping the DMPS will accelerate his detox.  For my partner, the DMPS is because the DMSA has not gone well at all, and she needs an alternative.  We read on ACC that DMSA can cause an exacerbation of symptoms for people with auto-immune diseases.  At this point that’s our best guess about what she is dealing with.

We are going to do six-hour dosing so I don’t need to change all my alarms, and also because DS9 will continue with ALA on our normal schedule.  That means we still have to get up through the night.  But, we’re raising his dose so it still feels like progress for all of us.

On the other hand, I am still feeling crummy – so much so that I decided to start short-term leave after Labor Day.  I am going to take Fridays off for the next thirty weeks, so I have time to rest and recover.  People at work have been super supportive, which has made it easier.  Hopefully being better rested will make me a more present and loving mom for my kids, too; I am ashamed to say that work hasn’t suffered as my relationship with them has.

29 August. Thankfully, the DMPS round and the post-round distribution have been uneventful. I’m also on vacation, which has certainly contributed to my being relaxed and in good space. I have found a little time to walk and sit in the sauna, among other things.

In reflecting how chelation is going overall, I thought it might be fun to reflect on some recent gains. They are quite subtle, but they are starting to add up:

  • I have been wearing the same two necklaces and same pair of earrings to work for the past, oh, seven to ten years. That is not an exaggeration – when one of the two necklaces broke over the winter, I wore a single one until the other was repaired. Recently I’ve been picking different necklaces out of my jewelry box and wearing them. First one, and now multiple different ones. People at work have noticed and remarked to me on the change, so I know it’s not just my imagination!
  • I am starting to listen to music again. I had a chance to see Sam Smith in concert a few weeks ago, and it was so amazing to be in a live music venue, singing along with thousands of other people. I was in such a happy, positive mood after the show! Since then I have been listening to his music, but also to lots of other things, including curated playlists from Apple Music, and more. I even re-programmed the Sirius XM radio in my car so I have easier access to the channels I like the best. I was doing some work around the house – folding laundry, putting away dishes – and I had earphones on listening to music. My DS9 was sitting on the living room sofa reading a book, and out of the blue he said to me “you sing so nicely, Mama”. He has rarely (if ever!) said anything like that to me before, so it’s not clear whether it’s my gain or his (or both, of course).
  • img_3089Perhaps the most fun one is that I have started to bead again. You can read more about my beadwork in this blog post. While I have loved beads for years, I haven’t done much of anything crafty since the kids were born. Now I have a few projects in flight, and this weekend I both started and finished a pattern I downloaded ages ago. I love the feeling of beads in my hands!

I still think I’m in the dump – energy is just lower than usual – but at the same time I see these little improvements and I know that (even if it’s slow) it’s still progress. I can’t wait to see what the next few months will bring, especially as I make a little bit more time to take care of myself.

September

11 September.   I just finished Round 24, which was uneventful.  It was my third week of 5 mg DMPS and my eighth week of 3 mg ALA.  Although I am anxious to lengthen my rounds, I decided to raise ALA next week instead. It is pretty hard to make low-dose capsules, but I learned on Facebook ACC that Everything Spectrum makes 5 mg capsules, so I am going to try that for a few weeks starting next weekend.  Once I get a little farther along I will make my own capsules.  Bulk Supplements sells the RS-ALA we use for the protocol, which will make it easy and cost effective to make my own capsules when I am ready.

I was updating my chelation tracking spreadsheet and noticed that this week should be the peak of the dump.  No idea if that’s true or not, of course, but I definitely feel like my energy is in short supply.  I am getting through my work days but I am completely out of gas when I get home, in spite of all the ACE and other supplements I am taking.  That is part of the reason I opted not to do a longer round – sleep felt more important last night.

I am really, really lucky that I can work a reduced schedule while I push through this.  Having Fridays off has made a big difference already.  I am cooking more, I have more energy and patience and bandwidth for the kids, and in general I don’t feel quite so strained as I did when I was working five days / 55 hours a week.  No surprise, I guess.

Speaking of cooking, I started making water kefir again, and we are experimenting with coconut yogurt.  We’ve tried half a dozen batches, most ok, some epic fails, and one great.  I am hoping we can reproduce the great one consistently so we can stop buying store-bought yogurt with all the additives.  If I figure it out I will post the recipe.

21 September. I’ve had an intense few weeks at work, unfortunately, so it’s been hard to disengage as much as I want / need to take care of myself. I have quite a bit more travel coming in Q4, and I’m trying not to stress about that. Nonetheless, I am on my way with Round 26, and I’ve just raised my dose of ALA from 3 mg to 5mg (which I found at Everything Spectrum). I am still on 5 mg DMPS. We are raising both kids’ doses this weekend too, so that could either be a sign of good progress, or really bad for us all next week!

I added a new column to my chelation tracking spreadsheet. By adding one extra day to each round since the first month I started, I’ve done an extra 22+ days. That is equivalent to another seven rounds, so technically I’m at the equivalent of Round 33. I can only hope that accelerates me moving through the dump, because feeling tired / lethargic and apathetic like this is really no fun. I definitely don’t feel like myself.

Right now the thing I’m most discouraged about is food. I read on Facebook that many people’s histamine issues subsided at this point in chelation, but my issues are still significant; I haven’t done well with the yogurt or kefir. I’ve been sweetening my almond milk with beet sugar (because I’m sensitive to cane sugar), but that seems to be causing issues for me as well.

I just recently had an interview published with Boost Health. I feel like it is important to share my story with others – and I am doing what I can to spread the word about ACC when I get the chance!

On the positive side, there have been small gains for all of us. DS9 seems to be engaging more with his peers, and we haven’t had to raise his ADHD medication as we were expecting to do. DS11 has been curious and proactively asking to try new foods (which continues to take me by surprise). Today he earned his first merit in school for helping other classmates with software on their school iPads, and he seems to have a growing awareness about his abilities and limitations in relation to his peers. Though that could be normal developmental changes, too. My fingernails have been growing like crazy; I feel like I have to cut them all the time. The moons are coming back on both fingers and toes, too. I am not having the stress / anxiety issues I’ve had in the past, though I’ve been really consistent about taking GABA. I’m finding myself more generative both with work (maybe because of the time away). I’m also doing more professional networking and blogging. I’m still doing lots of beadwork, writing in my gratitude journal. We are all happier and more energetic on round, which makes for some happy family weekends, at least.

October

IMG_34168 October.  I’ll be wrapping up Round 28 today, my third at this dose (5 mg ALA, 5 mg DMPS).   It’s been pretty uneventful overall, though I am seriously struggling with the lethargy and apathy that seems to characterize the dump for a lot of people.  It’s just not my personality to be so disengaged and passive – ugh, I really don’t like it!

I started taking Lithium Orotate during my last round to see if it would help.  I am not sure I noticed much difference one way or the other at first, but in the past few days I’ve had heart palpitations.  My Apple Watch shows some strangeness, too (see picture at right).  My heart rate is usually 120/80, so a 44 is pretty low!  Not sure what else it could be, so I am going to back off the lithium for now and see if it resolves.  The Facebook ACC group also recommended replenishing my electrolytes in case they were depleted by the infrared sauna.  So I’ll do that too, likely by taking Alka Seltzer Gold.

Maybe it’s just the dump talking, but I am pretty discouraged about food at the moment.  I’ve been reckless with my eating, choosing things I know I shouldn’t because I am so tired of being so restricted.  Autoimmune Protocol is one thing, but my histamine issues seem to be exacerbated by chelating.  I am suffering from a histamine flare at the moment, which isn’t helping my mood, either. Hopefully it will resolve if I’m careful for the next few days …

On the upside, I am really grateful that I have Fridays off to take care of myself.  It’s been a bit over a month now, and I am honestly not sure how I would survive if I had to maintain my usual 50+ hour work week while feeling this way.  It is not fun.

20 October.  I just raised my dose of DMSA, so I’m on 18.5 mg DMSA and 5 mg ALA.  Still waiting for the 3 mg ALA pills to arrive from Living Supplements – I’ll raise that next.

I have been meaning to post about a dubious “gain”.  I’m on Round 30 and all my PMS hormones are coming back online.  I have been crying at the drop of a hat – commercials, YouTube videos, even music I’ve heard before. I am not sure whether to be happy or annoyed!

30 October.   I had raised my DMSA dose last week, and I had a really positive round.  Off round was also completely uneventful.  However, this week I accidentally did a second round of DMSA (instead of switching back to the DMPS) and it really flared my yeast issues.  I had super itchy red patches on both elbows and on my right jaw, and my belly was distended.  I started GSE and had a couple of rough days of die-off, but I am feeling better now.

I have also been taking Quercetin (for histamine), Potassium (to balance Magnesium), and stinging nettle more consistently.  My heart issues have completely disappeared, sleep has been better, and mood has been pretty stable.  When I do have histamine issues, I seem to recover more quickly.  So, although I hate taking more pills, I think I will stick with those for awhile.  Our Living Supplements order will likely not arrive until early next week, so I have to wait a bit longer to raise my ALA dose, unfortunately.

November

12 November. I’ve been having days where I feel tired or off for some reason, and the only thing that’s really new and suspect is the Quercetin. I stopped it for a few days and started to feel better. I was really hoping it would help manage systemic histamine response, but I guess that’s not gonna happen! I read a bit more about it in one of the histamine-related Facebook communities, and apparently others do have issues with it too.

One reason for Quercetin sensitivity may be salicylates – another one of those substances (like thiols) that I had never heard of before getting sick. I tracked down a good lists of salicylate-heavy foods, and it seems like most meat is ok, as are most vegetables. Fruits can be an issue but I don’t really eat those. And then almonds – the only nut I’ve successfully re-introduced – is on the Very High list. Of course it is. :/ I have been having almond milk in the morning, and almonds in the afternoon for a snack. In my case (similar to histamine) it seems like it’s a question of moderating intake rather than eliminating it completely, so I am going to have to think through that. As a first test, I am going to eliminate almonds completely while I am away for Christmas (I can never find a clean almond milk away from home anyways), and see if that does anything for me.

16 November. Headed to Florida for a week of vacation and Thanksgiving celebrations with my family. Work has been absolutely nuts, and even with my four-day work week I have struggled with workload and work-related stress. There is no question I will have to work while I’m away, I just hope it’s not every day. I am also starting my round on Friday morning as usual (Round 34, 5 mg DMPS, 8 mg ALA), while keeping the timezone change in mind. We did decide not to chelate the kids on the way down (we will on the way back), because we’re so frazzled and we don’t want to make any mistakes.

18 November. Speaking of mistakes, I really screwed up this round. I took a nap on Saturday in the middle of the day, and I couldn’t figure out why. I was completely exhausted, and thought maybe the work stress caught up with me, or I ate something I wasn’t supposed to … but I couldn’t figure it out. On Saturday night when I went to put the next day’s chelators in my pill dispenser, I realized that I had taken a DMPS dose every three hours instead of every six. OMG – what a mess! No wonder I felt like crap. In a way, I’m lucky that it was in the middle of the round. I made the adjustment and I have Sunday and Monday to get my system cleaned up so distribution isn’t a complete disaster.

Most mornings our kids have gluten-free muffins as part of their breakfast. We feel like King Arthur’s flour has the best tasting mix, so we use that. We often make them with chocolate chips, and this morning I made it as a loaf. The smell was so good I couldn’t resist having some. In all the years I’ve been doing AIP I have never done anything like that! I was waiting for the flare (due to tapioca, corn, and other things in the mix), but it never came.

19 November. I had another little piece of muffin bread today with no ill effects. OMG it was SO good. It’s not something I would eat all the time, but it was absolutely delicious to have something baked! I went gluten free in 2013 and was still eating some GFCF baked goods then, but I would say it’s been at least four years (if not more).

20 November. I woke up panicked that I had missed a dose at 2 am, and quickly took my 5 am dose. And then realized it was Tuesday and my round ended on Monday night. UGH! Seriously, I need some rest so I don’t make any more mistakes. :/

22 November. Redistribution was tough, but considering what a mess I made of this round, it could have been much worse. I did end up taking a nap at least one other day this week, but I am lucky I didn’t do more serious / lasting damage. Part of the problem is that this combo round requires three pills (5 DMPS, 5 ALA, 3 ALA), which is a lot to keep track of for the over tired and mercury addled. This coming weekend I am going to do ALA only to try to simplify, since we will be traveling again.

29 November. We’re running low on some of the lower-dose chelators for my spouse and oldest son, so I decided to bump my ALA dose to 12.5 mg when I start Round 36 on Friday.

I did lose a few (inflammation) pounds while I was away on vacation. Not sure if it was just because of the more relaxed schedule, or because removal of Quercetin and the almonds really made a big difference. I’ve been a bit more conservative with almonds and almond milk, and the weight has stayed off – though mainly what I notice more is being in a better mood due to the lower inflammation.

December

1 December. So far the increase seems uneventful (though I’m only 24 hours into the round). I had originally started ALA at this dose five months ago (in July), and it went really badly. I think that was my first sign of the dump, though I’m not sure. Although I have been frustrated about the slow increases, not feeling like crap is definitely worth it.

Speaking of the dump, I was updating my chelation spreadsheet this morning and noticed that this week is my nine months anniversary of amalgam removal in February (although I didn’t start chelating until April). So, in principle, I could be approaching the end of the dump. That would be so amazing! Although I don’t feel hideous the way some people do, the combination of lethargy / apathy has been pretty miserable. The only positive is that is has really forced me to slow down, which I think will be essential for my healing process.

Though I am not holding my breath, as I learned some new information this week that left me incredibly discouraged about my chelation timeline. What I learned from one of the ACC admins is that mercury + lead is “14x harder” to remove than mercury alone. An old post from Andy suggests that people with this combination may wait 12-18 months to see any meaningful gains. Why is that? One theory has to do with where lead gets stored and how it gets removed through chelation. Where mercury stores in fatty tissues, lead stores in the bones. Apparently bone has a short and long regeneration cycle. The short cycle is 18 months, and the longer one is 10 years. Until those first 18 months are complete, the lead removal may result in not feeling any meaningful improvements. And, of course to remove all lead in the long term is probably more than I’ll have patience for! I am definitely not chelating for the next ten years. But, my FMP did tell me that lead is released from the bone during menopause, so it is important to get my levels down as much as possible before that happens.

I have been really down in the dumps since learning that. It’s clear I will need to chelate well beyond 100 rounds. When I get to max dose of ALA for six months with no symptoms, I will have to continue with DMSA once a month for a long time – maybe a few more years. Five years has been recommended more than once. I knew that, but I have been telling myself that Round 35 = 35% done as a way to stay motivated and positive. I need to stop doing that. On the other hand, the the kids will be done chelating by that point, so the sleep disruption will be minimal. And once a month seems like a walk in the park compared to what we’re doing now.

Still, it has been a lot to take in, I am definitely still struggling to make my peace with it.

I always hesitate to post about gains because they are so subtle – and sometimes fleeting. And maybe because I’m not always sure I can trust myself or what I’m experiencing. Am I kidding myself? Who knows. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed lately:

  • My period continues to be super normal and uneventful. This is a big change from a year or two ago. I am so sick of supplements and pills that I have stopped taking DIM consistently (for estrogen detox) and I haven’t noticed the difference yet.
  • My toenails (which have been yellow, thick, brittle, and detached from the nail bed for 20+ years) are starting to grow back in normally. I am also cutting my fingernails every week – which is way more frequent than in the past.
  • My sleep is more consistent and more restful (maybe since the addition of potassium?).
  • I ate a ton of histamine foods yesterday – both potato chips and chocolate. I remembered to take the HistDAO beforehand, but it was enough histamine-inducing food that it could have really clobbered me and required me to take a nap. I did gain a pound overnight, but I didn’t have the soul-crushing fatigue I usually do under those conditions. Combined with eating the gluten-free muffin bread over Thanksgiving, it does feel like things might be getting better on the food front. Slow, and subtle, and not something I could do all the time. But still …
  • Finally, I have had coffee. Yes, coffee! Twice. That has been on my list of foods to avoid because it’s cross-reactive for people with gluten intolerance. A few days ago I had about a quarter of a cup mixed with warm almond milk, and it was so yummy. I was able to completely skip a dose of ACE (6 Thorne pills!) because of the lift from the caffeine. Like the muffin bread, I can’t imagine it’s something I would do every day again. But it was really so nice to be able to have a warm beverage with flavor and a little kick.
  • Yesterday I received two emails from faraway friends – both initiated by me. That would have never happened a year ago.
  • I am also reading (fiction) and beading like crazy. I will do a separate post on the beading because I have more than ten new pieces finished, each with different bead sizes, colors, and/or patterns. That continues to be a great way for me to rest, recover, recharge, and focus on something besides work and healing.
  • I am also listening to new music and enjoying finding new artists through a variety of music services (Sirius, Pandora, Apple). I have been making plMy beading time has been a great way for me to listen to music, though I’ve been enjoying it in the car too. At my sickest, I was too tired and overwhelmed to listen to music during my morning commute, so this is more significant than it may seem.

I am really loving my four-day work weeks. In April I will hit the end of the 100% paid period, and I will only receive 60% pay for those Fridays when I don’t work. But the improvement in my quality of life, my state of mind, my relationship with my spouse and my kids is worth it. And if I’m honest, even my relationship with my job. I love what I do, but at the moment I just cannot work the kinds of hours that management consulting demands. Making my peace with that has been hard, but I’m in a better place now as a result. I am meeting with my financial advisor on Monday to figure out how to make that work for the long haul. I’ll stay on disability for as long as I need to, and hopefully in such a way that it won’t significantly prolong my timeline to retirement. Even if it does, enjoying my life before retirement is important too, so we are committed to finding a way to make it work.

January 2019

1 January. The run up to Christmas was crazy and pretty tough. Both of us (adults) were having major health issues – flares so bad that she was struggling to get out of bed. We finally put the pieces together and realized that she is dealing with histamine issues as well. Mine flared up again too, and I had a few weeks before Christmas that were really bad. Through both of us doing research, I realized that many symptoms I hadn’t thought were histamine could be attributed to that, including sleep disruption, loose bowels (which I thought was too much magnesium and Vitamin C), and more. This time I’ve really gone cold turkey on coffee (it was fun while it lasted!), almond milk, plain almonds, and more. My system has been calming down and I dropped a few pounds of inflammation weight. As hard as it is to get back to a super restricted diet, feeling better is worth it. My only AIP reintroductions are eggs, rice, a very occasional piece of chocolate, and potato chips (the latter two with a few HistDAO pills). Oh well. I can only hope that this is related to the healing process, and that many of these symptoms will subside as the metals come out.

Speaking of which … I was at 8 mg of ALA for so long that 12 mg was uneventful this time around – woohoo! So uneventful that I only did three rounds and then raised to 18 mg ALA for Round 39. On that round, I experienced ALA euphoria for the first time since the July – August timeframe, and it was wonderful. I did a whole bunch of long overdue cleaning and organizing around the house, including culling through the boys toys for giveaway, packing up the scanned photos (for my dad’s memory book) to send back to my parents, tons of cooking, and more. Round 40 (which I just finished) was also good. I had one day at my sister in law’s where (with the help of her kids) I re-arranged her pantry and supply closet, did a major clean-up, created labels, etc. It was very satisfying and they were thrilled for the help. The only bummer was that in my enthusiasm I ended up missing a dose during the day, and then another one later that night (I was so tired that I did the kids doses and then forgot to do my own). So, we’ll see how I feel as redistribution hits this week.

We do question where the lead poisoning came from. Did the kids get it in utero from me, or did we all get exposed together later? Our latest thinking is that we probably got it from our first house in Chicagoland. There were many things about that house that made us worse, healthwise. It was built in the 1920s, so we know it had lead paint. It had a lead water main coming into the house, which is also the reason that 70% of households in Chicago proper have lead poisoning. Our basement flooded twice (the first time included sewer water), and although we had it professionally remediated, I have to believe there was some residual toxic mold after two big events like that. Around that time we also bought a foam mattress (which is made from petroleum products which have horrible off-gassing), and finally, we put foam insulation under a room off the kitchen (which was raised off the ground but didn’t have a formal foundation). That room was the main playroom for the kids, and it was always unbearably cold. But it turns out that foam insulation is so incredibly toxic – I can’t even believe it’s still being sold! I also had the last of my improper dental work done on two huge amalgam fillings in my molars. About two years ago we spontaneously bought the house we’re in now, and thank goodness we did. It’s new construction, and I’m not sure we would be on this healing journey at all if we hadn’t.

Beyond being relieved we’re in a new house, I wish I had something uplifting to say as I reflect on 2018. But honestly, chelation is just a grind. I’m feeling particularly discouraged at the moment because – in spite of the days where I do feel progress or euphoria – I know the time horizon is longer for mercury with lead is longer. I do my best to focus on all the positive stories I read on the Facebook ACC community, including people making major gains, having breakthroughs related to food or weight loss, and people finishing chelation. I’m not a quitter, but some weeks are really hard, and those stories definitely keep me going.

So, wishing for some more gains and a bit more euphoria in 2019. And, wishing you good luck on your own healing journey, too.

11 Comments on “Chelation Chronicles – 2H 2018

  1. Hi! I have a question about Hashimotos. Is it possible to have this, with all the symptoms, and have a completely normal thyroid blood test come back?

    • It really depends on who is telling you it is ‘completely normal’. An allopathic doctor will only look at TSH. Many Functional Medicine Practitioners (FMPs) will not look at Reverse T3 (RT3). If a doctor tells you that your ratio of T3 to RT3 is normal, they really know what they are doing. I have an FMP that I like, but I did the research on ratios and told her they weren’t right! Only then did she agree to prescribe T3-only medication. If you get through all that and things look normal by you still feel terrible, you may have adrenal issues rather than a thyroid issue. The first step there would be to get a four-point saliva cortisol test and see what you learn. Hope that helps.

  2. Hi Natalie, I have only recently done tests to find that I have high levels of mercury. I will probably try these programs soon. I just wanted to let you know (maybe you are already aware) that sauna has made a massive difference to me, it is probably the only thing I’ve been doing while suspecting I had mercury poisoning, it has been the only thing to alleviate symptoms somewhat. It may be quite helpful to help your body excrete the mercury.

    • There are two basic states for the metals in your body. One condition is that they are stored (mercury in fatty tissues, lead in bones, for example). Storage can be in muscles, or in more sensitive / dangerous tissues like the thyroid, liver, brain etc. The other condition is that they are free-floating in your blood stream.

      The sauna doesn’t ‘move metals’ except those that are free-floating in your bloodstream. If you feel crummy from metals moving, that means you have a recent exposure to those metals, and/or a lot of redistribution going on due to some other treatment or supplement.

      The main thing to be careful about with the sauna is that you have to start low and slow, because it can be a disaster for adrenals if you rush it. I started at 100 degrees for 5 minutes (which is what was recommended to me), and I gradually moved up in both time and temperature. I am holding steady now at 120F and 25 minutes. I’ve tried 125F a few times, and honestly I just find it unpleasant, which is not worth it to me. I sweat plenty at 120F. I am sure I could go past 25 minutes at this point, but that gets me nice and toasty without being a huge time commitment!

      Related to the adrenals, because you lose so much salt in sweat, the sauna can deplete your electrolytes. So, you may want to consider either adrenal cocktail or Alka Seltzer Gold following the sauna.

      The last thing that could be an issue is if you don’t sweat at all. That would put your body under significant strain, too. The trick there is to stay at low temperature and time until you do start to sweat, and then move up.

      If you choose to pursue ACC, some people swear that sauna is best on redistribution days (e.g. off round). I truly haven’t noticed a difference one way or the other. When you’re on round, your liver and adrenals are better supported by chelators, and you have mercury in your bloodstream. When you’re off round, your adrenals are well supported, but your liver is trying to process excess metals in the bloodstream, but without a chelator. So, I’m not sure why one part of the round would be better than another – it may be entirely dependent on how you feel. If off-round is hard, then sauna on those days. Honestly, because I work and I’m raising two kids with special needs, I’m just happy I get in there at all, and I don’t worry too much about where I am with chelation.

  3. Pingback: Chelation Chronicles – 1H 2019 | Natalie Hanson

  4. Hi,Natalie, I really like your blog. You are an expert in heavy metal detoxification. You mentioned that only one round of DMSA detox can be performed every month. Why? What is the scientific basis behind it?

    • Hi Peter, thanks for the feedback. I am not an expert by any means, but I am definitely experienced now. 🙂 I am using the DMSA to detox from lead poisoning. What I learned is that mercury stores in fatty tissue (liver, brain) but lead stores in the bones. DMSA is very effective at removing lead, but your bones can only release it so quickly. So, you do a DMSA round once a month, it cleans up your bloodstream, and then your body knows it can release more from the bones. Keep in mind that lead displaces calcium in the bone structure, so it’s important to supplement with calcium when you’re chelating with DMSA for that purpose. Hope that helps.

  5. Hi, Natalie, Thank you very much for your reply, very helpful. In fact, every month you record the process and results of your heavy metal detoxification. Now that you have been doing ACC for more than a year, can you make an annual summary? Looking back at how much progress has been made in your condition, which symptoms have disappeared or improved, what are the experiences and lessons?

    • Hi Peter – I will definitely incorporate an update in the blog post I’m writing now. In the meantime, here is the short version:

      I am still struggling with general fatigue. Not enough energy to exercise, still taking a ton of ACE. No ability to lose weight, though not gaining anymore (OTG). Still some blood sugar dysregulation (can’t skip a meal even when I’m not hungry, for example). Lingering food sensitivities. Just got thyroid labs last week so waiting to see about that.

      However, lots of things are better – I am tired and wanting to do more, but not perpetually exhausted and miserable like I used to be. Sleep is good – even on round, hair and nails are growing, brain fog is gone, general outlook on life is way more positive. Anxiety seems to have dropped almost completely – I’m only taking a tiny bit of GABA compared to before. And energy (while not where I’d like it to be) has improved a ton.

      My second hair test (at one year) showed mercury down from .56 to .21, but lead hasn’t moved and silver is at the top of the red. So, I may be making good progress with mercury but I’m clearly dealing with other metals too. Lead in particular may take years to resolve.

  6. HI Natalie, is whie/brown rice ok with the andy cutler protocol? I cannot find any info on this anywhere, whether it is high thiol or not or whether it contains a great deal of it, then some say grains tend to be a bit iffy for those who have heavy metal poisoning such as mercury etc. I ask this specifically because i cant make my mind up about it, i dont appear to have any bad reactions taking it but concerned it may not be good for the gut long term. Are there any specific flours out there that one can have without problem while chelating? Thanks!

    • Hi Jay – the Mercury Detox Manual (the latest book) has a list of thiol foods in it. If you are unclear or you know you are sensitive you should probably buy it. Thiols are mostly foods from the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower), but also one-off things like coffee. Andy didn’t specify a diet – he said whatever works best for your body. Be careful with rice because it can be high in arsenic. You should buy organic if you can afford it. Best of luck.

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