Sunday, October 28, 2012

Low Carb in Lincoln Park and Indy

I've recently been on vacation. Some wonderful things from my trip:

I bought a pound of hot Italian sausage from Royer Farms, Indiana, purchased at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market in Indianapolis. Tasty, tender and pasture raised, but hot? Not even mild by Denver standards.

I'm enjoying the Canterbury tea made of black tea, mango and flowers from a store called Tea Pots 4 U, who blends it for the Canterbury Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. (Call the store if you want to order it.)

Near Tea Pots 4 U in Indianapolis

Lincoln Park, Chicago. Possibly North Cleveland Avenue.
My best friend and I took the Megabus to Chicago and stayed in Lincoln Park. Back in Indianapolis, I downloaded from a book from the Denver Public Library to my Kindle called City Walks: Chicago by Christina Henry deTessan. We walked the Lincoln Park Architecture tour in the rain. I got cold and wet with no coat, and her feet hurt, but the beauty of the area made it worth it. I've heard that movies set in Chicago often used to be filmed in Denver since the cities look so much alike at street level. That's true in some places (like the photo below with the red flowers--it looks like Gaylord or an avenue just east of Broadway and north of Evans), but I've never seen Queen Anne architecture here, like the photo of the house.

Lincoln Park. Possibly West Roslyn Place.

Lincoln Park. Possibly North Cleveland Avenue.
Even though half the restaurants we saw in Chicago were pizza and pasta places, which I can't tolerate because of the wheat, we found a lot of great places to eat. We got out of the rain and had lunch at Sultan's Market. I ordered lamb without a pita, and they didn't give me any funny looks or a pile of lettuce. The meat was tender and juicy, and there was plenty of it.

Monday night, some of the places I wanted to eat were closed. We ended up at Miss Asia and shared the restaurant with one Indian family. (The Bears were playing.) I ordered the bulgogi (Korean barbecued beef) with radishes, seaweed and kimchi (fermented vegetables). They brought out so much beef that I wasn't hungry the next morning. The dish was so good that I'm trying to imitate it at home, including the seaweed and kimchi. I haven't found any radishes yet. But I won't try the moshi again. Moshi is ice cream with a coating made of rice. It was as if I'd found a wet piece of an old soccer ball and tried to eat it. If we hadn't been in a restaurant, I'd have spit it out, the texture was so disgusting.

Probably the best meal we had was wine, cheese, tomatoes, and duck at the DOC Wine Bar in Lincoln Park. Why don't I go to wine bars more often? They're quiet, the staff is knowledgeable, and the food is fantastic. Avoid the bread, and it's great low-carb fare.

On our way back to the Megabus stop, we ended up at Athena Restaurant in Greektown. I tried the charbroiled octopus since I'd never had octopus. When the waiter brought out a creamy soup, I asked if it had wheat in it. Yes, it did, and so did the other soup. He pushed it towards Kim and said, "Maybe your friend would like to have it." (Later, the waiter took a group photo of some 60-ish men at the next table and someone asked her if she'd like a copy.) The octopus turned out to be a plateful of tasty, tender tentacles that tasted like sea scallops--they weren't tough or chewy at all. Even though it was an appetizer, it was the size of a full meal.

A few places I didn't eat: The Protein Bar near Greek Town. Every offering had more carbs than I eat in a day. The Meatloaf Bakery in Lincoln Park. The cupcake-shaped meatloaves are cute, but they use bread as a filler. A homeless guy by Lake Michigan offered me a beer. I passed.

Lake Michigan at Lincoln Park. I could have had a beer here.
 Meantime, my neighbor misunderstood my instructions to feed my dog and fed her twice as much as she should have eaten. She must have had a happy vacation as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. -Archimedes

By conventional wisdom, I should be a fat, lazy slob. I eat at McDonald's, play a lot of video games and watch violent cartoons when I get home. I haven't exercised in months, not since my accident in late July. I have my reasons for these things, but they're not important here. What's important is that these things haven't turned me into anything. I'm still slim and trim (though I've lost some muscle tone), still thinking critically, and my coworkers and creditors can still depend on me. Today I even downloaded a book on salt--400 pages written by an engineer in 1898.* It's unlikely to be light reading.

My point is the difference between what matters and what doesn't. The endless worries about fat and salt and dietary cholesterol don't matter. Chronic cardio--exercise that's supposed to make you lose weight--doesn't matter (unless you like doing it). What you watch or listen to doesn't matter, unless it depresses you or you believe in it uncritically. What matters is understanding a problem, understanding the potential solutions, and from there, understanding a whole set of problems and solving them in a stroke.

Low carb solved several problems for me: acid reflux, 20 extra pounds, cavities, and occasional depression. I don't worry about the naysayers because I understand, in a basic way, how the body uses fuel and the tricks of junk science studies. When someone says, "There are studies on both sides showing different things" or "Everybody is different," they're right up to a point, but really, they're unwilling or unable to evaluate the evidence and make a decision.

Recommended reading: Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes is a good introduction to the science behind low-carb; The Art and Science of Low Carb Living should appeal to those with advanced medical knowledge.

*Books in the public domain--even those out of print--can be downloaded from Google books for free and copied to a Kindle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dentists, Where Are You?

The past few months have seen me spending a lot of time in dentists' offices. A few observations: most of the dentists and their employees are fairly svelte--at least, more so than the medical staff at a hospital or nursing home. The dentists also advise against eating sugars and starches, knowing what they do to teeth. Why aren't there more dentists in the low-carb internet community? Heaven knows we need all the allies we can get--and help won't come from most dieticians, nurses, "health organizations" (not when they take money from junk food and pharmaceutical companies), medical journals, government, or MDs (not even endocrinologists). To wit:

"In January 2012, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition informed [blogger] Steve [Cooksey] that he could not give readers personal advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed, and thus criminal, practice of dietetics." Institute for Justice

"Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?" "Lies, Damned Lies and Medical Science," The Atlantic

"The onslaught of bad research is making me burn out." -Jenny Ruhl, Diabetes Update Blog, on rodent studies applied to human diabetics

While seeing my oral surgeon today to get my stitches out, the subject of coconuts came up: coconut oil is an antibiotic and mild analgesic--and he recalled my high threshold of pain. He agreed with the idea of limiting carbohydrates. (I gave him a few tips--mostly to find a book with a plan he could live with, since low fat, low salt and low calorie don't work with low carb.) He also seemed interested in coconut oil being a mild analgesic and antibiotic, diet for relieving pain, and wheat being an appetite stimulant. It felt very strange for this sort of information to go from me to a surgeon--one of the top rated in Denver, no less--until I remembered that none of this is part of a traditional medical education. Yes, he's a mainstream medical practitioner, not a doctor of funk or whatnot.

Just a few years ago, whenever I told people I limited carbs, they looked at me like I had two heads. That this conversation went as well as it did is a sign that the low-fat, healthy-whole-grains machine is being dismantled.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TMJ and a Cold: Getting Out of Reverse

Between severe episodes of TMJ, an oncoming cold and a mountain of work, I was tired and miserable this time last night. Thank goodness I didn't use any common sense, but, as Tom Naughton would put it, used my functioning brain.

Fifty thousand IU of vitamin D last night strangled the cold in its cradle by mid-morning today. A few doses of Umcka Cold Care probably helped.

My TMJ is back under control. On the assumption that my roaming TMJ pain was from a tension, pain and spasm cycle spiraling out of control, I started taking ibuprofin every few hours. Some extra magnesium might have helped, too. It's needed for proper muscle function, and you can burn through more than usual when you're under a lot of stress. Vitamin D is a natural anti-imflammatory, so it might have helped as well. The TMJ pain started Saturday night after I missed lunch, missed a dose of ibuprofin and worked at the office for a few hours after the heat shut off. I don't do well skipping meals even under the best circumstances, and back in 2007, I noticed that the cold made my TMJ worse. I think the combination of things led to the TMJ episodes.


You'd never know I had oral surgery a week ago. That's from the mouth of my dentist, who gave me my semiannual cleaning and checkup today. He added that my surgeon hit the bull's eye placing the implant--in a small space, no loss. I'm free of cavities and decay, too--even though my teeth were really dingy from my not being able to clean them very well because of my fractured arm, tooth injuries and braces. And from getting into the bad habit not brushing carefully. The antiseptic mouthwash stained my teeth grey, too--my teeth look like they've gone downhill, even though they're fine.

For the TMJ pain, my dentist suggested warm wet towels, avoiding gum, massage, and splint therapy. I told him I'd been through it all, and diet was finally the thing that got it out of reverse.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Turn for the Worse

The past two days have seen a return of my TMJ problems, as severe as I had in 2007 after a car wreck. I've been trying all sorts of things to help, but the only thing so far that puts a dent in the pain is ibuprofin. The odd thing is, the site of the dental implant is tender, but feels fine. The teeth that were tender from being in braces feel fine. The agonizing pain wanders around my jaw joint, lower jaw, ear and sinus passages on my right side. It feels like a needle without anesthetic, except when the pain isn't there. I'm wondering if it could be someting a neurosurgeon described to me many years ago: tension leads to pain, which leads to spasms, which leads to tension, and so on. If that's the case, the best thing would be to take the ibuprofin at the first sign of a twinge of pain.

I also feel like I'm getting a cold. Per the SWAMP protocol, I took 50,000 IU of vitamin D a few hours ago and already feel better.

I took a chance having surgery so close to a big deadline at work (October 15). I had to work today, and can't call in sick tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Having Oral Surgery & a Dental Implant: What it was Like

The short answer: like a moderate headache; it hasn't been nearly as bad as, say, a sprained ankle or wrist. Having my braces restrung was more painful than the surgery.

Now for the long answer.

My surgeon started with two shots, neither of which bothered me. (Full disclosure: I have a high threshold of pain and no aversion to needles. The surgeon remarked that most people find the second shot painful.) For the next 45 minutes or so, I sat there with my mouth open while he worked on me, feeling nothing. I saw him using a socket wrench on me (I've turned enough of them to know one), then saw him pulling thread. Finally, he showed me an x-ray of the titanium screw in my upper jaw. He explained that he didn't like the original position of my eye tooth, so he put the screw where there was more bone. Extracting a tooth and putting in an implant in one sitting was pushing the envelope, as he put it, but in the worst case, he'd extract it, let my mouth heal, and try again.

Next, it was on to the orthodontist to get a temporary tooth attached to my braces. The anesthetic was wearing off and my mouth was tender. Getting my braces restrung was the worst part of my day. But once it was done, I didn't feel any worse than before.

Back at home, I remembered a post from the Hyperlipid blog that fellow blogger Tess led me to. Recalling that a study found high-fat meals are analgesic, I had some ground beef (80% lean), guacamole and low carb hot chocolate, and felt well enough to need nothing but ibuprofin. That's all I've had, a couple of times a day, for pain. Of course, I've also been taking the antibiotics and using the mouthwash the surgeon prescribed.

In addition, I've been taking 360 mcg of vitamin K2, 10,000 IU of vitamin D3, 200 mg of magnesium glycinate, and a few other supplements peculiar to my needs. Vitamins K2 and D3 are especially important for dental health; both of these and magnesium are important for bone health. I've also been using the cavity healing diet from a few years ago. Unexpectedly, it made my teeth and gums less sensitive and relieved my TMJ shortly after I started it. I went from being sensitive to heat, cold and acid to, well, not flinching during a shot in my gums. The cavity healing diet includes organ meat, muscle meat with the fat, eggs, fatty fish, non-starchy veg, and dairy as condiments (if desired), but no grains, no sweet fruit, and nothing very starchy or sugary. Basically, it's a high-nutrient, low-carb, high-fat, mostly paleo diet. The organ meat and fatty fish are required at least weekly: they're high nutrient food.

Bottom line, if the only thing stopping you from having a dental implant is the fear of pain, perhaps you think it's more painful than it really is. You could also talk to an oral surgeon about getting some stronger pain killers, and go on the cavity healing diet for a few weeks before and after the surgery.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's Worse than Going to the Dentist?

My surgery is tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to it, but at least I'm not seeing Dr. Stephen Stein tomorrow (not to be confused with the other Dr. Stein, whose mischief included turning a colleague into a zombie). A coworker told me today she was one of his patients. From CBS4 in Denver,
There are now six former patients of a dentist accused of reusing needles who have tested positive for either hepatitis or HIV.
It’s not known whether they contracted the diseases from Dr. Stephen Stein’s office. Stein has since surrendered his license as an oral surgeon.
About 8,000 of Stein’s patients were sent letters asking them to get tested. The health department says it’s impossible to definitively tell if the infected patients got sick from Stein.
I figured I'd better check out my oral surgeon. The Colorado government site to check out dentists is down for maintenance. But according to, my oral surgeon doesn't have a history of malpractice or disciplinary action.