My food choices haven’t been THAT bad lately. Yes, I stopped obsessively freaking out about every milligram of sodium, but I haven’t been inhaling overly processed foods at every chance, so I can’t be THAT overboard!
Then why have I been experiencing the telltale symptoms of Meniere’s lately? My left ear has been booming? pounding? boom-boom-powing? I don’t know how to describe it… whumping? It kind of reminds me of how a baby’s heart sounds on a heart monitor/ultrasound I think, (from what I’ve heard in movies… no babies for this girl!) except not that loud, thank goodness. I also have distorted hearing through my left ear on phone conversations again and feel a “stuffy” kind of pressure in my left ear. It’s really distracting at work, and builds the pressure (no pun intended) to get back to strictly low sodium (as in, strictly under 2,000 mg not “as low as I can go”!!)
But then I wonder about the other triggers for Meniere’s. I haven’t been drinking any alcohol or caffeine (thank goodness I’m not a coffee person!) but then there’s stress. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that stress can be a trigger and OH MY GOD has work been stressing me out lately. It’s not like I can measure my stress and keep it under 2,000 mg a day (I wish!), and the doctor didn’t say, “make sure to not get so stressed that you want to slam your head onto a sharpened pencil” so how can I tell if this added stress is really contributing to my symptoms?
At this point I can only guess. I’ll pay closer attention to my diet in the next few days and hope that the feelings subside. One month until my next hearing test and ENT appointment!
A few weeks ago, I invested in a new cookbook called The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook by Donald A. Gazzaniga. I sort of saw this as my inaugural step towards a low-sodium life. Unfortunately, upon flipping through the pages, I became quickly overwhelmed at how low in sodium these recipes actually are. I mean, we are talking sodium measurements down to the thousandth of a milligram. Seriously?? If I level off my measuring cup differently than he did, that could affect the numbers!! I was thinking, “I have to be this sensitive? I don’t want to become obsessed! But if this guy is, maybe I’m supposed to?!” He wrote this cookbook because his heart was failing and he drastically cut sodium to the point that he was taken off the heart transplant list. Um, I just have a weird ear disease, do I need to be as diligent as he is?
wrapping my head around low-sodium
It took me a while to process all of that, but I eventually got used to the idea that just because I bought that cookbook does not mean I need to go hard core cold turkey on sodium. I’m shooting for less than 2,000mg a day, not less than 500mg! (I just messaged my doctor, though, to see if he thinks “the lower the better”… hi Dr. Shinners if you are reading this!)
Remember, this is a blog about transitioning to a low-sodium lifestyle, not jumping in all at once!
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, we can move on to the recipes I’ve tried so far from this wonderful book…. coming up next is Orange Banana Muffins! (only 0.96787439864mg* sodium per muffin!!)
*I’m being facetious, in case you could not tell.
Why’s my doctor telling me to lower my sodium? Not because of high blood pressure or heart disease, which seem to be the two most common reasons for doctors to crack down. My affliction is far less common, and it’s called Meniere’s Disease. It affects the inner ear and causes some hearing loss, and eventually dizzy spells that can be completely unbearable. My doc recommended reading up on it here, if you care to learn more!
They don’t know everything about Meniere’s, and the best treatment that seems to work for most people is a combination of taking a diuretic pill every day (lame!) and reducing sodium intake (also lame!) So basically my motivation to stick with this is directly proportional to my motivation to not have hearing distortion and dizzy spells that make me want to vomit. Fun stuff, huh?
I first noticed something was up when I was holding a phone to my left ear and the person sounded like kermit the frog. Through my right ear, they sounded normal! I asked my dad what he thought I should do (he has Meniere’s Disease too, though they don’t think it’s always hereditary or anything) and he said I should take it seriously and get it checked out. A couple weeks later, I was listening to the Doc telling me to restrict my sodium to under 2,000 mg per day.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling mostly positive about this whole “you’re diseased” thing. After all, taking one pill a day every day isn’t THAT bad (but boy will I miss scribbling a jaunty “N/A” on doctor office forms asking about my medications!) And let’s be honest here, it’s probably much better for my overall health to learn how to eat without salting myself to bad health!
I promise I’ll get around to the food soon. And pictures. Come on, what’s a blog without pictures!?