No sleep (a middle aged female angle)

I’ve had next to no sleep tonight (its still that night as I write this covertly under the covers) and I knew what was up, from mid-evening onwards, without even checking until now (here’s where I get my data, news here). Geomagnetic levels from the increasingly active sun, fast reaching its solar maximum (happens every 11 years) were way up from about 9pm and I felt it, even commented to my husband. This scenario so often correlates with my sudden sleeplessness, compared to other nights when I sleep my way through. Guess it’s all part of my autism that I register this kind of effect so clearly in the body. It still astonishes me that more people don’t talk about the correlation of space weather effects and bodily symptoms. Whether it’s migraine, insomnia, IBS or other flare-up, surely people wonder why these random peaks “just” occur out of the blue. Before I came to terms with my neurodivergent status, these weirder anomalies were harder to understand, let alone accept or explain. I now know, my environmental sensitive doesn’t just stop at 50 feet above the ground!

In my case, I strongly suspect oxalates stored in body tissues play a significant part in these intense, acute episodes of inflammation and a sort of metabolic excitability. I’m currently enduring an oxalates purge (whilst trying to avoid a major oxalate dump which can be too painful and risky to endure) following some seasonal carelessness around higher oxalate foods. That’s unpleasant enough, without the added excuse of overnight increases in environmental triggers to inflame the tissue around stored-up oxalate crystals in my body, which so likes to hoard them. Joint inflammation, interstitial cystitis, intense vulvodynia, burning feet and tongue and, yes, sharp needle like crystals in my skin are just some of the effects of going cold turkey on the end of year chocolate addiction and other lapses.

I’ve learned there’s very little I can do but ride the storm when affected by solar events, much the same as when any other weather gets you down or some other flare-up of symptoms occurs. That, and make the body as cool and comfortable as possible, in a preemptive way; moisturise, prop the head above heart level, cushion under painful joints, keep sinuses clear, distract with cheerful, calming audio (music, podcasts…), hyperfocus on a piece of writing such as this, remember “this too shall pass”. Ignore these advisories and risk migraine, severe cramps, messed up digestive system or POTs by morning. Avoid trigger foods, especially sugar, alcohol, MSG and “natural flavours” at all costs. Drink plenty of water.

So here I am again, wide awake feeling overstimulated (which is the core effect of these space weather events for me) and with an inexplicably sore and bloated gut, thinking about oxalates.

Oxalates at least seem to be getting talked about much more these days. I even found a discussion on Trudy Scott’s invaluable website Every Woman Over 29 (as I often recommend) when I looked up a possible link with my much worsened vulvodynia (more links on that oxalate connection below as this is something long-suffering women need to know about). So many people sound surprised when they first hear about oxalates (right before the penny drops that some of their “healthy” habits such as spinach juice might have been provoking the issue). Yet the link between issues with oxalates stored in the body and autism is fairly well reported, so much so a test for oxalates (link below) is recommended to parents of autistic kids and I’ve considered having it myself, though I guess I know the answer.

By the way, overuse of antibiotics is thought to be a potential root cause on the way to later problems digesting high oxalate foods (which accounts for the first 4 decades of my life due to a stream of baffling, probably autism and/or oxalate related, bladder, pelvic and vulva issues, some of which I had at school, where GPs defaulted to a trusty course of antibiotics “just in case”). The next decade of eating “healthy” foods to try and put myself right, many of which turned out to be very high in oxalates (spinach, almonds, celery, beets…) no doubt compounded the issue. Also, oxalates are known to accumulate around wound sites and I have mysterious stabbing, burning, chronic pain and skin irritation issues around all of my operation sites as well as my most problematic joints.

So there’s a known-about link between oxalates and some of the issues experienced by autistic kids but what about us adults, specifically adult females going through or just out the other side of the minefield that is menopause, when oestrogen levels plummet and body tissues become more sensitive and vulnerable. All the more bewildering for those who don’t realise they’re possibly autistic or have never even heard of oxalates. How about those with underlying hypermobility, which also has a known link to oxalate issues (see this thread on the Inspire forum, its been a great resource for me). I’m convinced oxalates accumulating in joints has been a significant reason behind suddenly worsened hypermobility, joint instability and pain for me since menopause. I’ve read somewhere that, as well as tearing at tissues and joints, damaging them, oxalates can displace or replace the sulfate that our joints rely on, causing weakened connective tissue. Moon cycle, changes in air pressure or increased environmental toxins can be enough to trigger this sudden hypermobile effect in my case, so why not solar flares?

Imagine not knowing about all these interconnected factors yet tossing and turning all night in insomnia and pain, wondering why or when your body turned into such a torture device. Oh and EMFs make my symptoms so much worse that I’m convinced there’s an oxalate factor to my sensitivity, so (my advice) keep that phone on airplane while listening to whatever gets you through it and don’t spend your days of pain scrolling social media on a device in your hand!

Just want to insert that following a low oxalate diet can be problematic in the long term due to avoiding foods that contain other essential nutrients, especially if your diet is already limited by multiple sensitivities. It may be necessary to look for another approach such as what functions can be supported in the body, to bolster its attempts at avoiding oxalate accumulation. Are there any shortfalls that can be supplemented? Could measures to stabilise the gut biome help (I now take a carefully selected probiotic once a day and also digestive enzymes before meals)?

If antibiotic use and environmental toxin exposures are considered to be potential tripwires on the way to poor oxalate handling (they are, see link to the Hormones Matter post and I recommend exploring the whole of that invaluable site) then it’s also been proposed that vitamin deficiency may be another factor and, in particular, the low to borderline vitamin B1 (thiamine) status, which comes close to malnutrition, that accounts for most of us in western society due to the nutritionally poor modern diet (result of over-processing and dubious farming methods). Additionally, even borderline low thiamine status is known to affect the way the body metabolises various other substances such as magnesium, carbs or fatty acids. I’ve talked about this before in my posts about following a high dose B1 protocol (linked below). When I embarked on the high dose B1 protocol last year I noticed that, apart from other positive effects outlined in my other posts, my resilience in the face of oxalates seemed to increase to the point I was hardly giving them a second thought by mid-summer.

Maybe that’s part of the problem: perhaps, courtesy of autism and antibiotic overuse plus environmental factors, I always have to give them a thought. Its all part of the mindset of accepting your own autism, realising and coming to terms with the fact you “never get over it” and so this becomes a full-time way of life which (once you’ve cracked it) means you stop falling backwards as a result of making the same mistakes on repeat; topic of my last post.

So maybe my B1 status got too low again and, I know from before, when it does I seem to be able to react to even those lower oxalate-foods such as green tea or the occasional skinless potato (sweet potatoes are “out” but a potato here and there isn’t too much to ask, is it?). I’m currently in the process of rebooting that high dose B1 protocol (having kept it at a maintenance dose for 3 months) in sync with the circannual cycle turning towards longer days (to which my autistic body synchronises to a very high degree, hence I have to go easy on anything that pushes too hard as days get shorter but right now is the best time for me to regain traction with healthy protocols as my metabolism speeds up again). While I’m doing that (at a steady pace, no bull at the gate!) I need my movement and water levels to increase otherwise I struggle even more, overnight, from the byproducts of an increasing metabolism. I notice that “caged in” feeling creeping in, the one that makes me want to be up and moving much more as this gets going and I have to pay attention to it (as I would suggest all us neurodvergent folks should) and not suppress it as has been a lifetime’s pattern. If I want to jump around more than usual then I do it these days (no cursory voice urging caution or decorum); and hopefully sleep better as a result. If any of this sounds like you, it may be worth looking into the topic of thiamine deficiency (which is also linked to autism, no surprise) and especially in the context of oxalates.

There’s no real conclusion here (having covered the oxalate thing and the lower oxalate diet in detail before), I just needed to think aloud in the middle of the night. It felt like it was time these topics got aired some more, for anyone else lying there awake wondering “what the hell is wrong with me” in the wee small hours of the night.

Linked resources

See my previous posts on the B1 thiamine protocol

See my previous posts on oxalates

Marginally insufficient thiamine intake and oxalates – Hormones Matter

Vulvodynia: oxalates, GABA, tryptophan and physical therapy – Every Woman Over 29

Oxalates and IC – huge reduction in symptoms – discussion thread. By the way doctors tend only to consider the link from oxalates to kidney stones and not to bladder irritation though there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.

Foods that help vulvodynia, the low oxalate diet

Oxalates and Ehlers Danlos lived experience discussion thread

What are oxalates and how do they affect your health?

Organic Acids Test from Great Plains, the only recommended test for oxalates. (In the UK, ask your local test suppliers if they can access this as I have found a couple that do. There are numerous websites talking about the test in the context of autism.)

Disclaimer

This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.

3 thoughts on “No sleep (a middle aged female angle)

    1. I’m not familiar with their work per se but have certainly spent years addressing and expressing unprocessed emotions and becoming aware of anything that might be repressed (seems to be the tilt of his work). There’s nothing “in the mind” about oxalate pain, its about as mechanical and real as it comes (shards like needles deposited in body tissues) though, of course, the mind-body dance is always there. Will certainly take a look at the podcast on pain, thanks for the tip.

      Like

      1. Yup, Sarno believed that unconscious, repressed rage is at the core of certain
        chronic pain (usually where the location of symptom/s appeared not to correspond with that of the diagnosed problem – but also said that the site of an old injury could be “used” as that of the psychogenically engendered pain). I think he later extended the rage as the origin to sadness and other emotions. He added any current stressors and certain personality traits to the etiologogical factors.

        Alan Gordon, from what I have read so far, presents it in simpler terms – as the brain misinterpreting signals from the body as pain signals, essentially, in those who worry a lot, put pressure on themselves and are highly self-critical. For him, it is fear that drives the process and results in onset and perpetuation of the physical symptoms.

        It’s very interesting. His podcasts are easy to listen to.

        I hope there’s something in it for you.

        Best wishes

        Liked by 1 person

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