Archive | April, 2019

I’ve Got 99 Symptoms…and Every One of Them is a Bitch

25 Apr

I’m not in a good place right now.

Over the past few months, I have spent more money and time than I care to divulge trying to get to the bottom of the mess that is my body.  I am awaiting the results of a hormone panel, comprehensive stool analysis, organic acids urine test, and a lipid panel. I requested the lipid panel mostly out of curiosity, and because I’m getting to that age where I have to give a shit. Also, my friends and I like to compare lab values ‘cuz we’re cool like that, and I want to see where I stack up.

Recently, I almost passed out while a lady drew four vials of my blood for an MRT food sensitivity test. It was worth it, even though the results told me things I didn’t want to hear. Unlike most food sensitivity tests, the MRT test is legit. It reveals the specific foods that cause inflammation in an individual’s body. While it may seem counterintuitive, some foods typically associated with an anti-inflammatory diet, such as salmon or blueberries, can create inflammation in certain people. This test takes the guess work out of designing an elimination diet by showing you which foods you should avoid and which foods you are least reactive to (known as a LEAP diet). I’m so convinced in the validity of this program that I am training to become a Certified Leap Therapist (CLT), an option open to registered dietitians with an interest in functional medicine (Read: ME!)

My CLT mentor will help me design a diet based on my results, but in the meantime, I’m trying to focus on phasing out the foods that are causing inflammation in my poor, poor body: almonds, hazelnuts, garbanzo beans (my beloved chickpeas!), sesame seeds, green peas, eggplant, corn (my worst offender – also in EVERYTHING!!), oregano, garlic, wheat, COCOA (I’m still getting over this one), coffee (cut out months ago, because it ALWAYS made me feel sick all over), egg whites, cheddar cheese, whey, cow’s milk, scallop, and crab. In addition, I showed up reactive to the chemicals: saccharin (which is found in my Colgate toothpaste, apparently), solanine (the chemical that turns potatoes green), potassium nitrates (used to cure meats, etc), and polysorbate 80 (a common additive in ice cream, among other things).

Yes. All of those things must go for a minimum of three months.

After I received my results, I gave up dark chocolate cold turkey. Intuitively, I knew the test was going to show that chocolate was a problem for me, so I had tried to mentally prepare ahead of time. I was NOT a very pleasant person on those first two days, and I spent Easter surrounded by chocolate eggs while barreling through the end of my detox. My grandma studied me and asked if I wasn’t feeling well or was just tired. Explaining the intricacies of my never-ending health saga exhausts me and (I can only assume) bores others: “Just tired” I said.

You know what they say: desperate times call for desperate measures.

In the past I have tried a million different diets to feel better, but this time is different. This time is different, because I finally have a map to show me what my immune system does and doesn’t like. This time is different, because I will be doing whatever it takes to treat the underlying issue causing all the food sensitivities in the first place. The goal is to heal, so I can eat more freely. Unfortunately, my body has reached its breaking point, and I really don’t have any other choice.

It’s interesting to note that the last time I ate corn and dairy together, I felt sick for a full week afterwards. When I think back to the beginning of my health crisis days, I remember several occasions where I experienced severe shortness of breath and an immediate panic attack upon consumption of corn products, scary enough that I remember each specific episode: popcorn in a bar, corn starch in my grandma’s potatoes, anything deep-fried from a restaurant (corn starch swimming in vegetable oil, which may or may not be corn based). I felt like I was having an allergic reaction on every one of those occasions, but I always pretended to be fine until the shortness of breath finally ceased. When you’ve been sick for as long as I have, you get tired of bringing your illness to everyone’s attention all the time. I figured I’d either pass out and turn blue or keep on keepin’ on. Either way, there’s a certain learned helplessness that goes along with chronic illness, and you (kind of?) get used to being miserable all the time.

So…the vegan diet is not going to happen until after my I complete my specialized “immunocalm” diet (and beyond that, we’ll have to see how I’m feeling and what kind of progress I’m making). For now, I shall remain pescatarian, and I’m leaving egg yolks on the menu. I stopped eating dairy at the end of January and have definitely experienced less pain since this time, so I’m excited to see what happens when I cut out the rest of my offenders and get serious about healing my oh so fucked up gut.