I nervously went to my first appointment and met the doctor. She was very nice and we talked, and she listened. Never before had a doctor listened to me. She would ask me questions and she would listen, type out notes, stop me and ask for clarification, and just let me talk. It was amazing to finally have a medical professional not shoo me out of the office after 5 minutes and tell me to stop stressing out and hand me a stack of prescriptions. After what seemed like a very long interview, she said that she was pretty sure what was wrong with me, but it would take a blood test to confirm and would that be something I would want to do since I would have to pay for it out of pocket. YES!!! She said that it was very possible that I had multiple food allergies and wanted to do a an IgG blood test that would test for delayed allergic reactions. She also said that my long history of heavy antibiotic use throughout my entire childhood and adult life has left me devoid of the beneficial bacteria that are supposed to live in your stomach. Finally, she noticed that some of my hormone levels from previous blood tests were very low. She said that she first wanted to start working on getting probiotics back into my body. Then I would need to do an elimination diet based on the results of my allergy test, to allow my body to heal and the inflammation go down. Finally, one the other stuff was under control, we would work on getting my hormone levels back in balance. She warned me that it was going to be a tough road ahead, but if I was committed, I would start feeling better in a few weeks.
I got my blood work done and started taking a very strong pro-biotic. I had to wait three weeks for the results of my blood test and when I got it back, I was SHOCKED. I was allergic to EVERYTHING. I was tested for 154 foods and tested positive to a third of them. The next step was the hardest of all. I needed to completely eliminate all of these foods from my diet for the next few months. I could not have any of them, even in small amounts. I needed to give my body a rest, let the inflammation in my digestive track go down, and allow my body to heal. I also needed to start taking a digestive enzyme to help my body digest my food properly, and also take a supplement called L-Glutamine to help heal my digestive tract.
So I went home, shocked overwhelmed and an emotional mess to attempt to tackle the new challenge placed in front of me. I was excited because I finally had an answer. A wreck, because I was allergic to almost everything I eat on a daily basis. I needed to eliminate the following foods from my diet:
Not only could I not eat those foods individually, many of these foods are the basis of other foods, so I also had to eliminate the foods that contain these things as well. Bay leaves are used in stocks, soups, and tomato sauces. Yeast is the start of most breads and alcohols. Wheat and soy are in almost every packaged product. And all the spices...no one gives up their secret seasoning blend, it's just listed as "spices" on the ingredient lists, so to err on the side of caution, I had to eliminate my beloved seasonings. I cleaned out my pantry and found there were only a few things left that I could still eat. I had to learn all over again how to cook.
It was a challenge. Over the next few days, I had a tough time adjusting and I had many breakdowns. Thankfully, I had a wonderful friends who supported me during my temper tantrums. One of my friends lovingly reminded me that this is what I had asked for: I wanted answers and I got them. I finally came to realize, while talking to one of my friends, that I was upset over FOOD? Really? I have friends that are dying from Batten Disease (bdsra.org), there are people dying from cancer, kids in Africa have no food or shoes, and I'm upset about not being able to eat a cookie for the next few months. I needed to get over myself and stop acting like a spoiled brat and suck it up. I needed to focus on what I could eat. I started looking for recipes online and just ate as simply as possible.
At my next appointment, two weeks into the elimination diet, I had good news for the doctor. Many of my symptoms had lessened, and some of them had disappeared completely. I was still having some problems, but they were mild compared to what I had been experiencing. The doctor then said to look at what I had been eating and find out if there was a common food(s) that was causing my symptoms to get worse. Over the next couple days, I was able to identify and eliminate a few more foods:
Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc)
After a couple days of making those eliminations, I woke up one morning with the weirdest feeling, almost like something was wrong. I thought in my half asleep state, what is different? Then it hit me, no heartburn and no stomach pain. I haven't experienced a heartburn free day in probably 6 years.
Now I'm almost 7 weeks in to my elimination diet and doing much better. I haven't thrown up in almost 7 weeks, and it used to be almost every day. I rarely have heartburn anymore, and it's almost never bad enough to take medication. The pain and swelling in my muscles and joints are going down. I'm still very tired but I know that this cure isn't overnight. It took me my entire lifetime to get to the point where I was, and it will take me a while to get back to feeling like I should. I feel like I'm becoming a new person. I'm so excited and so grateful for the path I'm on.