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Investigations Part I

I’ve been thinking a lot about food. As someone who cooks constantly, makes their own bread and yoghurt, roasts their own coffee, photographs/blogs about food and looks at Foodgawker as often as other people look at Facebook, to say I’ve been thinking about food a lot means A LOT.

A few years ago I got diagnosed with Addison’s Disease and started taking cortisol supplements. Then I started having tummy-themed symptoms that I assumed went with the cortisol. I didn’t mention it to anyone and just talked over the top of the noises. Life-cycle montage through various therapeutic levels, then weird things like vitamin D and B12 deficiencies, osteopenia, and a hip fracture, and finally I start seeing a private endocrinologist. She points me to a gastroenterologist to rule out a series of prospects such as coeliac disease and pernicious anaemia, who listens to my stomach and says “whoa, there’s an intolerance happening in there, we should find out what that is”.

Imagine you’ve been putting up with stomach problems for a year or two, ignoring the way they’ve been getting a wee bit worse over time. Then someone says “huh, we should fix that”. It’s exciting (we can fix it!) and a bit frustrating (why the hell didn’t someone SAY so?) but mostly exciting.

Nothing obvious emerged on the first round of scans, so I took the obvious next step and burst into tears in the doctor’s office. M and I have taken the problem in hand (well, he’s done most of it: I just kept blubbing) and I’ve been on an allergy-seeking quest for the past fortnight.

I want to stress how unscientific this approach is: proper elimination diets involve going on a very bare diet for several weeks, and slowly introducing potential allergens for a few days at a time. We went the quick-and-dirty route. Since the worst symptoms come after lunch, we figured the stuff I eat at breakfast is probably safe and trigger-free: so eat breakfast for lunch for a few days! Lucky I like muesli so much (or did when we started). Those first days were mind-blowing. My energy and mood were constantly up, I was bounding about the place bugging the crap out of everyone. After a few days when we were totally sure, I had my muesli plus something I eat nearly every day: a capsicum. The impact was almost immediate. My mouth felt all scraped up and my throat dry; then I felt stupid, sad, nauseated and really full. And talk about stiff! My shoulders were acting like the newly appointed Delegate Council of Grump City. At around 4:30, the brain fog started to lift. I still felt like I had been through the wash, kind of half-awake and startled, but noticeably better. A few more days of controlled foods, and then it was time for challenge two: Tomatoes.

I took a tin of tomatoes, mashed and simmered them into the world’s most half-arsed tomato soup and ate it. (With a spoon. In the bath. YOLO.) Again, the sore mouth; again the sore throat; again the bad mood, fuzzy head and nausea. Another couple of hours of feeling stupid, miserable, pessimistic and stiff. Same thing: around 4:30, the fog started to lift. It’s like waking up after an afternoon nap, where you feel kind of befuddled, diluted, crumpled and fleh.

A really tiring process. Today: control meal (muesli) plus zucchini. NOTHING. Mental faculties normal, alertness normal, no nausea, nothing. Hm. Further testing required, but I’ve got my theories. Stay tuned, folks.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Alex | June 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Cripes! That’s really interesting. Did I tell you I have osteopenia too? Still don’t really know why, but it seems to have levelled out.

    Sucks to be allergic to capsicum and tomato. I know someone else who deals very poorly with red pigments in veggies. I’m curious to know the final diagnosis!

  2. Alex | June 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Jodie suggests, have you tried eggplant? The feeling you get in your mouth sounds familiar!

  3. bethini | June 16, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Jodie is on the right track 🙂 Stay tuned for further developments…

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