Long time no see. In fact, it’s been nearly 2 years since my last post, can you believe it?! A lot has happened, yet so little has really changed. You know what they say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).
The last time we spoke, I had tried just about everything short of a whole-body transplant to cure my ills, and nothing was working. I was desperate, disgruntled, and destitute (medical testing is super expensive!). I was struggling with crippling anxiety, nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, dizziness, and digestive disturbances on a daily basis and had tried everything from yoghurt to yoga, and meditation to medication, all to no avail. I was on the edge of giving up.
So, that’s precisely what I did. I gave up.
Well, not exactly. I didn’t give up on life, but I gave up trying so hard to get well. I gave up all the diets, the vitamins and the therapies. I stopped seeing my doctors and naturopaths. I gave up searching the internet for answers, posting questions in forums and reading medical journals for hours in despair. I gave up trying to find a cure and decided instead to just plain old get on with living my life.
I embarked on a new “get well or die trying” plan which essentially involved:
- Eat whatever you want;
- Buy new clothes that don’t dig in to your stomach;
- Throw away all your vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, and miracle foods;
- Stop taking any unnecessary medications;
- Quit your toxic job and find a new one; and
- Try to accept that your health may be as good as it ever gets and that it’s ok.
Coming to terms with daily pain is no mean feat and have found huge respect an empathy for people with worse conditions than mine who just get on with life. It is truly tempting to throw in the towel so often, to become a recluse and stay at home crying into your soup. But I pushed myself. I forced myself to keep going. “This is my life”, I told myself, “and I’m not going to let this silly body of mine keep me trapped any more!” I put myself through some truly terrifying experiences, things I’d never dreamed I could face, just to prove that I could. I went to job interviews. I flew on a plane. I travelled overseas and explored other cities with no mobile phone and sparse language skills! I admit, I was so scared I thought I would pop, but all along I kept telling myself, sickness is an everyday affair, the most normal thing in the world, and if anyone couldn’t understand that or empathise with it, the problem was theirs and not mine.
I ate bread and pasta and ice cream and cake and all those forbidden foods that were supposedly causing my symptoms, and it felt great. Yes, my stomach pains continued but after years of enduring endless deprivation diets that did nothing, I didn’t care.
After a few months, I realised my health problems had improved. My belly hurt less and less often, my reflux had diminished and my nausea had totally disappeared. A miracle! But then something happened to trip me up. I caught gastro. It wasn’t the worst gastro in the world, it only lasted one night, but it rattled my cage.
The 2 weeks later, just when I thought it was safe to go outside, I caught gastro again! Though shortlived again, this was a different strain, and it affected my gut badly.
Suddenly I was back at square one all over again. The sudden, severe cramping pains, the lump in my throat, the burning in my chest, the sensation I was going to explode at any moment, all back! It wasn’t every day, but it was every week at least and often enough to make me loathe life. What could I do? I did what any sane person would do. I decided to go back on a low FODMAPs diet.
I decided to start my journey again, but this time through totally mainstream methods. I went to a dietician, explained my predicament, and had her chart out a low FODMAPs plan for me. Six weeks of elimination diet followed by challenges. No fructose, no wheat, no lactose, no beans, no pizza, no burgers, no cake. Aargh! But do you know what? It worked!
Six weeks in, the bloating was completely gone. The stomach pains had almost completely gone away and I was starting to feel like a normal human being again. Could it be possible that my gut had healed itself, only for the gastro to give me FODMAP intolerances? I can’t say for sure, but while FODMAPs is working, I intend to continue it!