Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Allow me to introduce you to Amy.  Her story of food allergies and the journey to find out what was making her sick, is an interesting one.  Now, I will let Amy tell you for herself.

Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Five minutes. That’s all it took for golf ball-sized hail to destroy the four gorgeous pots of flowers I’d just set out on the patio. In two days our extended family was gathering for a dinner party to celebrate a wedding; I’d have to scurry to find more flowers. What a waste of time and money.

 

hailflowers

 

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the hail had also completely destroyed our roof along with many windows as well as the siding of our house. I’d be spending the entire summer dealing with the insurance company and contractors. Losing those flowers were small potatoes.

Sometimes we focus on the little things and entirely miss the big picture.

This is exactly what happened when I started getting sick in my thirties. The doctors focused on each of my symptoms—from vertigo to chronic pain– entirely missing the symptoms were all a part of the same illness.

The first doctor said my blood pressure was high and put me on meds. The second one told me my iron was low but brushed it off to a poor diet. Another doctor said the pain in my chest was GERD and prescribed meds. A dietitian told me I was malnourished and gave me a diet to follow. A gastroenterologist gave me meds for IBS. Another gastroenterologist told me to go eat fried foods and if I got sick, I most likely needed my gallbladder removed.  A gynecologist told me I needed a total hysterectomy.

Each time I got a diagnosis, I let out a sigh of relief.  At least it wasn’t cancer.

Still, something wasn’t adding up. After all these tests and procedures, followed by a hysterectomy and gall bladder surgery, my symptoms worsened. In fact, I became so exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. Everything I ate made me run to the bathroom. I couldn’t remember what year it was, or how long I’d been married. Pain shot through my entire body. My legs caved when I walked up the stairs. My eyesight weakened, and I kept developing weird skin lesions. I itched all over.

I’d about given up when I saw an advertisement in our local paper for a food allergy blood test. Not one doctor had suggested food might be causing my symptoms—even though I now know reactions to food can cause all the symptoms I experienced.

When the blood test came back, I argued with the pharmacy that something must have gone wrong in the lab—I couldn’t possibly be allergic to that many foods!

So I went to a board-certified allergist for skin-prick testing. He confirmed I was allergic to myriad foods, including dairy, soy, eggs, corn, wheat, vanilla, nutmeg and asparagus.

I’d received negative results for celiac disease years earlier, but a new doctor ran a genetic test and confirmed celiac disease. Turns out I have both genes for celiac disease; either one parent has both genes, like me, or each carries one gene.  An endoscopy also revealed I have eosinophilic esophagitis, which explained why food often got stuck on the way down.

At first, I found it hard to believe food could make me so sick.  I was an adult—adults don’t develop food allergies! But as soon as I started eliminating certain foods, my health improved—immensely!

The prescribed painkillers for chronic pain and the antibiotics that followed all those procedures and surgeries in all likelihood contributed to a leaky gut and resulting food allergies and celiac disease. Certainly they didn’t help. Nor did the gluten-filled saltines I kept eating for an upset stomach!

I’ve learned a valuable lesson: Pay attention to the details, but look at the big picture. While each doctor had his or her theory for the cause of a symptom, my instinct was that all my symptoms were part of a bigger problem. I’ve since learned celiac disease can have over 300 symptoms!

 

flowersrevived

 

It took some time, but the flowers I thought had been destroyed by the hail eventually grew back. They don’t look quite as pretty as when I brought them home, but they are getting stronger and healthier.

Just like me.

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13 responses to “Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

  1. Medicine has become so compartmentalized that often we go from one doctor to the next, receiving advice from the perspective of the practitioner’s specialty without having the benefit of a whole bodymindspirit review. Congratulations, Amy, on finally getting a definitive diagnosis. Thanks for sharing Amy’s story, Kathy.

  2. Wow, your poor body! That’s terrible you had to go through so much pain. I’m glad you finally discovered the true source.

  3. It’s a tough go to find a doctor who looks at the whole picture. And us an individual as well. Amy I’m glad you found some answers. Kathryn thanks for sharing the story — maybe it will save others from having to go through through so much extra pain.

  4. Thank you for sharing my story, Kathryn, and thanks for the wonderful comments …. I DO hope my story will encourage others to not give up until they get a diagnosis.

  5. I can so empathize with your experience.

  6. Finding answers is sometimes the hardest thing to do in medicine. This episode of CP I had was expensive. The bill for the Cardiac Cath was $12,000!! Trust me, if I’m going to fake something, it will be cheap. I went through a lot of tests which all came back negative. Discouraged?–definitely. I told my MD in the beginning I thought it was caused by the seizure medication, but he explained we needed to rule out my heart. I can understand that.
    As a nurse, I always felt empathy and sympathy for my patients. It’s hard having pain and no medical reason for it. It’s hard for me to be on the other side–as the patient. I’ll be doing a blog on the rest of it.

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