History Part 5 – You Thought Things Couldn’t Get Worse?!?!?

We’re now at 2004. I have a diagnosis of multiple food allergies. I have given up all milk products, even though my doctor suggested giving up all identified allergens plus gluten. My reactions and flare ups were stable at several per month.

As the years rolled by, my flare ups became more frequent and more severe. However, this was a very gradual change, so I didn’t really notice it until a lot of damage was done. It wasn’t until I hit 2009 – 2010 that I was getting so sick so often that I went back to the doctor to figure out what was wrong. We went over all the foods I was commonly eating and matched them to the old food allergy test from 2003. Lo and behold, we had lots of matches! I was literally eating myself sick by continuing to ingest food allergens.

My doctor said to remove all the foods that had every tested positive as allergens and see how I felt. After that, if I continued to have flare ups (I did), and thought it was related to a recent food, I needed to “challenge” that food. For example, I regularly ate rice and beans. Let’s say I think the beans are bothering me. So, give up rice and beans for two weeks, and then eat it in normal amounts for several days in a row. If I react, we have a new allergen.

I spent basically two years of my life, 2010 – 2012, chasing down food allergens in the manner described above. The problem was, every few weeks, I’d get sick, name a suspect food, perform a food challenge and find that it was a problem. The list of “bad” foods that caused reactions kept getting longer and longer. I felt like I was aiming for a moving target and never hitting anything.

Also note that my reactions were getting progressively worse. Instead of just having an upset stomach for a day or two, the symptoms had progressed to bad nausea and loose bowels for a few days and then lingering constipation, fatigue and body aches lasting up to two weeks after I ate the offending food.

By the Fall of 2012, this was just getting crazy. I was constantly chasing down food allergens and still getting really sick every couple of weeks from something. I couldn’t seem to find a safe, stable, baseline diet. Without my doctor’s help, I did my own research into hypoallergenic diets and decided to embark on my own experimentation with a radical dietary change. Allegedly, the most hypoallergenic foods used in some studies, are lamb, rice, apples and pears. Since I was still a vegetarian, I settled on mostly rice and apples, supplemented with olive oil, some pears and small amount of herbs.

My goal was to create a safe dietary platform from which to set up food challenges. It turns out the rice/apple/olive oil diet is about all I could tolerate. Virtually every food I tried to introduce caused a reaction, either immediately, or within a few weeks of semi-regular consumption. Clearly, something was still very wrong. I had only intended to use the rice and apple diet for a short period. I ended up on it for almost FOUR years! Near the end of that time, I was becoming allergic to different strains of rice. At first, brown rice started causing reactions, then black rice, then medium grain and short white rices. The last rice I could tolerate was ONLY Carolina brand Jasmine rice. Any other type made me sick.

I also suffered a bad episode of anemia from B12 deficiency in early 2016. I lost feeling in my lower legs and strength in my upper legs. Although I’ve recovered from a lot of the nerve damage, I still get occasional muscle cramps and I’m sure my legs are not as strong as they used to be.

Ugh, this was not a solution!

The good news is that things begin to turn around from here. In the next blog, I’ll tell you where I went after suffering through years of rice and apples.