31 years. That is how long it took me to figure out that I am allergic/intolerant to corn. THIRTY ONE years. How exactly can a person go so long in life with an allergy and have absolutely no clue? I honestly am not sure…. Other than being completely unaware of how food actually affects every aspects of your health and that there is more to food allergies than having a full on anaphylaxis reaction. I can tell you that it wasn’t easy to discover, and had I left it up to the doctors I never would have figured it out. Hindsight is most definitely 20/20, and now it seems completely obvious to me that I have actually had this my entire life.
That being said, how did I figure it out on my own? What exactly was it that made me even consider corn as the possible culprit for my body falling apart? It all began with me thinking that I was pregnant with a second child. I had all of the same symptoms that I did with my first pregnancy – EXTREME fatigue, bloating/puffiness, pressure/pain in lower abdomen all day long, light headed/dizziness upon standing, blacking out easily, headaches, general moodiness, depression, body aches, constipation/diarrhea… all on top of my usual horrendous TMJ pain. I thought that I was pregnant for a full month, until I obviously was not, but, the symptoms stuck around long after my menstrual cycle came and went. So, I went to the doctor to have some blood tests ran, thinking there must be something wrong with my thyroid (thanks google).
My first complaint to the doctor was the fatigue, and foggy headedness. I could barely get myself out of bed, much less get interested in doing anything. I had lost my love for all of my hobbies, dishes piled up in the sink, floors went without being cleaned, and I literally cried every time I had to go to work to give even one massage. The only thing that got me out of bed every morning was my 18 month old son. If it weren’t for having to care for another human, I would have stayed in bed all day and all night. So, what do you think the doctor said about this? Given my previous history with ADD, I was clearly having issues and needed to take adderal, ( to put the spunk back in me). Then I was told that my blood test revealed that I was deficient in vitamin D. So I had to take pills for that, too.
The adderal definitely got me out of bed! For the first time in weeks I was actually wanting to do things. I organized the entire house, started getting interested in my hobbies again, and it was easier to get out of bed and have fun with my son instead of trudging through my day, just trying to make it until nap time, and then bed time. I was awake. But, all of the other symptoms were still hanging on tight. Actually, they were much worse, and now I was on some crazy meds that made me wired and anxious, and I had to figure out what in the world was going on with my diet, because everything I was experiencing had to be coming from within me.
My husband found out he is gluten intolerant a little over 3 years ago. Remembering all of his symptoms, and researching on the subject a bit more, I decided that I must be gluten intolerant as well. So, I went completely gluten free, which was totally easy, and lasted about 1.5 weeks before my sister had “taco night” while my husband was out of town working, where I caved and had a beer and some chocolate cake, among other gluten-full bits of foods. I only made it halfway through the beer before I poured out the rest because I felt like my stomach was about to blow up. I made myself eat a hard shell taco, because I didn’t want to get the stink-eye from my sister for not eating her awesome tacos, (ha!) and then tried to eat a few bites of chocolate cake, but could have no more. I kept feeling like I had to “go”, but nothing would happen. Just lots of trips to the bathroom with nothing happening except pain and frustration.
My stomach was killing me. I packed my little boy up and made my way home. Somehow, I miraculously got him in bed and asleep before projectile vomiting out the back door because I could not make it to the bathroom in time. Seriously. That was it. I thought, for sure, I am gluten intolerant and have not touched it since. At least, not on purpose. A couple of weeks later, on my birthday, I get a call from my frantic sister telling me that our dear Uncle from back home in Texas was admitted to Hospice. He had previously been diagnosed with ALS 5 months prior, and had gotten much, much worse way quicker than we all thought he would. He was completely paralyzed from head to toe, but we were told that he was still there, aware of everything. Could you imagine a worse hell?
Anyway, we got to see him, and that is another story for another time. My point for this blog post is what happened on my trip to Texas that had be thinking more about my own gut. I ate a lot of Mexican food, because it is my favorite, of course, and every time I go home, I have to have it. All of it. Oh my poor stomach was so happy/sad. It didn’t know what to think. On our way home, we stopped in New Orleans for the night. Had some fantastic ribs and other gluten free foods for dinner, and the next late morning we had oysters (which I realized later, were glutened) and fries. And then I had a bag of doritos in the car about 3 hours before I got home. That night, I projectile vomited off of the porch because I knew that I would not be making it even to the back door. I didn’t even make it to the edge of the porch. Serious business. I thought for sure that I had just been stupid and not realized that I had eaten gluten. Stupid cajun food. I definitely have not eaten gluten since then. I am not a fan of things uncontrollably coming back up.
But…. all of the other symptoms were still around. And my body HURT more than ever. It was hurting so badly, I felt like I was aware of every single bone from the top of my skull to my toes. I was walking like a 90 year old woman when I first woke up every morning. I felt like my feet were breaking with every step I took toward the bathroom! And, for the rest of the day I had radiating pain in my arms and across my shoulder blades that would never go away no matter how much ibuprofen or aleve or tylenol that I took. It was more than gluten. It had to be something else as well. What was it?