As you may remember (or, like me, may have tried to block out) I am currently undergoing a holistic-based treatment with a local chiropractor for chronic pain, resulting in a diagnosis of (in lamen's terms) a bent spine, neck, and pelvis plus some issues with the right side of my brain plus some issues absorbing oxygen.
(If this is news to you and you can stand the tedium of catching up, click here for "the diagnosis" and links to the back story.)
Still with me? Excellent!
I've been on my intestinal cleanse now for two weeks with one week left to go (thank the DEAR LORD) and have lost 8lbs (the silver lining to an otherwise excruciatingly inconvenient, expensive, time-consuming, and limiting diet). I am feeling like I do have more energy, for sure, but am not sure how much of that has to do with the diet and how much of it has to do with the oxygen-therapy, massages, brain-based-therapy and chiropractic adjustments I go through three times a week. Anyway, I got up at 5am the last two days to work out and didn't feel like I was about to die, something that hasn't happened since before I got pregnant with my daughter almost four years ago. Ok, granted, another silver lining, but I'd seriously need 24 carat gold lining studded with diamonds to endure this diet for much longer.
The next step on the diet exploration was the poop test. Basically I pooped in a tub about three weeks ago and sent it to a lab for analysis. The analysis was to identify potential foods or food groups that I am allergic to and that may be causing inflammation throughout my body.
Here are the basic food groups that they tested for:
My results came back yesterday and here is what it says I am having an allergic reaction to (in the order of most reactive to least):
- Dairy - specifically cow's milk and chicken eggs
- Nightshade Vegetables
No, I didn't cut-and-paste wrong. It's the same 1-5.
In short, I am allergic to, well, food.
Here is the rundown of some of the specifics, cut-and-pasted from the results:
Food toward which you displayed most immunologic reactivity: Cashew, Chicken, Pork, Tuna
Food toward which you displayed intermediate reactivity: Rice, Corn, Beef, Oat
Food toward which you displayed least immunologic reactivity: Walnut, Almond, White potato
Within each class of foods to which you displayed multiple reactions, the hierarchy of those reactions detected were as follows:
Grain toward which you displayed the most immunologic reactivity: Rice
Grain toward which you displayed intermediate immunologic reactivity: Corn
Grain toward which you displayed the least immunologic reactivity: Oat
Meat toward which you displayed the most immunologic reactivity: Chicken
Meat toward which you were next most immunologically reactive: Pork, Tuna
Meat toward which you displayed intermediate immunologic reactivity: Beef
Nut toward which you displayed the most immunologic reactivity: Cashew
Nut toward which you displayed intermediate immunologic reactivity: Walnut
Nut toward which you displayed the least immunologic reactivity: Almond
Nightshades:You displayed immunologic reactivity to white potato, the member of the nightshade family usually consumed most often and in greatest quantities. While this does not necessarily mean you would react to all other nightshade foods (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), it is possible. In the realm of elimination diets for immunologic disorders, nightshades are usually eliminated as the entire food class (i.e., all four previously mentioned foods in this class). This is especially important to the clinical setting of arthritis.
It was recommended in my report that I eliminate all gluten, all grains, all soy, all dairy, all nightshades, plus chicken, pork, and tuna from my diet.
As you can imagine, this was panic-inducing. I started this journey to reduce limitations that had turned my life almost upside-down, not uncover new ones.
The only thing I could feel thankful for was that they didn't test for sensitivity to wine and coffee.
This was not what I was expecting AT ALL, especially given I do not have any digestive issues. In fact, I'm the one person in our family who almost always skips the vomiting stage of stomach flus. If anything was "in tact", I thought, it was my big ole gut.
I spent all last night ruminating on the results and realizing that there was NO.WAY.IN.HELL I was going to become one of those people who brought zip-lock bags of anti-allergenic foods to restaurants while others ate off the menu. I mean, I realize there are many people who can't live life any other way because they have such severe digestive reactions to these foods. When this food literally makes you throw up or have chronic diarrhea, I see you have little choice. But the reality is that, even if I am allergic to these foods, the most they are doing are exacerbating inflammation caused by my physical issues. I mean, even by the farthest stretches of the imagination, you can't claim that gluten bent my neck and put my pelvis out of whack. So, my desire to turn my and my family's entire life (and I mean my life, not just my diet - if it was just about food, we'd have a non-issue here) upside down to eliminate all traces of these foods is basically... ZERO.
All day today I was itching to get to my Chiropractor to get his interpretation of the results, fully expecting him to say something along the lines of: "Oh, this is fairly normal for someone in your situation" or "This can't possibly be right. You need to get re-tested."
Instead he said: "You are only the second person I have ever seen with this level of food sensitivity."
FREAKING GREAT. SUPER. EFFING FANTASTIC.
To cut a long story short, he was just as surprised as I and, thankfully, immediately understood some of my utter fear that this was going to turn my life upside down. Maybe he realized that it was one straw too many for me, I don't know, but he walked me through some thoughts. Here they are:
First. What the hell? How can I be allergic to EVERYTHING? His thought process, although I have no "test" to back this up, is that I either (a) am genetically pre-disposed to gluten and soy allergies (the most common allergens) and that my genome was activated at some point in the recent past and/or (b) my immune system, through all the issues I have been experienced, got so compromised and so inflamed, and I got so run down that my body began reacting to anything remotely irritating that I ingested- hence the broad spread of my results.
Second. Do I have to eat like a bunny? Ideally, probably yes. But we live in the real world not the ideal one. He suggested that I cut out gluten, at least for a year (at which point I could try and incorporate it back in and may be ok - if it's a genetic issue, however, it's a life-long thing.) He also recommended I cut out soy completely, since it's the second most common allergen and usually accompanies a gluten sensitivity. I scored lower on my sensitivity to cow's milk so he suggested I cut that out but could probably get away with products that are based on cow's milk - cheese and yogurt for instance - so I don't have to go "dairy free". As for the other stuff, take it on advisement.
All of which is still a lot to take in and will require some adjustments but, at least, it's not going to turn me into a crazy person. (I don't think.) I guess one of the advantages of being on a cleanse which includes almost none of these food groups already (except the meats and fishes) is that being able to add ANYTHING back in sounds like a bonus.
All I can say is that I'm going to try really hard to be gluten and soy and cow's milk free but I'm not going to be anal about it. If I'm out with friends, I'll look for the best option on the menu, will ask if something's gluten free, and make the best choice I possibly can. But I just can't tolerate being the person who takes 10 minutes to order because I need to understand every ingredient in each dish and then end up requesting that the kitchen remove this or replace that. I can't do it. I won't do it. It's not in my nature. Spare me the lectures. I'm going to do my best and that, at least right now, is the best I can do.
If I get through the end of my physical treatments in 6 months, a year, and realize that I am still in a place that I am not happy with, maybe I will consider further changes to my diet but, right now, I feel like I haven't even begun to give the treatments a chance and here I am faced with life-altering changes. It's too much too soon. Plus, who knows, if we fix the physical stuff and reduce my overall inflammation, maybe those foods won't be so much of a factor in my life anyway? I don't know but I'd like to go through a process of elimination a bit before making even more major changes.
The one thing I will say is that, in some ways, a lot of this is vindicating. I've been trying to tell people for some time that my body is all screwed-up, that I had a sense of degeneration, deterioration, spiralling downward, and all of this supports that I was not being a whiny-cry-baby. I do have serious physical issues, some cognitive issues, and now I find I also have some pretty widespread allergic reactions going on. Which pretty much covers everything. And yes, it's good to know that when I "hit rock bottom" it was for a really good reason.
In other news... my knee pain continues. We've narrowed it down to mainly the MCL and the chiropractor is on the verge of recommending an MRI at this point, in case I've torn it or the meniscus. The one thing holding us back is that I have good range of motion, stability, and no swelling, which suggests it's a lesser issue. Oh, that and I don't want to be told I need another surgery. But man is that puppy sore. Last night I couldn't even lay on my side with my knees together. Ouch!
One week to a glass of wine and a cup of coffee with almond milk or some such crap. Just one week...