Not so long ago, I was asked what I thought was a strange question. The question came from my doctor (Gerald, my Acupuncturist), and it went something like this:
"I know you are here for acupuncture, but would you be open to other things as well?"
I looked at him for probably just a brief couple seconds, but my mind raced. The thoughts running through my mind were....
What kind of idiot asks someone that has come to a doctor for a chronic pain condition if they will be open to trying things to alleviate the pain?
Why would someone NOT open to new things be at an Acupuncturists' office in the first place?
I'm in here, wincing with the least little touch, and I don't look desperate enough to try just about anything????
I said, "Sure! As long as I don;t have to give up gluten, or dairy, or something crazy like that...." (cue ominous sounds)
He explained that, especially with chronic conditions, certain foods can be triggers for pain. He then talked about some kind of protein powder "cleanse" that would get rid of the yuckiness I store in my body while eliminating possible allergens. Then, I would go through a period of time where I would "test" foods that might cause problems. Then, I retest things that might be problematic for me. While that all sounded like a bang-up good time, I kind of blew him off, and went through the exam.
Then, he spied the 20 oz bottle of Cherry Diet Coke Zero, half consumed, sticking out of my purse. It looked just like this:
Except, it glowed in heavenly yumminess, and angels sang when you opened the cap.
And then, he said, "You know, aspartame is about the worst thing you can put in your body, when you have fibromyalgia......blah blah blah" (The blah blah blah part was very technical, and sounded super important. It was like he was scolding me in a foreign language-you know he's pissed, you just don't know what he's saying.)
My heart sank. My addiction to aspartame was going on too many years to count. And, I had just rejoined Weight Watchers, and aspartame is like the main ingredient of everything low-pointed in my diet world. (I'm not implying Weight Watchers pushes chemicals, rather, the consummate shopaholic in me needed to get the most bang for my buck when it came to my daily points, and aspartame was like a gluttonous BOGO* boots coupon.)
Back to the story:
So, I have just been told that my savior, my emotional crutch (hell, my breakfast beverage of choice) has been deemed persona non grata. (My diet coke problem is so bad, I would even drink one that was flat, sitting on my desk, from the day before, especially if I didn't have $1.50 to run across the street and buy one. Don't judge.) Damn.
Then Charlie Brown's teacher keeps on, and I fog out, focusing on the rest of the visit.
Fast-forward 4 weeks (6 co-pays, 400 needles, 47 hints to cleanse, count it how you will) and I am almost ready. Of course, one of the things I am trying to do on a personal level is say NO, and starting with the guy that wants to take away my yummy food seems like a great first step, right?
I carry that one as far as it can go, and I slowly begin to relent. Then, I decide I am ready.
I need 21 days to cleanse, then up to 2 weeks more to test possible offending foods. I squeeze it between 2 crab feeds and a wine weekend with some good friends. And, I do what any junkie worth their weight in amphetamines would do: I binge. (Honestly, if you were being dragged off to rehab in the morning, you would figure that you might as well give those doctors a REAL problem to work with, you truly would.)
My binge consists of dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory. I order the pasta with mizithra. But. Not JUST the mizithra cheese. No no no. They have a new one, with roasted garlic and sauteed mushrooms. And, bacon. Nothing is bad with bacon in it. Of course, I have wine, lots of fresh baked bread, a salad with bleu cheese dressing, and spumoni for dessert. One night later, I plan my dairy binge. I really have to do it up big for the ice cream. I love cheese (brie, camembert, Jarlsburg, havarti with dill hell, even Velveeta), but what if I can never have ice cream again? What would you pick? I picked Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. It is creamy chocolate ice cream with swirls of marshmallow goo, and chocolate fish. Heaven in a single serving container. (4 servings in that container? No. NO!)
I eat the whole thing. Now, I am ready to cleanse.
Things go pretty well, and I drop 4 pounds the first week. (Woo hoo!) I'm working it, and feeling pretty good. Week 2, I give up all animal products-which frankly isn't much because I'm down to fish, turkey, chicken and lamb-who the hell eats lamb? I have already eliminated shellfish, cured meats, beef, pork, dairy, eggs, gluten (wheat, barley and rye), corn, soy, alcohol, caffeine, and all processed food. so, I'm eating salads. Fruits. and turkey meat. Oh, and hummus-lots and lots of hummus.
I finish up, and begin the tests. I'm good with all the tasty animal parts. Veggies and fruits all are fine. Soy, eggs, good to go. Caffeine and alcohol have issues of their own, which is a whole 'nother blog. Then, dairy. I have a string cheese, fine all day. The next day, string cheese in the morning, two slices of swiss in the afternoon. That night, I'm sitting there, griping about how bad my body hurts. Honestly, it was like I hadn't taken my meds, hadn't been to Gerald, was almost back at square one. Sky King says, "what food are you testing?". Crud.
So, I tell Gerald, my friendly neighborhood voodoo doctor, and he nods knowingly, like, "If you had listened to me in the first place....". I even Google it. I Google, "dairy and joint pain". There it is, plain as the dimples on my thighs: Dairy can swell joints. Hell, I even Google Scholared it. Shit.
Three days later, the pain subsides. I chicken out on testing gluten. A couple weeks go by, and I don't want to go through any more testing-I just won't eat it! But, Gerald tells me that it could take up to 6 months to get the residual gluten out of my system. So, I test. 1 glorious PB & J and three pizza crusts later, it's confirmed. No more gluten. Hell, it stayed confirmed, reminding me, for the next 5 days. FIVE. So, I waved bye-bye to nooks and crannies, extra sour sourdough, Hawaiian rolls, Paninis, Oreos, and pasta.
And here I am-21 (and counting) pounds lighter. Less pain. Less stress. Still working on everything, but thankful Gerald put me on this journey.
:::deep breath::: Even if it means I can't eat Phish Food ever again.
*BOGO=Buy One, Get One (You foolish rookie)