Food makes me sick — a lot. I never really knew why, though. I’ve been poked and prodded with scopes. I’ve been biopsied and even found myself in the emergency room once with abdominal pain so intense that I couldn’t stand.
Through all of this, I never really had a primary care physician. Who has time for things like building a relationship with a doctor when you are working 60-70 hour weeks (or more), responding to the largest manmade environmental disaster in North American history? The few doctors I’d seen over the years just wanted to hand me a prescription for everything. Got a neck pain? Here are muscle relaxers and pain killers, they’d say. Got an upset stomach all the time? Take this medicine every day twice a day for the rest of your life, they’d advise. You’ll be fine.
It’s amazing the difference a good doctor can make, though. A few exams and questions into a relationship with my primary care doctor and I had a GI specialist. A quick conversation with him and I was signed up to check my small intestine for Celiac Disease.
But what they discovered was nothing like what they’d expected.
I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, which is likely caused by a food allergy. How, I wondered, have I lived this long without knowing about this? Here’s the thing: for most of my life I have lived with but ignored the following symptoms:
- Chronic upset stomach,
- Acid reflux,
- Food getting stuck in my throat, and
- Stabbing pains in my chest — the kind that make you feel like you’re having a heart attack.
I just always thought these things were normal because I’ve lived with them for so long. These symptoms are normal, right?
Having the doctor tell me that it’s not supposed to be that way, that there is another, better way to live, was pretty dramatic.
So now I still don’t know what I’m allergic to (although I will soon once I see my new allergist), but I at least know that this is something that I can fix. I feel so relieved and liberated, but at the same time terrified … of food.
I’ve never encountered anyone else with this disorder before, although I’m sure there are folks out there because there’s a whole non-profit dedicated to EoE, in addition to countless other blogs and websites.
But here’s the thing, I love, love, love food. I love to cook it. I love to eat it. I’m a “foodie,” by definition, but I really hate that term. I just like good, healthy, delicious food. So as I learn more about this and as I learn what I can and cannot eat, I’m going to share it here. After all, someone else may be living with the same symptoms and, like me, has been ignoring them.