Confounding issues

For those of you who would like a quick update I’ll try to start this blog with ‘Just the facts, Mam. Just the facts.’ As my PhD supervisor used to say.

The food challenge after sausages was vegemite sandwiches. From that challenge I found that Vegemite gives me mouth ulcers, which was interesting, because Vegemite was given as a treatment for my ulcers when I was younger. But no other great shakes. Vegemite is back in, in moderation. That was a test for yeasts and MSG. Soon I will be doing the cuppa soup challenge for the MSG alone.

The next challenge: I went for chocolate. That’s to test for reaction to amines. The challenge (to make sure I ate enough to set off a reaction) was 200 g chocolate. I could also have eaten three ripe bananas, but who would pass up the opportunity to eat a whole block of chocolate under doctor’s orders? I couldn’t bring myself to do that!

What I found out with that challenge is that the theobromine in chocolate makes you feel REALLY good when eaten in large amounts. I was flying! So happy! From Sunday night until lunch time Monday. Then it wore off and I think I may have been extremely grumpy for about 24 hours afterwards.

Today I am doing the salicylates challenge. I’m making my way through about 2 cups of strawberries (and sugar and cream, of course).  Again, I could have eaten two granny smith apples with the skin on but why not have fun!

So that was ‘just the facts’. Yes, I know, I wasn’t good with that during my PhD either.

On to the confounding factors. This week I met with the ear/nose/throat specialist. She stuck a camera up my nose. Have you ever seen your nasal hairs magnified what felt like about 3000 times? Ergh.

Anyway, the outcome is that it is confirmed that I have polyps in my nose. This leads to so many issues, lack of sense of smell, snotty nose, sensitivity to scent, temperature etc. And a tendency to fall sick with any virus that might be floating by at the time. The specialist immediately prescribed many medications and told me to get started straight away. So now, I’m feeling a bit better, but I’m worried that any results from the diet challenges will be muffled by the medication.

I also had an unexpected big emotional response to this news. A two-way, good and bad response which was quite difficult to untangle.

The bad response was a feeling of failure. I had tried so hard to kick this health issue by changing my diet and I had to come to terms with the fact that the elimination diet that I have been on has not actually fixed all of the symptoms. I knew it – I’m keeping a health diary after all – I knew that most days I had written ‘snotty’ or ‘sense of smell: intermittent’ so it should have been obvious that I had not completely fixed things. I have learned some things though – I will always avoid sulphites from here on, and my health has improved slightly on the diet. I have decided continue with the challenges to the end just in case something else becomes obvious but it was hard to face the fact that diet wouldn’t fix the health issues.

I hate to fail. Even at this. Even when there is absolutely nothing I could have changed to help me succeed. I just hate failure. But life involves failure – both in areas like this where I can’t change things, and in areas where I could succeed through more work. So it’s good to have practice feeling the feeling of failure and moving on. I need to practice and build resilience.

The other feeling was relief. I was finally taken seriously. Finally there was evidence that my health issues were real and not just due to my laziness in exercise or housework or bad eating habits. Finally someone has told me that this is worth dealing with, and dealing with now. And there is a treatment. And life will get better. I have read blogs where individuals with endometriosis or chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia have shown the same relief when they find that they are finally being taken seriously by a health professional. Even if there is not treatment, being believed is so important, being told that this is not ‘all in your head’ and that you can’t just ‘try harder’ to get well but that the issue you have is real. It’s so important.  So I have had great relief and happiness that my life should improve, health wise, in the near future.

Alright, the bowl of strawberries and cream is nearly empty. I have a slight sinusy headache right now but I’m not feeling too sick. I’ll let you know.

Ooo and I want to say welcome to my new visitors in Cypress, Canada, South Korea and Ireland. And to all you lovely people in the USA, England and Australia, you all rock!

bowl of strawberries
Today’s challenge: salicylates. Yummy, yummy salicylates

2 thoughts on “Confounding issues

  1. Hi Ruth, so if sulphites are out, that means onion and garlic right? What else? Also, I’ve found that I might not be okay with some foods – until you add sugar – then I’m okay! Go figure! Perhaps you do need to try those two granny smith apples after all. I hope you don’t end up low-salicylites, I tried that diet and it almost killed me. Felt myself ‘coming back to life’ when I had my first meal with chilli in it 🙂


    • Sulphites are all the preservatives in the 220 range. So it means I need to read labels very carefully. Also, apparently, most salads in restaurants are sprinkled with a sulphite preservative, it’s huge in wines and other alcohol and in sausage meats and deli meats. I didn’t think it would change that much but actually it has definitely put a dent in going out places. My doctor recommended that when I go out I eat meat and steamed veg. Not real exciting.


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