Food Allergies

In August of 2015 I started experiencing abdominal pain. It started in my stomach then moved down to my intestines and then settled around my ovaries. It was a sharp pain that would shoot through my body if I moved even a bit. I had to walk slowly, because walking too quickly would jar my abdomen too much. I decided to see my OB-GYN, because the pain was settled around my lower abdomen.

I had an internal ultrasound which is basically a stick with a camera, let’s face the facts people. My doctor found a dark blob (that’s what it looked like to me) and said I either had blood or some other fluid built up in my abdominal cavity which was causing the pain. I had my blood drawn for a test and sent then home. The very next day, while I was fighting the pain and fatigue at work, I received a phone call.

“Go to the emergency room.” That was almost the first sentence out of my doctor’s mouth when I answered. My CRP, this is a way to measure the general inflammation in the body, was at around 8 or 9. This was unusually high, but the good news was I didn’t have a fever. I guess my body was pretty tough! Either way I was told to go to the emergency room, but first I had to pick up a referral…That’s right. I was given a referral to go to the Emergency room. I guess with a referral it’s a little cheaper. So, after waiting for my husband to get off work (because there was no way I was one, taking the train to the hospital or 2, going alone) we drove to the Red Cross in Nagoya.

After being there for at least one hour (with only 2 people ahead of us) I saw a doctor. I once again had my blood drawn for the second time in two days, by two medical professionals who were terrible at drawing blood! I had bruises on both arms for at least a month if not longer! Anyway, after a lot of ultrasounds, external and internal, I was prescribed two types of antibiotics. One was for pelvic inflammation and the other was a typical antibiotic. I was sent on my way after being told to return the next day and to come early since it gets busy pretty quickly.

So, I went back to the hospital at 9:30 and had to wait, again, for at least an hour if not more. I finally saw an OB/GYN who checked my abdomen and said “okay you aren’t getting worse which is good. You will need to return (AGAIN) in a week and have a blood test and ultrasound done”…great. So no answers as to what was happening to me other than it might be Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or a regular infection, of what we didn’t know. I took all of my meds as prescribed and I still was experiencing a lot of abdominal pain and fatigue. But, I waited for my appointment.

The day of my appointment I saw the same OB/GYN I saw at the ER and he checks with the ultrasound and looks at my blood test from that morning and says “you’re fine”….Remember I was still experiencing pain and fatigue. There was no way I was fine, so I told him that I was still experiencing pain in my abdomen and he tells me “Well, the tests say you are fine, so there is nothing more we can do for you.” Really?! That’s all you have to say! Nope, he had one last piece of advice “If you are still experiencing some pain then maybe you should go see a Gastroenterologist.” That’s it! No recommendation. No go to this floor to see so and so doctor. Just a “maybe you should. good-bye”. Great, you took my money and did nothing with it. I felt like crying, because no one was willing to help me when I was in such pain on a daily basis.

Luckily, my husband’s father runs a dental clinic and he can write referrals. Apparently, it doesn’t matter where the referral is from as long as it is from a licensed doctor/dentist/optometrist/etc. So, off I was to the same Nagoya Red Cross to get a Gastroenterologist to see me. Luckily, my mother-in-law came with me to make sure the doctor was a nice one and wouldn’t just brush me off. And thank goodness, I was shown to a very nice doctor who showed he was concerned for my well being! He asked many questions and then prescribed some medicine that he thought my help. Of course, I was ordered to have another blood test and then come back again.

I took the meds and went back for my next appointment without any change in how I felt. The doctor decided to have some tests done. I had a CT scan and a stomach camera test. The CT scan was no biggie. The stomach camera wasn’t the best. There are no pain meds and you are awake the whole time! The only thing they give you is this liquid to get ride of the foam in your stomach and then they spray your throat numb. (Once they spray your throat you won’t be able to swallow and you will start coughing, so spit out into a tissue.) The throat numbing spray works for about 10 minutes whereas the procedure takes about 30 minutes. So, I had to tell myself to breathe and relax during the whole experience and it helped a lot. Plus, I kept my eyes closed to help focus even further. The nurse or assistant that was rubbing my back helped me to feel like they were with me and that I wasn’t just some lab experiment. The down side was my throat was raw for a few days from the cable rubbing against my throat. Oh and I can’t forget the air they inserted into my stomach to see the lining. It was like my stomach was stretched to the max and sometimes I could feel the air bubble into my intestines. I knew I was going to “see” that again.  At the end I was briefly told that nothing to be alarmed of was found in my stomach. Well, that’s good news.

What about my CT scan you say? Well, at my next appointment I had my blood drawn and then saw my doctor. He told me that nothing showed up on the CT scan or stomach camera. So, first he asked how my symptoms were, they hadn’t changed. Then he decided maybe I should have a colonoscopy…oh dear. The earliest possible date was a month later, I jumped on that because I really was not looking forward to that. I mean considering how uncomfortable the stomach camera was can you imagine how awful a colonoscopy would be without being knocked out? Before I left that day my doctor ordered another blood test (yippee) for a simple allergen test. That day I went home with, again, no answers, two holes in my arms, a colonoscopy appointment and an appointment for the next week.

The next week, after another blood test, I saw my doctor and it turns out I showed signs of having an allergy to dairy, egg whites and shrimp. This meant no more milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, butter, omelettes, scrambled eggs, bread, waffles, cookies, cakes, shrimp flavored rice crackers, etc. What was I going to do?!

Luckily, I have the internet at my finger tips which allowed me to search for egg substitutes (hello Ener G Egg!) and other fabulous ways to make most of the foods I like. Also, because of PCOS I had altered my diet so I wasn’t eating butter, cream, store bought bread, etc. I learned to bake bread made with buckwheat flour and miso, or cooking with coconut oil or coconut flour. The bad news is I still can’t eat scrambled eggs, but I have found something that is close! Tofu scrambled “eggs” anybody? One of these days I will start posting these recipes. I do love to cook and my food allergies have just allowed me to be more creative. Did I mention no store bought chocolate? (yeah, they add powdered milk or lactose or processed sugar) I just make my own chocolate! Oh life, you taketh and you giveth.  Or maybe we just have to learn how to turn life into putty in our hands?

 

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