“What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others.” – Lucretius
A year ago, I saw John Durant as a guest on an episode of The Colbert Report. I was immediately intrigued by the whole concept behind the Paleo diet that he talked about, and decided to look into it more. At the time I thought “Well, nothing else has worked so far…”
You see, I had been struggling with digestive issues since Thanksgiving 2006 [I woke up Black Friday morning with my first “attack”], and I was fed up with listening to doctors and taking drugs that just seemed to make things worse. First, I was told I had severe acid reflux, and was giving medicine that had a range of crazy side effects, and yet didn’t stop the heart attack like pain I would feel after eating. It had gotten to the point where at work I would spend up to 45 minutes on the floor of the bathroom in severe pain, with no way of feeling better.
Then in 2007, after having lost 15 pounds because I couldn’t eat anything, I had a bagel with butter at my parents’s house. It was the first time they had ever witness one of my ‘attacks,’ and promptly threw a blanket around me and drove me to the ER. I was in so much pain that I had to be put on a bed in the hallway with a morphine drip, because I couldn’t stay still. I felt like my chest was on fire, and would try to climb up walls, to push my body against the cool temperature. It was like an out of body experience.
Doctors quickly determined the cause of my problems – I had severe gallstones, and they would need to go in immediately to try to get them out. It surprised us all that my doctor never thought to do an ultrasound previously. After this first surgery, I woke up in the hospital bed to be told they were about to take me in again.
Because I had been dealing with this for apparently over a year, my gallbladder had actually deteriorated to the point that it could have killed me if it stayed in me any longer. It was spewing out stones faster than they could clean it out. So I went back in.
I thought that things would be great, that I would be healthy, that I could eat *normally* again for the first time in a year. I was excited to move past that time. However, that was not the case.
First, I had rogue gallstones floating around, so I had to go back in for surgery twice to get them out after I continued to have the gallstone attacks. I thought maybe that was the last of my problems, but it wasn’t.
A while after the surgery, I was still having problems with food. I would get sick easily, and was still having to limit what I ate. My GI doctor at the time prescribed cholestyramine to me, something I would end up taking for 3 years, even though it was hit or miss if it actually helped at all. Back then, he said my body was still adjusting to the bile in my body because I didn’t have a galbladder, but I didn’t understand why my body wouldn’t adjust, or why no one prepped me for this in the hospital – no one ever said that there would be these kinds of complications.
Fast forward to February, 2011. I had been on medicine for IBS that was actually an anti-depressant, even though I wasn’t officially diagnosed with IBS. After watching John Durant speak, I immediately began investigating the Paleo diet, then made an appointment with my doctor. I told him I wanted to be off medicine, explained this diet to him, and asked for his blessing. He gave it, and I ran off free into the sunset.
At least, that’s how I felt, because after two weeks of sticking to a Paleo diet, I felt normal after eating for the first time in 5 years. It was the best feeling, and I couldn’t believe it at first. But then when I would try to eat something heavy with starch, or with wheat, or a lot of dairy, I would get really sick again. That sealed it.
Fast forward to today, at this moment. I’m ten pounds lighter, but it’s a healthy weight loss. I feel great most days, and I am very aware of what my body can and can’t handle. I do cheat a bit on the diet, but I love food, and so sometimes I will cheat if I know it won’t hurt me too bad. But that’s only when it comes to dairy and some starches. Gluten and I are very much broken up.
The cause of all my problems has also finally been determined, thanks to a new GI doctor who took the time to talk to me. Apparently I am, by all accounts, perfectly healthy, not even IBS. However, one of the times that I went in for surgery to get some rogue stones out, the doctors apparently cut the tube that is necessarily for controlling the flow of bile through the digestive system, since stones were stuck in it. There is nothing they can do for me at this point – especially since it has been so long since it happened.
So, this is why I’m with the Paleo diet. It’s not a fad for me, it’s not a passing phase. It’s a way to be able to enjoy food, and therefore enjoy life, because I know now what my body can handle and what it can’t.
I’m very thankful that there is such a thriving community of people who follow this lifestyle as well, such as PaleoPlan and Everyday Paleo, because I know without them I would be reduced to eating eggs and sweet potatoes every day. Even though I cheat, I feel better now knowing that I have a system, guidelines, something to follow to get me back on track and remind me of what’s healthy.
If you have had a similar experience, or have any food tips to share, please do so!
*hugs & rainbows*