Monday, February 16, 2009

NPR - Food is my enemy

In the early 1980's I had a case of the flu while living in Eugene, Oregon. I was one of a few patients my doctor had who had the opposite adverse reaction to the intestinal flu that was going around. The flu then literally destroyed the all the necessary good bacteria in my intestinal tract and shut it down, sometime completely for weeks to months. And after a few years it began to return to normal.

The reality is that while all the medicine and health supplements available for the digestive system, there is no way to repair it if it doesn't work right. All you can do is take medicines to control the production of some chemical or process the body produces to support digestion, or you can stuff health supplement into it to, hopefully, help it. But if it doesn't want to work, it just won't work.

And for another two decades after the flu I had periods, usually a month or a few, where it didn't want to work, or worse, simply shutdown. Eventually it would work, and slowly I discovered the source was food. It just didn't like some foods. Slowly I learned what diet I can eat and what foods I can't. And slowly the list of good foods shrank and the bad food increase.

And about five years ago, it suddenly got worse over a quick period of time. I discovered some of it was due to another health supplement I was taking and stopping that helped, but sometimes since then I think the damage was done as the list of good foods again shrank until the list of good can be written on a postit note.

And through this I've had tests to know the body appears ok, nothing serious, but just what the gastroentrologist said, "You have a sensitive digestive system." Like that news. But no fix. No cure. No treatments. Nothing but just watch what I eat and hope it doesn't get worse.

But worse it got in March 2008 when I got the flu again, and it shutdown the digestive system. This time for 6 months before getting better and then getting worse. More tests showed noting obvious. And in the last month it's getting better again, but even the good foods aren't always good anymore.

In short, it's food. Food is now my body's enemy. And the medical community has no answer, just tests, if only to eliminate this or that condition. That's the life as I know it now. And doing research I found there are at least 200 causes of what could cause my condition. And that's provided food isn't the problem but the body or body's reaction to food.

That's my life to date with food. I love food, especially many European types of food and especially Tex-Mex food. But for now every restaurant and fast-food outlet is off limits. Or at least not without consequences later, hours to days. And then days recovering from those consequences. One meal, even a small one or samples, can cause problems for a week or more.

And the list of good foods. Well, it's shrunk to a 4x6 postit note with room to spare. The same food every day with occasional experiments for some foods if I'm willing to accept the consequences. And the on-going tests to find an answer. I know there are people worse than me, and the fact I can eat some foods is better than the alternatives.

But still, it would be nice to be free to eat food, any food, whenever and wherever. But that's life, the fragility of it and the one we each live with, ourselves.

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