At sixteen, I thought my struggle was finally over when my mother responded to my daily claim “I feel sick” with “well you were a soy milk baby.” What? How did she forget that? One would think that my complaining would have worn her down enough to remember that nice bit of info. Of course, I was annoyed. I was sixteen so I was always annoyed, but then add the illness factor and I was doubly mad. Instead of focusing that teenage anger on my mom, I focused on cutting out dairy. And I felt better… some of the time.
Almost fifteen years later I was still sick often, but I had achieved my goal of being a producer/director on reality shows. The nausea was hard enough to handle at home, but in random shoot environments it was close to impossible. So far my method of pretending to be called off set on my walkie had worked. It worked until one day, the horrible wave progressed way too quickly. I was in the middle of giving a wrap interview while shooting in the Redwood forest, and I was a very long way from any bathroom. I was mid interview when my stomach gave a mighty rumble. I began to fidget. Unfortunately, my cast member didn’t take that clue, rambling on and on about his experience on the show. I tried to listen and nod patiently but it was hard. My stomach rumbled again, then my gut cramped up and I doubled over in pain. I waved my arms, and said “I’ve got an emergency I need to handle. I’ll be right back.” With that I ran off into the woods to be ill for about 20 minutes. With that I knew I had to take action or it was going to kill my career.
A while later I had been to the doctors’ office numerous times and spent thousands of dollars in testing to find out, I was perfectly healthy aside from needing to avoid dairy. Yeah, thanks guys, who cares if I feel sick after every meal, according to my doctor I was great! I felt lost and helpless, so I gave up. I kept getting sicker and sicker, more and more often. I hate to admit it, but I complained to anyone who would listen until my hair stylist mentioned a medical doctor who also mixed eastern and western medicine. I figured it was worth a try.
Dr. Pujari’s office felt peaceful. She kneeled next to me and took my pulse first thing, suggesting many East Indian ideas that may help me feel more relaxed. Next, she suggested I go on a very strict elimination diet. I reluctantly accepted a two month elimination diet that basically consisted of organic meats, veggies and rice. I was allowed no vinegar, tofu, gluten, oranges, yeast, eggs, sugar, alcohol, limes, preservatives or dairy Unfortunately, I met her on October 30th so I not only had to go on this extreme diet, but do it for the whole holiday season. I was sick enough that I didn’t care.
Two months later I felt better than I ever. I slowly reintroduced foods one item at a time. Eggs, tofu and oranges were fine, but in addition to not having lactose I was not to have any gluten. This felt like the end of the world. Gluten and diary are in everything. But I had a choice to make, feel healthy and avoid dairy and gluten, or feel sick and eat what I want. Since I was gluten intolerant not Celiac, I was able to have trace amounts like what comes in Soy Sauce, but no pasta, sandwiches or anything of that nature. I was bummed, but felt so much better it was worth it… for a while. Finally, I got so tired of feeling like a jerk at peoples homes and restaurants, so for the most part I stopped trying I gave up. I began eating what I wanted then being mad at myself for how sick I felt.
Two years later, here I sit still sick and frustrated with myself. Not because I don’t know what to do, but since it’s difficult and embarrassing to always special order or warn friends when I come to their homes for dinner. In fact I need to learn how to follow this diet in a way that suits my life and not worry so much about what others think. This is my journey. I need to keep my body healthy and not be embarrassed to follow through in every situation. Having both, the internet seems super limited. I have found that dairy free sites tend to go gluten heavy, or worse, Vegan. That is not for me since I love meat! On the other side, gluten free sites tend to go dairy heavy which is just not good. What I find intriguing is that from what I’ve read, it seems half the people with one have the other. My mission is to work with others to solve this problem. Can it be done? With determination, I think so!