Diagnosed with Multiple Food Allergies as an Adult: Amy's Story
Amy Tracy, author of Adventures of an Allergic Foodie blog, talks about how she has learned to cope with celiac disease as well as several severe food allergies after being diagnosed as an adult. Through her blog, she hopes to inspire and help others dealing with food allergies.
The summer when I finally found out why I was so sick, I walked almost every morning with a friend. For many miles we talked about everything—our kids, our husbands, our jobs, our pasts, our futures—yet I never once mentioned how ill I was or how scared I felt. Sure I’d mention an occasional ache and pain and sometimes I’d cut our walks short, but I never told my friend how I’d crawl back into bed the minute I returned home from our walks.
I was embarrassed. As an overachiever who takes great pride in filling every minute of the day, I couldn’t admit my “laziness” brought on by debilitating exhaustion. And I certainly wasn’t about to reveal how my memory was slipping (once I had to do an Internet search to see what year it was!). Then there were the “stomach issues,” which I can’t reveal here because my mother would be appalled.
It didn’t help any that every doctor I saw dismissively waived off my symptoms as part depression, part menopause, part middle age, part poor diet.
Finally a Diagnosis!
Then one day I saw a local pharmacy’s ad about a blood test that diagnosed food allergies. By this time, I’d begun correlating eating with pain and the constant need to run to the restroom. I drove quickly to the pharmacy to get tested. Weeks later, the test revealed I was highly allergic to sixteen foods, including dairy, soy, corn, wheat, guar flour, asparagus, vanilla, capers, and pineapple.
I’d never had any food allergies before, so finding out I was allergic to so many foods I frequently ate confused me. Was the test correct? And if so, why had my autoimmune system suddenly gone haywire? Months of medical investigation ensued: visits to two gastroenterologists, two allergists, two dietitians, and two naturopathic practitioners, along with two endoscopies, two colonoscopies, genetic testing, and more allergy testing.
The verdict: I’d developed multiple food allergies due to holes in my gut, probably caused by pain killers and antibiotics I was prescribed following a hysterectomy. (I also continued taking antibiotics for all those medical procedures as well as pain killers for all the pain eating caused.) Also, I’d inherited the two genes for celiac disease and could no longer eat gluten. Oh yes, I also had eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE, an allergic esophagus that causes food to get painfully stuck on the way down.
Taking Back My Life
Oddly, after this news, I was upbeat and more optimistic than I’d been in years. At long last, I had explanations for my lethargy, brain fog, aches and pains, unexplained bruising (vitamin deficiency), rashes, and so much more. If you’ve ever been chronically ill, you will understand the flood of relief when you finally have proof that your symptoms are not all in your head. Knowing what was wrong with me, I could now take steps toward fixing my health—and getting my life back.
Steps in the Right Direction
Fast forward five years. I’d like to say I’m the picture of perfect health, but I’m not. Every day is a struggle to eat right, and I continue to have strange and sometimes debilitating symptoms. If I ingest gluten or soy (my worst offenders), it’ll set me back for weeks. In fact, I often feel I take three steps forward one week, only to take three steps backward the next.
Yet I remain positive. Food issues are a part of our family’s life now—turns out our youngest son inherited an adversity to gluten and the oldest son to dairy. By becoming involved in the food allergy and celiac disease communities through my blog, Adventures of an Allergic Foodie, I’ve met some incredible people, made many new friends, and most importantly, I hope I’m inspiring others to live life to the fullest. Until there are cures for food allergies, CD and EE, I’ll continue on this adventure—like my blog’s tagline says, I won’t let celiac disease and food allergies hold me back!