Monday, January 13, 2014


When I began this blog, I was frustrated by the phrase "Maybe it's just stress..."  The doctors seemed to use it randomly, as a fall back, meaningless phrase to excuse the fact that they didn't know the answer.  It was a way to withdraw pressure from them and place blame back on the patient.  Not only do you feel awful, it's your own fault you feel awful.  You're too stressed and should have spent your copay on a good yoga class instead of this doctor visit.
For awhile, I believed them and strove for a more stress free life.  (I felt awful.  I alternated between worried I was dying and hoping for it.  Not because I wanted to die, mind you, simply because the pain and discomfort was really and truly THAT bad.  And all the doctors could do for me was say "Maybe it's just stress...")  What kept me looking for an answer was the fact that, although life was stressful, I always felt like I was handling it.  The most stressful moments came from my physical symptoms and the way they interfered with my real life.
And I found answers.  I discovered that corn derivatives are evil for my body.  I discovered that my immune system was attacking anything that remotely resembled a corn protein (or sugar) and was so smart that it didn't care what a label said.  If there was corn in there, my stomach found it and attacked me for it.  I discovered that gluten made my body fight back, too, though maybe not quite so hard.  I developed, fought and recovered from H Pylori.  I gained weight (in a good way).
Today, I'm actually functional.

I'm also under tremendous stress.  Everywhere I turn with my daughter there are dollar signs.  Or doctors saying that she needs things that cost more money (I'm sorry, but material items that will be disposed of in the short term are NOT needs.  Classes that I don't even expect her to attend and have to drag her to kicking and screaming are NOT needs.  Soda, candy, and single serving packages of junk food are NOT needs.  Nutritional drinks masked as milkshakes might justifiably make the list if they didn't end up smashed against the wall because I've already gone and laid the groundwork of good nutrition over the first 8 or 9 years of her life.)  The depression hit us hard.  (I think the history books will consider the last 5 years a depression, even if there wasn't a specific defining day of beginning)  I have a child with Anxiety (and depression, who acts out because we took too long to find her the labels and help she needed) and one with specific health conditions that need time, patience and treatment.  I have a household to run, temper tantrums to clean up after, interesting neighbors in the neighborhood, food to prepare and spend so much time holding things together for others that I can't wedge in a few hours for a regular job, even if I were to find one that would take me, faults and all.

To call that stress sometimes seems like an understatement.

But I'm not losing weight.  I'm not vomiting, or doubled over in pain.  I get occasional tension headaches that I'm not thrilled with...but with my specially compounded pure over the counter strength acetaminophen, I can handle those.

And still, there are a few people (mostly doctors) who when asking about my history want to blow off the corn allergy as 'probably stress related symptoms'.  I don't want to be bitter, or jaded, but it's my body.  What I do or don't put in it should be my choice.  I shouldn't need a doctors okay.  But to take medication that doesn't attack me I need them to stay on my side.  To get a note stating that I'm not being unreasonable when I bring my own food to an amusement park, or an airplane, or wherever they'd rather you buy food there, I need them on my side.  To reduce my stress that I can trust them to BE on my side if I ever do get to a point when I need some help that doesn't come from inner strength or a homegrown garden...I need them on my side.
The dismissive hand in the air when I remind them of the corn/dextrose allergy is NOT reassuring.


Avengers Leather Jackets said...

I really feel for you. It seems like you are on a uphill battle with no end in sight.

Heather said...

I came across your blog on a search for corn intolerance and happened to read your recent post on your daughter's food issues. I looked for a place to email you but found none, so am leaving this post in hopes you see it. There's a very slim chance that my experience is the same as yours, but in the war against intolerances, it helps to share the battles.

My daughter has fructose malabsorption disorder (not the genetic disorder of a similar name), and we went through years of tests and doctors (don't get me started) before it was diagnosed. You can Google all the symptoms (which include stomach issues as well as anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue), but basically for a FructMal, all fructose is bad, including almost all fruits and veggies; garlic, onions; natural sweeteners like sugar, honey, and molasses; certain medications (and probiotics are awful for them). The small intestine can't absorb the fructose and the body fights back. The test for this disorder is ridiculously easy and fairly painless (except for the stomach upset after). Most FructMals also have trouble with lactose and gluten (fructans), too.

So, what basically many think is a "healthy" all-natural diet, is really bad for people with this disorder. It's a difficult diet to live with, but the benefit of feeling good is so worth it. I really hope you find answers soon. Good luck.

Violets said...

Thanks for the info Heather! I'm looking it up now! (Feeling good is worth any difficult diet...that I already know!)

A reasonable man said...

Your "May it is just stress..." title caught my eye. And as I read about your all too common interactions with doctors, bells were ringing everywhere and I know that every word you speak is true.

However, my experience came from thousands of dollars in medical testing over the course of years. Some of the diagnosis from countless doctors returned as, "Your heart sounds terrible! You may have some sort of massive infection.", "You may have liver tumors, we need more testing.", "You are having problems in your spleen...".

Finally, I found a very good doctor who looked over all the tests and asked, "Are you under any stress?".
"Of Course I am, I have had a fever of over 100 for 3 months straight!"
He replied, "Make a list of things that are stressing you, and bring that list to me tomorrow."

I did as he asked and upon reading the list to him, I started to shake slightly and sweat. He said, "You need to relax, you are stressed out!". And thus began my journey to learn all about stress and how it controls our physical being.

To be short and clear, high stress can and does cause any and all physical malady. Can it cause cancer? Yep. Heart disease? Yep. Fever? Yep. Rashes, digestive disorders, random pains, vertigo, acne, swelling, joint weakness, confusion, anger... ? Yep to all of them.

For two years, I developed an extreme sensitivity to onions, raw or cooked. After I took charge of my stress disorder, the onion sensitivity disappeared, immediately.

Why am I telling you this. Because you are right that doctors routinely dismiss "unknown" physical problems as stress and it definitely feels like they are dismissing you and your physical concerns as unimportant (this has happened to me many times). However, better doctors recognize that stress can and does cause all manner of real physical problems and that repairing the symptom does not necessarily get rid of the root of the problem.

By your own admission, you are under a lot of stress. And are dealing with the physical fallout by dealing with the physical symptoms (food avoidance, body chemical avoidance... etc.)

Before you get really angry, please understand that I do not know you nor do I know all the specifics of your allergies. It may very well be that you have as many allergies as you suspect and that lowering your stress will not do anything to change that. I am not a mind reader nor could I possibly diagnose you. However, I have been a moderator at an anxiety forum for many. many years and seen first hand what high stress can do to a person, physically, mentally and spiritually. It can easily take over a persons life and leave them questioning everything they do.

If any of this sounds familiar, feel free to visit the forum. It is an old forum that just recently started up again (not many posts at this point). The folks there understand stress and how to bring your life back to some sort of level of normalcy. If this does not sound like you might find some support and help there, please forgive this post/comment as the words of an overly sensitive man just trying to be helpful (and most likely stupid).

Take care.

Violets said...

Hi there, Reasonable Man.
I appreciate your comments. While this post is highlighting my stress level, I'd like to reiterate that as long as I stick to my gluten free/corn free diet, I can function in society. And no matter how relaxed I am, both corn derivatives and gluten cause very real reactions (Both from a medical perspective with antibodies, and a personal one with symptoms.)
Interestingly enough, stress can be a trigger for both allergies and Celiac Disease. However, once those mechanisms are turned on, it's impossible to turn them off again. One can continue to manage them well by dealing with the stress. Part of that is by having a supportive environment, including medical professionals.