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Trip to the ER

If you follow my facebook page, you’re probably aware that a couple of weeks ago I wound up in the ER. I was having severe abdominal pain, and immense belly distention. I made an appointment with my doctor, and then received a call back a little while later telling me that she was canceling the appointment, and advising me to go to the ER, as the pain sounded like appendix pain, and she didn’t want me to waste time I may not have, coming into the office. Begrudgingly, my husband and I made the trip. I should note that it was begrudgingly by me, not him.

While they weren’t able to get a good reading from the MRI (who would have ever thought I don’t have enough intra abdominal fat for a good reading?! Goes to show you, appearances can be deceiving.), they didn’t find anything of concern. Everything looked good. My doctor followed up with the hospital, and they did find that I have a stone in my appendix, but I was assured that was not the cause, and that it may have been there for many years.

Back to the Doctor We Go

We went in for a followup with my doctor. She suggested FODMAP. FODMAP diet, is simply eating foods that are low in Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates. They are often not well absorbed in the small intestine, which can cause bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms. Sounds cool, right? Well, yes. Except that includes my beloved beets, garlic, and onions. While beets are a seasonal thing for us, now is when they’re harvested, and that’s heartbreaking for me. Maybe not heartbreaking, but a real bummer. Garlic and onions, on the other hand, are what I use in basically every meal I ever cook. Also honey. Honey is high FODMAP, and something I traditionally use in almost every meat dish I make. So it’s been interesting to figure out how to create tasty dishes without my trinity of onions, garlic, and honey. I’ve done quite well, I must say, so at least there’s that!

The Culprit

I digress, as I often do. Let’s loop back to the cause of the ER visit. It’s been a mystery. My beloved Jamie (one of my favorite people in the entire world) suggested before I even went to the ER that perhaps the cause of my belly woes was the vegan cheese I ate the night before. I didn’t think so, because I’d had it without incident the week before. Cut to last night, I wanted a grilled cheese so badly it was all I could think about, and I was at the store picking up almond milk, so I grabbed another package of the vegan cheddar, since the stuff in my fridge was now too old to use. I made a grilled cheese (gluten free, dairy free…my life is so wild), and by 2am I was in pretty intense pain. Jamie was right all along! It was the vegan cheese!

Mind you, I’d checked the ingredients the first time I had it, and didn’t see anything strange. And last night I checked it against the FODMAP allowances, and it still checked out. So, I’m just allergic to something in it. We don’t know what,  but my husband, who is just the best, by the way, suggested I email the doctor and just let her know what we’ve figured out, send her the ingredients, and see if she has any thoughts on it. I’d like to do some food allergy testing, but I’ve been shot down every time I’ve asked. I think it’s a pain for doctors to justify with insurance, so insurance usually just rejects it. But maybe since I’ve now twice poisoned myself because I don’t know what I’m supposed to be avoiding (while already avoiding gluten, dairy, and high FODMAP foods) I can get it justified.

What I’m Doing

However, in the meantime…I’m in pain. I tried everything last time. Copious amounts of digestive enzymes, peppermint tea, peppermint EO topically, gas-X, etc. Nothing touched it. This time because I believe it’s an allergy, I’m approaching it differently, and hoping beyond hopes that I’m able to curb some of the reaction and not be in pain and distended for four days, like I was last time. Here’s what I’m doing:

I’m drinking a tea consisting of turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, and coconut oil. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, but is best absorbed by the body when black pepper is added. Coconut oil also aids in absorption because of the fat content. I added some organic cane sugar for palatability, but if you’re not low FODMAP, honey would be great, as well.

Because I realize that I’m having some sort of allergic reaction, I decided to take some activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is adsorbent, which means it binds to the proteins in the body, and flushes them out. I did a bit of google research, after I took it, of course, because I am practically imperfect in every way, after all, and was glad to see that my assumption that it can be used successfully to counteract an allergic reaction to food allergies was correct. Activated charcoal is kind of magical in it’s ability to rid the body of the offensive proteins that have been ingested. I’m always a bit hesitant to use it because of its potential to cause constipation, but I’d rather deal with that for a day than pain and belly distention for four days.

Consensus

I don’t have results yet, since I’m sitting here having just taken the activated charcoal. However, since I’ve taken the charcoal, it hasn’t gotten worse, and prior to that I was rapidly blowing up like a balloon. I’m hopeful! I just wanted to share because it would have been helpful for me to see this from someone else. I never would have thought the vegan cheese was the issue. I never would have thought it was an allergy to one of the ingredients. And I didn’t initially think to treat the inflammation. I hope this can help someone!

 

UPDATE: I am almost back to normal one day later. The activated charcoal and turmeric tea really seemed to help. I was still quite sore and a bit distended last night, but nothing compared to the previous time (which was the purpose of the ER visit). This morning I’m just a little sore, nothing bad, and my distention is almost gone. That’s INCREDIBLE. This was the number of days in that I wound up going to the ER last time, and looked a solid 18 weeks pregnant. To have that much of a difference tells me that the activated charcoal, and likely the turmeric tea, really nipped the reaction in the bud. I am beyond pleased with the results! While I hope to never have to do this again, I’m making sure to keep activated charcoal and turmeric on hand at all times, now! I really hope anyone reading this, going through something similar, finds relief with this, as well.

I’d also like to note that this is NOT for anaphylactic allergies. Those require an epi pen and an ER visist. PLEASE do not try to combat an anaphylactic reaction with activated charcoal or turmeric.

***I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this blog is medical advice or to be used in lieu of medical treatment or advice from a doctor.

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