Changing My Diet

The joint pain and stomach issues have come to a head. I can’t take it anymore. Last night, I was again up most of the night with ravishing joint pain. I’ve been taking Tylenol much more than normal and much more often than I should, yet I’m still unable to sleep because of the pain. While the medicine takes the edge off, the starting place is so severe that the reduction in pain just takes me down from a place of actual tears and grabbing my ankles or knees in agony to one where I can stop crying (though ice and endless rubbing of them is still necessary). It’s not possible to sleep with that level of discomfort.

Without knowing for sure if it’s a disease process unassociated with what I eat, such that I have some underlying pathology like the psoriatic arthritis one rheumatologist diagnosed that exists and presents itself no matter what I eat or don’t eat, it seems more likely that whatever is causing this horrific pain is indirectly autoimmune or the inflammatory sequelae of consuming foods my body can’t tolerate. Given the breadth and severity of my food allergies and intolerances, these symptoms are most likely at least partially a product of my diet. I remember a few years ago when I was eating a lot of tomatoes, my joints became so swollen and hot; I could barely walk. It took me a few months to determine the offending food and I’ve since had to remove all nightshades from my diet. Pinpointing the issue in that case was a little easier because nightshades are known to be inflammatory, especially for the joints. I have the same issue with peppers and eggplant as well.

Because I follow an anti-inflammatory dietary protocol now, the culprit isn’t as readily apparent because theoretically, none of them should be particularly inflammatory. Needless to say, the food that makes up the bulk of my very limited diet we now hypothesize to be the primary cause of my bloating and joint pain. Somehow, I have to find a way to remove this food and replace it with other things that won’t bother me. This is way easier in theory than in practice since about 70% of my daily calories consistently are derived from this food and I seem to be allergic or reactive to essentially everything, which is why my diet has been limited to three to four foods, at most, for several years. These very real difficulties are layered onto the regimented food behavior, eating patterns, and food anxiety I struggle with as one of the ways autism manifests for me. Switching what I eat and when I eat throws me off kilter. Not only does it cause digestive or allergic issues, it’s also highly stressful and emotionally uncomfortable for me. For now, I’m fighting these psychological challenges with every mentally-strong cell in my body because it’s imperative I try to change so that I at least give my body the opportunity to potentially feel better. It’s also the case that I may feel way worse or have life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, but I have to try and mitigate that risk by choosing foods that are more likely to be safe and remaining hyperaware of any breathing problems after eating. Like a good scientist, I need to keep careful notes of what does and does not elicit a bad symptom and what those issues are.

Today starts the first day of attempting to remove this key player, and likely culprit of at least some of my severe symptoms, from my diet. I’m hungry just thinking about it, but hopefully I’ll find some things to replace it with. It might be a tough few days, even more challenging than what I normally endure, while I experiment with options and try to stay safe and nourished.

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