I Eat a LOT of Cheese, and Crackers

As we know, I have never been diagnosed with anything resembling chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or any of the other suspected syndromes or conditions that have been afflicting me for the past three or four years.

On Friday, I was down for the count again with severe menstrual cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and violent muscle spasms so intense I considered calling 9-1-1. Were it not for the fact that I was totally alone, no one to help, and two big dogs who would probably escape the house when the ambulance arrived, I would have dialed. But the phone was over there, on its cradle, and I was over there, on the bathroom floor, sweating and freezing at the same time, testing myself for stroke (since the whole left side of my body went numb and pins and needles). My sense of smell so acute, I thought our propane gas supply was running low, and could smell the bathroom cleaner bottles through the closed bathroom cabinet.

The whole episode lasted exactly one hour, and occurred shortly after I had a cup of coffee with milk in it, and a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt. The night before, I had had pasta with red sauce.

I didn't eat much that day, but before I took my anti-depressant at bed time, I had some cheese and crackers. Thus, all I ate all day was coffee with milk, yogurt, a piece of bread with peanut butter, and the largest "meal" of the day: "cheese and crackers". I had the cheese and crackers approximately two hours before bed time, and took my pill about an hour after eating.

I awakened three hours later with intense muscle spasms, diarrhea, and severe pain in the abdomen. Again, this lasted approximately one-to-two hours, at which time I was able to go back to sleep, having taken some Motrin.

About two weeks ago, I called the doctor once again, disgusted that no matter what I did, I continued to have chronic, widespread muscle pain and irritable bowel symptoms. I asked for a stronger pain killer, and she prescribed Vicodin. Something I don't want to take, and haven't taken yet. I have also been having migraines a lot.

Friday, I started thinking about what I ate, and realized that, because of my semi-vegetarian state, I tend to eat a lot of cheese as my main source of protein. I eat a lot of wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, pasta. I also take calcium supplements. Since these have to be taken with food, and most of the time I have cheese at almost every meal, voila! I am probably afflicted with lactose and/or gluten intolerance. I started wondering, does lactose and/or gluten intolerance produce other symptoms other than digestive ones, such as: skin problems, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, headaches, numbness and tingling of extremeties, indescribable fatigue and lack of stamina, constant runny nose, anemia, easy bruising?

Guess what? Bingo! A thorough search on Google produced many, many articles confirming that lactose intolerance does produce those very symptoms. Here is a quote from just one article that I found on lactose intolerance:

"What are the signs of lactose intolerance?As soon as the production of the lactose-converting enzyme, lactase, falls below a critical threshold, a noticeable intolerance results. The reduced lactase production leads to the fermentation of unconverted lactose in the lower parts of the intestine. In this case, intestinal bacteria degrade lactose into lactic and acetic acid as well as carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen. This results in the increased influx of water into the intestine and an increase in intestinal movements. The generated gases bloat the abdomen, are able to permeate the intestinal wall and reach the blood stream, leading to the gradual over-acidification of the entire organism. Some typical discomforts accompanying lactose intolerance include:- gastro-intestinal problems such as: abdominal fullness, bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal colic and vomiting.- side effects such as: dry mucous membranes, headache, joint pain and eating disorders.- but also: skin problems, chronic fatigue and depression. Usually, these problems disappear as soon as milk products and lactose-containing food items are avoided."

On gluten intolerance, here's what I found:

A partial listing of non-intestinal symptoms:
Anemia (low blood count)
Bone and joint pain
Bone disease (osteoporosis, kyphoscoliosis, fracture)
Breathlessness (due to anemia)
Bruising easily
Dental enamel defects and discoloration

Growth delay in children
Hair loss
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Irritability and behavioral changes
Mouth ulcers
Muscle cramps
Short stature, unexplained

Skin disorders (dermatitis herpetiformis)
Swelling, general or abdominal
Vitamin or mineral deficiency, single or multiple nutrient (for example, iron, folate, vitamin K)

I also read that people are often misdiagnosed as having "nothing wrong with" them, "it's all in your head", "you are depressed". When, in fact, they are lactose intolerant or wheat gluten intolerant. Or both.

Cripe! If that's all that has been going on with me all this time, I am inclined to sue someone. How unfair of these doctors not to suggest a food intolerance, or even ask what I am eating. I am totally disgusted.