Today’s article is composed of excerpts from a testimonial contributed by high school senior Andrew Accornero of Jackson High School in Bothell, Washington. Andrew used his diagnosis of multiple food allergies to inform his class project. The IBS Treatment Center applauds Andrew’s positive attitude, and supports his actions to improve his health and well being. Learning of major food allergies can be challenging, but this young man shows that the right attitude and a little effort can make addressing a new diet fun and rewarding. Congratulations Andrew!
It all began on April 21, 2011. My long awaited results from Dr. Wangen at the IBS Treatment Center had arrived! I quickly opened the email… thoughts raced through my head. If I am allergic to nothing am I always going to feel this crappy? What if I am allergic to everything and I won’t be able to eat? … I looked down at the paper which held the results of my blood test — I am allergic to gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, lamb, eggs and beef. My heart dropped to the floor. …I would no longer be able to eat peanut butter sandwiches. Thus began my search for a new diet.
The next couple of days stretched on forever. I ate chicken, chicken, and more chicken. I had chicken for practically three days straight while my mother and I searched for other meal options. On the morning of the fourth day I woke up and literally did not know who I was. I felt like I had been reborn. I could see my mind was clear, the migraines were gone, my anxiety and negative, spiraling thoughts were not there; I was a complete stranger to myself. For the next couple of days I felt like I was in a dream, I kept on waiting for my next migraine or my next stomach cramp. They never came. The days went on and I finally believed that perhaps my troubles were behind me.
[After a terrible reaction to drinking a Mountain Dew I started taking an antifungal medication called Nystatin that helps destroy the yeast buildup in my stomach but with the Nystatin] I started feeling worse than before because of the yeast’s die-off effect. I knew that if I continued taking it I would eventually start feeling better but I decided that I would rather stop eating candy and heavy carbohydrates than continue feeling like I did for one more day. I could no longer eat candy, sodas, pastas, or other sugary foods. Now I had lost another part of my life.
For the next couple of weeks I began cutting out all of the bad foods and watching the amount of sugars and carbohydrates that I ate; I finally began to feel better. Along with my mom, I went to more and more health food stores to look for foods that sounded good. As time went on I developed a perfect meal plan that not only tasted good but adhered to all of my special food needs. Since then, I continue to feel better with each passing day. However, that does not mean that every single day is like that. There are days when I mess up on my diet and have too much sugary food, and I end up getting terrible stomach pains.
When I look back to the moment when I first opened that email I realize that I am no longer the same sick, depressed, unhealthy kid that I once was. I now think clearer, have a more positive outlook on life, and actually enjoy living. At first I thought that I had lost the ability to eat all of that yummy, junk food that all of humanity loves; but in reality I found the real me. This just goes to show how sometimes losing things can actually result in finding something better than what you had lost.
Dr. Stephen Wangen is the award winning author of two books on solving digestive disorders, and a nationally recognized speaker on IBS. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio. He was recently named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.