Apr. 12th, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
I've talked before about how I hate how modern/Western medicine focuses on treating symptoms rather than root causes, and in particular ignores nutrition beyond some vague food pyramid that is based primarily on who gave the most money to senators on the right subcommittee. So I went a doctor that actually listened to me as a whole person, and focused on nutrition as a fix for them. Initially in pill form, but hoping to transition to real food eventually. Only that never happened. It helped (I have more energy and didn't get sick at all last winter, as opposed to my usual average of "all winter"), but only temporarily. I was taking more and more supplements until I just gave up and stopped all of them. One would work for a while, and a different problem would crop up, and it just felt like symptom whack a mole. I couldn't go 90 minutes without eating without feeling awful, I'm eating mostly hyperpalatable crap and have to bribe myself to get through a meal with protein, which I nevertheless find incredibly stressful. I don't understand why I freak out if food doesn't taste good, why can't I eat for nutrition like everyone else?

Five weeks ago I went to a nutrition-focused psychiatric ANRP about a possible anxiety disorder. She listens to my symptoms, including the supplement whack a mole, and suggests I have low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Dr. Internet tells me there's a fancy test for this involving swallowing a pill containing a radio transmitter and some sort of pH meter, which I kind of want to do just to have a tiny science lab in my stomach, but the ANRP just told me to try taking the treatment (pills containing stomach acid, plus pepsin, an acid-activated enzyme for digesting meat) and see if it helps.

Oh. My. G-d.

Now that I know what it's like to *not* feel ill after eating food with protein or fiber, I can recognize that that's what I was experiencing before. I felt deeply ill any time I anything with real nutritional value, but was pushing my awareness of it away because I couldn't deal with it. Or I was sucking down soda because it was the only way my body could ask for more acid. It also explains:
  • Why I could feel like I was starving and disgustingly full at the same time
  • Why I have always felt so food insecure even though I've never been more than a car ride away from all the food I could ever want.
  • Why I've always been such an insanely pick eater, and found trying new foods so stressful.
  • Highly suspect this has something to do with my salt addiction
  • Why I became a vegetarian at age 6 in a house full of meat eaters.
  • The fascinating variety of subclinical hormonal disorders I have and the fact that curing one just leads another one to pop up somewhere else.
  • Why feelings of fullness were more dependent of food temperature than volume or nutritional level.
  • environmental allergies

Clearly I was able to extract some nutrients because I'm not dead, but I'm honestly not sure how. I'm still working out the exact dosages, but I easily take 200 pills in a week, where the bottle says 1 - 2/meal. I needed 180 mg just to eat a pear. I haven't even been counting how many I'm taking with this protein shake I'm drinking right now, but it's more than 1 gram of betaine HCl per gram of protein. ARNP hasn't ruled out a bone fida anxiety disorder yet, but that's only because she hasn't talked to me in three weeks. It is abundantly clearly to me that the actual problem was the psychic load of feeling that I was going to starve, and borderline malnutrition.

There's a few lessons I want to draw from this. One involves an Inception joke about going deeper: I thought I had found the ultimate problem by taking nutritional supplements, but never looked at why I had a deficiency. The second is that gastric bypass can easily induce hypochlorhydria because it cuts out the acid producing section of the stomach, so don't do that. The third is about will power. I, and others, constantly beat me up over my poor eating habits. I felt really ashamed that I had so many problems. And I suppose things might have been slightly better if I'd powered through the nausea and fatigue and blood sugar induced bitchiness and eaten perfectly anyway, but I wasn't doing those things because it would have left me miserable and friendless and quite possibly unemployed. The problem was not lack of will power or moral fortitude, it was a g-ddamn chemical.

The fourth is that I can eat 12 Wendy's Chicken Nuggets without needing a single pill, and I think this tells you a lot about the food content in fast food.


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