Monday, November 10, 2014

A Devastating Discovery

Since I started my adventure towards health this fall, I've made a number of changes to how I eat. Smaller meals, more vegetables, that sort of thing. Part of the whole deal is working with a doctor, and that involves medication. Medications come with side effects.

I thought everything I was feeling was related to that whole process. I had chalked it all up to medication side effects, to more vegetables, to my body getting used to eating smaller meals and not being able to eat as much food as I did before.

I was feeling sick to my stomach after almost every meal. I never actually threw up or anything, but it was very uncomfortable. As a person who was used to eating very large meals, this was difficult. So I stopped eating huge meals. Then I started having issues with feeling hungry. And I couldn't tell if I was hungry or sick. And I would eat a piece of candy and feel like I wanted to vomit, so there was clearly something wrong.

Then, one day, I ate some Ben & Jerry's ice cream and had a very strange reaction. My mouth got tingly, like what I hear a mild allergic reaction is like. It's kind of like the "pins and needles" feeling you get when your hand or foot falls asleep, only not quite. I also really didn't feel good. I assumed it was because I finished the pint of ice cream anyway, despite the tingles. It still tasted good. It just felt weird.

That was the first time I noticed it.

Then I noticed it again, when I was at work. It was my tongue, lips, and up into my nose that felt all tingly this time. So, naturally, I went to WebMD and entered my symptoms into their little symptom checker thing (never do this). It told me that it was most likely that I was having a "transient ischemic attack," or a "mini-stroke." Basically, it's like a stroke, but the symptoms just last a few minutes. However, if you have one of these, it means that you are at a high risk of having a real stroke in the near future. Usually I just laugh at what WebMD says I might have (once it said I had postpartum depression), but this was while I was on antibiotics for cellulitis - so it could be that what I thought was cellulitis had been a blood clot after all and it had traveled up into my brain and was in the process of giving me a stroke. I had gone through all of this in my mind.

But it lasted more than a few minutes. It lasted more than an hour. And I didn't have any other symptoms of a stroke. Just the numbness/tingling feeling. The upset stomach I constantly feel is unrelated to a stroke.

Yesterday, I figured out the missing link. It's a food that I eat almost every day. Every time I feel the tingles in my mouth, the upset stomach, I ate the same food. Sometimes it's worse than other times, and I'm pretty sure I know why.

Every  morning at work, I have a Luna bar for breakfast. The flavor? Chocolate-dipped Coconut. The piece of candy I ate that made me want to vomit? Reese's Peanut-butter cup. The thing I ate on Saturday that made me feel so bad that I had to stay home and miss a party on Saturday night? One piece of super delicious 60% cacao dark chocolate. My mouth tingled for hours after that. Hours. I was fine before it.

Chocolate is the culprit. The darker it is, the worse I feel. I'm going to have to give it up.

This is one of the saddest realizations of my life.

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