I’ve previously used this blog to explain that I was being plagued by some sort of mystery illness that I couldn’t quite figure out. It’s been affecting me for YEARS.
Prior to COVID, I spent nearly five years going to specialists of all different types. I seemed to be in the doctor’s office, or the emergency room, once a month, and no one would/could pinpoint what was wrong with me. I multiple allergy spectrum tests done, I was tested for 15 different auto-immune conditions, even had a biopsy done. I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist who shoved a camera in through my nose and throat (not the same camera) down to my stomach. I had cat scans, ultrasounds, and cervical examinations. I was screened for cancer at one point.
I avoided foods that I was told I was allergic to, but beyond that, I still felt like shit. I felt like shit and all of my tests were coming back normal. No one could figure it out.
Through that time I was on antibiotic after antibiotic, steroid after steroid, and so much medication that I can’t even begin to tell you.
I saw a doctor who told me that I have Crohn’s Disease shortly before COVID became quite bad in Canada. Though I did not have the symptoms of it, he’d decided that was the case and he offered me advice of what to eat and what not to eat and told me to ‘just deal with it’.
I’m pretty sure he thought I had munchausen.
I saw another doctor about two weeks later who told me it was just IBS and if I stopped eating fast food, I’d be fine.
I’m pretty sure he just wanted me out of his office so he could go home for the day.
I always knew that whatever was happening was related to food. Despite avoiding the foods that I was told I was allergic to (from the allergy testing), I was still having severe reactions to food, every day… some days multiple times per day. I knew it was food, though. I knew it was food because if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have symptoms. I was fine. Hungry, but fine.
I kept a food journal for years.
Every time I look at what caused me to have these massive, at times violent, reactions, I could never connect it. It was always random foods. There were days I just felt as though I couldn’t eat anything because everything was making me sick.
If I ate something that my body didn’t agree with, I would bloat to the point where I looked 6 months pregnant. My throat, sinsuses and ears would swell to the extent that it became difficult to breathe (why I wound up at the doctor or hospital so much). For someone who never had acne as a teenager, by the time I reached my late 20’s, I was covered in acne. My body was in a constant, consistent state of inflammation and I didn’t know what to do about it. I just felt gross/bad/sick all of the time. I was always tired and I didn’t know why. I was deficient in so many vitamins and I didn’t know why. Someone could touch me and my body would bruise. I could touch myself and my body would bruise. No one could figure out why.
Earlier this year I learned that I’m allergic to pork.
Earlier this year I also learned the extent to which pork is in just about fucking everything.
For context, gelatin is most often (not always, but most often) made from pork. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (such as Jell-O); in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts; on photographic film; and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules, and it is sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines.
Furthermore, most bread that is purchased from the store and even bakeries, are made using a dough conditioner called L-cysteine which are certain proteins gathered from the hair and follicles of pigs.
A lot of cheeses are “thickened” in the process of being made with pork enzymes.
A lot of shelf-stable peanut butters contain gelatin that is pork derived.
Vitamins and pain-killers (Motrin, Tylenol, etc) that are made in the gel-cap formulas are all made with pork derivatives for the gelatin caps. When my body was inflamed, I was taking Motrin gel-caps to help with the pain, not realizing the gel-cap itself was contributing to my pain.
A lot of baked goods – cookies, croissants, brownies, etc… use something called sodium stearoyl lactylate. Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a cheap ingredient used to increase the shelf life of food products because it keeps mold away. PRESERVATIVES CONTAIN PORK.
This is just a few of the things I’ve discovered beyond the obvious – don’t eat bacon, ham or sausage.
Freaking protein bars have pork protein in them.
So, what did I do? Once I came to the realization this could be an allergy, I cut it from my diet completely. I became even more of a hawk for reading labels then I ever was before. I’ve learned the 40+ different things that a company can put on a label that’s code for pork derivatives, and if something was/is fishy, I call or email the company. I switched to eating Halal meat products. I haven’t had anything with pork in a long time.
I stopped taking gel-caps pills and vitamins. You know, Motrin actually works for me now when I need it.
I am stupidly, disturbingly happy to admit that I feel the healthiest I have in ten years. My body has moved away from the state of feeling constantly inflamed and I feel like a normal person. My throat, sinuses and ears have stopped swelling, my skin has completely cleared up. I feel awake and alive. I can digest food without wanting to throw up. I can breathe properly. I sleep properly at night. I just feel like a whole new person.
I have to schedule some blood-work at some point this summer. Now that I know what it is/was that was causing me so many issues, I want it officially confirmed for my medical records. With the amount of pork that’s used in medication (pork and eggs are used as base ingredients for some medicines, which is why people with egg allergies can’t have certain medications), if I ever get sick or injured in the future, I don’t want to be prescribed medication that’s just going to make more sick.
I feel so normal (from a physical health perspective). This feeling has been a long time coming.
I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels.