Last Friday, on my much-needed day off, I headed over to the naturopath for my follow-up appointment.
I went in full of questions and left full of things to think about.
First of all, I got my blood work results back. After complaining about fatigue, I had been sent for the following blood tests:
- ferritin (think of ferritin like my iron stores)
- vitamin d
- vitamin b12
Being low in any of these things can result in fatigue so it was worth checking out. I figured I'd be low in iron, low in ferritin and wouldn't have been surprised to find out everything else was low too.
Instead, my iron was fine, my ferritin was fine, my vitamin d was fine, my thyroid was fine and my B12 levels were the highest he's ever seen in someone who is not getting B12 injections.
Well wasn't that nice to hear on a cold Friday morning in November? I asked if I was too high and he said no. Just higher than he is used to seeing. I asked how that was possible since I don't take extra B12 or do anything special to try to get it in my diet. He said I might just be absorbing it really well from my VEGA powder or my multivitamin. Whatever the reason, the blood results were fine which means I have a few less things to worry about.
He then told me that he thinks he figured out that weird thing that happens in my ears when I run. He said it was called 'exercise-induced eustachian tube disfunction'. A long name to be sure but it's not dangerous or problematic. On the other hand, there isn't much we can do to prevent it from happening either. It happens when I run for over an hour and goes away when I stop running. If I start up again, it comes back almost immediately. In my body's struggle to deal with it, it also affects my breathing and I find myself gasping for breath for a few minutes once I do stop.
(For the record, I googled it when I went home and read all about it. Sounds exactly like what I am struggling with. My GP, diabetes doc and my ear nose and throat specialist couldn't figure it out - I'm impressed my naturopath did and that he did it so quickly.)
So I have a diagnosis for my ears and confirmation that my blood test results were good. So what's up with the fatigue you ask?
Here's where things took a turn and I left the appointment with a lot to think about.
"Eustachian Tube Disfunction can sometimes be related to food allergies. So can unexplained fatigue. You're probably not going to want to hear this but I'm going to recommend you try an elimination diet to see if you have any food allergies."
He talked about the four most common food allergies (dairy, wheat, eggs and soy) and suggested that, ideally, I would eliminate all of them from my diet for six weeks and then reintroduce them one at a time. "If you're not willing to do that, at least try wheat and dairy."
I drove home and thought about it. I told Doug what the doctor suggested and we talked about it. I thought about it some more.
Pros: if I really do have a food allergy, doing this might help me identify it, make changes to my diet and feel better overall. Not that I feel bad - I just have ears that plug up on long runs and I personally think I'm more tired than I should be given the amount of sleep I get.
Cons: I turn my diet upside down for six weeks. Just in time for Christmas. I wouldn't be able to eat out (easily anyway), I'd have to rethink every meal I eat, I'd be the most annoying dinner guest ever (did I mention Christmas is coming?) and I'd be pretty annoying to live with because every meal would potentially involve two meals and a lot of discussion to ensure all my allergens are avoided. And for what? I have no other reasons to think I have food allergy so it could all be for not.
I did think about doing it after Christmas but we're traveling in February, spending a week with friends, and doing things throughout the year that would never make it easy to find a six-week chunk of time where I can eat every meal at home without too much fuss.
Don't get me wrong. If I had a legitimate food allergy, I'd make all the dietary changes I needed to make to be healthy. But, because all of this is hypothetical, I'm really hesitant.
So, after a weekend of thought, I emailed my naturopath. I said I would continue with everything else he recommended, I'd increase my veggie intake, perhaps cut down, when reasonable, on my wheat, soy, eggs and dairy but I would not be doing the elimination diet at this time.
I felt both relieved and disappointed as I hit 'send'. I also felt like a tiny bit like a jerk since I went to him for advice but didn't take it. It is, however, my life and, ultimately, I need to make the choices that make the most sense for all involved.
So I did.