Vacation, fructose malabsorption and patience.

A vacation, discovering fructose malabsorption, and patience. Not necessarily in that order.

Recently, I enjoyed a wonderful vacation with my boyfriend. We went to Puerto Vallarta on a much needed getaway vacation.  I needed to unwind from the daily monotony of life. Work, workout, eat, and sleep (oh and watching too much TV). God, I almost put myself to sleep just thinking about it! We enjoyed the sun, water, excursions, and food.

Dune buggy excursion!

Dune buggy excursion!

Yes, I was able to enjoy the food with little disturbance to my digestive conundrum.  Fortunately, buffet was the ideal way to go at the resorts.  We had all inclusive. You have to wear this annoying little wristband, like you’re entering a nightclub, at all times, to prove that you belonged to the hotel and then the food and drinks ended up being free.  The drinks were most definitely watered down.  I enjoyed 8 specials in a row and was at the most buzzed.  I figured the resorts did this due to control over inebriated tourists and obviously it reduced their overhead costs.

At times I ordered food and requested ‘NO DAIRY’, but it didn’t help. I left a few full meals behind for the waiter to scratch their heads and wonder why this Canadian was so wasteful.  I felt it wouldn’t have helped if I knew how to say it in spanish either.  The idea of no dairy to many cultures is probably absurd.  I still think it’s absurd that I will never taste the melting decadence of a nice blue cheese over my tongue again.  Food is melded into our memories and an integral part to every culture.  So, it hurts me more when I can’t share part of a culture through their food.  I have to focus on my digestive needs over my enjoyment of food always. But, as I mentioned earlier, I did pig out on the buffet whenever possible. I still crave these yummy chicken tacos they had one day.

Before we left for a week of fun in the sun, I stumbled across something called Fructose Malabsorption.  After having another appointment with my family doctor and being completely frustrated with getting little help and results she ended up getting frustrated with me. So, I decided to get mad at her. I wanted to know why my doctor thought she could tell me I have all these problems at such a young age and then expect me to walk out the door and act like my life is all sunshine? I need to mention that she referred to herself as “not being God”. I always get a kick out of people when they refer to themselves as ‘not’ being a biblical character. If you’re not God then why reference him in the first place? It would be more appropriate for my doctor to ‘not’ refer herself to a prominent medical expert. God and tangent aside, I told my doctor that I expect to receive professional medical advice when making appointments with medical professionals.  I have read so much literature on IBS and now I have no clue on how to progress. Oddly enough, she sat down and had a wholesome conversation with me about where to begin.  I agreed with her recommendations (food diary, less stress, and trying the FODMAP diet) and told her that I will follow through but if there is no resolution of symptoms then I will be back in 3 months. Not a threat but a really good promise;)  I also requested, after finding out that my referral to a GI specialist had been denied, to see a nutritionist or dietician.  I left with some hope that day and started a food diary all over.

A week into my new food diary I was becoming considerably baffled as to what could be causing all this excess gas and abdominal pain. The bloat makes your tummy look and feel like a shelf being created from your own body. The symptoms interfere with my work, social life, love life and over all emotional health.  It’s depressing not knowing why and oppressive when you are unable to attend to life in a normal fashion. I remembered my doctor mentioning how she has problems with a particular type of pear. Nothing else, just that one type of pear. So, I thought to myself, I don’t eat pears but what if it is fruit because I have looked at all other food groups? My discovery came as swiftly as passing gas.  APPLES!!! It’s motherf***ing APPLES! While tolerable for most people it’s problematic for the rest of us due to the sugars that are broken down once past your small intestine.  Think of lactose intolerance but with apples. Now I had to google this discovery. Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon Fructose Malabsorption. It’s a well-documented digestive disorder and is easily tested for. So, again I wonder if I have IBS after reading the symptoms relating to fructose malabsorption. I have them all:

  • Diarrhea (and/or constipation)
  • General Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Mood swings, fatigue
  • Stomach gurgling

I then stumbled across a wonderful website called: The Farting Pear.  It has general information and is an online community database of all the foods that are either tolerated or not tolerated within this digestive disorder.

I stopped eating apples, coconut milk, honey etc. I still have bad days (mostly due to me being a bad girl) but have found a remarkable improvement.  Then it got even better for me. I ended up getting a consultation with a GI specialist (4 months from now) and will being seeing a nutritionist by the end of the month. My patience paid off due to my persistence.

Never give up,