Friday, November 30, 2007

The Descent into Hell, Day 5

Well, Hell is a strong word, but perhaps I caught your attention. For the past year, I've been experiencing gut issues. I won't disturb you with the gross details, but for most of the spring, last year, I couldn't run in the afternoon due to DGE (delayed gastric emptying)-like symptoms. DGE, for those of you who haven't experienced it, is that sloshy feeling and sound you get when you try to exercise while deeply dehydrated. My first experience of it came in the 2004 Boston Marathon, the year the temperature reached 87 degrees at the start. That was the first day that I realized that our bodies can shut down in complaint. It was my first crack at Boston, and I had to walk the last seven miles.

So I was worried, last spring, that I seemed to be experiencing DGE every day (there were other symptoms, but, again, I won't take you through them). I went to my doctor. He told me I had giardia, and that I had probably contracted it through the municipal water source. This revelation was both unsettling and frightening, but whatever I had didn't react to 21 days of antibiotics, so we were back to square one (and I kept on drinking the water). After two more visits to the doctor, and three to a specialist, the folks of Western medicine threw up their hands and said: "Maybe stop eating/drinking dairy products." I tried that, no luck. Tried going off wheat, and that made things a little better. Took that experiment further and went off gluten. That also made things a little better, but still symptoms remained.

So last weekend, in the throes of post-season blues (see last post), I looked up a diet that an alternative medicine friend suggested. It was called, somewhat forebodingly, "The Elimination Diet." While images of Sting from the movie Dune or the odd torture 'bot that visits Princess Leia in Star Wars cruise through your head, I'll explain. The elimination diet, while it sounds like a suicide vacation, is intended to identify food allergies. You have to take everything reactive out of your diet, and then slowly add them back after a month of letting your body get everything out. The list of forbidden substances, assistant!

Peanut butter (!)
White potatoes
All grains (wheat, spelt, rye, oats, barley, quinoa, kamut (even hippie grains! quinoa! kamut!))
Rice (all)
Anything processed
COFFEE (the alarm bells, if they aren't going off by now, should be ringing)

That's kind of an abbreviated list, but I threw the most painful things up there.

But here's the deal. After five days of eating sweet potatoes, tuna fish, almonds, pecans, bananas (4 clusters in 5 days), and broccoli, I feel great. A little slow in my training sessions, but it's not a speedwork time of year, anyway. The stomach issues are slowly trickling away, and I might be losing those pounds that need to go before next season gets started.

So maybe not Hell. Maybe Purgatory. I'll keep you posted.

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