I was recently diagnosed with EoE (Eosinophilic Esophagitis), try saying that 5 times fast. HAHA! So you will understand why, from here on out, I’ll just simply refer to it as EoE. EoE is an immune system allergic reaction to foods or to substances in your environment, such as animal dander, pollen, molds, etc. Certain genes may also play a role in EoE.
I first noticed symptoms of EoE about 12 months ago. As I am prone to do, I tried to ignore the red flags at first. The major one being I kept feeling like my food was getting stuck in my throat at the base of where my neck meets my collarbone. I attributed it to possibly getting in too big of a rush and not chewing my food well enough. I started to pay more attention when I sat down to eat and made sure to chew each bite multiple times before swallowing. This did seem to help the problem for a while, but I continued to have episodes where I would get food stuck in my throat. It is a very terrifying ordeal. It refused to budge one way or the other. I could neither swallow nor throw up. It seemed to forever be suspended in this limbo. Now what seemed to be forever in my mind usually only lasted around 15-30 minutes, thankfully. After many minutes in the bathroom feeling like I needed to vomit the pain and pressure of the food would finally pass. Rarely would I ever be able to actually throw up, I would just experience those dry heaves of gagging followed by a lot of mucus and some bile. Enough of those lovely details I am sure you get the picture that this wasn’t a great experience and I could no longer brush off the red flags. Something was really wrong with me. So I made the call to my doc who sent me for an upper endoscopy right away. She explained to me that if food were to get stuck for over an hour or two that it could cause major damage to my esophagus, possibly even enough damage to erode holes. I don’t know about you but this definitely got my butt in gear to figure out what was going on. After my upper endoscopy, I received the diagnoses of EOE. The biopsy they took from my throat showed an accumulation of an immune cell called eosinophil. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cells that help fight off infections and play a role in your body’s immune response. They can also build up and cause inflammation, which is why my food kept getting stuck in my throat. He prescribed me some acid reflux medication along with a steroid inhaler that I was to spray in my mouth and swallow instead of inhale. Being in the health and fitness field I have read and heard tons of research of the effects on long term use of acid blockers and they are NOT good. So the thought of having to take this for the rest of my life, because EoE is not curable and you can only control and treat the symptoms, truly scared me. This lead to me taking the medication for about a month and then I just fell off and stopped taking them. I was okay for close to 8 months with little issue, only a rare occurrence of food getting stuck that would pass quickly. Now, let’s go back to two weeks ago. . . I experienced my worst incident to date and hopefully ever. I was visiting my mother and step father for the weekend and they have never been around me when I have had an episode of getting food stuck in my throat. Let’s just say it is not a pleasant experience for me or anyone around me. My mother was very worried and my step father kept asking to take me the ER. The ER being the last place I wanted to end up during this pandemic of COVID-19. I refused his pleading and kept telling them this would pass eventually. The time crawled by, 20 mins, 40 mins, 60 mins. This is when I started to get really worried. It had never lasted this long before. I tried water which would just come right back up, I tried to drink apple cider vinegar and the same thing happened. I was actually throwing up this time but it didn’t seem to help. Finally after 90 minutes had gone by the pressure eased and I could drink a little bit of water. I went to bed knowing I would have no choice but to seek medical help once again and I would have to start on the same medications I didn’t want to take. What other choice did I have???
I did have a choice. We always have choices if we are willing to look and make sacrifices. Luckily for me, I have an amazing family doctor who is willing to listen to my concerns. She didn’t rush through my visit just to get on to her next patient, she pulled up a chair while I listed my concerns and answered all of my nagging questions. She did say due to the severity of my case of EoE that medication was a must for at least 6-8 weeks to get the inflammation down quickly. Stating that if we didn’t get it down quickly I would have to have a feeding tube directly inserted into my stomach to bypass my esophagus all together. This was not something I wanted to have to do. All of my friends and family know how accident prone I am, all I could envision was ripping this tube out accidentally. No thanks! Now along with the medication she explained putting me on an elimination diet. I am to completely eliminate the 6 major foods commonly associated with allergic responses. These foods are: dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, nuts, and seafood/shellfish.
This alone can be a scary process for people, myself included. My whole diet is going to be turned upside down and inside out. I used to eat a majority of these foods daily. Especially dairy & eggs! No more whey protein shakes before my training or Greek yogurt with PB2 for dessert in the evenings. I usually ate two hard boiled eggs and a string cheese daily for a midmorning snack at work. But. . . I also know what can happen if I don’t get this under control and I’m CHOOSING to do this so I don’t have to take medication for the rest of my life. This is my choice and mine alone. I’m not saying this is the best route but this is MY best option.
Day 1 of my diet started yesterday, 7/27/20. I’ll go more into detail next time on what the steps are with this elimination diet and how I plan to implement this in my own life and if I notice a decrease in my symptoms of EoE.
Thank you for reading into my story and I look forward to sharing more with you next week.