“Ouch, what the!?!” Sharp pains hit me like a dagger, jerking me out of a restful sleep. The throbbing was somewhere below my right ribs. I started shivering, but I was sweating like a pig on a hot summer’s day. I touched the painful area and pure agony shot out in all directions. I looked down at the clock, it was 2 AM. Not wanting to wake up my roommate, I tried to resist all urges to scream out as I forced myself from off of my bed. I staggered to the bathroom still holding my side. I turned the faucet on to cold and splashed some water on my face. The cold seemed to take away some of the hurt in my abdomen for a brief moment. As I looked up I saw something very scary, my face was as pale as a ghost. I knew that it was time to go to the hospital.

I gingerly lowered myself into the front driver’s seat of my 2005 Honda Civic, pains still shooting out of my side. I took a deep breath and I drove myself to the ER.

Was it my appendix? Maybe my gall bladder? What the heck is wrong with me?

This year had been a really rough one medically. When I had first moved down to Utah from Idaho in February 2016 I had taken a job at a dairy farm. It was very hard work. I was a milker. It was my job to attach the machines to the udders to suck the milk from the heavy laden cows. There were about 5000 cows that needed to be milked twice a day. Every night I came home sore from both muscle strain and from being kicked many times throughout the day. After work, I also could almost feel the germs on me from a day of touching and being splashed with cow feces. Despite my pain and disgust I was determined to keep this job. That is until the fever hit.

Day ten of the job came and I didn’t get much rest before. I had been shivering all night despite 3 blankets and had to get up to make trips to the bathroom multiple times. There was no doubt in my mind that I was sick, but I didn’t want to call in sick on my second week so I took some Ibuprofen, drank a bunch of water and went in anyways. That day was long and hard. I remember I was working as hard as I could but people would always have to come help me because I was always lagging behind. My joints ached, especially in my knees. When we had our lunch break, I was asked by a few people, “Are you feeling okay?” My answer was, “I’m feeling sick, but I’m alright.”

Day eleven started much like day ten. Except today there was no way I wasn’t calling in sick. I had spent the entire night before in the bathroom. Everything I ate seemed to rush right through me. On top of that, I had a raging fever of 103. I had never felt this sick in my life. My boss was somewhat understanding. He just said, “Okay get better, thanks for letting me know.” I spent the entire day going from my bed to the bathroom to the couch to the bathroom to the bed… and the cycle continued.

This cycle continued for a week. I remember one morning I went to the bathroom and all of a sudden I felt really lightheaded and dizzy. My eyesight went dark and I collapsed to my hands and knees to prevent myself from falling on the hard tile. I took some deep breaths until finally the blackness went away and I could see again. It was at this time that my grandma (whom I had been living with at the time) took me to the doctor.

When we got in to see the doctor he asked me about my symptoms and I told him, “diarrhea, fever, I passed out”, and so on. He told me, “you probably just have the flu. Keep up the fluids, get plenty of rest.” I knew for a fact this wasn’t the flu. I didn’t have a stuffy nose or cough. And with the flu, I’d never had a high fever for over a week. I felt dehydrated; everything I ate or drank came right back out of me.

It had been about two weeks since I first started feeling sick that I had finally started to feel normal again. By now I had figured out that I got E coli. It just made sense I had all the symptoms. My boss had told me basically not to come back. He probably thought I was just lazy. I felt lucky, some people die from e coli and I probably would have died if it was really my time to go (no thanks to the hasty doctor).

As the months passed it seemed like I would get sick to my stomach a lot. I tried my hardest to figure out what it was that was causing my sickness, but it was inexplicable. I got horrible stomach cramps from everything I ate.

As I drove to the ER, I reflected upon those last few months. It was August now, and I still had no Idea what had been making me sick. I thought that maybe the doctors would be able to tell me something that could help me now.

I was admitted, and I was given a ct scan. As I was waiting for my results, the pain seemed to reside and I got the awful feeling that maybe these doctors might come up blank as well.  My fears were only realized when a doctor walked into the room. “Well everything looks normal on the ct scan, it must have just been some really bad intestinal cramps.”

Intestinal cramps! You’re telling me a symptom. I want to know why! Why did I feel like I was going to implode a few hours ago? 

Fast forward to now. Over the winter I tried this low FODMAP diet at the suggestion of my mom. It was really difficult, but it really seemed seemed to work. I was feeling a lot better and sick a lot less. Slowly I added things back into my diet. I found out that Gluten was a definite no, and I could have some dairy but not much. I also learned that oranges were bad but I could eat the little clementines.

I have lost 25 pounds since starting this diet. I am 205 lbs instead of 230. I am not sick anymore unless I eat something I know is going to hurt me. I have finally found my purpose in life, to help people who really need guidance and help in changing their diets. I want to be a dietitian and help people who are confused about why they are sick like I was. I know that this is my calling and I feel like through all of the craziness I was being directed toward it. I love the way I feel now and want to help others feel the same. I am grateful now for who I am and for all of the experiences that have led me to become who I am today.

How have you dealt with becoming gluten free/ dairy free, a diet that worked? Was it hard? How have your experiences made you who you are today? Please let me know in the comments.