The FODMAP-Adventure: The road to Diagnose

This will be a longer entry, but it’s a long story which needs telling. So make yourself comfortable, and read.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP is quite simply a lacking ability to digest carbohydrates. These carbohydrates then remain in the large intestine where they produce gasses and symptoms. The symptoms range from extreme belly pains to vomiting, constipation, bloating and other typical belly related issues. And, they also include a variety of psychological symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings and lessened sexual desire. More information about FODMAP can be found here.

It all began in March 2012. I was a student at a Chinese language and martial arts course at Åsane Folkehøyskole. The school year included a trip to, well, China of course. We were warned to only eat food that had been properly cooked or fried. That was an advice I took seriously. Well, with one tiny exception. There was this rather bread like omelet, I noticed some of the eg was still raw and spit it out. The same evening I was sick, full scale food poisoning with all which that entails. This resulted in a rather awkward trip to the the doctor. This was at a martial arts school, and the doctor’s office was a large open room where the que surrounded the patients who were examined. So in the middle of that, with 20 pairs of eyes glued at foreign looking sickly me, I was. With my teacher and the doctor conversing in Chinese about my condition, a conversation of which I picked up nothing but the crowd heard it all. If I was not feeling so awful the setting would have bothered me to the point of embarrassment. This session concluded with a trip to the pharmacy across the hall. They gave me 5 different bags of pills, all with different instructions of dosage and incomprehensible explanations written on them. I was somewhat doubtful at this large medicinal intake, but it did seem to work.

The following 3 months I had almost constantly issues with my belly. Including all the above mentioned symptoms, and more. It only escalated. I finished the school year in Bergen, and moved back to Bærum. A month later I moved into a student apartment in Oslo with my boyfriend. By then both he and my mom had seen enough of my whimpering and sickness. By their advice I took the trip to the doctor. All in all I had hoped it would resolve it self, like most bodily issues do. That day I went to the doctor, it felt a little like admitting defeat. What would follow was a forever long hunt for the correct diagnose. A process only lengthened by tedious computer systems and nothing short of idiotic rules. But, finally, it was a success. Mostly thanks to a few very dedicated and skilled people working in the health care system.

The many examinations to obtain a FODMAP diagnose include some very painful ones.

You know when doctors say this will be a bit uncomfortable? That means it will hurt like hell!

My general practitioner was on holiday, and I was thus sent to the amazingly skilled Doc. Lie. She met me with the attitude of “You shouldn’t have to live like this. We will fix it.” A bold exclamation when a patient enters the office with something as in specific as belly pains, which have be a large variety of causes. All the blood samples came out negative, and my arms had the likes of a heroine addict. No kidding, they bruise way too easily. Pushing that little cotton ball into the skin makes no difference. A gynecological exam was, (thank goodness), negative. I was sent to an external lab for other blood samples, to Ullevål hospital for MR of my thin intestine, (a procedure similar to torture), and back again for more blood samples. Between each of these bodily experiments there was a waiting period of at least a few weeks, and a new visit to the GP for a follow up. Doc. Lie was amazing, her “We will fix it” attitude never swayed. And when she received new test results she personally called me to inform me. I ended up switching to her as my GP, appreciative of she made me feel like I was in safe hands.

You know when doctors say this will be a bit uncomfortable? That means it will hurt like hell!

There was a lot of frustration in this process. For each negative test result the chance of finding a diagnose became smaller. At the same time my symptoms only got worse. I was afraid my GP would eventually throw in the towel and label me a hypochondriac. Or worse, Irritable bowel Syndrome (IBS), which basically just recognizes something is wrong but also claims nothing can be done about it. It was also incredibly tiresome at home. I’m quite the food lover. I have always had a passionate view on enjoying good well made food. All the same, no matter how much my mother or boyfriend attempted to tempt me with the most delicious foods, I either became nauseated, or down right sick from the food. It made me feel both ungrateful and depressed. There the two of them were putting all the love and energy into the cooking, and my response was to stare down at my platter, perhaps peck on the food, and then run first to the bathroom and secondly to the bed in child pose with tears bursting from belly cramps.

The worst part was not knowing. No matter what I ate, or avoided eating, I got sick. What was wrong with me? What kind of a person gets sick from food?

The beginning of the end was when I was refered to the gastroenterologic clinic at Lovisenberg hospital and Doctor Røseth. Doktor Røseth had a refreshing optimistic belief in diagnosing me. That alone returned some optimism to myself. He sent me to do a breathing test, it was an oddly comfortable test. It included drinking a liquid which resembled water in both taste and appearance, then breathing down test tubes each half hour for the next four hours. All I had to do was bring reading materials and sit comfortably. A few months later the results came in, and a FODMAP-diagnose.

At this time it had been over a year since I first entered the doctor’s office. Dr. Røseth gave me two options, wait until Christmas for an available nutritionist, or partake in a research project concerning a new FODMAP-diet within a month. The choice was easy. It was the 16th July 2013, and I would be cured! That story will be the next time.

(Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos)

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