I’m the Life of the Party!
Ask anyone who has met me, and they will tell you I am the life of the party! I am so much fun, and I lighten up the room. Everyone cheers when I enter the room!
That is until they offer me alcohol, cake, cheese dip, pizza, soda, cookies, or basically any of the most popular part foods, then I go into my deep dark hole of self-loathing and depression.
Because of my ankylosing spondylitis, I can't eat or drink any of that!
Booze is off the table
To be fair, I gave up alcohol years ago for several reasons, but, putting myself into the shoes of a Spondy who didn't give it up, drinking still causes several issues. Most of us take NSAIDs and DMARDs, two classes of medication that loves to play with one’s liver. Adding fellow "liver prankster" alcohol into the mix and one risks Hepatitis and possible liver failure.
So booze is off the table, but you might ask, what is wrong with cake, cookies, pizza, and soda? Those don’t attack one’s liver or interact with medications. Why can’t I enjoy those terrific things?
The simple answer is, both dairy and sugar cause my already inflamed body to be even more inflammation.
I didn't steal the cookies
I can be having an amazing day! One cookie later and I am on the floor crying. The same goes for dairy. Again, an amazing day until the burger place melts the cheese I didn't request all over my meat. I eat it anyway because I’m freaking starving and, like before, on the floor crying. Dairy and sugar-free isn't a choice for me, it’s a necessity!
So, this brings me to my 37th birthday. My classroom wanted to celebrate as we usually do. In previous years (before I restricted my diet) my birthday was celebrated with cupcakes and buffalo dip (which is mostly milk products).
Now, with my dietary restrictions, I can't eat that. So…
Cake, cupcakes, cookies, pizza, buffalo dip, and gummy worms are all off the table. Do you know what my birthday was celebrated with?
Peanut butter, and pickles...
Not so happy birthday party
Yeah. I was NOT the life of the party that year. I happen to love peanut butter and pickles, so I was happy, but everyone else was like “ew, you're gross!” And that made it so my birthday was not so happy.
The dietary restrictions that sometimes come with an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis are often very helpful, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also isolate us from the people we want to spend time with.
That said, I encourage anybody who might be reading this to figure out if any foods trigger pain and inflammation in your body. You can do a food intolerance test with a doctor, however, those can be very flawed as “intolerance” is not a strict definition. From my experience, make a “Food Journal”. Write down what you ate each day and how you feel. Then, try excluding certain foods one at a time, and see how you feel. The deciding factor is if after a week of not eating a certain food (dairy for example) try adding it back into your diet. If you have a very negative reaction, you will know.
Our health and our cultures are based around food. Turning down a piece of cake might not make you the life of the party, but trust me when it comes to your health, its totally worth it!
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?