For a few years now, I’ve been thinking about the causes of diseases which plague(d) my family. Just like my mom did when she was diagnosed with lung cancer—for a brief minute she had tried to convince us that it was the type of cancer caused by something other than smoking a pack a day for 50 years. Mom even placed the blame for the (whisper it) ‘little bit of cancer’ she had in her lung on the additive chemicals that Big Tobacco secretly laced their cigarettes with. For a minute or two, I started to think that perhaps she was on to something. After a while, she’d call me just after seeing a money-grubbing, ambulance chasing, PI firm’s sleazy commercials aimed at luring unsuspecting potential victims of mesothelioma their way. She’d call and say, “Exactly what is Mes-O-Thele-E-Oma, is it the type of cancer I have”? Everyone wants to believe their mother—just like we did from newborns on up to say, age 12. At 12, we all think that whatever our mom’s have to say to us is a crock. After 25 or 26, I myself started to realize that my mom usually right and could possibly be almost, somewhat ‘cool.’ Yes, I said it. ‘Mom’ AND ‘cool’ in the same sentence. Whew! But, no, it was never, not even close to any asbestos related ailment.
Before her cancer, quite a few years earlier—maybe 10—my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. A disease his own mother’s brother had developed in his 60’s. A disease which is clearly known to ‘run’ in families. My mom took the opportunity to blame my father’s family for using too many harsh cleaning chemicals. Apparently, his mom—the grandmother I never met, who everyone swears I look just like—cleaned obsessively with Ammonia. I thought my mom was right about that too, because I was after all, over 25 years old.
Come to think of it, at one point or another, all married women probably try to pin their spouse’s faults on their upbringing. So, this morning, I came across—who am I fooling—a banner popped up and distracted me while I was reading a very interesting article on Fox News of yet another BS story which claims that http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/12/10/artificial-sweetener-aspartame-is-safe-in-diet-soda-review-says/. That’s right. I’m blaming my disease on Aspartame. It’s hard not to. I became highly allergic to it YEARS before being diagnosed. And now: back to the banner which popped up and distracted me this morning. Okay, so it was not exactly a banner, but somehow, my computer sends messages about all that I view on the internet to EVERY electronic advertiser and those advertisers, knowing what appeals to me, buy space on my frequently visited sites—like Fox News—and flash something shiny in front of me which causes my ADHD brain to drop everything and run towards what shines. So, today it was this: http://nothingventurednothinggained.org/tag/gmo-foods/. And then, rushing back from the dark crevasses of my brain to the forefront of my tongue (which is very rare), early on in my diagnosis and even before that, with all the inexplainable viruses and symptoms, were the questions I had kept replaying over and over in my head: Was It Something I Ate? I had long ago depleted any household food items containing any artificial sweeteners from my diet and home. It was probably eight or nine years ago that I realized that asparatame was poison to my body. I would get swollen, itchy palms of my hands and soles of my feet. I could not walk. Would get achy joints, terrible headache and neurological confusion and, did I mention neurological confusion? It was hell, I could barely finish a sentence and only feel intense swollen, internal itching from head to toe. All I could do was crawl into bed after taking a good dose of Atarax or double dose of Benedryl and concentrate on sleeping rather than scratching my skin raw until I woke up and it was over. It would take a few hours. I’m sure my in-laws thought I was a nut because it seemed like I never felt well and had to get into bed whenever we visited them. Ironically, it happened a lot at their summer cottage. Maybe because they stock their pantry with tons of diet soda and had pitchers full of iced tea in the fridge—made with Crystal Lite (definition: a poisonous liquid which tastes like tea and is loaded with Nutrasweet)! If you ask them, they both say ‘we hardly ever drink soda.’ Yeah, right. OMG, I’m doing it. Blaming my in-laws. No, it’s not their fault, however, if it were not for their purchasing habits, I would have never figured out what triggered the allergy. So, once again, ‘thank you’ in-laws.
So, those symptoms truly were an allergy. But then when I was diagnosed with MS, I connected the two. How could I not? But after mentioning it to my doctor, she immediately shunned the idea. She did not even make eye contact with me when I told her that I was allergic to Aspartame and it caused severe neurologic dysfunction. She automatically said, ‘there is no relation.’ Hmm. But now, today, I think, what if all that edamame I ate and the tofu in my favorite Japanese and Vietnamese soups caused the disease? Is there a link between Aspartame and GMOs AND Multiple Sclerosis?