I have Fructose Malabsorption Disorder. Check out the other pages of my blog, or my Fructmal website for more info on what this is.
What was my personal journey? How did I discover I had this condition? Have I always had it? How does it affect my day-to-day life? It never occurred to me to bother with my own personal story before, but I have received emails asking about it. I suppose it’s rather weird to have a blog and a website on the subject and no personal account! Therefore, here it is (Be warned! This account talks openly about icky bodily functions! LOL!) :
I was not born with Fructmal. In fact, I grew up in orchard country! My neighbourhood was actually an old orchard that had been subdivided into suburban lots (back in the days when they didn’t cut down all the trees when they did that sort of thing). As a result, everyone had tons of fruit and traded amongst one another for variety. I always enjoyed plenty of apples, plums, peaches, cherries, strawberries, raspberries…. Whether fresh, frozen or preserved, I loved them all and they never bothered me.
My problems started in my mid-teens. Interestingly, this was right after two rather dramatic illnesses which both were treated with multiple antibiotics in high doses taken over extended periods of time. Did these bouts of antibiotic cocktails cause my Fructmal? I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know of any research that has been done on this subject. I will say that I have communicated with many other Fructmals who had no problems until suffering an illness that was treated with high doses of antibiotics. Often multiple antibiotics taken over a long period of time. Perhaps the illnesses were the cause of the Fructmal? Being bedridden or have a beleaguered immune system? At any rate, that was when the trouble started: constant stomach aches, diarrhea, depression, sleep problems… and nothing seemed to help. My parents sought help, but doctors and teachers put the depression down to adolescence and the stomach problems down to teen stress.
My sister always had a lot of allergies. Consequently, shopping by my mother’s side I learned to read food labels as a normal, routine part of grocery shopping. When my sister had an adverse reaction, the first response was to examine what she had been eating. It was therefore logical that over time, I would intuitively connect my painful gastro-intestinal responses to specific foods. By my early twenties I had come to the conclusion that fruit in all it’s forms was the culprit and stopped eating it. No fruit, no fruit juice, jam, nothing. At first, I was occasionally tempted. After several months I would succumb to the siren’s song of strawberry shortcake, or peach preserves; but the inevitable and excruciating cramps, bloating and miscellaneous GI nastiness always reminded why it was a bad idea! It didn’t take long before the sight of fruit was no temptation at all, as I associated it simply with pain.
My family accepted my self-diagnosis. Others, however, were baffled and convinced I must be wrong. Doctors told me it was impossible to be “allergic” to a sugar (this was in the early nineties and lactose-intolerance hadn’t really come to the forefront yet). Friends and co-workers tried to convince me that I was getting an upset stomach from citric acid, but that seemed illogical to me. Tomatoes and vinegar didn’t bother me at all, and citric acid as an ingredient also elicited no response, though fructose as an additive did. I stuck by my conclusion. When I first heard about lactose intolerance, the GI symptoms sounded similar, so I called my self diagnosed ailment fructose intolerance. I felt empowered in giving it a label, I suppose.
I tried searching the internet several times during the nineties for “fructose intolerance”, but there was nothing. This, I should note, was before Google, and I made the rounds of Altavista, Yahoo, Webcrawler, etc. With no other recourse and no medical guidance, I just stuck with what was working: avoiding fruit and fructose. Every few years I would search the web again, speak to another doctor, and go away frustrated.
It was only in 2008 that I finally tried again and hit paydirt! Googling got me a confusing array of referances to Dietary Fructose Intolerance, Hereditary Fructose Intolerance, Fructose Malabsorption, and a baffling range of dietary guidelines. It took me literally days to visit all the seemingly relevant sites and sort them out according to my symptoms and my common sense. That’s when I found the support group I am currently in. This group is great, wonderfully moderated, and specific to my condition – which I found out is called Fructose Malabsorption.
After joining this group and reading the material, I learned about fructans and eliminated foods I had never before connected to my condition: wheat, spelt, kamut, yogurt, onions, etc. By the second week, the depression I had suffered from all my life lifted – I kid you not – like a curtain. My sleep patterns settled themselves, and the inexplicable GI symptoms that I’d often had – despite knowing for a fact I had eaten no fruit – were explained (and remedied). I feel empowered and in control now!
Now that I have been on the full foodplan for several months, I have gotten unexpected relief. I now have no…. and I mean NO… premenstrual symptoms. At all. For the first time in my entire life I have to track my cycle on a calendar. No bad skin, no limp hair, no irritability, no breast tenderness, no cramping, no bloating, NOTHING. When I was a teen, it was very bad, and though things improved in my twenties I never connected it to the fact that I stopped eating fruit in my twenties. Now, however, with my newly expanded dietary guidelines resulting so immediately in a total elimination of all my PMS – I look back and see the connection. I now get one day of mild cramps on the second day – cramps easily taken care of with a Tylenol. Needless to say, my spouse is also happier!
With no site on the internet that I could find that was specific to Fructmal, I started one, and I am experimenting with wheat-free cooking and baking.
There finally seems to be research going on all over the world on fructose, and I feel absolutely thrilled (and just a little vindicated)! I feel certain that the condition will soon be as well-known as lactose intolerance or hypoglycemia.
Well, that’s it! I wish it were more exciting, but there wasn’t so much as a car chase! LOL!! It is a story that is obviously, in progress, and as such I will continue it in my blog…………….