Finally in 2010, my husband had had enough of seeing me miserable and sick, and urged me to go to the doctors again to demand further tests. My doctor recommended a fairly new test, for Fructose Malabsorption and I had nothing to lose so I was referred to a Hydrogen Breath Testing Clinic in Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think I had to adjust my diet the day leading up to this test. On the day, I was given a little machine, not dissimilar to the ones the police use to administer alcohol breath testing. A ‘baseline’ breath sample was taken, then I drank a ‘fructose solution’ and was monitored at regular intervals for about half a day. This was before iPads were around (hard life, isn’t it). The clinic didn’t tell me what to expect, or what they were looking for with the results. There had to have been at least 100 people in this room getting dietary intolerance tests. I noticed some of the people getting their results throughout the day had readings of 200, 250, 300, and mine were something like 0, 3, 1, 0. I simply thought this mustn’t be the ‘thing’ I was intolerant to, but surely there were more tests I could do to rule out other things. Anyway, the afternoon finished up, I was told my doctor would have the results and I’d need to see her to discuss them. In the meantime, my stomach was a bit gurgly but nothing I wasn’t used to.
That night, a Saturday, my husband and I went to dinner with some friends. I believe we had some sort of tapas style food. After finishing up our dinner we decided to drive to a different place for some further chit-chat, and coffee and dessert. This is where the fun started. I remember driving, but I don’t know how I got to the cafe we ended up at. My stomach was in so much pain that it permeated through my whole body and the only thing I can IMAGINE it could be similar to, is having a child (which I have not had, may I add). I could feel the inside of my body shaking, and all that got me through this seven minute drive to the cafe was the thought of there being a toilet, and the pain wearing away shortly after. I think I double parked the car and RAN inside, half keeled over. I had never been so happy to see a toilet in my life. This was clearly the worst bout of symptoms I had ever had. The diarhoea continued for hours that night, and onto the next day or two as well.
Early that week I saw my doctor and she explained that unfortunately, I was in the small percentage of people whose bodies do not produce hydrogen, so that’s why the hydrogen breath test results were all so low. So essentially, the breath test told me nothing. I told my doctor about the symptoms I had experienced on the Saturday night around 9.30pm, which was about 12 hrs after I had swallowed the fructose solution at the clinic. After hearing this, my doctor was pretty sure (from the symptoms I had after the fructose drink) I had Fructose Malabsorption and urged me to see a dietician.
I saw a dietician almost immediately. That was the first and last time. I paid a lot of money for a consultation where they handed me a photocopied booklet and ran through it with me for the hour. This told me foods to avoid and foods that were safe. I was instructed to go on a complete ‘fructose free’ diet for a few months and then slowly start introducing the foods back in to see what my ‘threshold’ was. I left the dietician unsure of where to start, what to eat, who to turn to….