I started having noticeable issues with gastrointestinal symptoms and food intolerances early in life, if you can call diet sodas and artificial sweeteners “food.” I was about 12 years old when NutraSweet went on the market. It became immensely popular and was used in the diet sodas and sugar-free candies and gums all my tween-aged friends were drinking, eating and chewing. Personally, I couldn’t stand the stuff. It made me nauseated and bloated and made my mouth water sickeningly. Over the years, other so-called sugar substitutes came to market and I tried them all, but every one of them made me sick. My grandmother’s Sweet n’ Low was clearly poison and I never touched it. As for reacting badly to actual real food, that didn’t start until later.
In my experience as a Crohn’s patient, besides the agony of the disease and the difficulty and energy expenditure of finding effective treatments, the ignorant and hurtful things blurted out by friends and family members have perhaps been the hardest thing to deal with. (Oh, and the looming homelessness! But for me at least, the major financial difficulties came a bit later.) The demented things people have said to me started early on and it caused me to perform a snap evaluation of the relationships in my life, as that was all I had the energy for, and I decided I would rather just be left alone. 5 years later, I do not regret my decision to cut ties with almost everyone who I had previously thought cared about me. For some reason, they could not or would not grasp what I was dealing with and their constant drains on my time and energy were making me feel worse.