Sunday, 2 May 2010

It's life Jim but not as we know it.

As I mentioned in my previous post I had another vertigo attack while away on holidays and I think it was caused by something I ate.  I have been on a very strict low salt diet for months now and prior to this recent vertigo attack I'd been attack free since the end December 2009. 

There's no way to know the reason why I've been attack free for so long.  Is the diet helping?  Is the medication I'm on working?  Or is it just time?  But I've stuck to the strict diet just in case it helps. 

I've found myself doubting the diet's affect, despite reading that it supposedly helps the majority of sufferers, because when I was diagnosed 7 1/2 years ago I went on the same diet and then came off it after some time and was attack free for many years. 

But there is a difference between this time and last time.  This time I have had many, many more attacks than last time.  This time a lot more damage has been done.

So while we were away I decided to eat something I didn't know the salt content of.  The next day I had an attack.  It seems plausible that the food was high in salt and the higher salt content triggered an attack.

Suddenly I found myself full of grief.  I'd been thinking this diet would again be temporary.  But what if it's not?  What if I have to stay on this diet for the rest of my life?  Of course given the choice between being on a strict diet for the rest of my life and having vertigo attacks, I choose the diet.  But the diet means forever reading food labels.  It means forever cooking things from scratch.  It means no take away foods.  It means carrying food on me at all times in case I get hungry because I can't just pop into the closest food store for something to eat.  It means not being able to pop out to a cafe or restaurant for a bite to eat (I've been told it is possible to eat out with forward planning by talking to the chef beforehand to meticulously explain my diet - but even this seems like a chore, means I can't just decide to go out somewhere, limits me on where I can eat out and also means I have to put my trust in someone I don't know to follow the diet accurately).  It means having to carefully explain my diet to hosts and trusting them to follow the diet or providing my own food.  It means a lot more planning would have to go into trips away, especially overseas (can I even go overseas on this diet??).  It  means standing around at parties and morning tea at work, watching other people devour goodies.

I love eating out, getting take away and travelling.

I know there are plenty of people out there on all kinds of restrictions when it comes to diet, but salt really does seem to be in nearly everything, including a lot of things people would assume weren't high in salt (cakes, biscuits, bread...)  Yesterday I saw that Lindt has made a new chocolate with sea salt!!  So how do I manage explaining to people what I can and can't eat?  Then how do I manage that in a foreign language? 

I guess right now not only is my diet restricted but I feel like my life is restricted because of it.  It is something that I still need to comes to terms with and learn to live with.


Baby Boomer Writer said...

Hi Tanya,

I have gotten quite a few visits to my baby boomer blog from people who have been on your site. Thank you! I wanted to give you this link to the Mayo Clinic's (a highly respected medical research institute in the U.S.) comments on Meniere's disease in case it offered some additional help:

Yes, what you describe is not easy, but accepting the annoyance that goes along with a special diet as soon as you can, will make it easier for others. When you make it "no big deal," those who love you will relax a bit because they will assume (because you organized it) that everything is okay.

Naturally, with a chronic disease, the managing is yours to do, but once you incorporate the rigors of being prepared to hold onto the low salt diet that you say works well most of the time, you will feel better most days. I wish you the best!

Eliza said...

That really does sound difficult. I guess over time you'll learn which products you can trust and so you won't have to read the labels and your friends will learn to adjust, but people are very reluctant to go without salt.

Due to blood pressure issues I've had and the fact my grandpa died young of heart failure I try to limit salt in my diet, but I wouldn't claim to have cut it out completely. I can see perfectly well how hard it is for you, because I, too, have taken note of how much salt there is in all food.

You could travel overseas by buying fresh food in markets and preparing it yourself. This means you'll need to look for self-contained accommodation so perhaps you might consider time share or house swaps. It is an option, so don't count out international travel. You might not be able to enjoy exotic cuisines from around the world, but you can still enjoy the culture.

Tanya said...

It's actually scary just how much salt there is in our modern diets and it mainly comes from processed foods. I reckon the majority of people would have absolutely no idea just how much salt they are actually consuming. I'm reading an interesting book at the moment about salt and it talks about the fact that about 75% of people's salt intake actually comes from processed foods.

I do miss salt occasionally but I eat much more basic natural foods now and I have noticed that I am able to taste the individual flavours much more now. I think salt hides a lot of the natural flavours from foods.

What I'd actually love to see are restaurants that cater to using more natural foods and flavour things with herbs and spices rather than salt!