I’m recovering from an episode of Pain (intentional capitalization) in my sacrum. It started as a dull ache but grew to the shooting variety (the I-can-no-longer-ignore-it proportion) 2 weeks ago. With a combination of treatments from an excellent team, including acupuncture, activator-method chiropractic, and massage, as well as much soul searching, posture work, ergonomic improvements and dietary changes I’m healthier, and in better physical alignment than I have been in for six months.

I’ve experienced the same type of thing before, but not for many years. Illness has always been, for me, a search for meaning. My body was reacting to several stressors, one of which was related to my spending more time at the computer since I started blogging at the beginning of 2008. It was winter when I started, I was indoors more than I would have liked, my snowshoes were left to lean forlornly against the front porch. I lugged my laptop around, from office to home and back again as if it were an appendage or a pet in need of frequent feeding. Sometimes late at night I perched my beloved aluminum mac on my lap while stretched out on the oldest couch still in use today (which lives in my living room). It’s mod 1970s orange velour, however warm and cozy, was no protection against the structural collapse that is our couch. Shopping for new couch begins now. As does shopping for computer for the office, so that laptop no longer has to make the commute, like a child of divorced parents, to two part-time domiciles.

Despite the structural issues that may have resulted from said deplorable posture my muscles were doing things that were highly suspicious of the dreaded food allergy. Any time I see (or experience) unexplained muscle spasms severe enough to misalign the structure of the spine I have to think of the gut. This is true especially if:

  • spasms wander to diverse muscles in proximity to the gut and attaching to the spine–such as psoas and hamstrings.
  • when (despite the picture of me lolling on evil comfy couch), the individual with such spasms is not a total couch potato but had been exercising well and often until onset of the debilitating-ouch.
  • when there is a family history of gut and back issues: in my family almost everyone has or has had “a bad back,” and there is IBS, Crohns and Diverticulitis up the, yes, the whazoo. Most recently a cousin a few years older than me was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Yes, you read that right. Type 1. In the latter stages of the 4th decade of her life.

Oh, the gut. I gave up dairy in my thirties, gave up gluten at 40, rice at 41 or 42 (after massive rice consumption following elimination of gluten), and was heading towards 50 with just a twinge of awareness here, a flash of intuition there. Would I slide into that decade free of an irritated gut? No. Last Saturday I became certain without a doubt that soy is no longer my friend.

It has been only 4 days since my last bite of anything soy (a piece of my son’s gluten-free/dairy-free chocolate birthday cake), and the last vestiges of irritation to gut, muscle and bone are disappearing. I’ll be experimenting in the kitchen again soon to see what flours and what milk I can use to make my excellent birthday cake special a soy-free special next time. In the meantime, this change brings me increased awareness of that balance between lightness and heaviness which food literally embodies (and embeds within us). Soy was tipping me too heavily in the direction of that which is heavy, damp and overfull.