My Challenge with Lactose Intolerance


By Sandy Clifton – I used to hear people say they were lactose intolerant and I would think that it wasn't anything to be concerned about. "Oh, you're lactose intolerant? That's no big deal right?" I guess with some people it may not be….

My process of finding out I had it.

I kept going to the doctor because I was feeling bad. My stomach would hurt, I was extremely bloated, I had the runs and would be really full shortly after I would put anything in my mouth. My doctor at the time just thought I was prone to feeling cysts and basically told me to wait it out. I would wait another few weeks and I still had the same symptoms and felt worse so I went back in.

After asking me to lie down and pressing on my belly quite hard, he asked if it hurt. Well, yes, it hurts who would say it doesn't hurt if someone was pressing on your bloated stomach extremely hard? By me saying yes to his question he told me I should go to the ER immediately because he thought that my appendix was going to irrupt.

Talk about freaking a girl out! Instead of the reassuring calm I expected from my doctor, I got the "you need to go now and you can't drive there you need to take an ambulance." Luckily my husband was in the car waiting for me. I get to the ER and they admit me to a room. This was my first time in the ER. I was scared going in; I didn't know what I would see. I kept expecting to see someone screaming with pain or someone shot. Thanks ER and Grey's Anatomy for my view on emergency rooms.

Everyone kept asking, "Where does it hurt?" and about 3 people ask you the same questions. So you have to retell your issue. Don't these people talk to each other? I feel bad and your staff can't even get together on that? Doctor offices and emergency rooms really need to fix that problem. It's bad enough to go through it again there, but then repeat it 3 more times, it's insane.

After being hooked up on an IV, drinking some nasty liquid and being wheeled down the hall in my bed to get some scans done it turns out that my insides look good. GOOD. I was freaking out for those 4 hours I was in that room. I thought that I would have to have surgery and my hubby is being extremely sympathetic and trying to make me feel better and I don't have anything wrong with my organs. Are you kidding me? I get a bill for over a grand in the mail for that little trip to the Emergency Room. Did my doctor have to pay for it since he misdiagnosed me? No, I did.

I decided to switch doctors. They still didn't tell me what was wrong. After going to this new doctor a few times after getting blood work taken the nurse suggested I get a lactose intolerance test. The nurse! So I brought it up to my new doctor and he said it really didn't sound like I had it but lets go ahead and take the test. I knew something was wrong with me; know one should be doubling over in agony almost daily.

I go in on a Saturday to take my test. I don't know if anyone is familiar with this but you have to fast the day before and the day of you can't even have water. I get there and they make you drink this liquid that is filled with water and this sugary chalk like substance that doesn't mix with the water. You have to drink all of it even with no water if you drank the first half and the rest didn't come out. Then your not allowed to drink anything for the next 2 hours! They prick your finger right after that and then you come back every hour for the next two hrs to prick you again.

Turns out I am extremely lactose intolerant to the point that my body doesn't produce the enzyme. No wonder I was getting so sick. I drank one to two glasses of whole milk daily! I have lost 15 pounds in the last one and a half months partially from not being able to eat much do to my stomach being upset and the other because I quit dairy. I am supposed to take these lactose pills every time I eat anything but they make me sick. So I have decided I will just cut it out of my diet all together. I have felt so much better since doing that too.

You would be amazed at how many things have lactose in them that you would of never guessed. Luckily they make lactaid milk and when you mix it in with other things its not too bad. Have you tried soy? Wow, I don't think I will ever get used to the taste of soy products. I wish more stores had more choices for people with lactose intolerance. It would be nice to see a bakery or a restaurant that make everything with lactaid milk. Not goat milk that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth or soy that is just plain funky. I want choices! For now I will be refined to making my own food and not getting any take out because I do get sick easily off of lactose containing products.

I guess the positive thing from all this is that I have lost that weight I have wanted to get rid of. Just happened in a not-so-wanting way.

Sandy Clifton is a Colorado Artist who's work spans drawing, painting, and (incredibly vivid) photography.  Her work is viewable at Sandy's Fine Art and Yessy Art Gallery.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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