The pain in my left hip started ten years ago, but because it was intermittent and varied in intensity, my GP was not overly interested. He carried out the standard blood tests and X-rays but with no firm diagnosis he eventually became disinterested, dishing out a variety of painkillers that often had undesirable side effects. I was even prescribed antidepressants, despite never having presented any symptoms of depression: I declined the prescription.
As the pain became notably worse over the last year, I pressed for a referral to see a rheumatologist. An ultrasound scan proved inconclusive and finally an MRI was ordered for mid-August. By this time, I found climbing stairs difficult and walking up or down slopes also caused pain.
Just before the scan date, my husband chanced upon an article on potato intolerance. It claimed that over time a potato intolerance can lead to, among other things, a 'leaky gut' (also known as intestinal permeability) that has been linked to a range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis.
My husband was considering a trial elimination period of three weeks to see if cutting potatoes from his diet would assist with his digestive problems. I agreed to support him by refraining from cooking any potato-based meals for the duration, thinking that if I suffered withdrawal cravings I could always eat potatoes at work.
Within a few days, much to both of our bemusement, it was me who noticed the benefits. Suddenly I was not experiencing as much pain, just minor niggles. My mobility increased and I was able to walk up the stairs and steep slopes that had previously left me gasping for breath and needing to make frequent stops. I have even started gentle exercises, which helps reduce the stiffness further.
Potatoes are part of the nightshade family. Some people also have intolerance to other members of the family, including tomatoes, green peppers and aubergines. I have limited my intake of red peppers, but not eliminated them entirely - I am still eating tomatoes with no apparent side effects. I found Jane's Healthy Kitchen website particularly helpful for information on nightshade intolerance.
I am keeping pain killers for the proverbial 'rainy day', and have started doing exercises from the NHS website for 'legs, tums and bums'. I have found that gentle but regular exercise works for me now.
By the time I visited my rheumatologist to discuss the results of the MRI scan I was walking with a spring in my step! She confirmed that I have mild osteoarthritis, but it was not severe enough to cause the sort of pain I had previously been experiencing. She was intrigued by my potato story and said she was going to do some reading on the topic.
I still experience discomfort at times, and occasionally pain, both of which appear to be related to changing weather patterns, but nowhere near as bad as when I was eating potatoes on a regular basis. Needless to say potatoes are permanently off the menu now!