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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Indicator Elbows

The Elbow, Revealed
My elbows pop loudly. So loudly that, at meetings and other gatherings, people turn to look at the source of the sound. Imagine cracking a knuckle, then magnify the sound by 10,000 times. You will have the sound of my elbows popping.
I try not to pop them, but the feeling (again, think of your knuckles) is so overwhelming—the pressure building up in my elbow joint, the feeling of swelling, the need for release—that I just have to pop them.
Sometimes, say, when I meet someone for the first time, or I'm going to the library or other quiet public place, I will pre-pop them to ensure (as much as possible) that I won’t have to do so later on. (Of course, you can never know exactly when The Need to Elbow Pop will occur. Still, an ounce of prevention…)
The Need to Pop has abated significantly since I’ve changed my ways with food. I now believe the popping is a food allergy indicator, and that I’ve eaten foods to which I was allergic for such a long time that I assumed the popping was simply natural to me.
I also assumed that food allergies only  manifest in the most dramatic of ways: anaphylactic shock or  an instant bloom of hives.The less-bold allergy signatures were unknown--until I learned that a slowly-building itching of the face, increased throat-clearing, and—for me—lots of elbow popping, were flags of a peanut allergy

When I let go of dairy, peanuts, wheat and most other grains, I thought I'd seen the end of elbow popping. Well, it decreased, but did not cease. I began to suspect soy products, a favorite protein source, might be the problem.
The answer arrived last Tuesday,  as I drank a soy milk-blackberry smoothie. Along with a gas-filled, ballooning stomach, my apartment sounded  like a castanet factory from the elbow popping. Yes, soy had turned on me.
The Guilty Garnet Sweet Potato
The elbow popping dropped significantly in volume--until this Monday, when I ate a small Garnet sweet potato. Within minutes, my throat was congested, and my elbows popped. I thought it might be a fluke (and maybe I was in denial). So today, I ate half of a small sweet potato. Once again the elbow concert, the throat clearing.
This allergy evidence is both conclusive and unwelcome. I have long loved sweet potatoes, and wanted to have them as the food treats closed to sweets as I let go of processed sugar. I don’t look forward to giving them up. But—like the soy, four-legged meat, the sugars, the grains, and diary—they need to go, at least for a while. I’ll consider this a bittersweet win for better health, and quieter elbows.
Update: I wrote this yesterday. Today's development--had some brown rice, cooked broccoli, and mushroom sauce at Laughing Planet Cafe about 45 minutes ago. I thought everything was fine. Really. But, here's the throat clearing again, and the elbow popping. Was it the rice?" The sauce? The fact that the foods were cooked?  For now, I'm going to stay away from the rice and sauce.
I'm just a walking science experiment, it seems.


  1. So sorry to hear about the sweet potatoes. I wonder if there could be something else going on, like changes in the weather? Keep up the experimenting! :-)

  2. Jan--thank you. I wish it *was* the weather!


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