Splenda Case History - Lucy's Story

In the summer of 2005, just a little over a year ago, I began using Splenda® in my morning coffee and green tea. Interestingly, July 8, 2006 marks the first anniversary of the day I began seeking a cure for what was the most debilitating pain I'd ever experienced in my life, short of the birthing process.

My decision to use Splenda was based on the need to make hectic mornings easier and to control my blood sugar. At the time, I was working 3 jobs and doing everything I could to manage my new life as the single mother of two healthy, active children. I spent most mornings juicing watermelon rinds and eating the sweet fruit every day. I found it highly effective in controlling many of my cravings for sweets. This regime combined with vegetable juices during the day, helped me feel better than I'd felt in years.

But, it was a lot of work and I needed to find a way to better manage my time. So, after hearing about the wonders of Splenda, I decided to use it in my morning coffee and tea rather than juicing, cleaning the juicer and managing the fruit gnats, a ubiquitous pest during the summer months in Texas.

The first time I used Splenda, it tasted strange to me and I felt a fogginess around my head. I remember making note of it, but I thought it had more to do with my general sense of stress rather than the chemical sweetener. Most importantly, I was so happy with my new routine of quick and easy mornings and sleeping a little later every day.

Shortly after I began using Splenda, I experienced serious pain in my stomach. Initially, I thought maybe I'd pulled a muscle doing backbends in the yard with my kids. It seemed odd though, because I'd been doing them for years in yoga. Thinking the pain would subside in a few days, I went about my work.

Unfortunately, the pain increased to the point of feeling like I was in labor. The pain grew so intense, I found myself struggling just to make it through my busy days. I began popping ibuprofen like M&Ms in the hopes that the pain was somehow related to my menstrual cycle or physical activity. The pain remained, but did become a bit more tolerable after a couple weeks.

When my symptoms flared up again, they came back with a vengeance. This time, I not only experienced abdominal pain, I began to have diarrhea and constipation. One day I'd be constipated, and the next, I'd have diarrhea. My bowel movements became so painful, I would cry out every time I went to the bathroom. Passing gas also become very painful; I would hold myself up by my arms much like I did the first time I felt transitional contractions during labor. I clearly remember my 5-year-old daughter running into the bathroom, wiping my tears, and hugging me. The look of fear on her face scared me.

On July 8, 2005, I went to an urgent care facility. As I sat in the fetal position, writhing in pain on the examination table, I told the nurse my symptoms. He was visibly concerned about my state of health and got me into the gynecological examination room immediately.

The gynecological exam was like none I've experienced before. It was the most painful examination I'd ever had in my life. At the end of the appointment, the doctor said she had no idea what was going on but she suspected endometriosis.

"Diagnosing endometriosis is not an easy process. It usually comes down to going into the uterus and finding the endometria before a clear diagnosis can be made."

The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce the pain. I took the medication and hoped mine was a temporary situation that would clear up quickly. Sadly, the medication was of little help.

Growing more and more fearful and concerned for my well being, I went to visit my family physician. I put off seeing her because I didn't have medical insurance and, frankly, I didn't have the money for what was going to be a long, drawn out investigation into my health concerns. When I finally made my way into her offices, she was surprised at how I acted. Again, I was doubled over in pain. Merely the physical examination of my abdomen made me flinch and wince.

One of the things she noticed was that my usually flat stomach was bloated with gas. Because of my family history of cancer (breast, ovarian, and colon) she referred me to a local OB/GYN and set up an appointment for an ultrasound at a local hospital. She also gave me a prescription for Darvocet.

The next day, I found myself laying on another examination table in another paper robe hoping for a diagnosis. Within minutes, the doctor said he found a significant mass on my right ovary. "It looks like a cluster of cysts, Ms. Watkins. I can see fluid inside each one of them."

"Could that be what's causing all my pain?" I asked.

"Yes, it very well could be," he replied, "Ovarian cysts can be painful, especially during ovulation."

The attending physician's report stated:

"The right ovary is a little bit enlarged. There is a cyst which I thought initially was three different cysts, but I feel it is one cyst with a little septum in the middle of it. It measures 2.37 dm. Cysts that have little septums are somewhat worriesome. The right ovary itself is slightly enlarged, measuring 3.26 x 1.81 x 3.53 cm."

This diagnosis didn't sit well with my physician, however. She was terribly concerned that the pain and other symptoms indicated something much more serious than the cysts.

The next stop on this journey was to visit the OB/GYN recommended by my family physician. When talking to the physician's assistant, she commented that she had, indeed, seen painful symptoms associated with ovarian cysts. She did a quick, but very painful, examination. It surprised her how much the exam hurt me. She told me she felt something on my ovary. At least I knew I wasn't imagining anything. She prescribed a transvaginal ultrasound to get another look at the cyst and a colonoscopy so we could see what was causing my intestinal pain.

The Physician's Assistant's report stated:

"On exam today, Lucy was very tender during the bimanual exam, but I was unable to palpate her ovary secondary to her discomfort."

A week or so later, I was back in an outpatient clinic preparing for the second colonoscopy of my life. I wasn't worried about the procedure because the first one I'd had several years before was a breeze. The only pain I experienced at that time was the preparatory medication they prescribed the night before the procedure.

This colonoscopy was a much different experience, however. It was horribly painful. I remember begging the doctor for more medication to stop the pain. I could feel the colonoscope as if it was scraping along the walls of my colon. It felt sharp and extremely painful. The doctors and nurses kept telling me to relax, but it was impossible to relax any more than I already was because of the twilight medication they gave me. In the end, the doctor chose to completely sedate me in order to complete the examination.

In recovery, the doctor told me he saw the early signs of diverticulitis. This was not likely the cause of all the pain I'd been suffering. And frankly, this revelation surprised both the physician and me, considering my many years as a healthy vegetarian, eating plenty of fiber. Gratefully, he did not find any endometria in the lining of my colon.

There was still no clear explanation or visible cause for the strong pain that continued to affect my productivity and quality of life. And rather than finding relief, the pain continued to worsen to the point of my nearly calling an ambulance on several mornings. It was during this time period that I begged my estranged husband to move back to Texas from California to help me with our children. He accused me of faking my symptoms all this time in an attempt to get him back into my life.

In the meantime, I was haunted with nightmares of a cancer diagnosis, wondering who would take care of my children for me. I was petrified. I was also rapidly losing weight where there was little to spare. Within 2 months after this problem began, my 5'7" frame had been reduced to less than 115 lbs. I was miserable, weak, frightened, and fearing for my life.

The pain worsened over the following months. I took Darvocet for the intense pain, using heat packs to soothe my muscle tension, and basically, I just tried to make it through each day.

Then, during my next period, I noticed for the first time in my life that using tampons felt like I was pulling a thorny branch out of my body. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. None of it made any sense.

All this time, I continued working three jobs; one with a local handyman doing remodeling work. I climbed ladders and taped-and-bedded walls while suffering in pain. One day, a woman walked over to me (while I was wobbling five-feet up on a ladder), and asked me if I was the owner of the new dance studio we were remodeling. We began talking, and she introduced herself as Dr. Janet Hull, author of the book Sweet Poison and her soon-to-be-released book, Splenda® Is It Safe Or Not?.

"Splenda?" I thought, "The new sweetener, Splenda?"

She gave me a little information about its ingredients, and how it is made. Of course, I didn't tell her I was using it in my morning coffee and tea. Instead, I went home that night and threw away the Splenda box.

Ten days later, it was time for my second ultrasound. I felt surprisingly well, and upon examination, the technician discovered the cyst was gone. She suggested it was a functional cyst that only appeared with ovulation.

A couple weeks afterwards, I realized I wasn't in pain any more. The decrease in pain had been gradual, and while I still experienced some bowel tenderness, it was nothing like before. Eventually over the next month, all my symptoms disappeared. Even my friends noticed that I looked better.

"It's great to see you smiling again Lucy," I'd hear. "I've been so worried about you. You seem like you're getting back to your old self."

When I spoke to Dr. Hull again, she suggested I look back to what I did differently when the pain began, and to what I changed when my symptoms disappeared.

There was only one thing...Splenda. When I finally admitted to her I'd been using Splenda, she was surprised because she knew I usually ate a whole foods, vegetarian diet and food chemicals have been a rarity in my home for the last 10 years.

Today, my doctors are surprised by my complete recovery. There have been no lingering symptoms what-so-ever. Gathering my medical records, I returned to each of the doctors involved in my search for an answer to my health problems. The nurses, some of which I'd only met during those painful summer days, were amazed by my complete recovery. I told them my story and what I'd learned about Splenda. Each and every one who had witnessed me hobbling into their offices in tears, sat spellbound listening to my saga.

In late June, 2005, I began using two packets of Splenda in my morning coffee. By July 8, I was in an urgent care facility doubled over in intense pain. In September, 2005, I quit using Splenda. As of October, 2005, all my health symptoms were gone and, to this very day, have not returned. I am free and clear of all the pain and symptoms of last summer. And all I did was dump Splenda.

Posted June 2006 | Permanent Link

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