I was 26 years old when I was diagnosed with gout. I was young, at the beginning of my career and living what I thought was my best life. But when you have gout at 26, something is seriously wrong and if you don’t figure out what is wrong, you either continue living a very unhealthy life or you could die young. And for me, I think gout saved and prolonged my life! It came at 26 and it eventually led me to find out about my dairy intolerance. There were many times where I couldn’t walk, and I was taking so many pills just to manage the pain. And one day I thought to myself, I can’t be popping this many pills for the rest of my life!
When I had my first gout attack, I literally crawled around the house. The pain was so excruciating on my ankles that I didn’t even have the will to walk on it. It’s the kind of pain where even when the sheets brush your feet you feel like screaming. I had no idea gout can be so painful to the point where I couldn’t walk.
But I lived a very unhealthy and toxic life. I was binge eating, binge drinking, barely getting enough sleep and was overweight. Man, when I think about it, I wasted a lot of time and money on that lifestyle. But apart from that, I also had a lot of personal issues that made me want to drink a lot. And I didn’t care about my life. I was selfish towards myself but not towards others. I wasn’t looking after myself, but I was looking after other people. When people needed my help I helped them and I never bothered about myself, my health and wellbeing.
My entire life was toxic; from family, to eating habits to drinking habits. And when I look back, my symptoms were already showing but I never really connected it to food and I think for the most part, I didn’t really care. And neither did anyone else. I mean, there was no awareness back then. I was getting heartburns, bloated, diarrhea and I was also lethargic and had very low energy levels. I thought this was normal because no one was talking about food related problems. I mean not even the people in the health sector.
It was after 2010 that I started paying attention to my symptoms after I came back from the Melanesian Arts festival that was held in New Caledonia. In New Caledonia, I ate a lot of French pastries, cheese, red meat and just basically everything our hosts had to offer. At the time heartburn, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea was not perceived as symptoms of food hypersensitivities. Usually, if I started to get bloated or have diarrhea, I would brush it off as overeating or something was wrong with the food. But when I came back from New Caledonia, I started noticing that every time I ate red meat, I would start getting heart burn and if I ate too much I would vomit. If I ate a lot of cheese, especially because I love pizza, I would get so bloated and have stomach pain which often led to diarrhea. There was this one time, Siu and I went out clubbing and from there we went and got some Big Macs. Not just one big mac, we had 2 each! And after dropping her off, I went straight home and puked everything out. I mean, those were the signs. It is not normal to eat and vomit.
It was only when I was medically diagnosed with gout in 2012 that I started looking at my diet and stopped eating red meat. I just couldn’t eat it. Every time I had red meat, my body would reject it and I would either vomit it out or I would have constant diarrhea. So, basically my body was trying to remove whatever food was not nourishing my body every time I ate it. My gout attacks were also very frequent at the time, about 2-3 times a month. In 2014, my colleague took up a position in our department. Her office was right next to mine, and she noticed how frequent I was getting gout attacks and missing work. She suggested that I go and see her sister who practices Integrative medicine at her clinic in Flagstaff and see if she can help. I decided to go and booked my first appointment in 2015. In this session I talked about my condition and my interest in Field Control Therapy (FCT), a therapy that she specialises in. The first thing I had to do was fill in a form, which looks at identifying symptoms and energy levels that I was experiencing. Some of my symptoms were tonsilitis, night sweats, stomach aches and low energy levels during the day. It was from here that we mapped out what we would do to alleviate these symptoms. Her first recommendation was to take a food test to identify food that my body couldn’t tolerate. The next part would be to undergo FCT.
My food test revealed that shellfish, deep sea fish particularly mackerel and swordfish, nightshades (potato, tomato, eggplant) and dairy were all foods that were making me sick. I was advised to remove these foods from my diet. I was quite depressed after my first food test to be honest. I loved my Rewa butter and cheese and that was a lot of things to remove from my diet.
My next plan of action was FCT. I think most people may not want to go through with FCT because it is an entirely different approach to the traditional western medicine. But the important thing to know is that FCT identifies toxins and removes them to support and return the body to a more balanced state.
I had read up on what FCT was, and I personally chose to go along with it, because I was taking gout pills all the time to manage the pain during a gout attack. These pills were only for pain management rather than looking at the root cause. My goal was to find out what was causing my gout so I can live my life without popping pills.
“The first year is always the hardest when you try to go off certain foods.”
My first FCT found that I had a lot of toxins, worms and parasites and so my first treatment aimed to remove them. My first treatment took 3 days, and I lost about 5kg in that one weekend because I had diarrhea and just ate soup. Apparently, this was the detox process. A few weeks after my first FCT, I no longer had heartburn and I felt alive! My body felt different! I then scheduled my FCT for every 6 months, where we would look at what areas were weak, and the prescribed treatment would target those areas only. My FCT treatment spanned over 4-5 years and each FCT looked at different weakened areas such as my gut, joints and infections. After my 3rd FCT, I was starting to feel the difference in my body’s performance. My mind was sharp, my thought processing was faster than usual, and my mind was just buzzing all the time. I mean before, I would become sleepy after lunch and my focus would be all over the place. I guess I was operating at perhaps 50-60% with the help of sugar, coffee, beer and energy drinks.
So, while I was going through FCT and trying to improve the way my body was functioning, I was also keeping to a diet free from all the foods my food test revealed I shouldn’t be eating. FCT is a holistic approach where proper diet goes hand in hand with the treatment. I wasn’t really consistent with my diet until the year we got married, 2016. Consistency in the first year is a problem I share with everyone.
But for me, I was getting married, so I wanted to lose weight, and I had to be serious. Siu and I started paddling and then we joined boxfit. We realised that not only that we needed to have a balanced diet, we also needed a diet that excludes the foods that was making us sick.
I removed nightshades, crustaceans and deep-sea fish from my diet for about 2-3 years before I was able to re-introduce them. Now, I have been cleared to eat everything except dairy. I am still intolerant to dairy, and I still get severe reactions if I accidently eat dairy (bloating, heartburn, stomach aches, diarrhea and fatigue). And even though I can eat red meat, shellfish and deep-sea fish, I still avoid them because they still raise my uric acid levels, which makes my gout attacks worse. And honestly, I am over dairy, red meat etc. I no longer have the desire to eat it.
“In homeopathy it is normal to get worse before it gets better.”
In 2018, I had the most severe and worst gout attack which led to me being hospitalised. I couldn’t walk and I went into a period of depression. What led me to this point was a series of factors. Firstly, I had lost a lot of weight in a short period while my gout was being managed so I still had to deal with flare ups. It was only when my current medication could no longer manage the gout pain that things took a turn for the bad. I had to use corticosteroid drugs, but it could not be taken long term. So, eventually I let my gout flare up to allow for further tests. One of my Doctor’s favourite line was, “in homeopathy it is normal to get worse before it gets better.” This was the worst part of my gout, I couldn’t walk for a week and was admitted to hospital. Eventually we were able to manage the pain and get my uric acid down and I have since been seeing a specialist at Oceania Hospital to manage my uric acid level. I have been taking Allupurinol to lower my uric acid and with my diet, I have not had a severe gout attack since then.
The goal has been to reach a point to go without allupurinol by maintaining a healthy weight and diet. I went from having gout attacks 2-3 times a month, to once a month and then now it’s very rare. I no longer have heartburns, my energy level is very high, tonsilitis has disappeared and the only time I get bloated and have diarrhea is when I accidentally eat something I shouldn’t have eaten. I avoid dairy completely, and I also keep to a low protein and low sugar diet. I read that fructose raises uric acid levels and it is high in corn, oranges, apples and some other fruits. So, by managing my diet and completely avoiding dairy and allowing my gut to heal, my immune system and digestive system is functioning as it should and has really helped lower the frequency and severance of my gout attacks. Now, I spend my money on good quality food that is not toxic to my body or to my family, regardless of cost.
“When you came to me the first time I thought you were 40 years old, now you look your age”
The concept of food for Pacific islanders has gone to a point where food is toxic to the body rather than nourishing the body. We no longer eat to nourish ourselves but eating to kill ourselves. If you eat more than you should, that is greed. Like my family, eating became a social status. We valued processed, greasy food and we actually had a class for food, like some foods was being looked down on. And the very food that was making me sick was the food my family valued the most and was encouraging us to eat.
When I found out I had gout, I was ashamed of telling anyone. I didn’t even want to talk about it, you know. And even telling my story now, sharing my personal life makes me very uneasy. I am a very private person. I can talk about my professional career and that’s fine, but this is my private life. But now that I think about it, I have come a very long way. I’m now in my 30s but look younger than I was in my 20s and now I join fitness groups and run around with my son!
One of the things that my Doctor said many FCTs later was, “When you came to me the first time I thought you were 40 years old, now you look your age”
One of the reasons we started Tala Kei Kapa is that it was so hard to find gluten and dairy free pastries. Even if you found some product in the stores, it usually does not taste good at all. Many people find it hard to keep to their diets because that craving for pastries just keeps getting to you. But its not all about pastries, we want everyone to be conscious of the food they eat. It is our hope that by sharing our experiences that it helps people deal with food intolerances and pushes everyone to live a healthy and productive life.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am only sharing my experiences and it should not be taken as medical advice or me trying to promote a medical procedure. For any medical advice, consult a doctor.