After two weeks of denying my taste buds the delicious flavors of rice, potatoes, bread, sugar, juice, processed foods, and any other indulgence in general, I lost 10 pounds on Dr. Kokayi’s elimination diet. I was allowed to eat steel cut oatmeal in the morning so I was grateful for that. I became a master of making delicious oatmeal with homemade peanut butter and grapes. The diet really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, especially since I knew it was only for two weeks. I made it through the two weeks by primarily eating the same ten things. I also learned a lot about myself during this time. One of the most important things was that food does not have to rule my life. I went in to see Dr. Kokayi and we discussed my progress with the diet and the next steps. In my first appointment, he had told that he wanted to conduct a very expensive blood test on me that would test my blood for inflammation against 140 different foods. His office was trying to get my health insurance to pay for it or else I would have to pay over $5,000 out of pocket. I was happy to hear that my insurance had agreed to cover its full cost. I was not very excited to get the results. I saw this as an official document that would restrict what I could and could not eat, and how could I go against it? It’s for my health! He also wanted to test me for gluten intolerance or allergen. I told him to slow his roll and let me deal with the results of the NEI blood test first.

The good news was that I had gotten to a place mentally where I could allow myself to pay for the peptide injections. I was excited about the shot and expected my life to change immediately. In the meantime, he also requested that I stay on the elimination diet for another two weeks until the results of my blood test came in. They drew my blood in their luxurious, relaxing treatment room. There was two upper eastside looking women already in the room, attached to standing IVs. The walls had a few flat screen TVs and the chairs were all large leather recliners. I had never had my blood drawn in such a relaxing setting. It was so much better to be rich and sick. They made you feel like a person while adding the extra touch of outstanding customer service. Everyone deserves this!

After the pleasant experience with having a few vials of blood drawn in the lap of luxury came the complete antithesis. I had gotten to a place mentally where I could allow myself to pay for the peptide injections. I was excited about the shot and expected my life to change immediately, but I was not expecting intense yet brief side effects. The nurse took me into one of the examination rooms and told me that I would have to remove my pants enough to expose one butt cheek. “Ugh, great”, I thought “We have to get this personal.” He left the room while I got halfway undressed and put the paper over me. The nurse stepped back in with Dr. Kokayi, who was holding a syringe and the peptide formula. I braced myself for the pain he told me was inevitable with the shot and the intense burning that would follow. I didn’t even care that there were two male medical professionals looking at my tense right butt cheek. I have never been afraid of needles until that moment. He told me he would count to three before he administered the shot; he ended up doing it on one. I let out a scream that startled all of us. I didn’t expect that sound to come from my body but it hurt like hell. I stayed in the room for another 8 minutes to let the burning subside a bit.

While I let out low guttural moans I got the bright idea to take a picture of my ass. I don’t know why but I had to see what my butt looked like. I just knew that it looked like a bruised red mound. I became an Olympic contortionist while trying to take a picture of my butt with my phone. It never occurred to me to get off my stomach and off of the examination table to take the picture. I blame the intense pain for the poor choices I made in that room, but I got my picture! It was a bit of a let down after all of the trouble I had gone through to take it. I finally pulled up my pants and gathered my belongings to head to the check out counter. I paid the $367 for the injection and decided to take a quick break from my elimination diet for some Mexican food, my bum still burned and I deserved it.

The next two weeks were much easier than the first two probably because I added chocolate covered almonds to the mix. I also found four more food items to add to my menu. I was on a roll but really missed nachos and pizza. Dammit, maybe food was still my love language. The next appointment came faster than I anticipated and I knew it was time to get the results of my blood test. It turns out adding chocolate covered almonds does make a difference because I only lost 2 pounds at the next visit. I sat across from Dr. Kokayi in his office and received some unexpected results from my blood test. Along with testing me for inflammation he also tested me for some other issues. In the time we had met I had tried to reduce my meat intake by eating more fish. Not eating meat was not a part of the elimination diet but he had mentioned veganism, and I thought becoming a pescatarian was one step closer to that. The results found arsenic and mercury in my blood. Yes, arsenic! The thing they used to use to poison royalty. It was because of the seafood I was eating. That was the day I learned the difference between wild caught vs. farm raised and deep sea vs. regular fish. His advice was that I eat deep-sea wild fish. It was less likely to be affected by our polluted oceans and seas. He also handed me this booklet that showed me the results of my test. It listed the foods and had red, yellow or green next to the food. The red indicated foods to avoid, the yellow were foods I could eat in moderation and the green was for foods I could eat as much as I wanted to. Of course, most of the reds were next to dairy and wheat products. “WTF”, I thought. This elimination diet was going to be a lifetime commitment. My heart and body sank in the chair maybe my relationship with food was more intense than I thought…