Emma’s Story: It Wasn’t What I Expected!

Assumptions, assumptions, assumptions!

At our autoimmune Suppers meeting, we were invited to challenge our assumptions and share personal stories about times when we arrived at the wrong destination because the roadmap of our assumptions was incorrect.

I understand at a basic human level we need to make assumptions constantly in order to get anything done. Like, “I assume this must be food because the woman who takes care of my every need placed it on the tray of my high chair.” Or: “Kissing it makes it feel better,” that worked on my daughter until she was four and her assumptions changed. Or: “I assume his advice is good; he has an advanced degree and I’m paying a fortune for his advice.” All day, every day, we seek to make sense of the world and fill in the blanks automatically.

But what happens when we confuse assumptions with truth? What happens when we base our understanding of people or events or our medical conditions on wishes or emotions or the advice of experts instead of our own observations? Important work at Suppers meetings is helping people uncover their “natural reality” – how things are regardless of how we understand them.

We gave examples of medical assumptions. “Fever is bad, take aspirin.” “Fever is your immune system doing its job; leave it alone.” Or: “Pain is bad. Take a pain killer” “If I just make the pain go away I won’t restrict my movement and may do more damage.” Or: “The fat I’m trying so hard to get rid of may be doing me a big favor, like storing toxins in a safer place.” I was able to share an example.

About 10 years ago, I started having trouble swallowing, a condition called dysphagia. At times I was unable to swallow my own saliva. I ended up in swallowing therapy and on an elimination diet. The therapist assumed – in this case, correctly – it was important to do my own experiments and strip my diet down to some very basic foods and then re-introduce items one by one and observe my reaction. I had recently switched to using stevia and soy milk in my afternoon tea, thinking that I was doing something healthy. Apparently not! Upon reinstating my afternoon tea, it became clear that my body was reacting to the stevia and soy. Those were the last things that I expected to be the problem. It made me realize that assumptions can have dire effects. Not being able to swallow is a very serious problem, but who would ever have thought it could result from consuming something so seemingly healthy or at least innocuous as soy milk!

I’m concerned that people will accept conventional wisdom when what they need is to think outside the box of their own assumptions. What if I had gone to someone who assumes that medications or surgery are the best way to go? The top allergens for this condition are demonstrated to be milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts, and seafood. For me, the stevia actually turned out to be the most problematical, which seems so strange since so many experts think it’s the safest non-caloric sweetener. I was lucky to land in a practice where I got a chance to eliminate, re-introduce, and observe my reactions.