I could not understand what was happening to me. I began to notice that I was more frequently forgetting things…not just my keys or someone’s name…but where I was going, words I had wanted to say and what someone had just said to me. I tried to argue with myself…”Oh, everyone forgets things” or “I’m just tired and stressed,” but I knew this was something different. If I happened to be in a noisy area where more than one thing was going on at a time or experiencing a time when several people were asking me different questions, I would be totally lost. I couldn’t focus and I would become visibly upset and frustrated. I tried, but I couldn’t hide my feelings of desperation. And then there were the all-over muscle aches, frequent headaches and some days I didn’t feel like I could do my normal activities. I started having trouble putting into sequence any project I attempted. I felt like I was aging at an ever increasing rate! I was frightened. Would I soon not be able to play with my grandchildren or not be able to be trusted by my husband to keep myself safe. I felt like my body and my mind were beginning to deteriorate.
I had been a nurse for over twenty years and had seen older patients suffer from many diseases and maladies that were characterized by dementia, slowing down of movement and fatigue. My Mom had experienced years of memory loss and confusion from Alzheimer’s and I was so concerned, as well as convinced, that I had this horrible disease as well. The first thing I did was go to my doctor. He had known my Mom well and understood how I felt since genetics plays a part in this disease. He began to order labs and other tests. Several thousand dollars later he and I were still in the dark about my condition. He did find that one of my medications needed to be adjusted but nothing that explained what was causing all my difficulties. I was exasperated…and as the saying goes…”Nurses make awful patients.”
I began thinking about all that I was doing in my life that may be in some way affecting my well-being adversely. I was diabetic and did not always follow my diet diligently but my glucose levels weren’t bad. Other than that, I couldn’t pinpoint anything. Then my sister-in-law, who was concerned about me, told me of a friend of hers in another state who had experienced some of these same symptoms. The friend had decided to give up diet soft drinks and other low-sugar or sugar-free food that relied on aspartame for their sweet taste. Since all my lab work and tests had thankfully read “negative” and I could not think of anything else that could be contributing to my condition, I decided to give this a try. I dreaded not having any sweet additive to replace sugar in my diet but I didn’t feel that I could dismiss the possibility that aspartame might be the culprit without a trial.
First I began to do much research on aspartame and all the liquids and foods that contain it. I could not believe how much of it I had been consuming while trying not to ingest sugar! Thankfully, while reading this info, I also found a product called Stevia, a natural substance that I could use. So the trial began. I refused to buy anything that contained aspartame. I begin to get rid of all the substances in my pantry that contained it. I grabbed water instead of diet drinks. I began to use Stevia.
Almost immediately I started to improve. Most of my headaches disappeared as well as the muscle aches. Soon I noticed that I was no longer saying “I can’t remember” constantly. I was not becoming confused anymore and I was more focused and able to concentrate. I decided then and there I was not ever going to put another speck of aspartame in my mouth! After a month without it in my system, I am feeling great and able to do all that a fifty-nine year-old grandmother of five wants to do! I really believe that had I not given up aspartame, I would have kept getting worse until I may have not been able to function. Giving up aspartame just may have saved my life.