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Quacktose Intolerant

, , , , , | Healthy | May 24, 2021

When I am a teenager, I have pain in my abdomen. After six months of running around different departments, it is established that I could be lactose intolerant.

Doctor: “I suggest you visit a dietitian to make sure everything goes okay as you cut milk out of your diet. Try [Dietitian] right here in the hospital.”

My mother and I agree. Red flags should have been apparent from the beginning.

We call to make the appointment.

Dietitian: “Do you want to be seen at the hospital or at my house? There are more options if I see you in my home.”

After verifying with our health insurance that they will accept this appointment and pay, my mother agrees to the appointment for me.

Dietitian: “Please bring along the pain meds that you have been taking and the soy milk you have replaced the regular milk with.”

On the day of the appointment, we sit down in what appears to be the dietitian’s living room. The dietitian gestures to something on the table.

Dietitian: “This is the Asyra machine which will measure your bioenergy field to establish what you can and can’t tolerate in your diet.”

I am doing my A-levels at this point with the hope of going to study veterinary medicine, and this sounds like nonsense to me, but being British and too polite to stop her, I allow her to carry on. She gets me to hold these electrodes which, apparently, is all I need to do.

My mother helpfully intervenes.

Mother: “But they are not plugged in.”

Confidence going down by the second, I do as asked and the machine starts to generate a wiggly line. As we go on, the dietitian starts going on about how, “The machine thinks this,” or, “The machine knows that,” making it seem that this machine is alive. Eyebrows continue to rise.

Her analysis says that I should be fine with milk but I should really avoid eggs and onions, which I know is complete rubbish as I have been on an exclusion diet for a couple of months and recently reintroduced eggs and onions into my diet with no issues at all.

Dietitian: “Can I test the milk and pills you brought along so I can see if they’re good for you?”

She first decides to test the soy milk, which is in a carton containing plastic which, as many primary school pupils will tell you, does not conduct electricity. She places the carton on top of a metal plate and runs the machine. She is horrified by the result.

Dietitian: “You should stop drinking this immediately; it is terrible for your system!”

Me: *Politely* “I’ve been drinking this milk for about three months and I have been feeling much better since then.”

She frowns for a second, trying to reconcile this.

Dietitian: “Well, the machine is calibrated to American soy milk, so maybe you can drink British soy milk without issues. Try to avoid it if you are in the States.”

“WTF?!” does not cover our thoughts at this point.

She moves onto my pain meds. I have two I am using and I have them in the same box for convenience. Again, the woman takes the box and plonks it on the plate.

Mother: “There are two in the box.”

She regrets saying this immediately. The dietitian sorts between the two and repeats the process. According to the machine, one is good and one won’t work for me. I do seem to be becoming slightly immune to one, so this seems correct, but she got them the wrong way around.

Now comes the sales pitch: apparently, the machine is telling her that my gut pH is too low and this needs to be rectified with probiotics. Normally, the bottle for a month would cost £200, but she is willing to give me a sample bottle for free. We accept without arguing, for simplicity.

Dietitian: “Do you have any questions?”

Me: “I’m really missing chocolate. When can I add that back into my diet?”

Dietitian: “You will have no issues with chocolate and can start eating it immediately.”

This is completely at odds with my exclusion diet. Basically, if I add more than one thing a week, I have to wait two weeks for any symptoms to clear before starting to add things again, possibly from scratch. Not going to happen.

We leave and I think there are two seconds of silence in the car before my mum and I burst out laughing.

Sometime later, we receive the report. Nowhere does it mention milk. In the meantime, I have taken a lactose tolerant test and it turns out I am about as intolerant as it is possible to be. Another highlight of the report is that radon gas — that radioactive gas that causes neighborhood evacuations when leaks are detected — is better for me than… carrots.

We turn to the hospital and complain about this woman and her quackery. However, they won’t do anything as the appointment occurred outside the hospital and they are not responsible, even though their doctor recommended her and she is an employee of the hospital. We also have a two-month battle with the insurance for them to pay her, even though they said they would before we went.

As a final note, we looked up this Asyra machine online. It turns out that in the US (and the UK), it is only licensed to measure skin resistance, and if it is used to measure anything else in the US, you can sue the doctor.

It was all a complete and utter waste of time, but it gave me a good story.

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