I started teaching about the dangers of artificial sweeteners back in the 1970s, and I ran backwards every single time I came across something that contained the stuff. Then, in the 80s Rickey and I were hit with a series of tragedies that rocked our world again and again.
Since I didn’t drink, smoke, or take meds to cope, I became a gum chewer. Yep, I chomped my way through life for about ten years. The good thing was that I never considered chewing a gum that contained artificial sweetener. Of course, that was easy back then. The bad thing was that after about ten years, I developed my first cavity and my dentist told me my sugared days were over.
I certainly wasn’t going to quit the gum so I switched to sugar free, and yes, I knew that it contained the dreaded aspartame, but I reasoned that since I only chewed 1/2 a piece at a time (and how much aspartame could a little piece of gum hold?) I simply decided not to worry about the chemical. Of course I ignored the power of anything sublingual, and I ignored that I chewed MANY 1/2 pieces of gum each day.
For twenty years I didn’t worry. And then after we established Texans United, I began to have problems. The first thing I noticed was that I started having difficulty opening and closing my fingers. However, since I was beating the computer keys 24/7, I assumed it was just more stress than my fingers could take.
Then, the bottoms of my feet began to hurt so badly that walking was excruciating. Every step was worse than the last until I could barely keep from crying, quite literally.
Finally, it became almost impossible for me to climb stairs. To use the entrance next to our driveway, I reached the point where I had to use my hands to lift one leg at a time just to get in the house. When I really realized just how bad I was doing was the day we took our kiddos to one of the Texas caverns, and I was not able to do many of the things that I would normally do with them. It was just too painful.
Then, one day during a conversation it dawned on us that I had the symptoms of someone who had been poisoned, and the word ASPARTAME screamed at me. I wasn’t sure I was right, but I took the gum out of my mouth right then and within a week I was greatly improved. Week two saw me completely back to normal, and I have not had a pain since.
Can I tell you that the aspartame was the culprit? I can’t. All I know is exactly what I have just told you; however, you can bet that there will never be another piece of that artificial sweetener in my mouth!