My classic symptoms are fatigue and pain as well as massive muscle spasm where I get severely "locked up". My muscles go rigid (praying mantis style), mainly my arms and legs are affected. Sometimes even my facial muscles and tongue when it is severe. I can't walk or feed myself when this happens. It happens in degrees and lasts for different lengths of times. Sometimes just my fingers and toes curl. Always my muscles spasms are preceded by pain and almost always severe fatigue and a fuzzy head. When they are really bad I also get tinnitus. My hands go red and hot and very sensitive.

My muscle spasms have been heavily investigated by numerous neurologists - and I mean, numerous! - 20 at a hospital movement disorder clinic and another 5-6 independent ones. When I didn't fit into their pigeon hole definitions, I was then referred on three occasions to 3 different psychiatrists. They all pronounced me mentally healthy except one of them said, "That since there is no known neurological cause for my spasms, that he must conclude that it is psychological" and that I should just demedicalise and try and get on with my life.

When a friend recommended the RPA allergy clinic, I was adamant that food could not cause such a drastic reaction and I started the elimination diet extremely skeptical and determined to prove them wrong. Now I realize that I've always had some food intolerance (family history) as a young child when I used to get aching legs and be so extremely hyperactive at school that the teachers would send me for a run around the school grounds before they let me sit in their classes even in Year 12! Two bouts of glandular fever (at 18 then again at 21) then lowered my tolerance even further.

Since the elimination diet, I've discovered the main triggers are 282 [preservative calcium propionate used in bread] and MSG [flavour enhancer 621]. In 1.5 hours flat after ingesting bread preservative I am in severe spasm with all my classic symptoms! MSG has about a 3-4 hour time lag. The spasms used to last 30 mins - 1 hour (basically till my muscles fatigue) but now that I've virtually eliminated the diet factor and I am so much better and fitter, when I do accidentally eat 282 or MSG then they can last up to almost 4 hours full spasm. My husband doesn't have a hope of moving my arms or legs, they're so rigid. He said that even if I tried myself I could not be so strong other than when I'm in spasm.

Salicylates cause my hot hands and pain but have a delayed effect causing me to spasm only after a while (2-3 days). Amines also have a delayed effect, first causing hyperactivity/insomnia then pain but rarely spasm.

The elimination diet has improved my quality of life so, so much and has introduced an element of control to my life that I haven't had for 8 years. I feel amazingly lucky to have stumbled upon this as the answer! - Tessa, NSW (story received in 2004)