Eating My Way Back

After a particularly bad health day, I threw myself a nice little pity party. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m overweight. I’m a mess. I was frustrated. I did what I Mamma taught me: sit down and feel really bad for yourself if you must (wallow); set a timer; then get up and figure it out.

not exactly that kind of pity party

Background: I got mono earlier this year. My doctor told me I had something else going on as well. That something else has remained a nameless, elusive plague on me. For the better part of this year, I have been to doctors, hospitals, labs, and more. I have been poked, prodded, examined, x-rayed and MRIed. The good news is, by most standards, I am a very healthy person. I am also free of “cat scratch fever,” which I just like to tell as many people as I can because I paid for that blood test to know, along with so many others. Unfortunately, much of what came back was inconclusive or didn’t “match” the rest of the tests. While, I have made significant improvements, I remain not fully myself.

I spent some time last week doing research on my symptoms. I have diagnosed myself with Celiac Disease (health care professionals, forgive me, I know you’re cringing at a self-diagnosis). If I’m correct, this means when I eat gluten, my digestive system attacks itself. Symptoms of gluten intolerance include:

  • Upset stomach • Headaches • Fatigue
  • Intermittent diarrhea • Abdominal pain & bloating
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Muscle cramps • Bone or joint pain
  • Mouth sores inside the mouth
  • Irritable bowel syndrome • Gastric ulcers
  • Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • Arthritis • Seizures
  • Bone loss or osteoporosis
  • Missed menstrual periods • Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • Skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)

I know what you’re thinking: pretty. What’s even more sexy, I have now or have had almost every one of those symptoms. My body is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Depending on the day, it feels like a barrel full of monkeys are in my gut kicking.their.way.out.

Fortunately, there’s good news: all I have to do is stop eating gluten. While inconvenient, I might actually get to stop going to doctors, acupuncture and Rolph practitioners and the like. Although, I have enjoyed telling the anecdote about the time I was diagnosed with “damp chi.” I didn’t go back to that guy simply because he used the word “damp” out loud, which everyone should know is against the law.

When I put the word out on Twitter and Facebook, I was looking for resources to eat gluten free, I was stunned by how supportive my friends and family have been. They’re not acting like a I’m crazy for trying this. Maybe 9 months of whining about feeling bad would make them support any plan to make me shut up, but truly, they’ve been awesome. I’m gonna try not to be “that girl.” You know the super annoying one who asks the waiter if the cheese dip is thickened with flour or corn starch and could he ASK! please. I’m gonna just work around it. It means giving up a few things I like, but the return could potentially be more than worth it.

I’ve been off gluten for a week now. I’ve been eating mostly lean meat, fruits and veggies. I don’t think I’m 100 per cent gluten-free because I keep discovering hidden sources, but my intake has been reduced considerably. I can already see improvements. My belly feels so much better – fewer monkeys to report. My mouth ulcers have healed. I’ve lost 4 pounds.

Then this morning, without thinking, I ate something I shouldn’t have. I’ll spare you the details, but I felt so sick. I was actually encouraged by this. I think it means I’m on the right track. Maybe with enough time, I really will feel like me again. Maybe I really can eat my way back.



Filed under The view from here

14 responses to “Eating My Way Back

  1. Stacey

    “Damp,” while indeed unpleasant is not nearly as bad as the “m” word (synonym for “undry”).

    My SIL has Celiac’s disease and in the years since a chiropractor diagnosed her (physicians don’t seem to find it in the cases of which I’m aware in my friends and family), she feels as if she has, in her words, gotten her life back. Good luck!

  2. Matt

    My mother inlaw has a mild case of gluten intolerance and she has had to get pretty creative on finding foods to eat. But keep your chin up. Trust me once you get off the stuff, you will feel so much better

  3. jen

    I gave up dairy for my son when he was little because of an intolerance. He later outgrew it but I still can’t eat ice cream without feeling some sort of awful and I eat very little dairy anymore. It sucks being on a restricted diet for sure, especially something as common as gluten, but I can say from experience it does get easier. It takes a couple of months but after that, you’ll be a pro. Good luck and hoping you continue to feel better!

  4. I’m terrible at self-diagnosis. I do it constantly! But, it gives you something to hold on to, something to attack and to feel like you have something to fight. That in and of itself is so much better than the vague ‘I feel bad.’
    Hope it works out!

  5. Jennifer P.

    Good for you! I have some great gluten free recipes I can share with you. Will make copies and stick in your mailbox this weekend. I prefer being gluten and dairy free, but sometimes they both creep back into my diet. I can tell, too, by stomach woes and weight gain.

    Have you discovered quinoa pasta? You can get it at Whole Foods and you will never want to eat real pasta again. Good stuff.

  6. At least your Chi wasn’t moist.

    so glad you’re figuring this out and feeling better!

  7. katy

    Um, I take offense to the “that girl” comment. I’m her!
    Ill remember that next time we go eat 🙂

  8. Kerri, this is great news! I’m so happy that you are feeling better (minus the slip-up this morning). Keep up the good work. I, too, am trying to modify my food choices to healthier options.

    In the end, it’s all about choices. Continue to make the right ones, my friend. I’m here if you need anything.

  9. I’m so glad it seems to be working for you so far. I know I said this already, buy my 2 gluten-free friends swear it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. I’ve considered trying to impose it on a couple of people in my family because gluten intolerance has also been linked to ADD (which certain members of my family, ahem, suffer from. I’m not naming any names). So far I haven’t taken the plunge; I am proud of you for doing it!

  10. Jenna

    FYI: There is a very simple antibody mediated blood test to confirm a gluten intolerance. Most doctors can do the lab draw in their office and have results that week.

  11. I had mono in 2007. It took a good 18 months before all of my symptoms faded. A hematologist told me that my body was still fighting mono, even though the virus itself was gone. I think what he was referring to was post-viral syndrome, which sometimes follows mono. It was awful. Headaches, vertigo, IBC, deep, deep fatigue, body aches … Believe me, you have my sympathy. I wish I had advice, but for me, it was just a matter of waiting it out. Thankfully, I was on anti-depressants, or it would have been even worse. I hope the diet works for you, or, if not, you find something else that helps. Like I said, all the symptoms finally went away. But it was a long, hard haul.

  12. Kathy

    My niece has Celiac and has managed her symptoms with diet change. If you are looking for products to buy that actually taste great go to–she has a great post on some of the best things she has found going gluten-free.

  13. I have Celiac, too, and I’m in Little Rock, too! There is an organization that meets monthly in LR to discuss gluten-free living ( Luckily, most Krogers in the area have decent gluten-free selection. Even more luckily, wine is gluten-free! I’ve found that in my effort to get off of gluten, the tiny slip-ups hurt…a lot. Anyway, there are lots of good resources out there–friends and family being the most important, of course.
    Good luck and love the blog!

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