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.
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, this.is.fabulous. 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.