The Itchy, the Bitchy, the Painful and the Poop.
I can't honestly say how far back I can attribute my symptoms to Gluten Intolerance...but I can tell you about the road that brought me to full understanding of how Gluten effects me the way it does.
And it does.
Whether or not Western Medicine thinks my "numbers are high enough" to warrant a diagnosis, exposure to gluten messes with my physical and mental self...non-exposure makes for a much happier and healthier me and by default...family, friends, co-workers and innocent bys-standers are happier too.
While sitting in a doctor's office waiting on a client I took note of the "Know the Symptoms" poster hanging on the office door.
Of the ten listed, I struggled with 8...maybe 9, I wasn't having sex at the time so I couldn't know for sure.
Later that afternoon I scheduled an appointment with my PCP who got me in the very next day; my father sees the same physician and has a severe case of Type 2 diabetes so it seemed logical that I could follow in his footsteps.
One week later the call came...I'm the poster child of perfect blood sugar.
I'm not diabetic. I'm probably just tired or stressed or one of those other things they put on single moms who work and go to school. Okay yeah so life was busy but my body wasn't right.
Two-years later life was interrupted when I was rear-ended by a suburban.
It wasn't a horrible accident as accidents go, a fender bender really, but I saw it coming, braced for it and wrenched myself up but good.
...and I just couldn't heal
months of PT, massage therapy and chiropractic care
agonizing nerve conduction velocity tests
I wasn't healing
the doc said it was all in my head
Actually...he said it was all in my skirt and I needed to de-stress, get laid (yeah, he said that)
$3,000 insurance settlement...life goes on.
Two years later I'm head over heels in love with the man-who-is-now-my-hub and his adorable boys, I'm in the job of my dreams, performing in community theater and surrounded by friends.
...it's NOT stress, and my body still ain't right
Just to recap:
- I'm constantly thirsty (doc says it's because I've trained myself to drink too much water)
- I frequently feel the need to pee (see above...but note I said FEEL...doesnt mean i'm always peein)
- There's other weird stuff happening when I go to to the bathroom too (notice "the poop" in the title)
- My body isn't healing
- It feels like something is crawling under my skin
- I'm tired, constantly...not just tired, flat out exhausted like can't-pick-myself-up-outta-the-chair-to-pee (see above above above...yeah, frequently feel the need to pee...sigh)
- I have monthly, recurring or never ending, vaginal infections
- see above...kinda puts a damper on any sex life
- I'm constantly eating
- my eyebrows itch
- did I mention my skin is crawling?
- I'm cold, even when it's hot (note, I live in central Florida)
- my fingers and toes are HYPERsensitive
- if you touch me, it hurts
- don't touch me, don't even poke me, GAWD don't hug me...it hurts
- see above...kinda puts a damper on any sex life...heck it puts a damper on ANY relationship
- I'm a bitch, I'm a mother, I'm a child, I'm a lover, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint...and that's all before 10am. (it's okay if you're singing now, I am too)
- Oh...and I know you're all wondering about the poop. Yeah...my poop is SO not normal. It's not sick (not watery, no blood, not tar-like, not black) just not normal. One mass of smooshy poop. I had some like-insertfoodwithsimilarconsistency-comparisons I used to use...but my hub liked those foods, so I've stopped making said comparisons. Suffice it to say...it was not normal.
Two years later...
I'm happily married, still in the job of my dreams, maintaining a healthy weight and documenting every last detail of my health and mental well being....and of course, I sleuthed around on the internet.
I was pretty much convinced I was going through periomenopause.
I made an appointment with the BEST Gyn in town she's even a naturopath to boot.
Guess what...full hormone panel and *drumroll please*
I'm the poster child for perfect hormones
and my poop? "well, maybe that's just YOUR normal"
Look lady, I don't care who you are...that ain't normal.
New primary care doctor...an MD/DO, she didn't look at me like I was crazy when I brought her my notebook of symptoms.
"What do you want me to do with this?" she asked.
"Read through it and help me figure out what's wrong," I answered, "and don't put me on anti-depressants and tell me to go home."
Well, over time we figured out what It's not...
thyroid (hyper or hypo) adrenal fatigue diabetes (yeah, we checked again) Severe Vitamin D deficiency multiple sclerosis (this one scared me BIG time)
So if you're counting, we're at least 7 years in, I've gained, lost, and gained 40 pounds, my children don't know whether to hug me or run from me and I don't know how I'm going to feel from one moment to the next...
Doc, fuck it, put me on anti-depressants. We've figured out what it's not, but I can't take it anymore. (*note...I don't regularly walk dropping the f-bomb, so she listened)
Three months on prozac and I was MISERABLE. My anti-depressant depressed me.
New Year's Eve 2009
I'm going on a diet
I'm increasing my yoga practice
I'm kicking the anti-depressant...soon.
Without really thinking about it, I greatly reduced my gluten intake. To lose weight, I kicked the carbs (bread, pasta and sweets always seemed to make me feel bad anyway) and I started to feel a little better. In February I just flat out stopped taking my anti-depressant and just kept truckin along with my diet.
The month came and went and with it brought some crunchy friends from out of town who stayed with us for a while. I added some "carbs" to my meals while they visited whole wheat home made pizza and pasta ...they were after all, organic.
Three days later, I'm home alone, my hub is clear across the country and I'm having panic attacks in waves like labor contractions and can't get out of my house...that was a Wednesday.
Thursday I'm in the doctor's office after a night of tears, pain, sickness and poop...and prayers, lots of prayers.
"Doc, could it be gluten?"
Now, I'd heard the word before, but I didn't really know anything about it so it surprised me when it fell outta my mouth as much as it surprised her to hear it.
"Well yes, yes it could"
and more "It's not..."
But by then...I'd been eating gluten free since I finished my tests (about 3 weeks) and can I tell you...within 3 days life was different. After the 1st week I was pooping normally and by my 3 week follow up visit, I was pain free and AWAKE at 2pm.
"Your numbers don't show high enough levels to indicate an intolerance...but numbers ARE numbers and it certainly won't HURT you to eat Gluten Free."
It hurts me to eat Gluten.