Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Silently suffering...

Warning: I get slightly personal here. I talk of bathroom issues. But if you've ever suffered from tummy troubles, read on!

Since changing my lifestyle in Sept of 2010, to one of clean, whole foods, every part of my life has improved. I'm down 35 pounds and 3 dress sizes, daily headaches are gone, migraines are few and far between (used to get 2 a month), I have tons of energy, my hypothyroidism is going away (I'm down from .175 mcgs to .125 mcgs), and I just feel so much better. Everything was going perfectly - all bodily functions were normal.
Then, on Oct. 1 of last year, something changed and I have been suffering in silence ever since. I started having daily tummy troubles and it continued for months. I saw my doctor. He ran tests. Tests came back normal. Hmmmm...I decided to start researching my symptoms. From what I could discern, it sounded like a gluten-intolerance. I tested negative for Celiac, but sometimes it's hard to pick up.
So, I have been experimenting with my gut. I made attempts to go off gluten for a few weeks. Then, I would introduce it back with disastrous results. I would be in the bathroom for hours the next morning. Hmmm...I'm no doctor, I'm not even a certified Health Coach yet, but I would guess that I have developed an intolerance for gluten.

There's a faction of health-minded folks that swear gluten is a poison. I'm starting to agree with them. I'm not at all happy about this. In fact, I'm kind of depressed about it. After all, some of my favorite foods involve wheat, flour, gluten, etc... I love a good New York-style pizza, a yummy homemade pasta dish, a moist cookie straight from the oven, or freshly made Ciabatta bread from the bakery. I don't eat them all the time, but occasionally, they fill a void. For the past year, I have made my food choices. I have decided to give up processed foods, fast food, convenience food. It has been MY decision. This decision was made for me and I'm not pleased with it. I've been suffering for five months and I've been in denial. Why is this happening now? Why NOW, after making the best decisions for my health? I've been eating grass-fed meats, organic veggies and fruits, raw nuts and seeds, I've shunned dairy (and by the way, I haven't had a sinus infection or bronchitis in over a year since giving up dairy!!), and I've limited my refined carbs.
Was I already at my tipping point? Was it going to happen anyway? Before I started this journey, I was so tired all the time, overweight, sick a lot with bronchitis and sinus/allergy issues and starting to have pain in my legs (which my doctor thought was fibromyalgia). So, was Celiac just around the corner anyway?  Had I already done major damage to my immune system by years of eating a conventional American diet?
It seems that auto-immune diseases come in pairs or multiples. Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be accompanied with Celiac disease, MS, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and many more. Sufferers of one, may also get another.
I will see a gastroenterologist soon and an official diagnosis will come. Maybe it is something else. I'm hoping! But I know that I already feel better and can stay away from the bathroom when I abstain from gluten. So, I'm not that hopeful...

I'm curious if this has happened to anyone else. Who else out there has Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance? How do you cope? Did you give up your dream of eating pasta in Tuscany and pizza in Sicily? Why does food damage us so much? I can't wait to get started with my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition next month. I want answers and I want better food for our society. I think I have found my lifelong mission - to rid the world of processed, chemical-laden foods that are making us all sick. Watch out - here I come!



    I hope you can open the above link- it's an article about Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity that is just coming out in the news. Look in to it, see if you agree with the problems you are having- I have struggled for a couple of years, ever since my celiac test came back 'negative' but all my symptoms go away once i give it up for a while- frustrating but I have learned to listen to my body and I feel better.
    Tracey Walker

  2. Hi I am Kristen Green. I very like your blog. Your journey is right and I think all should try like you. I don't know if you know Fran Dresher. She is actress but especially health activitist. She has organization Cancer Schmancer. She spreads words about how to live healthier and fight with cancer and other illness. Here is page . You can put there your story and tell her about your journey. Her twitter:!/frandrescher and her facebook:
    Have a nice day. XoXo....

  3. Hi Cindy, I have been a reader of your blog for a while (and love it!) but have never commented before. I am a doctor of natural medicine and I specialize in the areas of gluten-intolerance and celiac. I hope I can be of some help.

    Unfortunately, your story is oh-so-very common. I see this all the time: someone will go to their regular medical doctor, who will run a blood test (which is largely inaccurate anyways) and tell them they do not have gluten intolerance. And actually they do have it, they just weren't tested properly. This person goes on with their life, continues to suffer and continues to cause severe damage to their bodies by eating gluten.

    The damage happens because every time you eat even one tiny molecule of gluten, your body wages an immune attack- do this multiple times a day for years and the literature shows you are almost guaranteed another autoimmune disease down the road- most commonly I see Hashimoto's and Rheumatoid Arthritis, sometimes worse. It really is a tragedy.

    In my opinion, there is no better test than to do exactly what you did, which is to see how you feel both on and off gluten. It doesn't matter what any test says, when you have an experience like you just described, that is the best proof. Of course, to have GI or blood test confirmation does make it that much easier to adopt this lifestyle.

    And what I tell my patients is that if you want to get better, and if you want to prevent future disease, you just HAVE to bite the bullet and go gluten free and you have to do it at 100%. And you know what, it is not the end of the world at all- and it is getting easier everyday. There are companies with great gluten free products, and other dedicated gluten-intolerant people who are developing incredible recipes all the time.

    Best of luck at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition! And also be mindful that gluten-intolerance runs VERY highly in families- so keep a careful eye on those kiddos too!

  4. Crystal,
    Thanks so much for #1 reading my blog and #2 commenting and offering your advice. I really appreciate it. I am now testing my children to see if they are intolerant as well. It's going to be a challenge for sure, but the health of my family is more important than eating a slice of pizza or a cupcake! Plus, I've found so many GF recipes that we will get through this just fine!