Why did I go Gluten-Free?
I wish I could say it was a short story and a snap to figure out, but it wasn’t that easy. It was a chain of events that led to a friend suggesting I try going gluten-free for a month.
It all started back in the Fall of 2007, when I suddenly started to gain weight for no reason. I didn’t stop exercising. I didn’t change my eating habits. And it was all located around my waist and hips. Which is awesome, right? I did start experiencing pain on my right side when I would eat certain foods. Mainly greasy or fatty. The pain would show up and fade within an hour or two and wouldn’t happen all the time. I needed to go to my doctor and I discussed my new fun with her. With my family history of failing gall bladders, she sent me to a specialist to get some testing. I had about two test done before the end of the year and each test was on the border of the gall bladder having a problem. Of course. In January of 2008, I was sent to a gastrologist. I don’t have good memories of my gastrologist. He did some blood tests and I ended up having an upper endoscopy (EGD), where they knock you out and send a light and camera down your throat and take a peak around. Oh, they also take samples for further testing. Based on his initial look, he determined that I had acid reflux and placed me on medication until the biopsy came back three weeks later. Yes, three weeks later. During my three weeks, I felt terrible. It was worse than ever and I couldn’t eat a thing. I was having problems breathing. I was a mess. When I went back for my follow-up, I waited in the waiting room for almost two hours past my appointment time before I was seen. Can you say frustrated? With no apology or acknowledgement of the time I spent waiting, he just went right into the results of my EGD. Well, turns out I didn’t have acid reflux. Really? I was shocked. Since when does acid reflux give you pain on the right side and happen with no acidy foods? But I’m not doctor. Oh and the reason for my feeling terrible, the prescribed acid reflux medicine was giving me acid reflux. And he forgot to mention that the camera being sent down my throat would aggravate my asthma. I was not impressed at this point. He then decided that I needed to have a colonoscopy. I setup the appointment and proceeded to cancel it a few days later. He was convinced that I may have Crohn’s Disease and knowing people with Crohn’s, I was pretty sure it wasn’t that and still my gall bladder.
I basically just dealt with the pain until later that year. I curved my diet to have no greasy food, no fat – nothing that would cause me pain. By the time Fall rolled around, pretty much everything was giving me a problem. It was that time of year to visit my doctor and she asked me about the gall bladder. I told her what happened and she was a bit surprised I still had it. She decided to send me directly to the gall bladder surgeon to see what they had to say. By the time I met with the surgeon, he already had reviewed my previous tests and highly suggested that we remove my gall bladder. Finally! Someone who was listening.
On December 5, 2008, I had my gall bladder removed. Best day ever! It’s an out patient procedure and it really has no recovery. I felt great, until three days later. That’s when the pain started and I could barely stand up. Long story short on that, turns out I had an ovarian cyst that burst after my surgery. Seriously?? What are the chances. It literally took me an entire week to decorate my Christmas tree.
Everything was going well until June 2009. Since I was feeling so much better and able to eat everything, I was running a lot more and a lot further. I started getting cracks on the side of my lips that were so painful. I could hardly open my mouth and as you can imagine, I was completely over myself. It went away on it’s own and then a few weeks later was back. Off to the doctors I went. I couldn’t get in with my regular doctor and had to see someone else. I hate that. Their diagnosis was a little disturbing. She was convinced that I had a yeast infection. Ewww. Gross! And sent me on my way with medicine and that it should be cleared up in a few days. Well, that didn’t happen. I went to visit my family in New Jersey and that got put on hold. By the time I got back to Georgia, I was in rough shape without knowing it.
I was exhausted all the time. I would go to bed at 9:00 pm, sleep until 9:00 am and the take a nap around 3:00 pm for a couple hours. I couldn’t stay awake. I had no energy to run. I was lucky that I worked from home. I don’t think I could have gone into work. Shower, get dressed, do my hair, drive there…it was tiring just to think about. I also started experiencing extreme forgetfulness. I would be upstairs in my office and I would get thirsty. By the time I got downstairs to the kitchen, I couldn’t remember why I was there. Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it! And for added fun, I was seeing things that weren’t there. Like a cat would jump off the couch, but there wouldn’t be a cat insight. Or shadow outside. Nothing that really scared me, but I think it could have if I let it go any longer. I did this for about six weeks. I hid it from my best friend, which he was surprised on how well I held it together when he was around.
I was watching TV one day and there was a commercial for early menopause. Wow! That sounds like me. I decided I should go to the doctors. I told my doctor my thoughts and she took me seriously, but had another idea of what could be going on. Two days later, I got a call saying I needed to come in as a walk-in (it was a Saturday) to get a B-12 shot. Apparently, I was dangerously low. I went in and got my shot that Saturday morning and the next day….it was a wonderful day. I had so much energy. I cleaned the whole house, vacuumed, dishes….just everything that I had been such a chore. I felt great! Every month, I went in for a B-12 shot and life got back to normal. I could remember things. I was no longer seeing imaginary cats. And I could start running again.
A couple months later, my cracks in my lips came back. What? Why? I was at a loss on what to do. My best friend, I guess I should explain his story real quick. He is a cancer survivor at 24 years and changed his views on what went into his body. There were a lot of tears at the grocery store in 2003. All for the good, but a lot of change all at once. He was always researching and reading about health and what is the best for you. He remembered reading something about B vitamins and gluten. It was he who suggested I try going gluten-free for one month to see if that has any effect on my problems. Willing to try anything and of course the day after I went food shopping, I decided to go gluten-free in October 2009. I’ll admit, there was a few meltdowns – especially when I found out that there was wheat in Twizzlers. So sad.
A month later, I was feeling awesome. My asthma was a non-issue. The cracks went away and to this day have never returned. I have never been formally tested and I did talk to my amazing doctor about it. She didn’t think it was needed, but would do it if I wanted. I was so tired of health issues, I just wanted to move one.
Four and half years later with no health issues, going gluten-free was the best decision I ever made.