Monday, March 27, 2006

How it started...

A year ago I stopped eating wheat consciously.

I say it that way because it is easy or at least easy to understand that bread, pasta, and cereals are essentially wheat, but everyday I learn what other foods have wheat lurking within. I stopped eating wheat because I finally made the association that wheat was the cause of my blistering skin rashes and stomach pains. What I didn't know was that giving up wheat would also heal my irritated bladder, all arthritis inflammation, pain and mood. Wow, and none of the many doctors I have seen for a variety of conditions ever brought up the concept of any of my health woes being caused by something I was eating.

Here is a list of all of my previous health problems for which I saw specialists, had tests, major drugs and was very close to surgery.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Lactose Intolerance
TMJ (jaw pain and locked jaw)
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Bunions on both big toes
Night Sweats
Blistering rashes on face, and arms
Debilitating fatigue
Brain Fog
Bladder Pain
Restless Leg Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another time I'll go into my specific symptoms that better descibe my previous health situation outlined above, but what I want all to know is that over a period of 20 years I lived with some sort of pain everyday and today wheat free I don't. Nor to I take any of the medications for my severe arthritis.

A few years ago I stopped taking my Methotrexate for the RA and for 6 months was fine but the pains and inflammation came back as bad as ever and my Rheumatologist told me that I could never go off the meds again. It ends up that the reason I felt better for a while was that I was not eating wheat for many months, but I had put it back into my diet (perfect hindsight tells me this). At the beginning of this first good health period I had vowed to change my diet for 6 months and eliminate process foods hoping by digestive problems would be helped. I had essentially put myself on a low carb diet, but I didn't really intend it to be so. But because I had cut out simple carbohydrates and felt better, I continued to do so.

Along with feeling better, I started looking better and quickly went from a tight 10 to a very loose 6. I didn't want to be rail thin so I begun adding more simple carbs back into my diet and then I felt bad again. Real bad, have to have painkiller bad. Nothing to mess around with bad.

I don't know where I first heard of Celiac disease or a wheat allergy but I do know when it was. It was a year after I had to go back on the arthritis drugs. I immediately Googled : "wheat", "allergy", "IBS" and "Brain Fog" Hmmm. Maybe I'm not such a hypochondriac crazy lady. Giving up wheat sounded nearly impossible but I decided to give it a try.

I gave up wheat. I felt great for 4 months, but "they" say you should really be sure that it is Celiac and get tested. My gastro doctor agreed. I would have to go back to eating wheat for 4 months. It was "really important" for my health to be sure. I told her that even if the tests were negative I was positive that my stomach was better and really enjoyed thinking clearly. But I did it anyway, and felt like crap again for 4 months.

I really over did it last 2 weeks before my intestinal biopsy so they would find lots of horrible sad ville in my gut and be able to clearly announce a definitive title to what was ailing me. But guess what? The tests were negative. "Eat wheat if you want but if you feel better when you don't and choose to avoid it's up to you." I was pissed. Four months lost.

I know my body. When I went back to eating wheat for my "gluten challenge" my face and arms once again became a continual rash of intensely itchy blisters. My face was also stuck in a continual grimace from persistent gnawing stomach pain. Eating, particularity dining out meant having my meal pass through my digestion before the drive home was complete. No fun. Nope no wheat for me. Stupid tests. Stupid doctors.

Since I was in the stupid doctor frame of mind I wasn't in the mood to see my Rheumatologist for a refill of RA medicines. I let it go again and stopped taking those drugs that he had insisted I could never again exist without. I told myself that I wouldn't let it get as bad as it had before and I would make an appointment soon. Now it has been over a year and they only reason I have to see that or any other of these "specialists" that I and and my insurance company have funded through the years, is to tell my story and ask why no one, not a one ever thought of wheat or no wheat.

So do I have Celiac Disease or is it "just" a wheat allergy? That part I really don't care about so much anymore. What interests me now is learning how eat this way for life and sharing my discovery with others.