After taking a week off for the holiday, I had this all set and ready to go...and then I forgot to post it. oops!
I've been dealing with something relatively big lately and I'm ready to talk about it a little bit now.
Those of you who pay attention to my blogroll may have noticed I have added a bunch of "gluten free blogs." It's a not-too-interesting story how it all came about, but the gist is, I am now eating a gluten free diet because I think I may suffer from Celiac disease.
See...I've watched my mother struggle with "weird" symptoms all my life. It seems as though she's had one diagnosis after another, without any of them really "fitting."
And then things started to get weird for me. I started having strange symptoms just before I became pregnant with Myles that have continued to really bother me. My hair falls out by the handful...I can't concentrate on anything...I feel sick whenever I eat...I have pain in my joints...I am so anemic I couldn't give blood...I have repeatedly tested high white blood cell counts for no reason...I have this weird, non-spreading ITCHY rash on my right hand and inside my elbow on my left arm.
One day, I happened upon this post and I was compelled to read every word Shauna has written. She is an amazing writer and I <3 her blog. But more importantly as it relates to this story, her blog raised my curiosity about Celiac disease...gluten intolerance...heck...GLUTEN. I had some vague recollection of these words, but never really paid them any attention.
And then I read the list of symptoms. Pretty generalized list...could be just about any other illness. In fact, Celiac is often misdiagnosed as a host of other illnesses with similar symptoms. Something clicked into place when I read the symptom of "Skin disorders (dermatitis herpetiformis)." I Googled and...well...found myself staring back at me.
Yep...I initially thought it was poison ivy (I'm highly allergic and have pets that do go outdoors). Then when it didn't go away, I thought I was allergic to my crochet hooks and changed to "natural" hooks. But that still didn't seem to fix the problem. And the itch...I can not describe to you what this is like. I have never experienced an itch like this. Oh wait...yes, I have...and I have the blog entries to prove it (I won't bore you with the links). After reading through my archives, I noted that I've been getting the SAME rash in the SAME spot for the last THREE YEARS now...and I chalked it up to poison ivy each and every time. Three years running...SAME SPOT. I mean, really...do I need someone to club me upside the head with an obvious stick?
So now that I've self-diagnosed...maybe I should see a doctor, right? Well...not necessarily...
The current prevailing theory is that if you have DH, you have Celiac. Of course, the only way to definitively diagnose is with intestinal biopsy. You may be able to diagnose with skin biopsy near your rash area, but still...BIOPSY...a word I'm not such a big fan of in the theoretical sense (and I'm sure I would be even less of a fan of in actual practice). AND...the only way to treat Celiac is to eat gluten free. That's it. Something I could do on my own without having to be poked and prodded.
So...I tried it. And guess what? Yep. No more itchy. And I FEEL AMAZING!
I've now been mostly gluten free for about a month. The few times I've slipped (pizza is a big weakness for me), I have paid for it with an intensely itchy outbreak three days later. I've only recently sworn off even the occasional pizza after an encounter with Pizza Hut. Seriously thought I might have to cut my hand off in order to get some relief.
Here's the thing...it's not just that the itch is gone. My brain is clear and I can function again. Focus. Accomplish things I really want to accomplish. My whole life I have never had a good memory. People talk about memories they have from years back (at which I was reportedly present) and it was like I wasn't even there. There was a big blank. Heck, a lot of time, I couldn't even remember yesterday. Lately, I've blamed grief and/or possibly depression, but when I really think about it I have to admit that I've always been this way. Finding it could be due to something as simple as what I was eating...it was a relief and a serious blow all at the same time. You see...I love food. I love all types of food. How in the world was I going to do this forever if this was, in fact, my problem?
Thank goodness for the internet and a heightened awareness in our society of food induced reactions (autoimmune and allergic). It's actually been wonderful. Yes, it's somewhat difficult because I can't just absentmindedly grab something to eat anymore. But the results have been SOOOO worth it. And, like most things in life these days, there are blogs...and webpages...and people to talk to for support. This past weekend I found a support group for Erie, PA, and they told me that Boston's has a new gluten free pizza. So we took a little trip and it was pizza...REAL pizza...and it was good! And there is gluten free beer...and it's GOOD TOO!
I'm sure there will be commenters who question and/or criticize. Maybe it IS all in my head. But honestly, I don't care if it's all in my head because my itch is gone and I am so incredibly happy about it that I don't care that common sense seems to have left the building. Whatever. I'll take it.
So...my good cause for this week is The Celiac Disease Foundation. Why? Because their website has been an amazing source of information for me and I respect their work in raising awareness.
That's it. My current life "issue." Not the first...not the last (with any luck)...and not very exciting. My next entries will be crafty, I think...just for counterbalance on the 'interesting' meter.