Monday, March 17, 2008

What Will It Take?

I went to the doctor last month for a scheduled physical. While there, I shared with her my concerns about gluten intolerance. Immediately, she discounted the issue by telling me that I can't be celiac because I am overweight. I countered with research consisting of the tests I have done on my own body. Wheat seems to trigger my appetite for more food, resulting in bloating, gastric distress, and fatigue. I also observed that when I would eat rice, potatoes, and corn, I did not feel the same way.

Five years ago, while on a low-carb diet, I attributed the increase in energy to my leaving bread and pasta behind. As soon as I was off the diet (because of becoming pregnant with child number two), my fatigue came back due to a combination of the growing baby and the return to starchy delights. The "baby" is now three and despite (mostly) obedient calorie-counting and diligent dieting, the weight has stuck.

My decision to go gluten-free was a combination of wanting my energy to return as well as the realization that the only two times I have lost weight on diets were due to eliminating gluten ("blood-type diet" for type A and low-carb).

Before approaching my GP, I repeatedly tested myself by not eating wheat for several days and then having it again. Each time, it would trigger me to eat more (of whatever it was), feel bloated, followed by horrible gas pains that mimicked menstrual cramps. Then, the rash came...

At first, I thought it was an allergic reaction to some new body wash (I am perfume-sensitive and am limited to certain soaps). However, it was mostly on my arms and horribly itchy. After an ENTIRE MONTH of putting up with this, I came across some information connecting a rash to gluten intolerance. While I had been toying with the idea of going gluten-free, I kept myself from doing it because of my unwillingness to put my husband and children out. Sure enough, I stopped eating gluten, and after a week... THE RASH WAS GONE!

The last straw was the Subway brought into work for the staff. [I work at a Jewish day school and they thoughtfully provided us with kosher-certified Subway for a working lunch.] I purposely ate a portion of a sub (as well as a cookie) before departing (as my work was done for the day). Within a HALF HOUR, I was feeling tired, itchy, and spent the evening with cramps. (The sandwich was definitely NOT WORTH all that pain!) Oh, and the rash? It came back for a few days.

I don't know why my doctor can not be convinced of my having gluten intolerance. I mean, since the treatment is essentially my never touching gluten again, it's not like I will have to pay insurance premiums for a cure. The more I read about gluten intolerance, the more frustrated I have become. For starters, I have been "slightly" anemic for a long time (during all my pregnancies and now) despite my "healthy, well-balanced diet". My father (who died of colon cancer at the relatively young age of 59) has a Scottish ancestry. [For those of you who have not done much research, untreated celiac CAN lead to gastro-intestinal cancer and people with a Celtic background are generally more prone to the disease.] He died six years ago.

My plan now is to simply take myself off of gluten as a blood test will not diagnose me unless I am celiac. Why wait for the testing when I know the results based on my body?

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