Monday, March 11, 2013

When I figured it out before the doctor did

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing me mention my health problems.  Believe me, so am I.  I joke that I turned 30 and my body turned against me.  A small part of me was totally serious every time I said that.

Growing up, I was always getting sinus infections (well I still am) and strep throat.  I had a few injuries that required surgeries and casts. I suffered from the occasional migraine.  But as I got older, and really for the last 2 years, things have gotten horrible.  I spent a week in the hospital trying to figure out what was causing my stomach pain.  That ultimately led to my gallbladder being removed.  From that moment on, I always had some sort of GI distress.  I had never been plagued with stomach issues and let me say, I feel for anyone who has chronic stomach conditions.  It sucks for real.  Living on Zofran and Imodium is no way to live.  My migraines went from being once every 3-6 months to every week.  And my migraines debilitate me.  Like sweating, light sensitive, throwing up debilitating.

Next mysterious leg pain.  I'll spare you the details.  You can read them here.  Weird burning pain from the knee down in both legs that my doctor couldn't explain.  But it went away when I was taking B12 injections.  This, along with crazy extreme fatigue made August-November unbearable for me (and probably for the Hubs).  It was in November I was blessed with my first kidney stone.  Only to be followed up 3 months later (like 2 weeks ago) with a second stone.  I walked in to my doctor's office for my ER follow up and told her there has to be something that's really wrong with me.  She didn't really have any suggestion besides start taking my B12 again and to avoid things that can cause kidney stones.  I left that office a little let down but ready to do whatever I could to prevent another God awful stone.   That's when this Instagram post changed my life.
A list of all the foods that can cause kidney stones
A friend commented on my picture saying that she got horrible kidney stones until she got diagnosed with celiac disease. Since going gluten free, she had not had another stone.  So, being the medical professional that I am,  I went straight to Google to see if there was a correlation between celiac and kidney stones.  And of course there is a correlation.  {Oh I'm leaving out an important detail...when I was in the hospital for my gallbladder, I had a colonoscopy in which the doctor did a biopsy of an area that he thought was celiac disease.  The biopsy was either inconclusive or negative.  I can't remember}

In my googling, I came across an article titled "Celiac Disease Head to Toe."  After reading it, I could not shake the idea that I had a horrible issue with gluten. Maybe I didn't exactly have celiac disease but I was convinced that me and glutens just don't mix.  Here's my list of symptoms that match:
~Sinus headaches
~Sinus problems
~GI problems
~Kidney stones
~Peripheral neuropathy
~Easy bruising
~Vitamin D deficiency

That's well over 50%, probably closer to 75%, of all the body systems that can be affected by gluten sensitivity. Plus take into consideration the fact that a GI doc was suspicious enough for celiac disease that he biopsied an area of my intestine.  But I wasn't totally convinced until I got to the peripheral neuropathy section.  My neuropathy is only relieved by B12 supplementation.  When I read this statement from the article, I was convinced:
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that results in numbness, tingling, and sometimes severe nerve pain in the extremities.  Finger, hands, toes, feet, and lower legs may all be affected. Although usually associated with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy shows up fairly frequently in those with celiac disease, and is fortunately reversible on a gluten free diet supplemented by B-vitamins and some specific amino acids.

This was the best explanation I've been able to find.  The B vitamin supplementation sealed it for me.  Could this be the cause of all my ailments?  Monday couldn't come faster so I could call the doctor.  {Oh another thing I forgot...I was starting to think I was allergic to beef because I'd get violently ill within 10 minutes of eating it.  But after coming up with gluten intolerance, it occurred to the Hubs that I never eat beef alone. It's always with bread or pasta. So it probably wasn't the meat at all}

I did an experiment Sunday night and did not eat any glutens through dinner.  I felt amazing.  Then I had an oreo cheesecake truffle.  Within 10 minutes of eating it, my stomach was in knots.  It had to be the wheat in the cookie.  I was then convinced.

I called my doctor Monday morning and she agreed that I must have a horrible gluten sensitivity.  She didn't feel like I needed to be tested for celiac disease since I had been biopsied before (still not sure how I feel about that) but she told me to go gluten free for 2 weeks.  She said I'd feel better instantly if it was from the glutens.  It was a challenge that I was willing and eager to accept.

Then the anxiety kicked in.  I probably over-googled but I became overwhelmed with eliminating glutens.  I might have thrown a pity party for myself Monday night, tears and all.  But I've done it. Tuesday will be an entire week of being gluten free.  Not only am I feeling great, it's so nice not to spend most of my time in the bathroom (sorry if that was TMI).  I have great energy.  I'm still tired but that's because I haven't been sleeping well, not because I was just waking up exhausted regardless of the number of hours I slept.  I haven't had a headache in 2 weeks but I did just get my contacts adjusted.  And I'm not missing wheat as much as I thought I would.  I'm still trying to navigate my way through my pantry and the grocery store.  I'm still adjusting to the sticker shock too.

But I feel good.  And that's all that matters.


  1. Wow I'm so glad you are finally feeling better! That is crazy. That has to take a ton of planning to buy things now.

  2. So glad you are getting better, and you found out finally what was wrong :-(

  3. I have two friends (and you) who dealt with similar issues and stopped eating Gluten and finally found relief! I hate that you had to deal with this for so long but glad you are getting better!

  4. I say the same thing about turning 30. I'm glad you figured out whats wrong. It sucks but at least now maybe you will find some relief!

  5. I'm so glad you figured it out and that you've been doing better!! It's amazing how a change in diet can make such a big difference.

  6. So happy you are doing better!

  7. It is amazing the issues gluten can cause. we have gone GF for my son. If your careful and don't try to replace foods you can no longer have with GF alternatives, but instead find totally new foods to enjoy it can be alot cheaper. GF can be simple too, Meat, veggies, and rice or Quinoa, or GF pasta.

    check out for some fun and delicious GF recipes. I have found some great treats there.