30 March 2008

Wishin' and Hopin'

It's been a weird couple of weeks.

For those who know me, you may know that I have had problems with my stomach for my entire life. Literally. My mom has them, both my maternal grandmother and grandfather had them, stomach pains were just a fact of life.

I have spoken with countless doctors over my 35 years who have chalked up my stomach woes to stress, genetics, and whinging.

Since arriving in Canada, I have had the same family doctor that G has, and she's always been of the school that my stomach pains = stress. Full. Stop. Here's some anti-depressants and be gone with you.

Then I became fascinated with a UK lifestyle show called, "You Are What You Eat" with Dr. Gillian McKeith. Many of the people featured on her show had similar stomach problems to mine, and she frequently discussed the no wheat no processed sugar approach to living. I was intrigued.

I visited an acupuncturist a couple of years ago who also suggested that I give up all wheat.

Which I did for awhile, ate lots of spelt breads, but didn't feel tons better, so as often happens, I crept back into my old habits. I love bread and pasta, and I moved to whole grains feeling quite virtuous and smug in my healthiness.

Then my stomach took a turn. A major turn. For the worse.

And then there was no denying it. Something was going on.

My family doctor suggested that I had an ulcer. After all, I had had ulcers as a kid (pre-treatment with anti-biotics, if that tells you anything), so logically, these new and increased stomach problems were obviously a result of h.pylori.

So my good friend to the right, h.pylori came up a positive in blood work and I went on this massively crazy dose of antibiotics. Problem solved, my doctor smugly said and I was sent along to kill the little buggers living in my stomach.

And kill them I did. This anti-biotic was unbelievably strong, so I am sure nothing much survived in my stomach during this time. But I pushed my doctor, please oh please can't I have allergy testing and a visit to the GI doctor???

She finally agreed, and I went to the allergist who said I had no food allergies (hooray!) and an allergy to dust mites and a mild allergy to pet dander.

But it was the Gastroenterologist that I was most keen to see. I was so excited to talk to a professional about my issues.

The day of my appointment came and I vowed to tell the truth and work to come to some sort of an understanding about my stomach. It's either stress/anxiety or something's wrong and I need to fix it.

The GI doctor was fantastic. Really thorough, feeling my stomach, talking to me about my family history, the problems I have had with my stomach, what things help, etc. Then, he had me lie down and he pressed on my stomach and asked me more questions. When I sat back in the chair he turned to me and said, "Well, I am pretty positive that you have celiac."

Celiac! It was like music to my ears! On the one hand, I do not like the idea of giving up all of my favourites for the rest of my life. No sir, I don't. On the other hand, we were facing the idea of a LEGITIMATE DIAGNOSIS! And that would be a lovely thing.

So he scheduled me for a colonoscopy and GI scope down the road, a whack of blood tests, and said we'd talk in three weeks.

I have researched enough about celiac to know that you can't go gluten-free until you have the blood work done because you need the gluten in your body to show up. Fine. I had the blood work. And then I pondered. My stomach in knots, I ate my way through pizza, scones, french fries, all the while thinking "May be the last time... may be the last time" like some crazy death row inmate trying to have all the faves before the end.

But then it clicked. I am going gluten-free. I am going to try it out. It's going to be hard, but I am going to give it a go. And so I did.

Today is officially day 7 of Gluten-Free Me. No gluten. Not one kernel. And the effect? No headache in three days. THREE DAYS IN A ROW! Stomach is not nearly so gassy and other than a bit of queasiness yesterday, not a worry otherwise.

So what does this mean? I don't know. I am still at least two weeks away from talking to my doctor about the results, and I am going to a dinner Tuesday night that will have gluten but was booked long ago and is with friends, so I am going to give it a try and see what happens, a bit of a gluten trial by fire. It may be that this thing going on with me isn't celiac at all. It may be IBS, though the doctor felt that whatever it is, there is a definite food intolerance involved.

We'll see. Right now, I am rocking the gluten-free cupcakes for my nephews birthday, and trying to stay focused on the goal of feeling better and having a normal stomach. Oh yeah.

Back to food in the next post.


1 comment:

tfp said...

Hope you do get to the bottom of this soon. Be great if you could find out what the cause of your tummy issues is, and then take appropriate actions to deal with it. One of my friends' partner has been going through all this, various procedures, diets etc - trying to work out if he has coeliac disease or has irritable bowel syndrome. Best wishes and all that! :)

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