Saturday, January 3, 2009

Deja vu

Okay, I wasn't going to post about the 1 year anniversary of my divorce with gluten. But the Colts vs Chargers playoff game (it's on tonight) brought back the memory of my epiphany day.

Synopsis: Sick for five years. Covered with rash doctors told me was psoriasis. I had to soak my ravaged skin in the bathtub every night for an hour just to be comfortable the next day. Hair falling out in clumps. Constant back and foot pain. Hard, painful knots on my knuckles. Swollen eyes, blurry vision. Bad at sleeping. Bad at staying awake. Ever-increasing girth. Forgot everyone's names. Googled "symptoms:" and the ever-growing list daily. I'd seen more doctors than I could count. They ran tests and told me I didn't have anything wrong with me. I was just getting old. I should lose some weight, use this $100/tube psoriasis medication and get steroid shots for my bald spots.

Prayed for a sign from God.

One year ago: It was the Saturday after New Years. The Colts were scheduled to play the San Diego Chargers in the wildcard playoff game. Wow! It's like deja vu all over again!

I decided to give my aching body a treat and scheduled a massage with Chandra. She came highly recommended. Upon meeting her, I found out she was studying acupuncture. She saw my rash and the knots on my knuckles and told me I might have gluten issues. I thought that would give me something new to research on Google.

Later that same day, I met DeAnne and Nicci at The Dugout to watch the Colts game. Ate pizza and drank beer. Their friend, Brian, was sitting with them. He noticed the rash on my hands (they looked like raw hamburger,) and said he'd seen a similar rash on a friend's hands. Turns out his friend had celiac disease. Gave up wheat and the rash went away. Hmmm. Okay, two unrelated acquaintances mention the same suspected ailment on the same day. How much of a sign do I need?

(BTW, the Colts lost and our season was over. I was wearing size 18 or 20 jeans that day, with a baggy sweatshirt.)

Even though I was fairly certain that wheat could not be poisoning me (after all, I'd been eating it daily my whole life,) I checked with my doctor about getting tested. Expensive test for the uninsured. So I decided to give up wheat for a couple of weeks, just to prove that wasn't the problem.

I did it wrong. I didn't know about cross contamination. I made lots of rookie mistakes.

And I got better anyway. Every day.

I found Gluten Free Girl and Ginger Lemon Girl and The Gluten Free Goddess. I read their new posts and their old posts. I asked questions in their comments sections. Bless their hearts, they guided me through the early, frustrating days. I still made lots of mistakes. I still got better.

So here I am, one year later. I'm a seasoned veteran at avoiding gluten. My hair has grown back. I have almost no rash for the first time in 30 years. No back pain. No foot pain. No pain anywhere. My brain works again. My vision is back to normal. I sleep like a baby. And I'm wearing size 12 jeans.

What a long, strange trip it's been! I'm almost comfortable with my lifestyle changes, though I still miss feeding my friends after-work treats and massive party foods. And I'm still looking for a career outside the food industry. My health and attitude continue to improve. I am sooooooo much healthier than I was year ago. And happier! It's great that optimism has replaced frustration.

Thankfully, The Dugout makes good pizza. It was the last wheat I knowingly consumed. And the last time I ate in a restaurant.

The Colt vs Chargers wildcard playoff game has just started. I hope the Colts are having a better year, too.

I'll have a New Grist beer with my gluten-free pizza while I watch the game. Go Colts!


Gluten Free Steve said...

Congrats on finding out what was making you so ill. It amazes me what machines our bodies are, and how if we put something wrong in them, it's rejected. My hands get SO incredibly dry and red if I eat something I shouldn't. And my joint pain, yeah, I know from that too. I've never been active so when I would walk up stairs and have joint pain, I'd think - what??! The only thing I still can't do well is sleep throughout the night. And I only wish my hair would grow back. I'm jealous! You look great, you feel great, and you're part of our fabulous gluten free family!

Suzette said...

Kate -- as I am watching said Wild Card game while writing this note -- and Reggie Wayne has just made a great catch and TD! And they just downed Hester!!

Let's just say that I think Peyton Manning was a brave guy with his injury and all -- but can't hold a candle to what you've been through! These big a** guys should be glad they do not have celiac disease! LOL!

In all seriousness, you are an inspiration, with all you've experienced and the way you've chosen to handle this new path. I am proud to know you. :-)

Here's to a great 2009, to us all!!!

Anonymous said...

I loved this entry, Cuz! For you it's not only Happy New Year, but also HAPPY NEW LIFE!

Congratulations on making such a successful transition -- may all of your transitions be equally successful...and easier!

Cousin Kathy

GFE--gluten free easily said...

Kay, I am so glad you shared this post with us all. I love it ... for so many reasons. First, you are thriving from taking control of your health! The picture of you in your lovely pistachio green sweater just says it all. You look so fantastic and healthy. Second, the more you share your story, the more folks who might go "hmmmm" themselves and discover gluten intolerance and/or celiac as the cause of their own issues. Look what happened when your friends/acquaintances shared theirs. Third, I am grateful you listed your symptoms because most of them don't fit the classic gluten issues listing. That's one reason so many folks remain undiagnosed because doctors are not looking outside the celiac/gluten intolerance box. It's really a huge box, it's just not known yet. Last, okay, I have to admit I have a bit of Kay envy (like Steve) LOL ... your weight loss is incredible. I did lose weight shortly after going gluten free, but only because I also went dairy free and sugar free for 6 months. I guess that tells me how much those foods are not good for me as well, but not quite ready to go that route again. Like most people, I guess I want the weight loss, but the easy way. Size 12 is definitely the right size for me as well though. You might be my new inspiration for eliminating more troublesome foods for optimum health. Thanks again for this post, Kay. I am so happy for you!

glutenfreeforgood said...

Great story, Kay. Sad and frustrating, but with a happy ending. Your hands sound like my daughter's; horrible rashes to the point of bleeding. Isn't it amazing that some little amino acid chain can wreak such havoc on the body?! And that celiac is not on the radar of so many doctors? Argh!

Well, look at you now! Ready to win Survivor, the Amazing Race, and be the Roller Derby Queen! Nothing can stop you now!


glutenfreeforgood said...


Did you say you were going to raise a few chickens? Is that what's next on your Leanin' Tree Farm? I thought of you as I was doing some research. Here's an interesting link to a chicken raising blog. They get a zillion hits a month. Well, I don't know the exact number, but there are a lot of people interested in raising chickens!

Here's the link. No connection to me or anyone I know, I just thought you might be interested.



Vittoria said...

Happy New Year Kay!
It's so good to hear that your doing better. Your learning curve is a lot sharper than mine. I think it took me two years to completely weed gluten out of my life (with out the help of some of THE worst doctors) and 2 years later I'm still trying to figure out exactly what works for me. But amen to the clear skin, clear vision and clear mind!

Gluten free Kay said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the encouraging comments!

Just when I think I've got a few things figured out, I get smacked upside the head with a new mystery. I've been down for the count for three daqys now with a bad allergic reaction to something airborne, I think. I feel like my right eyeball may pop right out of my head.

It's happened before. I thought I had it figured out. I thought it was the powdery-leafed viburnum bush right outside my window. So my buddy, Rich, cut it down to a nub and dragged all the branches away. My eyeball's been okay since then. Until I did a little cleaning in the basement. Maybe I react the same to plain old dust.

Took a Claritin today. Helped a little.

Oh, and the Colts LOST the playoff game. Deja vu.

Gluti Girl said...

Congratulations on making it through a year! I will be gf for 2 years on Jan. 20th. I'm so glad you are feeling better and adjusting to your new life. God sure answered those prayers for you!

It's funny that before I was diagnosed, I had a dream. I was at the Acropolus on Southport Rd where I ate all the time. In the dream, Gus the owner, brought me bread and it had worms in it! I think God was trying to tell me to stop eating bread! I was so surprised when my doctor told me to stop eating wheat and I thought back on that dream.

I'm glad the right people told you at the right time what the problem was and you are well today.

Katie said...

Hi all
I am just beginning my gluten free journey and have so much to learn.
Kate and my friend Shirley have been trying to help me with all this.

I have not been tested but do believe I suffer from a gluten intolerance. So here I am. Today is day 4. I need to learn so much. Reading lables, cross contamination. What salad dressings have gluten. I love Renees does anyone know.

Anyway this is going to be a long journey. I hope a successful one.

Kate wow you sure cut out a lot of things , it is nice to know you are still doing well.

I hope to get to know you all better and learn how to do this properly and happily


Gluten free Kay said...

Hi Katie,
It was easier for me after I changed the way I thought about food and shopping. trying to find gluten free alternatives for all the junk I ate before was really frustrating.

I find plenty to eat when I stick to the "fresh" aisles at the grocery and stay away from all the packaged foods.

Good luck! Let me know how I can help!

Hi Melanie - I guess the clues are there if we know how to recognize them!

Hope you make it to the Winter Farmers Market soon. I was so pleased with all the goodies I bought there. I read on the chicken farm's website that they have a special on frozen packs of chicken for stock. I hope to get some this Saturday. Soup sounds good!

Anonymous said...

I have been Gluten free for 10 days now. WOW. I am learning that is for sure. In December at Christmas I signed up for a really nice gym in my area and have been going regularly. I have not had an alcoholic drink either. OMG I am feeling better. I am not so bloated and NO IBS you have no idea. I am happy.

I am learning what has gluten and what does not. HAPPY to find some of my favorites were gluten free. My daughter works at the local bakery OMG. So that is tough. BUT so far so good.

Thanks for all the information
Katie from Canada

Gluten free Kay said...

Glad you're learning and improving! It's rough at first, but find some allies and advisors. Our local gluten free group started a great program. Every "newbie" is assigned an experienced "buddy." When I first started I thought I needed a gf personal assistant and a tutor. It would have been nice to have someone to call while I was attempting to make a gf dinner, or while I was baffled in the grocery aisles.
Ihope you contiue to improve!