If you’ve been following my blog for a little while now, you’re probably aware that I’ve been working through some chronic stomach/digestion issues. Of course like any other stupid human being, I’ve googled my symptoms and have read through the million and one conditions that I could have. There are like 5 different cancers that trigger the same symptoms that I suffer from, so that has been super comforting. I decided to listen to my body, and one of the ways I’ve been trying to help the diagnosis (while I wait to have an endoscopy) is by tracking my meals to figure out what foods seem to cause problems. I did this for a couple of weeks, and it became clear that I have some issues with foods containing wheat and gluten. This is actually a bit of a living nightmare for me, but I’ve been feeling so terrible that I am willing to try anything to help dull some of my pain and symptoms while I wait for a diagnosis. I am in no way self-diagnosing myself as celiac, as I know how serious of a condition this is.
Until I get official testing done, at this stage I am simply saying I am gluten intolerant, based on how I’ve noticed body reacting after I ingest foods that contain wheat/gluten. Some of the symptoms I noticed after ingesting wheat/gluten: headaches, dizziness, brain fog, bloating, acid reflux symptoms (burning, “hunger” pangs, nausea), chronic pain in my left (and occasionally right) side, digestive issues, deyhydration, and fatigue. That pretty much ticks all of the boxes for an intolerance. That plus the foods I’ve noticed trigger my acid reflux (tomato, onion, capsicum, chilli, fizzy drinks, alcohol, and coffee), and I have a pretty clear idea of what the culprits are. I decided to cut wheat/gluten and these additional culprits out of my diet for a week, to see how I feel. I have a doctor’s appointment on Saturday to talk to my GP (again), so don’t be concerned that I am self-diagnosing and making huge changes without professional guidance.
I’ve been “gluten free” since Friday evening, and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride so far. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a bit disappointed that I didn’t miraculously feel better, but I told myself that I needed to give it a week before I would start to feel anything at all. Having this in the back of my mind has definitely helped. I’ve had chronic pain in my side for about a year or so now, and if the issue is what I think it is, it will take some time for my body to heal – definitely more than 12 hours, at least. Throughout the day I continued to feel pain in my side and back, and had a terrible headache creep in around dinner time. Throughout the evening my muscles ached (in particular my left arm), my stomach was upset, spots on my skin felt incredibly tender to touch, and by the time I decided to go to bed early to try and sleep it off (I think I was in bed by 8pm), my teeth were aching. The only thing that made me feel better about this (and not like I was possibly dying), was reading other people’s stories of gluten withdrawal online. This gave me some comfort that it was possibly a withdrawal causing these symptoms, and that it would pass. Thankfully, I woke up on Sunday morning with significant less pain in my side, and slight residual pain from a bad headache. As silly as it may sound, it feels like I am healing.
Moving forward, I am going to speak to my doctor about my concerns. I believe I’ve been tested for celiac before, but I want to confirm this fact. I think if I was initially told that I was negative for celiac I wouldn’t have worried about it too much, but I now know you can be sensitive or intolerant to gluten without being celiac. If that’s the case, I want to look into other avenues for testing for allergies or intolerance to wheat. If I can confirm that this is the case, I think I may also see a nutritionist to get a little bit of guidance as to what my diet should look like, if it does indeed need to continue as gluten free. I’d love to hear from any of you that live a gluten free life, or have lived with the same issues I’ve been having lately. And if anyone has a good gluten free recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I’d love to hear it.