Saturday, April 30, 2011

My blog gets a make-over.

I really love that blogging is so darn easy. I love being able to take things I love so much- cooking, journaling, and photography- and put it all together in one little hobby. I've missed my hobby.

After my last post, I took lots of pictures. I think I have at least 5 meals of pictures on my camera... but, life was intense (marriage plans and moving through my year back to teaching) and sadly, none of my pictures ever got words to go with them.

Then came a big turn in my life... My severe hip pain has been going on for about 5 years off and on. I could live with it. It wasn't constant. Then, in the fall, my back started. And it was bad and it was constant. My hips got worse. Other joints began to inflame. I was waking up daily with my left ring finger locked the joint would be hurting so much... and my big toe- I honestly thought I had gout the joint hurt so badly it was often waking me up in the middle of the night!

When I couldn't get through a day of teaching because of my back, I ended up at West End Chiropractors and in front of Dr. Bryant Snyder. He's nice. He's cute. And as skeptical as I can be, I could feel he wanted to help me. I later found out he was a Duke fan, which only adds to the love I have for him! He did x-rays- my spine was a mess, my neck was a mess... but, it wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed. It was going to take time, but I would get better. The first thing he told me was no meds. I'm not a girl to pop pain pills all willy nilly, but I will admit, I'd been keeping Advil in business over the weeks prior. I was a little nervous. Ice rest heat was his fill in for my Advil. No gym for awhile. (This, of course, sent me into tears and brought on a huge bouts of anxiety...) And for a month or so, I'd have to see him 3 times a week.
This part of the story could get very long, but I'll cut it down a bit. I saw Dr. S. for 3 times/week for 6 weeks or so. I started doing better. I could go for light walks. I cut back to twice a week, then to once a week, and was able to try out more and more at the gym.

Overall, however, Dr. S. wasn't thrilled with the fact that certain adjustments just weren't sticking. He asked me one day if I had an autoimmune disorders that I was aware of and if I knew what that meant. In fact, I did! My mother had vitiligo and I was diagnosed with it 12 years ago. I told Dr. S. about my mom... she had Type 1 Diabetes (Complications of which led to her early death at the young age of 52) also, which he informed me is also autoimmune.
Dr. Snyder said we needed to talk. He was concerned about my body fighting itself on adjustments. He was concerned about my hip pain. (I filled him in on my toe and finger, which I hadn't yet done- it only supported his suspicions.) He told me I could actually have a gluten intolerance.

WHAT? Ok, so I knew from my initial research of vitiligo 12 years ago that some people thought there was a food allergy connection- that poor digestion and "leaky gut" had something to do with it. Was this what he was talking about? Dr. Snyder had me schedule a longer appointment for my next adjustment so he could teach me a little more. Of course, I went home and hungrily found all I could on food intolerance and autoimmune disorders. I have 2 autoimmune disorders, but I have a HUGE symptom of gluten intolerance, which has impeded me more than either disorder, and that is my joint pain. I really didn't like waking up feeling like I was twice my age, and I hated not understanding why. My research explained it and Dr. Snyder was there for me to fill in all the holes in my knowledge. It was a huge week for me. Was I going to have control over this? Could my mother have had control over all she suffered with? I knew if I didn't do something, my autoimmune response would likely only worsen. Was I going to sit around and wait for RA or MS?

It's like this in simple terms. If your body cannot digest gluten, it lets it seep out into your bloodstream. There the body thinks it's poison. The sticky evil gluten molecules find healthy tissues to stick to- and then your body kills the gluten- as well as the healthy tissues. This results in anything from Type 1 Diabetes to Exzema to IBS or Chron's to Vitiligo... or several other body fighting itself issues. Every one is different, which is why it's only now beginning to have some understanding... The medical model is starting to pay attention, but not fast enough. Dr. Snyder started paying attention because at 3 years of age, his little girl was suffering so badly with Exzema and was in so much pain, he was determined to find a way to help cure her. Now he helps his patients.

There are lots of tests I can take to learn the whole picture... and Dr. Snyder, of course, wants to see the whole picture, but he also understands I am preparing to get married, and that I am just the kind of girl who needs to take one thing at a time. He suggested I try a couple months gluten free- just to see what would happen.

I went home and finished up the pita chips and hummus we had. I sighed and said goodbye. I didn't think it would be terribly difficult, really... the pita chips I had were a treat... on a day to day basis, I don't eat a lot of processed wheat stuff. My kashi bar afternoon snack would need replaced. I guess I needed to get new bread, since my sprouted ezekial would no longer work alongside my morning egg... but, other than that... shouldn't be too hard.

And honestly, it wasn't. I had to do a lot of research, but I like to do that. I had to read labels carefully, but I like to do that. I saw it as a food challenge and I was up to it. It was just two months, I'd eat gluten again one day, right?

Um, no. I won't. I will never put another bite of gluten in my mouth I feel quite certain. After getting through a week of withdraw (I could post just about those interesting experiences... wow.) I was overwhelmed by the changes... since a couple of days of GF, my finger has not one single morning been locked or achy. My toe- nothing- I'm sleeping like a baby. My hips- my poor 80 year old hips? 80% better. My last few adjustments? :) :) I'm STICKING baby!!! Not to mention the 5lbs I dropped in a couple weeks (Dr. S. says I'm probably metabolizing better, and well, not being able to partake in most teacher lounge flour and sugar laden treats is helpful.) and without going into detail I will tell you my digestion is just happier overall. I feel like someone opened the curtains to a perfect spring day. I could hug Dr. Snyder's cute little neck for this. I know it's the start. I know it's the beginning of a long journey to understand what is going on with my body... I know I could have caisen and soy or even egg sensitivities. I know we need to understand how much damage might be done to my small intestine. My adreanal glands are a concern... I know I need to move forward with testing- and I'm going to. But I need to do one thing at a time... and since Gluten is the big gun, the general of food intolerance when you're autoimmune... I feel like I'm off to a good start. I need to take time to adjust to this. To listen to my body, to learn.

This is all why my blog is getting a make-over. My pantry is rid of whole grain pasta and all purpose flour. It's now stocked with corn pasta and lots of new to me gluten free flours and starches like sorghum and tapioca. My favorite protein sources- Quorn and Seitan- are gone and will be replaced with small portions of the highest quality meat I can buy. I'm ready to chronicle what works for me and how this whole experience is already changing my life.

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