Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac’s
In the fall of 2009, I was just coming off the raw milk diet (see post here) and living corn-free (see post here) the best I could. For the first time since I got pregnant two years and a half years earlier (see post here) I was headed toward recovery.
I could finally get out and about. I was so encouraged I decided to visit Nanny and Pop, our surrogate grandparents. They lived about five hours away. I packed up my special corn-free foods, my special raw milk, along with our clothing, toiletries, etc. Matthew stayed home on the farm but I brought our son, Darrell.
We had a very nice visit. Although I was much sicker than I expected. As I stayed it got worse and worse. I had brought my own food. I couldn’t figure out why I was having reactions. What I didn’t realize yet was cast iron pans are porous. I was reacting to the corn that had transferred from using Nanny’s pans. After this event, I learned to travel with my own kitchen.For those who didn’t read my earlier stories I’ll explain what a reaction is like: my heart rate increase and becomes irregular, it becomes difficult to breathe–I feel like if I don’t remember to take a breathe my body might forget, my thoughts become unfocused as my body shuts down, I can force myself to stay awake but if I relax at all I pass out for a few hours. This happens every time I eat for six days after corn enters my body. Strangely, I may not even be aware it is occurring.
When it was time to go I was grateful I didn’t have to drive the full five hours. I had planned one night at a friends house so the kids could play. It was about halfway home. I turned on the adrenaline arriving with no major difficulties. We had a nice visit until mealtime. I had brought my own food to save me from any problems. I had cooked my foods separately.
As we were eating I kept up my end of the conversation. Or so I thought. Readers, keep in mind that when I had a reaction my whole being was effected. I often wasn’t aware of it until I woke up. However, my friend noticed the change immediately. Are you having a reaction, she seemed to shout at me through the fog. I don’t remember my reply but I doubt if I knew it right away. She was a bit surprised. She had never seen me have a reaction. Her motherly instincts kicked in.
She got on the Internet and had me paying for some medical tests before I knew what was what. Well, that’s a simplified version. It took a few days to get things lined up. I didn’t know much but trusted her judgement and went along. A few weeks later the results were in and it was a surprise.
ALCAT is a company that does food sensitivity testing using your blood. They look at your blood under a microscope then add a bit of food observing if it changes in size. If it changes then that is supposed to mean you are sensitive. My blood reacted to around 70 or so of the 150 foods. So the idea is to take those food out of my diet. That didn’t leave me with much. But it was more than popcorn and watermelon!
Additionally, my friend had me test for gluten sensitivity at EntroLab. I must admit to you she had been mentioning it for probably two years. I am embarrassed to admit how stubborn I can be. I couldn’t comprehend eating wheat and feeling good with gut damage. Just didn’t make sense to me. As a matter of fact, I had taken myself off wheat numerous times with no effect.
Remember I just came off the raw milk diet. Six weeks with only raw milk. I waited two more weeks before trying some bread just to prove her wrong. So after being gluten free for eight full weeks I ate some wheat. Honestly, I felt great after eating two sprouted wheat rolls for lunch that day. I had plenty of energy even and didn’t fall asleep. However, I did make a mental note that I wasn’t hungry again until ten pm that night. Hmmm. Being full for ten hours on two sprouted wheat rolls seemed a bit suspicious. I quickly discounted that and I justified in my mind, no gluten reaction. Two weeks later I fell apart at her home.
When the results came back from EntroLab I eagerly opened them. I was really shocked. I had one copy of the gene for gluten sensitivity and one copy of the gene for Celiac’s. I’m a biologist by training; I am well aware of genetics. Two copies mean I got one from my mother and one from my father. Two copies means each of my children have a copy. It means my grandparents (at least two of them) have (at least one) copy.
I read more of the results. My body was producing anti-tissue transglutamase. That means my body is attacking itself. The full definition of autoimmune disorder. I have Celiac’s disease! No wonder I felt so bad. . .
So, if I take gluten out then I’ll get better I surmised. It was a reasonable assumption.
Honestly, it wasn’t too difficult for me to take it out. No wheat, no barley but gluten-free oats were safe and I still get rice and potatoes so life is good. This assumption turned out to be wrong but I didn’t know that yet.
Wheat gluten was just a another piece of a the puzzle. I was hoping it was the quick cure. It would be another year and a half before I was able to get all the corn out! So I stayed sick. I didn’t yet realize differences/similarities in glutens of the various grains. But that’s a story for another day.
My journey to health has not been smooth but each piece of the puzzle gets me closer to the answers. I hope you feel inspired to start a journey of your own.