Coming to Terms

Wow, I am surprised it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve stopped by here to share with you what’s happening in my world. We’ve just been plugging along.

We had a birthday party for our Monkey, and I’ve been dealing with some health issues that are a mixture of good and bad; I’m not sure yet how I feel. Add to that a terrible cough that just won’t kick and I’m… getting old 🙂

The past few months I’ve had to face fears and grieve for the loss of my old self while adopting a new self and a forward-looking plan.

Thank goodness there are businesses like this one where I can still eat safely without concern for what’s happening deep inside my body!

It’s taken me a little while to grieve the old Kate who loved donuts and unique foods and replace her with “I’m Kate, I have Celiac disease,” and now have to be very careful about everything and everywhere I eat.

All I can say is, I’m glad I came into the world of gluten-free two years ago before receiving my official diagnosis. I’m well prepared to face it all head on and start to heal from the inside out; because I’ve had two years to figure out what works and what doesn’t! Now it’s become ever more important to keep strict and do what’s best for my body.

When I look back, it all started because I thought dairy caused my eczema. Despite going through periods of time cutting it out from my diet and using prescribed steroid creams since my teenage years, the eczema never seemed to fully heal. Seasonally it would improve, and I even went tanning for a few winters to try to clear it up! I wore sunscreen on the rest of my body, by the way…

Everything finally started to catch up with me two years ago when I decided to go through with the ever difficult elimination diet. I was at my wit’s end with my body symptoms (eczema on my face, horrible exhausting fatigue, joint pain, stomach issues, and more!) without much help from doctors as they focused more on various symptoms and not the underlying cause. Take this, use that cream, drink this… You have little kids, you’re just tired…

After the elimination diet experience, I was floored at what a difference my body felt in just 6-8 weeks. I literally had no fatigue or joint pain, my stomach issues were gone, and even my depression disappeared midwinter. I felt like a completely different person.

I never suspected gluten one tiny bit! It was a shock.

It took me months to commit to going gluten-free. It was not easy to give up my favorite brews and homemade pizzas. Gluten was just so easy to cook and bake with! I spent years learning how to manipulate it. It was the glue that kept it all together.

I had to start over from scratch. Literally. And learn an entirely new way to cook, drink, and eat that very few people were familiar with.

Beyond committing, I spoke with my doctor who didn’t want to bother with any testing. He said it would be expensive and instead said eat what made me feel good. So, I did and it was going fine for a while.

Then last fall when I fell ill at work and went to the ER from an allergy, I started to have quite a few more issues again. I found no matter what I ate, many foods were triggering a response within my body. I was getting limited in what felt okay and decided to reach out to the doctor again.

After meeting with my doctor, he said I was probably just gluten intolerant because I was not “sick enough” to have Celiac. I encouraged him to give me the bloodwork anyway, despite his desire to skip it. Well… bloodwork came back positive – even on a gluten-free diet. My body was still having an internal reaction from gluten through cross-contamination apparently.

Off to the Gastro, I go!

I met with my Gastroenterologist and what a wonderful doctor! For the first time, I felt like someone understood what I was going through and had such an intimate knowledge of the disease. He came so highly recommended, he was hard to get an appointment with!

In the end, he confirmed my Celiac diagnosis through bloodwork and diagnostic testing. We’re working with a plan to heal any further damage Celiac has done to my body. I feel like I’m in great hands and have a pathway forward to healing my body from the inside out.

What stood out to me by my gastro was that he said I was lucky. Yes, lucky, because I came across this early enough in my life before it caused even more havoc within my system if I kept eating gluten. I never researched deeply on Celiac before, but quite a lot of health issues come along with it.

He said it typically can take 7-8 years… YEARS… for a diagnosis and the fact that I pushed myself to try something different through the diet and then came upon the issue was good.

Doc explained Celiac like an iceberg. You can see a small tip of it above the water (which would be the symptoms that I was lucky I actually had to push me to try figure it out) and below the water is a whole host of bigger issues going on. If I was a silent Celiac I may have never known which could have led to worse outcomes.

So there it is… I’m still grieving for the idea that I may one day have been able to eat gluten again. Chris has asked me for a while now if when I heal, can I eat gluten again? I used to say, “probably not,” but now that answer is a firm “no.”

Chris has been super supportive of it all, diagnosis or not, and I totally appreciate him for it! I loved his response when I found out, he said “I still love you even though you can’t eat gluten anymore.” He’s too cute.

We talk on occasion about what a day would look like if I could eat gluten for an entire day. I always think, there isn’t enough time in one day to eat all the things! We also think, wow, how much my life would’ve been different had I found this out years ago. Of course, Chris doesn’t want to think if I found out prior to meeting him, haha. He just thinks how much happier and healthier I would’ve felt all these years together and after having kids. I may have not experienced PPD or other mental health issues. It literally has flipped my world and the idea of who I am inside upside down.

Positively, in the past two years so many restaurants and companies offer gluten-free food that it’s been easier now than two years ago to navigate the food marketplace. A local donut shop makes not only gluten-free donuts and vegan, too! Yay for gluten without eggs (my second major food issue!).

I’m grieving for no longer having the option to “take my chances” when eating out and asking about what is in something. Now, I’ve got to be more of my own advocate, because while enzymes and other things may help the symptoms, Celiac will never allow me to eat gluten again. And even if I’m able to tamp down the symptoms from cross-contamination with digestive enzymes, it’s still causing intestinal damage.

That’s okay though because really, I should be eating fruits, vegetables, and proteins anyway. It’s truly a healthier diet (but I love me some gluten-free cookies!).

I have to be honest though, THANK GOODNESS I can still eat cheese!

Gluten-free I can do. Life without sharp cheddar, I am not so sure.