July 25, 2012

Gluten Stole My Ambition

It’s been a while. My strange post title is part of the reason. About a month ago I discovered that I have celiac disease. I can’t have anything containing gluten. Ever. That’s something that takes a long time to wrap your mind around. You would not believe how many things contain gluten besides bread and baked goods. It hides everywhere! It’s pretty overwhelming when you realize you’ll never be able to have an Oreo cookie again, or buy your favorite birthday cake, or bake anything normally. And I can’t just have a taste here and there. Nope. Even the smallest, invisible trace of gluten will make me sick (I’ve already experienced this). And it’s not just an annoying allergy. Gluten actually damages my small intestines, so it’s basically poison to me. Crazy, huh?

However, once I got past the mindboggling ramifications of going gluten free for the rest of my life, I was glad to know I had celiac. The thing is, I’ve been sick for almost three years. I suddenly got really nauseated one day, and it pretty much never went away. I had good days, but never felt normal. At one point, it got so bad that almost all I ate was crackers (which I now realize were just poisoning my body) and was down to 95 lbs. It was a scary time, and no one could tell me what was wrong! All my blood tests showed I was perfectly healthy. I eventually started eating more again, but the symptoms just wouldn’t go away. Then, last summer, I began struggling with depression. It lasted through the fall, winter, and early this spring. I’d completely lost all creativity and ambition, and even felt like I’d lost the ability to write! Now there’s a depressing thing for a writer. I was tired all the time no matter how much sleep I got. I attributed it to Seasonal Affective Disorder (which I get in the winter), but it didn’t go away with springtime and longer days.

Finally, and I think this was God stepping in after months of desperate prayer, I looked into celiac disease a little over a month ago. After reading through this page of symptoms, I knew that’s what I had. I found symptoms on there I never would have connected to my stomach issues, but it all started to make sense. I’ve been gluten free for four weeks now, and I’m noticing a huge difference. I don’t remember the last time I felt so healthy. My stomach problems have begun to disappear, as well as other symptoms, particularly symptoms I always thought were just bad allergies. And I’m even more sure gluten is bad for me after accidently glutening myself last week. I went from feeling amazing to being tired, depressed, and more stomach problems within a day. I’m finally now starting to feel better again.

So, now I have an answer to all those months of inactivity and lack of ambition. Never want to go through that again. I may mourn the loss of many of my favorite foods, but none of them are worth feeling sick all the time. My ambition is finally coming back. The problem now is how out of practice I am in my writing. It’s been a struggle to really get back into it again, but I’ll keep working. I’m sure it will get easier and easier to get back to normal the longer my body has to heal. It’s been a lot to take in and learn, and I’ve still got a long way to go, but I am so thankful to finally have answers and understand what’s been going on. It’s definitely something God has used to teach me patience and trust.


AnnOliphantCNC said...

God stepped in for me too! All of a sudden out of the blue I developed an overwhelming curiosity regarding everything gluten free/celiac etc. It only gets better. Aren't we blessed to not only know God but to know He does "step in" for His children! Best to you!

Alicia said...

Yikes! It sounds like you went through a difficult time! I can sympathize - doctors still have no clue what is going on with my heart and immune problems. But, back to you, I am so glad you now know what is wrong and can do what you need to for your health. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with you. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes last year and all of the dietary changes that I've had to make have been difficult. However, I've lost eighty-five pounds since then.