Friday, September 20, 2013

Gluten Freeversary- MoFo Post Sixteen

Post #16 for Vegan MoFo 2013. 

I am deviating from my theme today. Vegan MoFo generally happens in October, but this year it falls in the month of September. This month is filled with many birthday celebrations and smiles, but it also reminds me of a difficult time in my past. I blog about this every year as a remembrance of what I have had to overcome. Many have had to overcome much more than this, but this is nonetheless a milestone in my life that I need to share yearly.

In my late 20's, I began to develop an odd health condition. My life had become unpredictable, planning it around when I might get sick. I started to fear social interactions, especially ones that involved food. In every situation, I had to know where the escape route was or have access to my keys in case I needed to leave suddenly. My heart would often race and I would become flustered with the thought of getting sick. My only way of comfort would be to run to the bathroom or a private area and breathe. I feared that people would notice I was getting up too often. I would make excuses, spill items on myself, and pretend to get phone calls.

People that spent a lot of time with me started to notice that something was wrong. I also had excuses for that. I started avoiding certain situations so that people would not notice. The thought of eating out in a restaurant would give me heart palpitations. I tried by ordering light and taking little nibbles praying that sickness would not set in. Sometimes that plan failed. When it failed, I would begin sweating and running to the restroom. I worried about ruining everyone's dinner.  There were times where I kept people waiting while I paced in the dark to beat off the nausea. Pepto bismal and ginger chews became staples in my purse and my diet. 

The more I felt this way so unpredictably, the more I started to worry. I had just entered my thirties and something was very wrong. Was I dying? What was happening to my body? I kept a food diary, but could not link what was happening to food. Sometimes, I would not have eaten for hours, but the smell of food would turn my stomach. No signs pointed to food. I began to think that I had a mental condition.

After many months of worrying, doctors appointments, and different diagnosis my Doctor suggested that I had Celiac Disease. She suggested that I go to a specialist to confirm. There were many things that followed after that, but the end result was an a blood test and an upper endoscopy to confirm that I in fact had Celiac Disease. 

The news came to me three years ago today. I had come home from work, John was making Pad Thai with wheat noodles, and I went out to get the mail. The mailbox contained a thick envelope addressed to me. With fear, I opened up the package alone on the front steps. My worst fears confirmed, I had Celiac Disease. I walked in the door, handed the packet to John, and then fell apart. The next day I headed to Madison, WI for work even though I felt as though I had just fallen apart. At the time, if felt like my whole world had come crashing down before me.

I will never forgot my last gluten meal. In hindsight, I would have chosen something different like a pizza, sourdough or Italian bread, or maybe even cake. While John suggested that I ease into the diet, I disagreed and decided jump in with both feet. September and October were extremely hard and depressing months for me, but I made it. I survived it and it has made me a stronger person today.

So I break my MoFo theme to recall these memories. For me it is important to remember this time and realize how much I have grown from this whole experience. While I do not have an allergy, I have come to have an understanding for those who have allergies and/or sensitivities. This all is a good reminder that when life gives you lemons, you should make gluten free vegan lavender lemon cupcakes! :-)


GiGi said...

Beautifully written and remembered, Amanda. You are a survivor!! So glad you are healthy today!
I find it is good to remember where you've come from, it helps with gratitude for me :)
Many hugs.

diylettante said...

Glad you found a doctor who was able to figure out what was wrong! I know how hard that is (I had to diagnose myself).
It's hard to be gluten free, but I like vegan lemon lavender cupcakes...

Hannah said...

Thank goodness you figured out the problem (and the solution) in time to turn things around. Not an easy path for sure, but you've proven that it's possible. Congrats on reaching this milestone!

Dawn said...

Lovely! So glad you get to see it from this side now. I went through many of the same things you did. I even ended up having a heart cath in the midst of it to find the problem!
It's so great that you wrote this for people on the other side to see how worth it the changes are.

Mandee said...

You poor thing! Life pre-diagnosis sounds so horribly anxious and unbearable. I'm glad you're able to enjoy life and social situations now :)

Maureen said...

I have a friend with this disease and I know what the difficulties can be. I think you were right to dive straight into a gluten free diet - if it were me I would want to cut out what was making me ill as soon as I found out.

My daughter started to have terrible migraines when she was twelve. After a CAT scan, amongst other tests, she was discovered to have an allergy to cow's milk and dairy products. Sometimes people think she is being silly and don't bother to check thinking that dairy won't have any real effect on her but they are very wrong as she then has to spend two or three days in bed with a migraine.

After a while the gluten free will become second nature to you, certainly here in the UK supermarkets have special sections for gluten free food, it makes people's lives so much easier.