Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Gluten Learning Experience

After being gluten-free since the end of June 2010, I accidentally consumed a 110 gram (just under 4 ounces) piece of soy-protein by gardein that has "vital wheat gluten" listed as its third ingredient. I haven't been perfect since June, I made mistakes, especially in the beginning, but I knew after a bite or two something was wrong and stopped. This was not the case last night. Last night, I consumed the whole thing.

This is not to say that I did not feel the effects right away. When I was eating I felt stomach pain and the onset of some of my Crohn's symptoms. I was cognizant of this, but attributed it to stress. I had a ridiculous day and the stress was bound to affect me at some point. I self-diagnosed the symptoms as stress-related aftershock.

Have I ever blogged about my medical degree? I haven't? Well, that's not surprising at all because I DON'T HAVE ONE! This has not stopped me, however, from years of "figuring out" exactly what is causing my ailments and settling on whatever ridiculous diagnosis I come up with. My area of expertise - the mind/body connection -  stress causes everything, I'll feel better when this stress passes. So that was the state of my dinner last night. I was enjoying the taste, but since I had to deal with a bunch of stress for the first time since being on medical leave, I was having an uncomfortable dinner for the first time since being on medical leave. (I guess it escaped my mind that my grandmother passed away in the beginning of September and I had to organize a wake, funeral mass, and burial while housing and hosting two house guests. That wasn't stress. Why would I get sick then...).

Then I sat down to blog last night and brought the gardein box into the office so I could more appropriately describe it here. That's when I read "GLUTEN" and there was a complete paradigm shift. It was not the stress, it was not even my Crohn's disease! It is this stupid gluten!! What a relief and what a DOPE I am.

My last concern then was how long would I pay for this one infraction. I can deal with tummy gremlins (I am like an expert), but not when I have to travel using mass transit which is what I need to do today. I readied for bed considering my options and trying to figure out how to best plan my trip for the day thinking about all the places I scoped out on the route yesterday that have bathrooms (this is an unconscious habit of all people with Crohn's disease).

And then I tried to go to sleep...

But my face hurt. My face. I felt like some invisible hands had reached inside my head and just started squeezing everything hard. I had sinus pressure, then my nose started getting all congested. Now this was starting to feel like my IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension). I couldn't believe this. I had already destroyed the silly "Dr. Nicole" in my head earlier that evening, so I looked at the facts, told to me by an honest-to-goodness medical professional:  

I have a sensitivity to gluten. It causes inflammatory responses in my bowels and cause my body to create histamines like crazy. My body always thinks it is battling some allergen while I am eating gluten. 

This incredible pressure in my head was from GLUTEN.

I know the doctor told me this. I obviously believed her, but this is so difficult for me to understand. I understand having digestive reactions to something I eat, but for it to affect my head? That just seems completely nuts.

Our bodies are fascinating objects of nature. I am in awe of all that is accomplished within them every minute of every day. It is no wonder that when things go "wrong" it should be just as awe-inspiring. I am grateful that all I have is a gluten sensitivity - last night, as I was trying to sleep while breathing through my mouth instead of my clogged up nose my mind wandered to those with Celiac disease, they would dream of only having a sensitivity! Then my mind wandered to the girl my mom used to babysit that had peanut allergies and how terrified my mother was the day she made the discovery.

My life is considerably better without gluten, but I don't think it would be threatened with it. My two diseases (Crohn's disease and IIH) were aggravated by gluten, but again, I don't think either can lead to my death.  However, I am on a quest to live the best and healthiest life that is possible in this mysterious body of mine and without question that life is one without the complications of gluten. I now wonder how different the last couple of years might have been if I was gluten-free sooner.

Something to think about:
Is there some food, food additive, chemical or otherwise that you consume on a regular basis that may be holding you back from living your best and healthiest life? Are you tired all the time? Battling the constant cold? Run-down? Overweight? Underweight? Depressed? Anxious? ... Maybe it is time to go see a nutritionist (most medical doctors don't have a lot of nutrition training, just pharmacological) to examine your food profile.


  1. Sorry about your bad experience with gluten! I'm working with Zicam and would like to share with you a coupon for $2 off Zicam Intense Sinus Relief Nasal Gel. Visit http://bit.ly/aZLzSy for the coupon. :)

  2. Thank you, Jin. I do remember using Zicam before, perhaps if I have a reaction as bad as last time I will consider it again!


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