Well, hello there! Did you miss me? I missed me. I have missed me for several years now, as I was getting physically worse and worse with some mystery malaise that dogged my every moment. It has been a journey of at least three years to determine the cause of my ailments. I could not believe that aging was the only culprit. Other people my age are very vivacious and strong. The other option was unthinkable. I had a teeny tiny fear that something was REALLY wrong.
Thankfully, I have a doctor who listens, stays abreast of medical research and developments, and was willing to explore the possibilities with me. After many tests which mostly pointed to normalcy, he ordered a celiac test. While the results ended up inconclusive to some extent, he had me give up alcohol (don't really drink anyway), nicotine (don't use tobacco products), salt (WHAT???!!!), AND CAFFEINE.
Alcohol and nicotine were already not in my realm of consumption, so no problem there. Coffee was only my companion for one cup each morning and no more. Salt - I love salt. I am thin, and I don't suffer any hypertension.
So, I gave up the caffeine, and I stopped adding any salt to my food (I do not avoid items that already have salt). I felt better after the 2.5 day caffeine withdrawal headache finally passed. I don't even drink decaf because it still contains caffeine. I did not realize before what trouble caffeine can cause to our adrenal glands and cortisol levels. After five days of this, I decided to also give up gluten.
After three more days, it was like I had been given an energy and vitality injection. I felt GREAT! It has been almost three weeks now, and I am still feeling pretty darn good.
What were my symptoms before?
-chronic sinus stuffiness
-all over body pain
-skin pain (hurt to be touched and sometimes hurt to wear clothes)
-socks hurt and had to have no elastic tops
-seams in clothing hurt
-my hair was brittle and stiff and lifeless
-it hurt the bottom of my feet to walk most days
-eyes hurt - hurt to "track" with my eyes
-TIRED TIRED TIRED
-random unexplained dizziness
-"brain fog" - inability to focus, inability to remember things
-a feeling of "just not right"
-stabbing pains in random places at odd times; sometimes in an ear, sometimes in my head, sometimes in my legs, sometimes in my hands
-SKIN and BONES feeling - when sleeping, couldn't have legs or feet touch each other because it felt like bone on bone and couldn't have covers on my feet because they were too heavy and would hurt
-body stiffness; total lack of flexibility
-tinnitis (ringing in ears)
-occasional rapid heart beat
-ear and throat itching
-restless legs at night
-more frequent urination
-inability to sleep through the night- trouble staying asleep
-Reynaud's symptoms in fingers and toes
and there are others that may or may not be related.
I give the list because gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, often mimics fibromyalgia or lupus or chronic fatigue, or even sometimes lyme disease, and can be overlooked. I am thankful that my doctor listened to my symptoms and understood. He confirmed that people with gluten intolerance are often accused of being hypochondriacs because many test results can be inconclusive and show "normal." He also said that gluten intolerance can cause many many mystery ailments.
Let me say that the pain is real; the symptoms are real and relief is marvelous. I can go on walks and hike again. I can wear shoes I haven't been able to wear in years - and they don't hurt! I can wear bracelets and necklaces. No more headaches (except when I accidentally ingested some gluten). I feel strong again. I feel like my "fat pads" are back on my hands and feet. No more pillow between my legs at night. I feel energetic and clear headed. No more dizziness. My circulation is back. Even the muscles in my face have tightened up! I have color back in my skin and cheeks.
The lingering symptom is tinnitis, but I hold out hope that it will resolve itself. I am sure you will hear much more along the way, such as how truly difficult it is to avoid all gluten, but not today. Today, I am off to do something fun...