Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gluten Free, Caffeine Free, and Feeling Fine!

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?
-daily headaches
-muscle weakness
-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
-bracelets hurt
-necklaces hurt
-seams in clothing hurt
-my hair was brittle and stiff and lifeless
-pale skin
-it hurt the bottom of my feet to walk most days
-eyes hurt - hurt to "track" with my eyes
-light hurt
-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
-joint pain
-joint stiffness
-body stiffness; total lack of flexibility
-tendinitis symptoms
-ear "stuffiness"
-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
-often cold
-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...

Be well!

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Nancy said...

Was I happy to read that you are feeling better! Now I wonder if I have the same problem as you did. I have ALL of the symptoms you listed, i.e. and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2005. I think I will read up on gluten...thanks, and I'm so glad you are better!!

redkathy said...

I am so happy to hear you are feeling better! Good doctors are hard to come by so you better keep the one you have. BTW-I'm doing a gluten free giveaway starting tomorrow. You should enter!

Lori at Jarvis House said...

When I retired from teaching I seemed to have to pea every fifteen minutes. Now when you are a teacher you pea at 7:15 am before school, 11:45 before lunch and at 4:00 pm when you get home. I thought that I would need an operation at the very least. My gynie asked me if I were drinking diet soda. I had to confess that I was drinking it all day long. Once I stopped, and I really went cold turkey on the soda, I went back to normal. Can you believe this, diet soda.

SLColman said...

Glad to hear that you finally figured out what was making you so sick!