For those who follow me and the All my love, Millie page on Facebook, then you are already aware of this update. For those who don't (but should) keep on reading.
For the last two years or so, my husband has been sick. It was never something you could see if you just looked at him. He has a great smile that reaches all the way up to the corners of his eyes. He is tall with strong arms, and he enjoys working outside. But what you didn't know is that under his great smile, he was fighting serious insomnia, crippling migrane headache, serious stomach distress, and could only work outside for short periods of time because he would get so easily fatigued. Even to this day when I tell people how sick he was, people tend to shrug and go, "Really? Huh....you can't tell." A nice compliment to Dan, as he is a really strong person. Over the course of two years, he kept telling doctors his symptoms, and they were very quick to perscribe medicine over, and over again; medicine that had horrible side effects and didn't help him sleep, ease his headaches, or make his stomach feel better. January of this year, I don't think I had ever seen him so low. He seemed....defeated. So finally, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He began researching and researching, and talking to other doctors, nurses, and friends. Through this process, he made a discovery, a common thread. It might be a sensitivity to gluten.
After presenting this data to his doctor, Dan finally got the inital tests he needed. When the results came back, it was good news and bad news. The good news was that he finally had an answer, and could stop wondering. The bad news was, it was Celiac Disease. For those who aren't familiar with this, Celiac is "An autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine." When people eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, the body has an autoimmune response, and attacks the small intestine. This keeps the body from absorbing nutrients the way it is supposed to. In this case, Dan has a severe deficiency in sodium, potassium, and chloride, and a very low Iron saturation level, of 11%. The deficiency is so bad, that his doctor has ordered other tests, and scopes to really see the level of damage done; I will update you guys when we get these results back.
Celiac can rear its ugly head at any point in life, brought on alot of times by stress. Celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers. Needless to say, this list of disorders is very disheartening.
There is no cure for Celiac, but with a lifestyle/diet change, the symptoms can literally go away. However, once you make this change, any exposure to gluten, even coming in contact with some crumbs off of a sandwich can cause a severe intestional reaction. So it is a serious disease, that requires serious change.
For one month now we have made every effot to be come a gluten free (GF) house. At first, Dan was very frustrated. No more bread, no more normal beer, giving up lots of favorite foods. But now, after we have done lots of research, we have found options that still suit cravings and are totally GF. I have started to eat totally GF as well, and let me tell you...the results have been shocking.
In a months time, my husband has changed. Physcially yes, but mostly with his attitude and energy level. I used to find it was diffcult to get him out of bed sometimes; he was not motivated to do much, and was so fatigued by the time he got home from work, he would want to sleep. Now? He is getting up on weekdays and working in the yard....before work. He is generally happier, laughs more, and gets frustrated less. He has a pep in his step, that the kids and I have never seen. It is incredible. The stomach distress is gone. Two weeks in, he literally looked at me and said it was the first time he had had a "normal" time in the bathroom. And when we accidentally came in contact with gluten, he felt the effects almost immediatley. The composition of his body has changed. He used to carry any extra weight in his stomach....and now its just....gone. I can't beleive that he went undiagnosed for so long, and that by changing our diet, it has made such a HUGE impact.
I'm lucky my husband is always up for a good photo op.
Keep in mind this is more than just "eating healthy". Gluten is hiding EVERYWHERE. In things we thought were safe like, a "fresh" jar of salsa, organic tortilla chips, soy sauce, salad dressings, cheese dip, canned "healthy" soups, etc. Some restaurants have french fries with gluten....and some without. Why do they need gluten?! We have to ask for a GF menu everywhere we go now, and do our research before we go out to eat. We have to check every label in the grocery store, and really read menus at places. A pain in the ass currently, but as each day passes, we have found great GF options, and some that we probably won't try again. It is all a learning process. We have found GF flour, GF beer (tastes exactly the same), GF bread, chips, and sauces as well!
My advice to you as someone who has seen both sides of this disease, and has tried eating GF for a week, and eating something with gluten shortly after; I can tell you firsthand, and truthfully. Gluten is terrible. It's bad, bad, bad. Bad. It is a preservative, a thickener, a substance to bind things together. Something that is not natural, and thus not supposed to be put in our bodies. If I go without it, I feel better. I wake up feeling energetic, not bloated, my skin glows, and I can have a regular BM that day. If I decide I want to eat somethign with gluten? I am sick within an hour, my face has breakouts and weird texture, I am moody and tired. And I get headahces. Just like what my husband dealt with for years.
I am actually looking forward to what the future brings, and being able to expirement with new recipes and new places to eat. (Keep a look out for recipes and restaurant reviews). Mostly, I am excited to see the changes in Dan. I am so pleasantly surprised by the changes in him. I have never seen him happier, or healthier. I am thrilled for him to have the answers he has longed for for years, and to see him finally getting at peace with himself.
Turns out that age old saying is true...you are what you eat.
All my love,
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