I still don’t feel good.
Damn. That sucks.
I feel better though. Some. A little more energy. A little less belly ache. But not where I want to be. Not where I normally am five days after giving up gluten.
Part of me is terrified that going gluten-free only made me feel better the first two or three times. That I pushed too far, and now my body won’t forgive me. What if this time, going gluten-free has no effect. What if the damage is permanent now?
Part of me is pretty sure that starting my period on day two is the culprit. And if I can just get through the next few days I’m going to wake up–maybe on day 10 or 11–feeling like a million bucks.
When I’m eating gluten (basically every month since I was fourteen), my periods suck. Hard. Two days of full-on flu followed by a full week of misery. And because my periods are so heavy, and gluten-intolerance is a malabsorption disorder anyway, my vitamins and minerals (particularly iron and vitamins B and D) are all screwy, so it takes me the rest of the month to recover, just to start it all over again.
This scares the crap out of me. Because my mom, who in retrospect probably gifted me with gluten-intolerance, had the same kind of problem. And just like me, it got worse in her mid-thirties. When she was in her early 40s, she had the works taken out. I can remember clearly how happy she was. Her periods had gotten so bad that she had to miss work every month.
She felt like she was starting a whole new life.
Five years later she died of breast cancer. She did everything she was supposed to do, got her mammograms. But apparently she got cancer between them, and the hormone replacement therapy she was on made the cancerous cells grow out of control. She died within a year of being diagnosed.
I would really rather not get cancer. But if I do, I’d rather not be on hormone replacement therapy at the time.
And I would really really just rather not get cancer. So I need to do a better job taking care of myself.
Last May, after literally having a break-down in my doctor’s office and begging her to help me (she offered antidepressants), I found an article about Celiac Disease. At first I was all–not a chance. Celiacs are skinny minnies. They can’t eat anything. I can’t stop eating. And I’m so not a skinny minnie.
But I dug deeper. And eventually I realized that this could be what was making me so miserable. So I gave up gluten. It was so hard. Sooo hard. But I did it. And two or three days in, for the first time since before I was pregnant with Ruby five years or so earlier, I woke up refreshed. That was like a minor miracle. For the first time, a full nights sleep was enough.
It just kept getting better. My hair stopped falling out. I was able to drive all the way through Nevada and Utah–a good six or seven hours–by myself without sleeping on the side of the road every hour or so. My stomach stopped hurting, my legs stopped swelling (I lost a full shoe size!), and the uncontrollable food cravings just stopped. My period snuck up on me. I almost had a party. No flu. No cramps.
I felt so good, and I ended up adding gluten back in. It’s in everything. I didn’t mean to let it in. It just kinda creeped.
Two weeks later I was back at square one. So after a while I did it again. Yay! Then the holidays came around, and I made myself sick again. I went off gluten after Thanksgiving for three weeks, but went a little crazy Christmas week. And now here I am. Day five.
There is no doubt in my mind that gluten makes me sick. Not eating it is like turning off the crazy switch in my head. I can eat like a normal person. Not what I eat, I mean how much. I don’t feel the need to eat and eat and eat until I can’t move unless what I’m eating is gluten. The brain fog lifts.
It’s like I’ve got some kind of OCD that compels me to eat poison. You know, like the pregnant ladies who eat dirt and chalk and laundry soap?
I still want gluten. Even knowing how sick it makes me. I want pizza. I want toast.
I want to feel good more. I want to wake up and feel ready to face my day. I would really like not to go bald, thank you very much. I would like to get rid of the huge bloated belly, the swollen feet, the dry peeling nails, the thrush and constantly chapped lips.
I don’t want to follow in my mother’s footsteps.
I want to feel good.
I will. Just give me a week.
P.S. I’m so glad I made January Self-care month. There is no way I can even face the rest of my goals until I have my health under control.