Could You be Gluten Intolerant?
New Diet, New Life
It all started in my 20s. I had regular stomach aches. Daily, low-grade stomach upset that, at times, flared up for no apparent reason. This led to a round of doctor visits including the following:
- Regular family doctor. Remedy: Citrucel. Results: no change.
- Internist: Prilosec. Results: no change.
- Internist #2 and a biopsy of my stomach lining. Remedy: Antibiotics. Results: no change.
After all of this I chalked it up to having a "light stomach." I started eating bland foods and just endured the daily stomach pain, hiccups, and constant tiny burps and funny stomach sounds.
Another strange issue was that I had never been able to chew gum because doing so was painful. As in mandibular (jaw) pain. Hmmm...oh well, I had a light stomach and I was not a gum chewer. Livable, I guess.
After a few years, my knees started going down hill. The knee pain was so bad I could not bend the left one. How did this happen and where did it come from?! I had always been a gym rat so I chalked it up to over-training on the treadmill/stairclimber/elliptical/spin bike. "That's okay," I thought. "I'll just take it easy for a week or so and I'll be good as new." To my dismay, the knee pain worsened until both knees were achy and sounded like something was loose with all that crunching and squeaking with every single step. Strange. Gradually, all of my joints became achy including my wrists, fingers, hips, elbows, and ankles. I lost my grip in my right hand (and I'm right-handed.) I was off to the orthopedic surgeon because, obviously, something was haywire:
- Orthopedic Surgeon #1 and x-rays of both knees. Remedy: None! X-rays revealed that "We find nothing wrong."
- Orthopedic Surgeon #2 and x-rays of both knees. Remedy: None. They, too, found nothing wrong.
- Orthopedic Surgeon #3 and an MRI of the left knee. Remedy: None. Really? They also found nothing wrong.
Back to the regular MD and blood tests to check for arthritis. Nothing. Even so, the MD offered Celebrex. "But I don't have arthritis," I said. "Yes, but maybe this will help," was his professional opinion. I got out of there quick! And without the Celebrex. I have never been a real medicine-taker and I was much more interested in finding out what was wrong rather than covering up the pain.
I finally went to an osteopath as a very last resort. As a new patient, I was required to fill out a two-page questionnaire regarding my aches, pains, and medical history. After reviewing my handy work, the osteopath began to ask the typical questions. "Do you have stomach pain on a regular basis?" she asked. "Well, yes," I said. "I always have a low-grade stomach ache." She asked why I didn't state that on the questionnaire. I told her I had always been this way so I thought it was normal. She asked if I had joint pain. I noted that I had severe joint pain in all of my joints. Again, she asked why I didn't state that on the questionnaire. I again stated that I had been this way for so long I thought it was "normal" for me and that it was just part of getting older. She gave the questionnaire back to me and said, "write everything down. All of the symptoms, no matter how long I have had them." Well, that changed things. I took my time and went through the entire questionnaire. It went back to her filled with Xs next to all of my ailments.
Within ten minutes, my osteopath said she thought I might be gluten intolerant. What?! I had always eaten bread, wheat, grains, etc. Well, perhaps that was my problem. It never occurred to me or any other doctor that this could be an issue. By this time I would have twisted up into a gluten-riddled pretzel just to have some relief from the aches and pains of the last 20 years. In fact, I had just mentioned to my husband a few nights earlier that I didn't think I was going to have a very long life. If I was feeling that lousy in my early 40s, it just didn't seem possible to live a long and healthy life. That being the case, I was more than willing to cut out the gluten for a while and see if it made a difference. And did it ever! Stay tuned to find out how I drastically improved my health and my life by going totally gluten-free. In my next post, I'll discuss how to start your new gluten-free lifestyle. Join me!