It’s been just over a week of my gluten-free diet. When I started last Friday, friends said I might feel better in a couple days. Well on Day 2, I was in the depths of despair because there was no change.
Okay, so I’m kind of an impatient person.
But on Day 3 (the day David left for Rwanda), there was a definite change. I still had my headache, but something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly but throughout the day, I thought, Wow, I feel good.
On Day 4 I woke up and, laying in bed, instantly knew something was different.
I had no headache.
At the risk of being over-dramatic … do you know the last time that has happened? I don’t know. Sometime before college I’m sure. So, over ten years ago. Maybe more.
I felt euphoric all day long. And that’s when I became sold on my gluten-free diet.
David has been away for 7 days now. My grandfather died this week. I’m homesick. And I’m constantly having to think about food and to figure out what I can eat and what I can’t. But, with all of that: I have not had one episode of anxiety or depression this entire week. Not one!
Obviously, I’ve been reading a ton of websites/articles. And here are the list of Celiac symptoms I have or have had in the past year (most for several years):
Chronic allergies/upper respiratory issues
GI issues (diagnosed as IBS six years ago)
Feeling draggy and “sick all over”
Tingling/Numbness in arms and legs.
I have always felt like I have poor health in general, and couldn’t figure out why, but I think that our move overseas last year pushed it to a crisis. I read that a gluten allergy can appear or worsen under high stress.
I should say here that my Mom gave me an article on Celiac disease back before Judah was born. But I guess either I wasn’t ready to hear it, or didn’t feel like my symptoms fit (sorry, Mom!).
So, the gluten-free diet. Yeah, it’s kind of a pain. But, I just reached a point where I said: “I am willing to do anything in order to feel better.” When I think about it that way, I don’t even want bread and donuts and muffins anymore. It also helped a ton when I learned that really a gluten-free diet is really just a healthy diet. It’s better anyway for me to eat whole foods and eat lots of fruits, veggies, and to avoid processed foods. So somehow it helps me psychologically to think less “diet” and more “eating healthy.”
Right now I am still in the process of figuring out what is okay and what isn’t. I am reading ingredient-lists and learning all of the terms that indicate gluten and have messed up a couple of times–and my headaches have come right back.
Also, heart-breakingly, I am noticing a pattern with headaches after I’ve eaten sugar: I start to feel sick again.
Gluten is hard enough … but sugar? Come on.
So, for the time being I’m trying to be mostly sugar free (at least all refined sugar) too. It may just be a result of my body being so sick, and I’m hoping after it heals I can re-introduce sugar to some extent.
I miss baking. A ton. And here in South Asia, few people know what gluten is, so there are no gluten-free sections in the supermarket. So I am trying to reassemble my baking ingredients on my own, which is a whole lot of work. Our British friends in the mountains both have gluten allergies, and have been giving me ideas of ingredients we can find here that I can substitute in the gluten-free websites:
It’s taken five days and seven grocery stores so far, but I will make that first loaf of gluten-free bread someday! I can’t wait.
The other thing I will miss like crazy–especially when David returns–is eating out. Especially right now it’s just too risky, unless we go to an Indian restaurant. But when we go on dates I always prefer my “comfort food”–Italian, American, etc. Oh well.
Other than eating out at Western restaurants and baking and snacks, it is fairly easy to be gluten-free. There are great fruits and veggies fresh year-round, and South Asians rarely use preservatives in their food. Especially here in the south, rice is served with every meal, so I can skip the flat-breads. Although . . . on Monday, Ammara is coming over to teach Lilly and me how to make gluten-free chapatti!
From what I’ve read, gluten allergies are hereditary, so there is a good chance Judah and Ams have one or will develop it. Therefore, I want to move toward making our home gluten-free over time.
Pretty much the first thing people say to me when I tell them I am gluten free is: “I am so sorry.”
But! I am not sorry! I am so very, very relieved and happy. After years of thinking I must be going crazy–of going to doctor after doctor and saying “I’m sick,” of having them take tests and then say: “No, you’re not”–finally there is an answer. Thanks for praying for me.
You know what makes me happier than anything else? It is not this country that’s making me sick.
I feel so, so grateful for the outpouring of emails, facebook messages, phone calls, articles and websites sent from all the people in my life who want to help. And, I am amazed and touched by our teammates and friends here, who haven’t given me a hard time or even missed a beat, but are all learning to identify gluten and help me enjoy gluten-free meals when we’re together.