Two weeks ago (August 4, 2011), my doctor called to tell me that all of my blood work came back perfectly normal- except the test I specifically requested, the blood test for celiac disease. Normally, to have a confirmed diagnosis of celiac the patient has to follow up a positive blood test with a small intestine endoscopy- a camera that goes down your throat and captures biopsies of the lining of the small intestine. This is because with celiac disease, the body can’t process gluten and damage is done to the intestinal villi- they become flat. This is why nutritional absorption is adversely affected. My doctor recommended me assuming that I have celiac and not follow through with the expensive endoscopy due to two reasons: 1- my grandmother has it (celiac is genetic) and 2- my numbers were high enough to not be a false positive. She explained that the test is very easy to read- you either have the antibodies present (positive test) or you don’t (negative test.)

So I have had to cut gluten out of my diet- whoa! It has been kind of crazy the past couple of weeks as I try to navigate not eating anything that has wheat, barley, rye, contaminated oats, or anything derived from those ingredients. I am figuring out that avoiding those specific ingredients is easy- it is the derivatives that make it difficult. However, we are dealing and thankfully, Travis has agreed to go gluten-free (GF) at home so I am not cooking different meals for me and them. Sam doesn’t get a choice- he is pretty much GF at home, too. πŸ™‚

In case you are wondering, I’ve been having “issues” ever since Sam was born. At first, I thought it was simply my body recovering from the trauma of delivering a 9.5 pound baby and the the crazy infection/ torn ligaments/ etc. that followed. Then, I thought it was my thyroid since I had been told that pregnancy can zap your thyroid and thus your energy levels. I had my thyroid tested and the results were perfect. Therefore, the doctor said it was because I was breastfeeding and that has a tendency to tire a mom out. I nursed for 13 months and after I stopped the lethargy didn’t go away. Now I am told it is because I am the stay at home mom of an energetic toddler boy. As he gained more and more independence, my energy levels did not increase. During all this time I still had stomach issues as well but just pushed it aside. Finally the last couple of months, it has been bad. I have been feeling very bloated and gassy (TMI? sorry!) and moody and REALLY tired. I started googling those symptoms and numerous reputable sites said that it could be celiac (CD). When I found out that CD was genetic, I decided I should get tested. I went to the doctor and she asked me 20,000 questions about why I felt like I should be tested for that. She said that it is not a frequently requested test- usually it is done as a last ditch effort when everything else comes back fine and removing other allergens doesn’t work. Thankfully, she agreed to test me but also wanted to test a bunch of other things as well, just to rule out anything else. I heard back from some of the lab results a week later and so I forgot about it. I didn’t realize that the hospital system couldn’t perform the test and had to mail it to the Mayo Clinic for analysis. Therefore, that test took a while to come back. My doctor called me and told me that not only was I her first “completely digital” patient (they are in the process of going from paper files to digital and since I was new I never had a paper file,) I was her first positive celiac test. Multiple other doctors in her practice have had positive patients so it isn’t something the practice is incapable of handling- I am just her first. I think I like that. She told me that she did a lot of research and talked with other doctors in her practice before calling me just in case. πŸ™‚

So, I have been GF for two weeks and I really do feel much better. My stomach issues are gone. My energy levels are returning. I am sleeping better. I don’t think I am as moody- you would have to ask Travis about that though. πŸ™‚ I’ve lost 4 pounds- YAY! The scariest part is going out to eat. When I cook at home, I know what is going in my food, what it has touched, etc. and so I can easily prevent any contamination from other gluten-full foods. However, I can’t do that at restaurants. The first week, if we went anywhere, I went to Wendy’s and Moe’s because they are very easy. Last weekend however, we went out of town on Sunday and so I ate at two different places. Um, yeah, I think I had some contamination issues with my lunch but my supper was good. Travis and I went on a date to Olive Garden and that went GREAT- they have a GF menu! I am learning that if I remotely think I will be not eating at home, I need to do research beforehand to see what I can eat.

The first week, I saved my sanity by buying GF versions of things we had in the freezer so I could get rid of those items and not feel “left out” by having to eat something totally different. This last week, we’ve all eaten the same stuff and have really enjoyed it. The flavor change doesn’t seem as drastic since we weren’t eating white pastas before anyway. The GF pastas/breads seem to taste similar in flavor to whole wheat so that has been nice.

Just in case you are wondering, here are a few items I’ve made over this last week that are GF.
GF Blueberry Muffins

From Food

GF Beef & Cheese Enchiladas

From Food

GF Meatloaf (cooked in muffin tins)

From Food

GF Deep Dish Hawaiian Pizza (Chicago Crust)

From Food

Grocery shopping has gotten a bit crazy but, as I get the money I plan on stocking up on various flours/mixes I will use so that I am not running around WF going in 5 different stores looking unsuccessfully for one kind of flour because I have 1.75 cups of it and need 2 in order to make a pizza crust that I’ve already started making. Not that I would know anything about doing that. πŸ™‚

As I make more foods that taste good enough that we deem them “remake-able”, I will post pictures and perhaps a few recipes here and there. Until then… go enjoy some gluten for me. πŸ™‚