Sunday, July 29, 2012


It's been 3 months since I had gluten. In late April my rheumatologist suggested I go gluten free for 3 months for pain management and some gastrointestinal issues.  So go gluten free I did. Through thick and thin, barbecues, vacations, group dinners and weddings, I tried my darndest not to ingest gluten. I inadvertently had gluten a few times, but only because I either didn't know it was there, or because I couldn't avoid soy sauce. I mean, who knew that they battered french fries before frying them? I guess this is normal in North Carolina, but it was new to me! And I didn't find this out until after we got home from our trip! Oh well. Being gluten-free has been fairly easy at home. We switched our flours, got some quinoa or brown rice pastas, and I didn't eat random saltines or breads. It hasn't been perfect, but we've gotten use to it. Eating out was a different story entirely! I've eaten a lot of salads. No pastas, no noodles, no flour tortillas, no wraps, nothing with soy sauce, no regular pizza, nothing with breading. At any given restaurant, 85-90% of the menu items are off limits to me. We were in Breckenridge over July 4th, and it took me 10 minutes in the lodge cafeteria to find anything I could eat! I was ready to cry, and just eat and apple and a bag of chips, since everything else had bread! Lucky for me, after 10 minutes, I found a salad. Whoo hoo! Never been so excited to see some lettuce  and dressing!

My gluten free trial period ended last week. To test out the waters of glutenous living, I ate two slices of pizza  at small group on Sunday night, and half of a  cinnamon bread stick. That night I did not sleep well. In fact, I slept worse than my pre-rheumatologist seeing self! I logged in 3 hours before waking up unable to breathe! After taking some pseudoephedrine and sitting up/nodding off on couch for a hour, I was able to get back to a fitful night's sleep. Everything ached when I had to get up, and my body was unusually tight. The kids had sports camp up in north Boulder, plus swimming in the afternoon, so there was no rest that day. I was so exhausted and "foggy" that everyone had to repeat themselves for me to even understand them. My body was unhappy all day.

The next day was okay. Things seemed to get back to my new normal. I spent the next two mornings painting Caitlin's room, and generally running around. Thursday morning was spent not painting (yay!). Seriously, feel free to bop my upside the head the next time I suggest painting an upstairs room with poor circulation on a hot day in the middle of summer when I only have two hours to accomplish the whole thing! But I digress...  On Thursday morning I, once again, decided to test the waters. I had a big, doughy, oh-so-yummy pretzel at the mall. I ate a few saltines at lunch time. I even made a baked, breaded chicken dish for dinner. And oh my, did I pay for it! By evening, my body was screaming at me. I was having a hard time breathing (and in the same number of hours as before). Many internal issues that had been gone came rushing back. By bed time, every major joint in my body ached. I couldn't straighten out my elbows without major pain. I'm normally very flexible, but on Friday morning my back was so tight that I couldn't bend down and touch the floor. I'm not sure how much of that can be attributed to painting for two days, but the symptoms came on quickly, and were much better by Friday evening.

This last week was not exactly the romantic re-entry into glutenous living that I'd envisioned. I'm confused. I did this for pain management, not because my body was showing adverse reactions to gluten. Am I gluten intolerant? Gluten sensitive? Is this more related to the fact I'm in the midst of summer, when I tend to feel worse physically? What's going on? Everything I'd read about gluten-free living (usually written by someone with celiacs, which I don't have) said that they'd felt a huge difference within a couple of week. Not me. I've been gluten-free for 3 months, and honestly didn't feel much different. My hands were in less pain, and generally had more strength, but that was about it.  Two months in to my gluten-free diet, my rheumatologist put my on a prescription anti-inflammatory twice a day because my pain levels weren't getting better. That little pill made a huge difference in how my back felt, and was key in the near cessation of certain internal issues. I felt almost normal. I felt almost like I use to before we moved here.

Because there are so many things besides gluten that could have factored into my bad days, I'm going to try this again. Seriously, how do scientists ever get good results from control groups? There are so many other factors that could affect the outcome! My body is on it's way back to my new normal. The pain isn't as bad, and nothing's really screaming at me after a few days of returning to my gluten-free life. Tomorrow I stop taking regular anti-inflammitory meds. I won't paint or do anything out of the ordinary. If nothing changes, I'll have a bagel for breakfast next Saturday (I'm going big - why waste a gluten moment on something small?). I'll let you know how it goes. I'm not at all hopeful about the outcome. Good thing I like rice crackers!