Monday, November 15, 2010

Disease of the week

All of our friends and family know my husband has mysterious stomach problems. Always has.

Which is sort of a sign in and of itself that something is abnormal and there might actually be a name for what you are suffering from: Everyone says, Oh yes, as long as I've known him, it's been a problem.

Sometimes it's worse than other times. We've considered lactose might be the culprit. We thought spicy food was probably a no-go. We wondered if it was due to anxiety. But sometimes it struck without warning, caused by something we couldn't pinpoint.

Sometimes it interrupts our plans. In the last couple weeks, we've canceled plans with friends twice and my husband has missed some work. In the past, doctors have brushed it off. They've run tests that were inconclusive and let the problem drop. The mysterious and ambiguous catch-all "irritable bowel syndrome" may have been uttered by some.

I knew the time when he would decide to go to the doctor was nigh. He won't go unless he's reached the end of his rope, and on Friday he finally had. Lucky for him, I'd already consulted Google at length and diagnosed him with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that wreaks havoc on your intestines when you eat gluten (wheat/barley/rye). He suggested this possibility to the doctor, who agreed this was a possibility and suggested he cut out gluten to see how he feels without it, then at some point in the future he should eat a mess of gluten and observe the results (the word KAPOW! comes to mind).

Since Friday, we've been gluten-free and he already feels about 400 percent better. He claims he can even see better. Celiacs have difficulty absorbing nutrients, so if he were suddenly able to absorb nutrients, I suppose improved vision is a possibility.

Part of me is thinking FINALLY. If I can eliminate gluten from our food and he suddenly feels fantastic? Wonderful. Another part of me is thinking REALLY? An autoimmune disease? Must we really add to our list of ailments?

But mostly, if it's celiac disease, I will just be relieved. It's difficult when someone you love is suffering and you don't know why and there's little you can do to help them.

So I will be wandering the aisles of Trader Joe's and Whole Foods today in search of gluten-free products, and I suspect most, if not all, of the future recipes I post here will be gluten-free.

Are you gluten-intolerant? Do you know someone who is? I'm looking for tips from folks who have had to make a lifestyle change.


  1. I feel better, but I need to hit that 1000% mark before we call it a 'win.'

  2. I hope eliminating gluten does the trick. Grains aren't good for you anyway. Check out if you don't believe me. That might be a good place to get recipes too. I'm trying to eliminate grains myself. Btw: Love your graffiti pic. ;)

  3. Craziness. I know this does suck but apparently it's like a life-changing experience once this discovery is made (if it's the correct one). There are lots of gluten free products out there and apparently they are are getting better all the time. There is also a plethora of recipes out there too - you can substitute rice flour or chickpea flour or something to make things like cakes, cookies, pancakes, etc. But you have to do some other tweaks to the recipes to make the substitution work.

    I hope you do feel better and I'll make sure to have a gluten-free dinner this year!

  4. Oh crap! I had to come back and comment again because I just realized - no beer!!! That is a freaking tragedy. Sorry, BK.

  5. Erin- A woman I work with has Celiac Disease. I can get more info. for you if you need it. Just let me know what kinds of questions you have. Or I can get you her email if that would be easier. Just let me know.

  6. I think this might be a good place to start:

    Plus, I'll send a note to Kaec and see what she says.

    Even though beer is out, wine is in!

  7. Am I the only dude on the planet with wheat issues?

  8. The doctors at one point suggested I might have it, and they ran a blood test to check- I can't remember what it was called but it was something simple through Kaiser and not some special holistic doctor or anything. My blood test came out negative, but they said had it been positive they would've done a second procedure to test the intestinal lining to see how much damage had been done.
    I've heard that you can have varying levels of glucose intolerance without actually having Celiacs disease, but if you really have Celiacs it is pretty important that you follow that diet. Hope all goes well!

  9. I know someone who has severe Celiac's and even the type of lotion/deoderant/shampoo etc can affect you. So if he still feels icky, check the ingredients on anything that can be absorbed into the skin. It sucks, but it could help.