This post is in response to all of you who have asked me about a gluten-free diet and how it has helped me. Anyone who has been sick for a very long time or has dealt with odd symptoms might want to read this series of posts. I am not a doctor. I do not work in a medical field. This is simply my experience and if it helps one of you, then great.
I have been gluten-free for a year now. However, it was three years ago that I first suspected that gluten might be a problem for me. I am a relatively healthy person. I don’t get sick often, but five years ago I didn’t think I was going to make it. Here’s what happened:
I woke up one morning and my left elbow was sore. It was a deep, dull ache. A nagging ache. The kind of ache that over-the-counter meds can’t touch. I let it go for several weeks, but when I began to lose feeling in my left arm and could no longer hold a pencil, I made an appointment to see my doctor. He said it was either carpel tunnel or tennis elbow so he put me in a wrist brace and told me to keep an eye on it. Weeks passed, and the feeling in my left arm didn’t come back and had traveled down my arm to my hand. I began to drop things and had trouble steering my car with that arm. Back to the doctor I went.
This time, he noticed that I was favoring one foot when I walked. After the exam, and all that poking and prodding, it was determined that I had lost some feeling in my left foot as well. I immediately thought “stroke.” He thought, pinched nerve and sent me on my way. At this point, I didn’t know what to think. I never had these issues before and although I didn’t think my doctor was being aggressive enough, I did think he was listening and he has always been a good listener.
Months later, I returned to the doctor with increased numbness, increased pain and what had started on the left side, was now traveling to the right. It’s hard to imagine having pain AND numbness, but I did. What wasn’t numb, hurt like hell. Not just joints but in-between the joints, too. If you touched my arm, it would hurt. If I sat for too long, it hurt. Shifting my car from Park to Drive, hurt. At this point, my energy was gone. I was lethargic and could not walk from the parking lot to my office. I did. I did walk, but I felt as if I couldn’t and wouldn’t make it if I tried.
The doc tested me for all sorts of things. Lyme disease was one possibility since it all began after a trip to Yosemite. That test was negative. Actually, everything that he tested me for was negative except for inflammation tests (which were elevated). But what was causing the inflammation? In the mean time, I was just trying to live. Working was difficult because on the outside, I looked healthy, but on the inside I was falling apart. My family and friends were not supportive. There, I said it. When you look well, it’s hard for anyone to understand just how bad off you really are, and then the doctor couldn’t find anything, I think most thought it was just in my head. However, I was convinced that something was seriously wrong.
After more than a year of this, everything continued to get worse and my hair started to fall out in clumps. Additionally, I had small fissures in my bones that were healing on their own, but no one could explain what caused them. I had bone density tests which did not show anything abnormal. That’s when my doctor ran tests to screen for Lupus and other auto-immune diseases because it certainly seemed as if my body was attacking itself. Lupus is a strange disease. There is no “lupus” test to tell you whether or not you have it. There are tests to show elevated levels of certain things which point to Lupus, but it’s very vague and out of all the tests he ran, some of these came back positive.
So…it was Lupus. Maybe.
[To Be Continued]