When I sat down with the doctor, he started going through the barrage of tests, and, to my surprise, told me that most things were absolutely fine! He noted that my liver function appeared to be off, and asked me to go for another test in two months.
Then he looked at my coeliacs results and told me they had come back negative. Well, I must confess that was a great surprise to me, considering that I have been feeling a lot better since cutting wheat out of my diet. The doctor was taken back a little bit and told me that while the coeliacs tests are usually very good, it isn’t without error.
The slightly elevated (I think) liver test results, coupled with the fact that I feel better, could still indicate coeliacs, so I will be referred to a gastrointerologist (I think that’s what he called it). It’s possible I may have to have a biopsy of my small intestine, which naturally scares the crap out of me.
But its good news in that it really probably isn’t coeliacs. I wonder what it is then?
Who would have thought that I could actually have nice tasting lunches while being healthy and not eating wheat?
At first, looking through the ingredients of food stuffs, you get depressed. I actually felt really low after my first trip to Tesco, pulling things off the shelf, scanning the backs of labels, trying to remember what contains gluten. Thankfully, some packages have allergy advice on the back and will specifically list every possible allergen in the food, which is wonderful, but more often than not this box is missing and you have to pour over each ingredient for a couple of minutes before you place it in the trolly. It doesn’t end there, because as soon as you get it home you read it again to make sure. Then, when you get round to cooking with that ingredient, you check again because you can never be too certain.
Checking every food package and container that you’re so used to buying leaves you frustrated. I’ve slammed things back down on the self and exclaimed “what the hell” more times than I care to remember, just because my favourite food stuffs are laced with gluten.
When searching in Sainbury’s on Monday for my lunch bits, I did what I always do and went down all the same old isles and grabbed things off the same old shelves. You can see why I was frustrated because I didn’t go into this thing with an open mind. I looped back round and started at the beginning again. Fresh fruit, crunchy carrots, delicious dips, supreme spreads, these were all open to me and I grabbed as much as I could from the shelves.
I came back with yoghurts, apples, carrot sticks and rice cakes, all of which seem pretty damn boring, but then you add red pepper hummus, hot salsa, and a tub of spreadable cheese, and the boring healthy food suddenly becomes very interesting. For most of this week I have sat at my desk with a fortress, constructed from tubs of dip, surrounding my little carroty generals. Everyone thought I was crazy but I have a fucking delish lunch!
Turns out I was spending less too. Dips, apples, and a bag of carrot sticks can actually last you through the week, I think I’ve spent about £6 on my lunch for all of this week, where I used to spend about £3 a day on crisps and sandwiches.
If it turns out I don’t have Coeliacs, I can see myself continuing this lunchtime setup because I’m actually enjoying it one hell of a lot!
Those of you that follow me on Twitter and Google+ will already have heard some of my recent ramblings concerning my health. I haven’t gone in to much detail there, so I’m going to post about it here. Beware, this is my blog, and when it comes to health, I’m very happy to be graphic. I find that if I talk about health issues, they become less scary and I may find someone in a similar situation that can help me out.
A side note, that I think is important here, is that I wouldn’t be doing any of this without Tori. She’s helped me realise that I have a problem that needs sorting out.
I don’t know when it happened, maybe because it has been an extremely gradual change, but I have been gassier than every before, burping and farting almost uncontrollably. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. Most of the time I can feel it coming on and hold it, but what is happening is that I find it more difficult to hold it for very long. Occasionally, however, I find that a fart or burp comes out of nowhere and I cannot stop it.
As such, I have had a constant feeling of being bloated and it has been extremely uncomfortable. Trying to fall asleep with Tori next to me has been difficult. No one really wants to fart in front of their other half, so I’ve felt a constant struggle not to.
Now we get to the hilarious dichotomy of my problem (and actually the part that spurned the trip to the doctors):
Constipation AND diarrhea. Most of the time I have a bowl movement, I will find that I struggle, and could be there for a good 20 minutes. This is the one symptom that I’ve noticed for a while, though I couldn’t say how long. Like I say, it has been getting worse progressively, though the diarrhea has shown its face very recently.
There is nothing less fun than the very sudden and extremely urgent realisation that if you don’t know where the nearest bathroom is you’re in for a lot of trouble. It feels like a sudden weight in the gut, followed by sweating, and Tori even said I go as white as a sheet. I would have to say that I have never concentrated so hard in my life, or even run so fast.
So there you have it, my problems in a nut shell. I’ve seen the doctor and had a blood test already to check for coeliacs disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that causes antibodies to attack the gut when you’ve had some gluten in your meal. The bowl inflames and causes a number of symptoms like the ones I’ve already described.
Last night, Tori and I produced a gluten free meal. It wasn’t that hard actually, we had a chicken curry with poppadoms, and I had a fruit cider to go with it. Lager and ale is now right out, though cider, wine, and even whisky are fine to drink. For the first time in a while, I can confirm that I feel great this morning!
I haven’t got the blood test results back yet, and it may be a while before I’m diagnosed with anything at all, but I think I will try to live wheat and gluten free from now on. This won’t be easy, however, as a lot of things contain wheat. In Tesco, Tori and I were looking through some of the posh icecream and found only a couple of flavors that had no gluten, and most of the snack food that we wanted to pick up were off the menu too.
I guess shopping trips from now on are going to take twice as long as I scan every package for the tiny writing on the back. Going to restaurants is going to become quite a chore too. Wish me luck.