Surprising Support

   A couple weeks ago Kevin and I went to rehearsal dinner for our friends wedding, the dinner was up at Alpine Inn in Hill City.   I was nervous to go for two reasons, one: I still have been having tummy pain, like nausea (which is totally normal during the healing process) and two, because I can't eat very much in one setting. Why? I'm not sure, maybe cause my body is starting to absorb the nutrients from the food now or because my body isn't used to me eating much food over the past several months. So naturally, I was trying to figure out what I was gonna do. I didn't want to explain to everybody that I had Celiacs and make this evening about me. I didn't want to sit there and try to eat the food and ruin everybody's evening by being a party pooper.   So my first step was to call the restaurant and see if their stuff is gluten free.  If you've never been to the Alpine Inn, they only serve filet minon, toast, baked potato, and a salad wedge. Obviously, I knew I couldn't have the bread, but I didn't know if the ranch for the salad had gluten in. Did the salad come with croutons?  Did they season the steak? Does the Bacon have gluten in it? (Most do.)  So I called up and asked and the lady I talked to said that none of their products contained gluten. She answered a little too quickly for me, so I wasn't comfortable enough with that answer. I decided I would go but I would talk to a manager first, so I would feel comfortable about how my food was being made.  (Tips I read in this book about being gluten free...The G-free Diet.)  We get to the restaurant, sit down, and I asked the server if I could speak to the manager. Fortunately, our server was the manager. I explained to her that I had Celiacs and couldn't have anything with gluten and asked her if the food was gluten free.  Come to find out that she also had a gluten allergy and said not to worry. She assured me that she personally would make sure everything was done right. Sigh of relief! This was the first time that I felt comfortable eating food that I didn't prepare myself, and not knowing whether I was going to get sick the next day. 

     After I had talked to the manager about my allergy, the guy sitting next to me at the table (our limo driver) started asking me about what it was like having Celiacs. I told him about how I felt and the things I was learning and some of the challenges. He then told me that his son they found out had a gluten intollerance which, is not as extreme as Celiacs, but still can cause issues. He said his son was having odd behavior issues and after doing some tests they tried removing gluten. He said it has helped improved his sons attitude and behavior by great amounts and didn't realize gluten could have such an affect on people.  He proceeded to tell me that he used to be a manager at Outback Steakhouse and the general manager there was the one that started to bring awareness about Celiacs to Rapid. He said that the staff have special training on how to properly cook gluten free food they offer.  I worked as a waitress, so I know a little about how the the cooking staff can be....not helpful.

     There was such a huge relief on my face, not only cause I know a safe place I can eat without having to worry about getting sick because the staff understand how it important it is to be safe. I don't know anybody who has gone through the same thing I have.  My family has been very supportive, of course, but knowing somebody else is going to take care of you because they know what it's like, or they understand why you can't eat something, you don't feel good, or that you can't eat much. They get it....and it was such a great moment when you realize that somebody else knows the exact feeling you feel.

The After Math

    It's been a month and a half since I was diagnosed with Celiac's and at first I wasn't sure if that's what I had because my improvements were very little, but now after not having gluten for a month and half I am happy to say that my improvements are great!  At first it was just the extreme cramping and constant running to bathroom that went away (which is still good) but I was still having some uncomfortable pains and bloating and not being able to eat a whole bunch.  It was pretty much all day with the worse pain in the morning when I woke up, then it moved to just pain in the morning but, I started feeling hungry after a few hours of being awake...which was another good improvement....although I still couldn't eat a lot. Improvement is improvement I'd say, even if it took a while.  This week has been the first week that I have woke up with no pain and I am even starting to feel hungry when I wake up in the morning!  I can eat full meals on a daily basis, hardly experiencing any pain, and my body feels really good. I actually feel hungry and no bloating.   My mornings are so much easier and stress free now.

    Things I am learning though, is to scour the labels. I did accidentally eat gluten about two weeks ago and it did not end pretty. My stomach was hurting so bad and I felt nauseous, but that is how I will remember to always check the labels before I buy and/or make anything!   Some things you wouldn't assume have gluten in them, like Pringles, and if one flavor or type of candy is gluten free doesn't mean all of them are gluten free such as Reese's peanut butter cups are gluten free, Reese's wafers... not so much.  You can't assume anything, even if you think you know the ingredients of a food ALWAYS READ THE LABEL!  Don't assume you know what they say about people who assume.... Now time to get my teeth fixed.....yuck!

So it begins....

      So in September of 2011, I returned from a 6 month mission trip from Japan and South Korea. The trip was great! I had so much fun and I fell in love with Korea!  However, the day we left Korea, I got sick to my stomach. My stomach was cramping up so bad that I couldn't even move. My body was shaking, I was dry heaving, and I felt like I was going to puke; all while not being able to leave the potty....(yuck I know).  So I took some Pepto Bismol, waited for it to kick in, and tried to get ready and pack my stuff up in time to go to the airport.  I slept on the flight, but my stomach was still hurting, but manageable.  From there on out, I had the worst stomach pain all the time. I could hardly eat and sleep was my only means of escape from it. I was excited to go to sleep but hated waking up knowing that it was going to start all over again.  My diet included crackers, root beer and water, that was about all I could eat without having too many issues.  After a few months, I finally went to see a doctor. Several tests and some awkward moments prior, they couldn't find anything.  Feeling super discouraged, I went home and my stomach hurt more than ever. I thought it was going to explode. I didn't know how far my belly could stretch.   My mom had heard though how probiotics help with certain things such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which was what I possibly thought I had.  So after taking the probiotic I started feeling much better, after about 6 months maybe I was able to stop the pill completely.  

    I was doing great until the summer of  2014 when it started up again.  So I kept doing what I was doing, taking Pepto when needed, trying myself to figure out what was wrong with me and just handling the pain.  I started to keep a food journal to see if I could pinpoint what set it off, totally random I could eat the same thing two days in a row and one day I'd be fine and the next my tummy would hurt.  So I tried cutting out gluten for a week, no changes then I thought maybe it was lactose, I felt better for about a week and had my symptoms all over again.

    So FINALLY I decided to go to the doctor, a different one of course.  He then referred me to a GI (Gastroenterologist) specialist.  Who then after talking to me requested a colonoscopy and an upper endoscopy....yeah super exciting. I had to drink this nasty stuff called GoLytely which I couldn't get down easy any possible way, cause of my stomach already rejecting any food that went it, so scarfing down a nasty drink didn't make it any better.  I tried my best hoping that they would figure it out without the colonoscopy.   So after both my tests, they told me that I tested positive for Celiac's disease!   They told me it takes at least a month before I can start feeling better. Unfortunately, is why when I tested it the first time it didn't do much.  Although, I read that usually when people stop gluten their symptoms tend to stop right away, so even though the doctor said that's what it was, I have my doubts. Maybe when I start feeling better I'll become a believer.   Lets hope that day comes soon....