Of late, this is has been the eager recommendation from many of my closest friends:
“You should start a blog!”
Several months ago, however, it was all I could do to keep from rolling my eyes at the mere mention of the word. Blogging was something I never fully understood, and I operated under the assumption that it was no more than a pointless exercise in narcissism. How could what is essentially a publicly accessible diary serve any other function? Who really cares what I have to say?
But, as is the case with most misconceptions, I formed all of these ideas before I’d ever actually read a blog.
And here I am now, writing my own. Who’d-a-thunk?
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Nearly four months ago, sometime around mid-January, I found myself stretched out stiffly on a hospital bed, crammed into a narrow and busy hallway in an NYC emergency room. After nine hours on my back, x-rays, a CT scan, and three different doctors, I was discharged without even a fraction of an explanation for the excruciating pain that caused me to drag myself there in the first place. The male nurse that pulled my IV out before handing me my walking papers had said unhelpfully, “It was probably just gas.” I smiled politely and nodded, resisting the urge to lunge at him screaming. I’d lost count of how many times and to how many different people I’d explained my symptoms since walking in the door, and didn’t care to run through my entire history yet again. The lack of communication coupled with this ridiculous game of Musical Medical Care Professionals is just one of the many problems with our health care system, but I digress….
I have had stomach pain for longer than I can truly remember, and by now I know the difference between gas pain and the pain that I was having that day (considering I’ve had plenty of both over the years). In trying to relate my story to friends, or even in recalling it to myself, I find I have difficulty nailing down exactly when the pain began. Five or six years ago seems to be right–I know it’s been that long at least. It was always a sharp and somewhat constant pain, like an intense cramping or slicing from the inside out. I felt full, bloated, like I couldn’t pull my abdominals in without pressing against the sharp point of whatever was poised within my stomach. And, likely touching on the edge of TMI for those of you who are conservative or don’t care to know me quite that well, I was always constipated. I’d go days, sometimes a week or more, without being able to go to the bathroom. It became bad enough that, on one occasion, I actually threw up because my body simply couldn’t hold anything more.
“Didn’t you go to the doctor?” I’m sure many of you are asking. Nope. As difficult as it may be to believe, I thought this was normal.
In more recent years, other, stranger things started to happen as well, things that I wouldn’t have ever considered linking to my stomach pain. A regular blood donor, I was turned away again and again because my iron was suddenly too low. Efforts to remedy this by eating items on the “Foods High in Iron” list with which I was sent off only resulted in a slight (but not enought of an) improvement. Upon receiving results from a routine blood test around this time, I was also told by a doctor that I was slightly anemic. Years before, my iron had always been great, perfect, wonderful. I was the ideal candidate for donating blood, test results were always fabulous. What had changed?
I also began to have frequent dizzy spells and issues maintaining my blood sugar. I attributed this, along with the sudden onset of anemia, to a 3 year period of calorie counting and food paranoia in my early teens. Surely something had been thrown out of balance back then, and I was now paying for it all these years later. I also had my first experience with fainting, which was both interesting and frightening. An MRI afterwards revealed nothing abnormal. It’s funny, though, how when you know something’s not right with your body, a normal result isn’t exactly comforting. I’d have almost rather left with a confirmed brain tumor.
But it was all easy enough to live with. I say this now of course with consideration for my state of mind at the time. So I should qualify: Knowing life as I did then, it was all easy enough to live with. I had a high tolerance for pain, I stopped donating blood (and started eating an unnatural amount of legumes), and I carried glucose tablets at all times.
Then came the day this past January when the pain sharpened to a point where I could no longer breathe through it, to a point where the pain itself was causing me to feel nauseated and I questioned how long I could hold back the tears. So, I stood up from my desk, informed my colleagues that I would be leaving for the hospital, and hailed the first cab I saw. The following morning, after my 9-hour ER visit, after not receiving a definitive answer, after starting to consider things that I’d always scoffed at before, like food allergies, a coworker confronted me with the possibility of Celiac disease. A friend of hers had similar stomach pains for years before being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, and going gluten free had pretty much changed her life. So I googled. The symptoms seemed to fit. This could be a real possibility. So what now?
I decided, starting that day, that I was going to go gluten free. Test it out. What could it hurt? If it helped, then great, right? The result was incredible. I started to feel better…started to feel normal. The pain and bloating was gone almost immediately, I became regular within about a week, and my head felt unbelievably clear. I never knew it could feel this easy to exist! And bread, real pasta, the red velvet cake that I once loved enough to eat until I felt completely sugar sick–they could all begone! I felt alive for the first time since I could remember.
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My opinion of the dreaded blog began to shift when I started seeking out gluten free (GF) resources. I wanted information, recipes, advice, and began to delight in reading other people’s stories…aka blogs. As I’ve shared my own story with friends and described how my life has changed since my self-diagnosis, the response has been consistent, “You should start a blog!” So here I am, starting my blog. I have a loose plan for this site–stories, recipes, resources, restaurant and product reviews–but I hope and am sure that it will take on a life of its own. A gluten free life.
So, hello all! I am glad to be making this introduction. My name is Britt, I am gluten free, and living in the most amazing city in the world–I am GF in the City.