***DISCLAIMER: I will preface this post by saying that Western medicine has its place and I certainly know that not all medical professionals are incompetent; quite the opposite, in fact. I was very glad to have them around when I was delivering my baby. That said, my experience with doctors and medical professionals as a whole has not been a pleasant one.***
Eliminating gluten from my diet was the single most effective thing I had ever done in an attempt to heal my body. The constipation I had experienced went away within 24 hours… it was the longest 24 hours of my life! (I would amend that to read having not yet experienced the 32 hour labor and delivery with my son.)
Life was good, though be it very different. I had to learn to actually cook things other than noodles. I eventually got in to a groove though. And there were lots of gluten-free substitutions I could make that were just as good!… That’s a lie… Gluten-free substitutions are more often than not way too complex and time consuming to prepare for very little nutritional value or taste.
You know the saying, “Anything that’s too good to be true probably is”? Yep. It didn’t last. 4 months in to being gluten-free, I noticed some very strange and very uncomfortable things going on with my body. First, if I ever back-slid and cheated a cookie or a slice of regular pizza, I paid for it for DAYS. Also, I noticed my hair started thinning. I was pulling wads of hair the size of a Pomeranian out of my hair brush and bathtub drain. My teeth also became more sensitive and I noticed what appeared to be several cavities forming, and my enamel looked like it was eroding away.
I was so confused. What in the world was wrong with me? This gluten-free nonsense was supposed to be helping but it just seemed to be making me weak. A series of yeast infections led me to finally see a doctor to see if they could tell me what was up and lead me to something that could finally fix my messed up body. That was mistake number one.
On the day of my 23rd birthday, I had an appointment scheduled with my doctor. I didn’t actually get to see my doctor, I saw his nurse practitioner. I went in and told her all my crazy symptoms and that I had been eating gluten-free for about 4 months and that all of a sudden, I feel almost worse than before. She did a few tests and came back in the room and told me that she was testing and treating me for an STD. A WHAT!?!?!? Having been in a 100% monogamous relationship with my husband since we were 17 years old, I was totally blindsided and disgusted and all around horrified. She explained that my white cell count was elevated which indicated an infection but that there wasn’t yeast in the culture she took… On my birthday… She prescribed a strong course of antibiotics and I got a shot in my bum and then had to go home and confront my husband with everything that I had just been told. Worst. Discussion. Ever. We didn’t speak again for 3 days.
I knew it wasn’t an STD, and my husband did as well, so the call confirming the test was negative wasn’t at all a surprise as much as it just raised more questions and increased my disdain for western medicine. If the doctors I’m seeing can’t figure out what is wrong, could it be the “C” word? Why is my hair falling out? Why are my teeth rotting away in my mouth with proper dental hygiene?
Physically and spiritually, I was ready to die. I came to a point where I said, “Ok God, if it’s cancer, I’m ready to go. You hold my soul, you hold my life. Win or lose, I’m going to always give you the glory.” Mentally, I wasn’t ready to give up. I went back to my friend Cindy and she explained she had had something similar happen to her before she discovered she had celiac and not Crone’s disease. She said as the body detoxifies from years of being force fed this food that eventually becomes a trigger, the intestines become sort of permeable. She suggested I read up on leaky gut syndrome and referred me to her integrative health specialist. So I did.
I got a book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. WOW! Now I was starting to get some answers. I learned that a lot of digestive disorders have to do with an imbalance or absence of gut flora- the good bacteria that naturally populates your intestines. Without that flora, food isn’t properly digested and builds up in the intestines over time causing inflammation. Adding to that my years of taking antibiotics for sinus infections, the recent course of strong antibiotics prescribed by the clueless nurse practitioner, NSAIDS, strong birth control pills, and poor diet, my intestines had become permeable and I was without the balance of good bacteria I needed in order to fight off infection or keep the yeast that is naturally occurring in the body from becoming a candida overgrowth. I had eliminated the foods causing the inflammation, but I hadn’t corrected the lack of good gut bacteria so food was going undigested and I wasn’t absorbing nutrients, vitamins, and minerals like a healthy person would. I was essentially malnourished in spite of eating healthily.
With this new tool in my chest of alternative medicine, I scheduled my first appointment with the integrative health specialist.