Food is not something that I thought about regularly. It had never been something I sought out for comfort, or to satisfy cravings. It was just there and I needed it to stay alive. I never understood the shows that portray food as some sort of euphoria to be sought after and conquered. watching other people eat in cooking shows has always made me squeamish. I don’t want to see an overweight man tear into a 5 pound burger. Saliva and chewed meat falling onto tables is less than appetizing. But more than that, I found that eating became painful and unpleasant. it seemed that anything I ate, I would be regretting within the hour. I had debilitating pain in my stomach. The pain had gotten so bad that I had passed out more than once. I threw up often from the stress that the pain was causing my body, And spent thousands in doctors bills trying to find out the root of the problem. First I was told i had IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome). I was told to eat only foods that were high in fiber, fresh fruit, and vegetables. I Began this diet, eating mostly whole wheats and grains with fresh produce as prescribed. after one week of this I couldn’t take it any more. This diet had helped nothing and at best made it much worse. My doctors basically told me it was all in my head, and I was tiered of forcing my father to take me to the doctor’s office for the past 3 years. And so I gave in instead of fighting it. I decided I would do my best to work around it. in high school when it began hurting I would spend full hours in the restroom trying to cope with the pain, weather I needed to go to the bathroom or not. I missed several class periods.
I believe in Karma. and all the while I never understood what I had done to deserve the excruciating pain i was feeling every day. When I turned 17 and started having serious relationships with boys, I felt vulnerable. My condition was something that I kept private and that I didn’t understand, so how could I expect any one else to deal with it? Boys came and went, until I was 19. I found someone who understood and cared enough to encourage me to continue the effort to finding a solution. he stood by me and held my hand through the pain and discomfort. The journey to finding a solution began with a Dr. Chalkabarty. He ran hundreds of tests, took samples, did procedures and along the way I found out several things. first I found out that I had a spastic colon. this explained some of the pain but I didn’t feel like that was the answer I was looking for. next I found out that I had severe internal swelling. this also made sence with how i felt. and after that I found out that I had Endometriosis, and he felt that I would have trouble conceiving a child. he informed me that receiving a series of shots over a 6 month period would reduce that size of the endometrial tissue and may increase the likely hood of getting pregnant. Not being able to have a child of my own was a devastating thought. He informed me that the masses were almost completely covering both of my ovaries, and to consider trying to conceive earlier rather than later. I began getting a monthly shot called Lupron. it gave me horrible side effects. rashes, migraines and joint pain were just some. but it was worth it. mean while the doctor found one last thing that may have been causing my pain. I had a twisted colon. Having a twisted colon is a complication that can cause serious conditions. he then scheduled a procedure to untwist it. unfortunately the procedure went horribly wrong when i woke up in the middle of the action in excruciating pain. the nurses quickly subdued and sedated me. and after all was said and done he had successfully untwisted it. however only days later it became twisted again and he said that there was nothing that could be dont to fix it. Once again I had given up. two years had passed of being poked and prodded and finally I had my answer… and there was nothing that could be done. If reverse Karma was real, I hoped that my pain would pay off later.
As luck would have it, it did. on my 21st birthday I sat at home with my close friends unwrapping gifts at the diner table. one of those gifts was a pair of pants. they were blue denim boot-cut maternity jeans. I was 2 months pregnant with a baby girl. It wasnt planned. But it was welcomed with open arms. Today my daughter is 9 months old. I often sat up wondering if she would be put through the same pain when she is older. would we spend years searching desperately for a solution to end her pain? I thought I would never be able to avoid it for her, or steer her clear of it, I would only have to wait and see if if effects her.
My older sisters and I are very close. But i still found it embarrassing to talk with them about my situation. They knew it was their and that it bothered me. but they didn’t know the great lengths that I had resorted to in order to avoid it. I stopped eating out all together. I stopped eating at friends houses. I ate while out of the house only as a last resort and had every restroom stop mapped out in my head before hand. I hesitated go anywhere I was unfamiliar with for fear of having pain with nowhere to go. I dreaded long drives and unplanned trips. even going grocery shopping had become a stress factor. When my sister Kristal came to visit us during christmas break, my not eating quickly came into question. and naturally they became concerned. I stressed how long i had been looking for a solution and that they believed it was my twisted colon and that there was nothing to be done. But Kristal has always been a computer wiz and truly believes that anything can be solved using Google. I have to admit I had spent many hours scouring the internet looking for some sort of a cure my self with no relief. but Kristal did it with such determination and grace that I couldn’t help but be intrigued with the information she was finding. She asked me a hundred questions about my health and what sort of pain it was causing.
Finally she looked at me and said “I think you have Celiac disease.” of all the crazy different ideas doctors had thrown at me, I had never heard of that one before. she told me it was basically a gluten intolerance and that it causes almost all of my symptoms. it sounded plausible, but how would I know if that was what was wrong with me ? she told me that all i would have to do was to stop eating foods that contained gluten. and if my symptoms improved in the next week, I would know. at this point I was willing to try just about anything to get back to a normal life. especially if all that it would take was avoiding something as simple as gluten.
That is of course until I realized what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat, Rye, Barley and other grains. which just happens to be almost everything at the grocery store. the obvious things are of course bread, cakes and trail mixes. but nowadays wheat is added into everyday products. for example Baked beans, pastas, salad dressings, anything with flour, candy, tortillas, cereal, and hundreds of other products. in fact it became a kind of hunt searching for things that I could eat. but after two weeks of eating a gluten-free diet I can gratefully say that my sister Kristal with her PhD in google, has ended pain that I have been living with for the past 12 years. And even though I am allergic to all of the yummy breads of the world, I am grateful for the time that I had with them. I am grateful to the boy who stood by me for hours outside of gas station bathrooms for the past three years and to my sisters who wouldn’t stop pestering me about not eating. Now, I know that there is something that I can do to prevent my daughter from experiencing the pain that I had. from now until the day I find out that she is not gluten intolerant we will continue to be gluten-free together .