Gluten Free…Again


Over the last few years, my blog has served several purposes. I’ve used it to keep family and friends up-to-date as I battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, recovered from surgery after removal of the tumor and half of my stomach and then struggled with the challenges of epilepsy which developed in 2010. I’ve also had an opportunity to share my experience with others around the world and this has been both enlightening and rewarding. My blog has also served as a journal to record my medical history, symptoms, treatments…experiences that might otherwise blur with time…and its for this reason that I write today.

For more than a year, a very difficult financial situation…the result of the current economy, medical expenses that take half of my income, and other issues beyond my control…has necessitated that I work seven days a week, sometimes 12 – 14 hours per day. Living life at this frantic pace, I abandoned my previous attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle and opted for a diet that included bread…convenient, cheap and easy to eat on the run. Over the past year, I’ve noticed symptoms return as my body weakened, both familiar and new, and I want to record these thoughts as I make changes and return to a healthier lifestyle…

Warts:  A few days ago, I noticed a very small wart on my right hand. When I had gone gluten-free a couple of years ago, warts that I had had for years completely disappeared. The appearance of this one tiny wart was the clue that suggested to me that perhaps I should consider removing gluten to see if my health improved.

Shoulder Pain:  For nearly a year, I’ve had increasing pain in my right shoulder (and occasionally other joints) which I now suspect may be related to gluten intolerance. Yes…I could just be getting old! :)…but, given the cluster of other symptoms that I’m experiencing, I’m curious to see if my shoulder pain improves as I remove gluten from my diet.  I have limited mobility in my right shoulder:  I can’t cross my arms or put my right hand on my hip and I can’t raise my right arm over my head or put my clothes on without difficulty.  I often have a sharp pain when lifting objects and I’m much weaker in my right shoulder than left.  In my reading about celiac disease, I understand that joint pain can be related to gluten intolerance so I’m curious to see if the symptoms improve with dietary changes.  I can’t afford to see a doctor for the condition and don’t want to diagnose a new “pre-existing condition” before my health insurance changes in August, so this is a situation that I’ve been living with for months.

Digestive Disturbances:  As I look back over recent weeks and months, I realize that I have been reacting to gluten in my diet with increasingly dramatic results. A couple of weeks ago, I ate one waffle for breakfast (it was all that I had to eat before leaving for work) and later had to go home sick from work with extreme intestinal cramping. I NEVER go home “sick”…but, I was not going to make it through my shift and I spent the rest of the day in misery. The reaction is not always the same, or as dramatic, but I have had numerous immediate reactions to eating bread….nausea, dry mouth, sweating, dizziness, cramping… I don’t feel well after I eat bread and as much as I hate to give it up, I feel so much better when I eat foods that don’t contain gluten.

Insomnia:  I work a lot.  I work three jobs, seven days a weeks, sometimes getting home at 2:30 in the morning, often gone from home for twelve hours or more at at time.  I work and I rest…and I try to squeeze in tiny meals when I can.  Lately I’ve had difficulty sleeping more than three or four hours a night even though I’m thoroughly exhausted and I’m hoping that a gluten-free diet will help.

Obviously, there are other lifestyle changes that need to be made in addition to removing gluten from my diet.  In August, I’ll have health insurance through my employer and will finally be able to give up the expensive private health insurance that I’ve had for years.  This will make a big impact on my financial situation and has allowed me to leave my two part time jobs.  Beginning in August, for the first time in fifteen months, I’ll have two days off a week…a “weekend”.  Imagine!  🙂  I’ll have the time that I need to cook for myself, get the rest that I need…and hopefully my health will improve.

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3 thoughts on “Gluten Free…Again

  1. One week later, the biggest change that I’ve noticed relates to sleep. For weeks I’ve only been sleeping three or four hours per night but I’m already finding it much easier to get a good night’s sleep. My digestive system is adjusting to the new diet so that is going through a typical transition period but…well, let’s just say that things are “calmer”. I’ll share more observations in the future.

  2. August 5th: I continue to sleep better, gluten-free. The small wart on my finger is going away. I’ve tried gluten a few times…small bites, intentionally and unintentionally…and each time I’ve had almost immediate “digestive disturbance”. I LOVE bread, pasta, etc…and life is so much easier when you can eat gluten but it’s obvious that this is something that I need to avoid. 😦

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