Celiac Update

May 10, 2018

Not realizing I already have, someone suggested I blog about my current situation/issues, in hopes I could encourage or help others going through similar challenges. That was an easy request, considering I already have this blog, I like writing about myself, and it's been awhile since I've blogged about this. I am not sure this involves my recent diagnosis of Celiac disease, but it's a challenge occurring simultaneously, if not related. Prior to being diagnosed with Celiac disease last January, I had been through months of testing to find the cause of a seizure I had last year. After months of brain scans, an EEG, EKG, stress test and more, no probable cause was found. After numerous tests and medical bills, I would have ignored the seemingly mild stomach discomfort, I had began to regard normal, if it were not for my Mom and Troy's encouragement to see a GI Specialists about it. Then, thanks to my suspicion for autoimmune disease, having a family history of it, and the fact my GI doctor agreed, after noticing my hands showed signs of Reynaud's Syndrome (another autoimmune disease...if you have one, you're more likely to have another), he proceeded with testing. As mentioned previous blogs, I tested positive for Celiac and sort of disregarded the seizure I had months prior. Despite not having another seizure since, I was still having mild episodes, that imitated the onset of a seizure without progressing to loss of consciousness and motor control. During these episodes, I would feel a bit panicked about something I could not pin point and my ability to speak clearly and remember things (like names or an explanation) would cease for what seemed like a few minutes. I assumed these episodes and the seizure were associated with changes in my blood sugar and/or hormones, as they seemed to occur before or after menstruation. Despite keeping record of the occurrences of these episodes, I hadn't given them much focus until last week, when one progressed to another seizure. Transported to the hospital again, the loss of driving privileges and search for answers began again! In the bit of research I've done, it seems similar occurrences have been documented among several people with Celiac disease. This correlation prompted an intriguing hypothesis I will continue to investigate, but regardless, my Neurologist prescribed me anti-seizure medication to manage my situation as soon as possible. 

 

So, whether these seizures are related to Celiac Disease, the 30-year woes, of being female during a time many of us undergo drastic hormone changes, or a form of epilepsy, in order to drive again and carry out normal activities of daily living, taking medication is my first step. Fortunately, the side effects associated with the medicine I was prescribed, are much less severe than those I've heard the anti-seizure medications used before had. However, wanting to be proactive and responsible for my health, I still plan to experiment with my diet, sleep patterns and habits to handle stress, to find other possible correlations I could manage. Based on the little research I've done, I have seen correlations between Celiac Disease and neurological issues, as well as assumptions that the top recognized food allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, MSG and corn) may be correlated with epilepsy or make it worse. Being required to eliminate gluten from my diet, and having good reason to avoid other major ingredients, sounds like a pain; but, I find it more a blessing than a curse. Despite my passion for wellness, I DO NOT have the greatest self control when it comes to food! Polishing off a jar of peanut butter and/or carton of ice cream, knowing I'd feel horrible after, was a common occurrence for me. I had to avoid keeping peanut butter, bags or chips, ice cream and even oatmeal in my house, because I'd eat them passed the point of feeling uncomfortable. Now, I know gluten will basically poison me, I'm not tempted to eat it. Being able to avoid all of these foods I wished I could avoid before is actually empowering! I finally feel like I have control over my diet and overall well-being. If I need to stop eating soy, corn, dairy and unhealthy additives too, I know I can.

 

I do want to emphasize, however, that eliminating so many foods DOES NOT mean starvation! Part of the reason why I started this blog is to share ways to improvise for these adjustments without suffering. I still eat about 2,000 calories a day and enjoy a lot of good, tasty foods. I've just had to start making more foods from scratch, unprocessed sources, like our families did decades ago; and it's actually awesome seeing exactly what my meals are made from. I'm discovering there are many whole food sources of sweet, fatty and tasty foods, like plantains, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocado and coconut, to name a few. Many people have expressed empathy regarding my situation, assuming it must be scary and/or depressing, not knowing the cause of my symptoms, and not being able to drive right now or eat whatever I want; but I see it differently. In my point of view, this is an opportunity to focus on projects I would not take the time for, or have trouble focusing on, if I had the option to drive. Having a hyperactive mind, it's difficult to focus on specific tasks when I have the option to do MANY, so when I'm limited to fewer, I'm more likely to complete these tasks. Now, I'm more likely to complete the online course I've started in a shorter amount of time, and I can work on perfecting recipes for a diet that makes me feel better. For example, I keep buying protein ice cream (like Halo Top and Enlightened) because it's an easy, tasty food to make up for my typical lack of protein, but it's made with dairy; so Goal #1: make allergen free protein ice cream! These issues do not scare me. Rather, I see this as a challenge and opportunity to revert my focus to things I would not otherwise. 

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