Saturday, January 31, 2015

Change is in the air

(photo credit: The Values Pages Group)

There have been a few times in my life when I've just known things were going to change, and change in a big way. I consider it a gracious act by a loving Heavenly Father to allow His really-hates-change daughter to mentally prepare for what's coming next.

The first time was on the way home from church one Sunday way back in 1984. Within a few months we were packing up to move from Indiana to Florida.

During the summer of 1996 I was getting ready to visit friends in northern Michigan. Just the kids and I were going and, for some reason, I had a feeling it would be a life-changing trip. It was, but not because of the actual trip. While we were there, Ivan called and asked what we thought about him submitting his name to the church for consideration as youth pastor. Within six months he was called to that position, and by default I became a pastor's wife.

Fast forward a few years. We were going through "Experiencing God" with the youth. I had the feeling that God was getting ready to do something big.

He sent us to Africa, where we spent an amazing year in Uganda.

And those are just a few examples. 

What I've learned is that the nudge from God isn't a warning, like the robot in "Lost In Space" frequently gave.

God is not announcing danger, and He's not giving me the option to refuse the course of action.

When the feeling of approaching change settled on me recently, I thought it had something to do with selling our property and moving yet again.

And while those plans are still in the works, that wasn't it.

It started innocently enough. Ivan followed a link on his sister's Facebook page. That article led him to other ones, he asked me to read one of them. It was like a history of my life.

It prompted us to ask for an additional test when I was having blood work done a few weeks later. A negative reading would be 10 U/ml or less. My test result: 97.

I have celiac diseaseAnd folks, let me tell you, this is a life-changer.

It explains so much, now that we know. I'm a 'typical' atypical celiac who doesn't have intestinal issues but I have, or have had, most of the other adult symptoms:
  •  unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  •  fatigue
  •  bone or joint pain
  •  arthritis
  •  dental problems
  •  canker sores
  •  depression or anxiety
  •  tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  •  migraines
  •  psoriasis
  •  acid reflux and heartburn

Some of these have been life-long problems (anemia, anxiety, fatigue), but I also had other symptoms common in children while growing up. I was considered "puny" as a child, and delayed growth is one of the symptoms; it was 11th grade before I could stop shopping in the children's clothing section. I caught everything going around (well, except for chicken pox) and remember a lot of missed school and other activities because I was either sick or just didn't have the energy.

But lacking the chronic diarrhea which was considered the marker for celiac, no one ever put the dots together.

Although various symptoms have been evident for years, some became more pronounced after moving to Argentina. I don't think my blog is the place to tell you about all my aches and pains, like somebody's great aunt Myrtle, so I have seldom shared the physical struggles and limitations of recent years. Although we'll never know for sure, what we think now is that the combination of having parasites that first year (which went undiagnosed for months) and the change to a diet that's heavy with breads and pastas, simply overwhelmed my system. My body has not been able to recover from being stripped of the nutrients it needed by the parasites, and the diet kicked the celiac into high gear.

When we took the blood work results to our doctor, she took away any doubts we might have had. In fact, she said the number was so high she did not see the need to get a biopsy (typically done to confirm the diagnosis). I've since learned that, while the biopsy is a good tool if celiac is suspected and the blood work is negative, it is by no means required for a diagnosis.

I've done a lot of research, and little else in past the week, and am really grateful for what is now available online. The Celiac Disease Foundation, American Celiac Disease Alliance, Celiac Sprue Association, Mayo Clinic and more provide a wealth of information, advice and links. And do you know how many celiac-related blogs there are? Some focus on what's new, in terms of products and research. Others post only recipes. Still others talk about how to meet the challenges of traveling with celiac.  I'm finding new blogs daily, where pretty much anything and everything to do with celiac is discussed.

I don't intend for this to become a blog about celiac. But because this is part of my life now, I will talk about it occasionally. In fact, I plan a follow-up post about the week immediately following the diagnosis and how I'm learning to manage it while living overseas. Otherwise it's back to your regularly scheduled program of Project 365, crafty endeavors, my adorable grandchildren, and just life-in-general here in Argentina.

Oh, and occasional recipes too (although they will, no doubt, be gluten free). I'm relieved that some of my favorites are naturally gluten free. Like the creamy chocolate pudding I posted recently. Whew!

Of course there are plenty of favorites that are now forbidden. So tell me, are there any foods you can't eat for health reasons? Leave a comment and let us commiserate together.


Mari said...

Wow - I'm so glad Ivan had you read that blog. I can see why this is a big change, but I bet you'll be feeling better!

Cristina said...

I am so glad this has been discovered and am praying that this big diet change makes you feel so much better!!

The Bug said...

Wow. This is one of those cases of where you think "oh man finally I understand!" and also "oh man this is going to be a big change!" I'm glad it's something you CAN manage.

I used to say that I wished that I would become allergic to chocolate - but that given my lack of willpower I would just be sick all the time. So here's hoping you don't follow my hypothetical example :) The good thing is that you're a good cook - & I have no doubt you'll soon have a new food regimen down pat!

Betty W said...

Oh Kim! So glad you finally found out what is happening to your body. And hopefully you can undo the damage you have unknowingly been putting yourself through. I'm sure you'll have lots of learning to do, and hope you find lots of food you will love.
Would love to read the update on how you are doing.