A Healing Month

So, first up, I really need to do an end of month review for my 12 goals… but that is the subject of another post.

Instead I just wanted to check in and say how much I’m looking forward to May, and my Health and Fitness Challenge, hosted by Valerie at Atlanta Mom of Three.

I had already decided I was going gluten and sugar free, before I got my (almost) official coeliac diagnosis yesterday. But after what my doctor said, there is no way I’ll be going back to gluten. The real challenge for me this month, is going to be going sugar free.

My sugar addiction is still alive and kicking. I was sugar-free for several weeks at the beginning of this year, and have somewhat slipped off the wagon since then, but overall my sugar consumption is less than it has been in previous years.

It’s a hard one to kick, and I know the cravings will be bad, but I will get through it.

May is going to be the month where I start the long process of healing my body after a lifetime of eating gluten. It’s going to be a time of nourishing food that will hopefully begin to repair any intestinal damage, and make bloating and pain a distant memory.

I am looking forward to managing those cravings and coming out the other side.

For the first time in my life, I feel that I can finally proceed with a dietary approach that I know is right for me.

It is at once a relief and a challenge. And I am so grateful to have finally found the answer to the feeling of something just not being right.

Peace and love to you all,

Rose x

Post Miscarriage Chart

And just because.

Here’s how messed up my body has been after this miscarriage. All six previous times I ovulated two weeks after I miscarried (in fact, DS1 was conceived two weeks after miscarriage #2!).

This time around, my body has just gone haywire:

marchchart

Why am I temping?

Because I want to know if there is any chance that things are getting back to normal. Not in the interests of trying again (my husband hasn’t been allowed anywhere near me since we lost this last baby), but in the interests of being normal again.

I’ve been gluten free for 6 days, and interestingly I finally got a +ve opk on day 4 of being gluten-free. My temperature was up this morning, but the jury is still out until I see tomorrow’s temp, given how erratic they have been (can you even ovulate when you are still bleeding??).

I’m guessing my new friend, the massive dermoid cyst on my right ovary, is probably affecting this too.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I’m pretty damn fed up of it all. For my entire menstrual life I have been a 28 day kind of girl so this really has been an endurathon of annoyingness.

Coeliac Disease, Miscarriage, and Me

Today I went back to the doctors to go over the blood test results from my Coeliac test 20 months ago.

Well.

It turns out that on the four markers they checked, I was out of range for three, but the fourth was normal. The one that was normal was the most important: anti-tissue transglutnase.

I was clinically deficient in calcium and potassium, and I had a very high (way out of normal range) level of serum C reactive protein, which indicates inflammation or infection.

It is commonly accepted in the coeliac community that the antibody test can come back negative if you are IgA deficient, and sometimes even if you are not, and you can still get a positive gut biopsy and be diagnosed as a coeliac.

The doctor that reviewed my results 20 months ago was a stand-in doctor who I saw because my usual doctor was away.

My usual doctor said the following.

  • With those results I should have had a repeat test or further investigation
  • It was, in all likelihood, a false negative, given my low calcium and potassium levels
  • They could do a gut biopsy, but I would have to eat gluten every day for two months beforehand (longer if the NHS waiting list is busy).
  • Essentially, he stated that I am almost certainly coeliac, but if I am reluctant to eat gluten going forward the best thing to do is to stay off gluten for six months and then do a dietary challenge.

I came home and my head is all over the place.

Why didn’t I follow up on these results 20 months ago?

Here are some of the symptoms usually associated with coeliac disease (taken from ceoliac.org.uk) that I have experienced:

  • severe or occasional diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation – YES
  • recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating – YES
  • anaemia – YES (childhood and pregnancy)
  • tiredness and/or headaches – YES
  • mouth ulcers – YES
  • depression – YES
  • infertility – YES
  • liver abnormalities – YES (unexplained liver inflammation during illnesses. Tested for hepatitis – all -ve)
  • repeated miscarriages – YES
  • joint and/or bone pain – YES
  • neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle coordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet) – YES (neuropathy)

Out of this list it doesn’t take a genius to guess which one of these jumps out at me the most.

Repeated miscarriages

20 months ago, when the stand-in doctor wrote “Normal, no action” on my file, I’d just suffered my third miscarriage.

AT THAT POINT she could have called me back to try to find out why my other results were so out of line.
AT THAT POINT I would have had the energy for a biopsy, for stuffing my face with gluten. I would have done anything for that third baby.

Today, 20 months, and four more unexplained miscarriages later, my fight is all gone.

I refused the gut biopsy today.

I stopped eating gluten 6 days ago and (I write this with tears filling my eyes), my insomnia is better, my eczema has dried up and softened, my stomach is flatter than it’s been in years, and all my pain and bloating and soreness is gone.

Once you start eating gluten-free your intestine starts to repair and a biopsy will be inconclusive. There is no other definitive test.

Six weeks ago I lost a developmentally and chromosomally normal baby boy. A boy! With no explanation. Sad expressions from doctors and nurses, all unable to explain why my body keeps rejecting babies. 46 days on and I am still bleeding.

Would I have gone through this if the doctor had called for the biopsy 20 months ago?

Would I be sitting here now with a baby on my lap?

It’s almost unbearable to think about. A casual dismissal of some of out range results that could have changed the course of my entire life.

But.

Life goes on, if you’re lucky.

And I am lucky.

My doctor’s advice was to stay off gluten for 6 months. Ha. I will never touch it again.

Could I sustain a pregnancy now?

I don’t know if I even care. I remember the nurse on the ward telling me to never give up. That she had her daughter at 43.

But even while she was saying it I think I knew that I didn’t have any more fight left in me for babies. The increasing age gap, the stress of worrying, the stupid trying and stupid waiting and stupid scheduled sex, and my broken heart: held together with scraps of tape after losing so many pregnancies.

I feel beaten.

And for that I am crying today, even though I think I finally have my answer.

Gluten and Sugar Free Challenge

health-and-fitness

After some thought – and the gathering of willpower – I have decided to take part in Valerie’s Health and Fitness Challenge during the month of May. See her post for how to join in!

During May my challenge is to be gluten-free and to avoid all sugar (including fruit sugar).

Why?

This month, when I tried to do 30 days of being vegan, although I still ate lots of fruit and veg, the increase in carbs (specifically gluten, I suspect), gave me horrendous bloating, stomach aches and even pain by the end of three weeks. Not only that but my eczema got itchier and redder, and I found sleeping through the night became almost impossible. The last few days were a pretty miserable experience.

I have mentioned my previous suspicions of Coeliac Disease, which was officially ruled out despite a positive home test, so I was already thinking along the lines of going gluten free as a trial when the wonderful Rachael of Mummy Flying Solo mentioned a book called Grain Brain to me (by David Perlmutter MD).

Wow. I read this book cover to cover in a few days. It is essentially a fairly primal approach to eating (for those unfamiliar with primal or paleo it’s based on lots of veg, with meat, fish and eggs for protein, sparing dairy and fruit, and no grains). I’ve used a lot of primal recipes over the last 18 months as I have long suspected an issue with gluten, so it’s something I’m already comfortable with. This book, combined with my recent experience of eating a lot of grains has motivated me to completely cut them out for the month. I tried going gluten free once before and lasted just 11 days. A few days after I started eating wheat again I suffered a chemical pregnancy. Coincidence? Who knows.

This time I’ll be following along with lots of other May challengers and hopefully we can all support each other to get through the month with our new resolutions intact!

In addition to going gluten-free I’m also cutting out all sugar (including fruit sugar). This is specifically to see if being gluten and sugar free helps my skin, and it’s a long overdue experiment (despite heading towards 40 at breakneck speed I still suffer from spots and pimples, not to mention eczema on my body and small patches of rosacea around my nose and lips).

I have a few exceptions to the no-sugar policy: xylitol, stevia, raisins and honey are ok in small amounts.

No particular reason for choosing these other than I have them in the house and they will be my go-to products in the event of cravings.

So, the issues I’ll be hoping to see an improvement on, and will be tracking in my posts are:

  1. My skin
  2. My bloating
  3. My belly fat (I am a classic apple shape – the unhealthiest kind to be!)
  4. My eczema
  5. My sleep

I’ll be blogging at the end of each weekend (realistically it will probably be Monday, or even Tuesday morning for me), along with everyone else on the challenge.

Good luck all!

Vegan Challenge | Day 23 and The End

I gave up. I gave up!!

And I’m SO glad 🙂

At 16:30 on day 23, while preparing the kids tea, my anti-willpower reached critical mass.

I ate a milk chocolate bar (which I stole from the kids’ easter stash). Then I ate two Mini Moo organic cheese sticks and a piece of leftover sausage, and it felt great.

I instantly transformed from grumpy, miserable, and bloated, to bouncy, happy, smiley (and still bloated unfortunately).

My main reason for stopping was the awful stomach aches I was starting to experience every time I ate something. At the end of each day my stomach would be swollen up and hard like a balloon. I was getting pains under my ribs and feeling like I didn’t want to eat even when I was hungry because of how I would feel afterwards. I haven’t eaten such a gluten-heavy diet for probably 2+ years, so it was interesting to see how badly I reacted to it.

Retrospective

First, the numbers – over the 23 days:

I lost 900g (1.9lbs)
My body fat went from 19.1% to 18.4%

I took three measurements – my waist, hips and bust (the three areas most prone to change in my body).
There was no change in the sum of these measurements (i.e. my belly was slightly bigger and my hips were slightly smaller – that’s bloating for you).

My fasting glucose went from 5.6 to 5.3 (good!).

Finally, my resting blood pressure went from 103/53 to 94/52.

So the numbers seem pretty good. Shame about the pain and stomach aches!

Thoughts on the experience:

1. It was interesting to see how dependent I actually was on diary. I was eating a LOT of it, even though I thought I wasn’t.

2. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. If it hadn’t been for how tender and swollen my abdomen became I probably could have continued. In the end, it was the gluten that killed the challenge and I’m just not ready to try being a gluten-free vegan 😉

3. I didn’t supplement over the three weeks as it takes a while for a deficiency to develop, but I wouldn’t be happy about having to supplement my diet for life if that makes sense. I understand the reasons for having to supplement (poor quality soil, less exposure for B12, etc.) but I don’t like the idea of a balanced diet requiring something out of a pot. Omega 3 and B12 is a real concern for me. Our bodies need them and I would rather get them from quality dietary sources than from a lab.

4. I think, overall, veganism is less about health and more about ethics. For me personally, meat and dairy produced organically, locally and from farms that care about their livestock, is a positive addition to my diet.

Going forward

On day 24 I immediately quit gluten and started including small amounts of dairy, meat and fish in my diet. I knew it was the bread and pasta and endless wheat products that were causing the problem and I needed to stop. My vegan challenge has been a really, really positive experience because it has highlighted very clearly how badly my body reacts to gluten. It also gave me a reality check on just how much dairy I was consuming.

I’m going to post about going gluten-free separately, because I’m joining in with Atlanta Mom of Three’s Health and Fitness Challenge in May.