December, 2011. Tam was sicker than a dog. She ended up going to the doctor, which for her is a huge deal. She hates going to the doctor. Getting her to go usually requires some kind of fast talking, a lot of pleading, and threats of a tranquilizer dart.
Anyway, the doctor wasn’t terribly helpful, which just proved my darling correct and solidified her resolve to never darken the doorstep of another physician. I was not delighted at the news, but let it slide.
The holidays came crashing through and even though I had my doubts, we managed to survive them relatively unscathed. Ok, there was a lot of scathing going on, but what else is new, right? The winter months are very hard on my love. Her depression deepens and begins sinking its claws into everyone. Hope takes the first flight out and leaves no forwarding address. That’s when despair moves in and fills every part of our lives until we’re all ready to give up. I tried to carry us through the darkness, but it all became too heavy, the air too thick with depression and I began to sink.
Somewhere, in all that craziness, Tam put two and two together and came up with an answer: “I think I may be like my mother and am allergic to gluten. I’m going to give it up and see what happens.”
Two mornings later, she announced, “I have no headache.”
“No, you don’t understand, I do not have a crashing, crushing headache. This is the first time since I don’t know when, that I’ve not had to take aspirin the moment I woke up. I don’t itch either.”
“Not at all?”
“Well, not as bad.”
For the next week, she avoided gluten and something happened. Her depression lifted. It didn’t just lessen a little, it is gone. For years, she has suffered that debilitating disease, self medicating by whatever means necessary to get to a point where she doesn’t feel the pain. One week without gluten in her diet and she’s a whole new person.
She’s gone from taking six to eight aspirin every day, to taking four in the past four weeks. She still has aches and pains from arthritis, but it’s not quite as severe. Her color is better, and her feet aren’t quite as cold at night. They’re still cold, but they don’t give me frostbite anymore.
She’s even sleeping through the night better.
One night, her back pain was so bad, she had to take a pain pill. Unfortunately, there was gluten in the pill and she began to itch.
Another night, she had a bowl of granola for a late night snack. The next morning, her head hurt so bad, she felt like she had the mother of all hangovers. Her headache lasted all day long.
By then we knew for sure, she was intolerant of the stuff.
Seeing such amazing changes in Tam, I decided to give it a whirl myself. Mind you, it’s not easy. Gluten is in so many things, and it isn’t always plainly listed. I’m very lucky that she’s an excellent cook and is interested in unusual diets. She’s done a lot of research and has been baking gluten-free bread and biscuits for her mother for quite some time. Now she’s baking them for us as well. While they’re not quite the same as the regular breads, they are good and are an excellent substitute.
In the past two weeks, I’ve noticed a change in myself. I do not need aspirin in the morning as often. Not only that, but I no longer have the constant stomach ache that was a part of my daily life for so long, that I couldn’t remember not having it. I found the only way to make that stomach ache go away was to eat something, anything, usually toast or crackers (gluten), which would ease the discomfort for a short time, then it would start up again. I stopped feeling hungry because I didn’t know what it felt like apart from the constant pain. So, I did a lot of eating, thinking it would make me feel better, which of course, did not work for long.
When the gluten got out of my system, the stomach ache was gone too and I can finally feel actual hunger pains again. I don’t feel the pressing need to eat all the time to keep my stomach from hurting.
Nighttime was the big telling point for me. I’ve had sleep apnea for years, and have tried the CPAP machine (it’s a pain to use and when the power goes out, you can’t breathe). I tried an apnea mouth guard, which began to dislocate my jaw. Finally, I tried an herbal remedy, a spray containing belladonna and other lovely ingredients (none of them gluten). The spray worked, but I didn’t use it when we went to the beach, yet I didn’t snore like I used to.
We both feel better. We both feel like new women. We both like the changes. We still have our demons, but we feel strong enough to fight them because we’re not fighting the sickness caused by gluten. Hope has returned and kicked despair to the curb.
I think we’re on to something, and I think it’s going to be good.