A Slow Realization
by Michael W.
I had always had a sensitive stomach. Barring the occasional hangover, I have not had a headache in my life, but from childhood on I was liable to have tummy upsets, car sickness and the like.
For the early part of my life (I am now 57) I was a greedy eater of bread, and a mammoth consumer of toast. Serious troubles with digestion began when I was about 25-30.
I was working as a night porter in a hotel, and eating irregularly and badly. I began to get serious digestion problems and pains in my stomach. After moving to Germany and a more settled life, things seemed to get better in terms of the obvious indigestion, although I noticed an increasing tendency to have diarrhea.
This tendency continued and steadily worsened, and then became increasingly accompanied by extremely painful flatulence, especially liable to occur at the end of the working week.
I went to several doctors and specialists, none of whom even mentioned the possibility of an allergic reaction. I was examined inside and out.
No parasite was found, in fact nothing was found. The problem got steadily worse however, until I came to the slow realization that there was something drastically and fundamentally wrong with my health: I was now having diarrhea unremittingly, ie every day, and suffering painful colic attacks with increasing frequency.
I went to a sort of esoteric "spiritual" healer who gave me massages and did not help much, except for one comment which did make an impression on me, to the effect that when one is attacked by illness, illness seeks out the weakest part of the body's defences and manifestes itself there.
I started asking myself why, if nothing could be found, or in what way, was my digestion "weak"? What was the weakness in my digestive system? I tried not taking milk, after a friend told me about lactose intolerance (the very notion of dietary intolerance was quite new to me-no doctor had breathed a word about it), not taking coffee, not taking alcohol. All the usual suspects. It made no difference.
Finally I saw, on the internet, a talk by someone calling himself Dr. Mercola. This gentleman mentioned gluten intolerance as a posssible cause of dietary disorder.
At this stage I was desperate, not exactly suicidal but moving in that direction. Whenever I ate I was unwell. I was avoiding eating, and losing weight because eating made me ill.
Once I stopped taking bread and pasta as suggested by Dr. Mercola, there was an immediate improvement (by immediate I mean within a couple of days). The extremely violent diarrhea attacks, when I would have to run to a toilet, and the painful colic which had me retreating to a darkened room with a hot water bottle, ceased.
Now, there are even days when I don't have diarrhea at all (that does not sound like a big deal to a "normal" person but to those of us who have this disease, it is a gift from heaven, believe me!)
I realized that in my case this disease had increased introvertedness in me, undermined my self-confidence, and produced a strong feeling of disgust with myself.
I follow a strictly gluten free diet now, and have been doing so for two years, but find it extremely difficult to avoid cross-contamination and unexpected traps. I still have frequent relapses, caused in large part, I think, by cross contamination at home. Also my stool is extremely soft and always close to diarrhea, so I am permanently anxious.
I record everything in a diary, and the good news is that really bad attacks are becoming less and less frequent. The truly horrible attacks have ceased entirely (fingers crossed), which suggests that there is a long term healing process going on.
I am currently organizing my own cutting board, frying pan, etc at home so as to escape,(I hope) from the gluten in the home environment. Living in Germany, it is difficult for me to escape from bread and flour everywhere, but since being aware of my disease things are a very much better.
My heartfelt thanks to Doctor Mercola online for pointing in what I am sure is the right direction, and how is it possible none of the doctors whom I visited breathed a word of it?
Since starting a gluten free diet my colic attacks have almost completely stopped, and my situation is slowly, but noticeably, improving. At least the curve is upwards, with occasional relapses to ensure I don't crow too loudly.
Greetings to all fellow sufferers. If anybody can say anything about their experiences regarding cross-contamination, (this aspect is one which I have only recently confronted and still rather shocks me) I am very interested to hear about them.
One last comment-like everyone else, I constantly hear about the damage with alcohol and smoking and coffee allegedly cause to health: someone with Celiac Disease can only wonder to him/hers self that gluten, which seems to be unhealthy for a lot of people, is not subject to the same kind of scrutiny as alcohol and tobacco. Perhaps it should be. I am entirely certain that a pasta dish or pile of toast or a floury stew will do more damage to my health than a bottle of wine or the odd cigar.