Saturday, December 22, 2012

Such and Such Saturday and Sunday: The Road to Diagnosis

I have had many people ask me "How did you know to go get tested for a gluten intolerance"? So, here is my story- its long, but all of the components are necessary to get a good glimpse of how I was suffering from a young age and had no idea!

I have been an athlete all my life, but primarily a tennis player. I played junior tennis nationally and competed almost every weekend growing up! I traveled a lot! My parents were highly involved in my tennis. My dad was my coach and both of my parents were VERY big supporters. My mom and dad both did a lot of reasearch regarding nutrition, so they could best prepare my body for competition each weekend. Typically, the few nights prior to a tournament, my mom would prepare meals with many carbs. Well at the time thats what we thought was best for my system, since I was going to be burning through a lot of energy the following weekend. Well soon after that I would start to get nervous and have some serious GI issues. Especially before matches, I would sit in the bathroom for 20-30 minutes with a big stomach ache. We just always thought I had anxiety and was nervous for my upcoming match. This happened all the way through the end of my college tennis career at University of Wyoming in 2007.

Jump ahead 2 years to 2009. I have been 120 lbs since 8th grade. Suddenly, after graduate school, I jumped up to about 140 for no reason at all. I worked out, ate better and there was no budging from that number. I just told myself "I must be getting older. Everyone said you can't stay that small forever". That year in 2009, I graduated from graduate school at OU Health Sciences Center, bought a house, got married and started a new job all within a few months! Talk about stress! I got diagnosied with Generalized Anxiety Disorder at this time, but chose to deal with it through my Faith and compensatory strategies. This will be important later on in my story. When we moved out to our new house, I got allergies too and I have never had allergies in my life. I just thought it was because it was out in the country with new bushes/trees etc.

Jump to 2011, I trained for a half marathon for a few months. I was ready! I of course, carbo-loaded the day before in preperation for the longest run I had ever attempted. Well, I was at Walmart with my husband getting a few last minute items and it HIT ME! I had severe, yes, severe, cramps in my side and I couldn't breathe nor talk. I was scared! The severe pain lasted about 20 minutes, then subsided. I had a lingering soreness from it though. My husband said that if it did not go away by the next morning then I couldn't run- He wouldn't let me! Well, it was still there, so I watched the race in my hometown from the comfort of my couch. All that training down the drain.

Jump to today, 2012. I trained for a marathon (YES 26 MILES) starting in November of 2011. I ran the marathon in May of this year, 2012. Well, I had completed all of this training without losing ANY weight! Weird, right! You would think running 15-20 miles a week would result in something!

Since that marathon, my fatigue had increased dramatically and my GI issues were getting worse and worse. I would wake up for work at 6:00 am each morning, go to work until about 2:30-3:00 then come home and sleep for 3-4 hours. I would wake up from my "nap" to make dinner for my husband and I, then be physically exhausted by 8:00 and want to go to bed. My husband seriously thought I was nuts and I'm sure he thought depression was flowing through my system. It was becoming a big issue because I NEVER had any energy to do ANYTHING! I would be at work at 2:00 and ALL I could think about was "when can I get home and get to bed".

This summer I got sick and mentioned something to my doctor about this severe fatigue. She did the normal "fatigue workup": Anemia, Thyroid etc and did blood work: nothing! I just wanted some answers. I did some research on my own before this visit and mentioned that my symptoms of Gluten Intolerance/Celiacs Disease fit almost perfectly. She agreed to do another blood test to test fo antibodies of some protein- I forgot what it is now. Anyways, there IT WAS! I had a gluten intolerance! She recommended me not to go for further testing for Celiacs as it was in her opinion to not have a "diagnosis" when going gluten free would fix my symptoms! I agreed with her recommendation and went gluten free.

Since I went gluten free here is what has changed in my life.
1) I have only taken 2 naps in 3 months! My energy has come back!
2)I can stay up til midnight and NOT be tired the next day- this would have never happened before!
3) My GI issues have completely gone away- ya I can go out to eat without worrying about how long it will take to get home.
4) My anxiety has significantly decreased. Apparently, when you have an intolerance of any kind, your body is off kilter and creates a feeling of anxiety in your system! Makes sense right!
5) My allergies have completely gone away: turns out it wasn't my house, but an allergy to the food I was eating.
6) I have lost 15 pounds in 3 months- now thats better! I knew something was wrong when I was running marathons and not losing any weight.

So how does this all connect to the items above:
Well, when I was carbo-loading all of those years, I was putting something in my mouth that was filled with wheat-flour or wheat and it was poisoning my system causing anxiety and GI issues prior to all of my tennis matches: I carbo-loaded for my half marathon and had a "gluten attack" from it! Allergies were not from my new house environment, but from an allergy to something in my system. A big life change (starting a new job, graduating grad school, getting married and buying a new house) was my trigger for the gluten intolerance to become worse! Thus thats when my symptoms increased! I was keeping weight on because my body was in "maintain fat stores" mode because it was getting any nourishment from my food passing through my system.

Anyways, that is my story and although it was long. I wanted everyone to get an idea of how much it has changed MY LIFE! It really has! I am so grateful for my diagnosis and although I had to make some diet changes, it is totally worth it!


  1. Your story is exactly my story (except for the marathon/tennis parts). Thanks for posting!