Let’s start at the very beginning… A very good place to start… (Who else loves The Sound of Music as much as I do?!)
I keep thinking of things I want to write about–things I’m researching, questions I’m often asked, random mom moments–but I then realize that much of it is meaningless without context. I’m going to try to do a Cliff Notes version of my story. “Try” being the key word. Those of you who know me in real life know that I’m not exactly a woman of few words, to put it nicely. 😉 UPDATE: I have failed. You’re getting details. Sorry.
Part 1: Pre-Celiac(?) Health History
I had a wonderful childhood, although I do remember having health concerns as a young child. I remember teaching myself to read at the age of four because I spent so much time sitting on the potty looking at books. I remember two surgeries around the age of five for a fistula and a presumed diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease (that, thank God, didn’t play out).
I remember blood tests and an injection in the butt that I wasn’t warned about while I was laying on a hospital bed, coloring (Fear of Needles, party of one…). I remember being made fun of for the time it took me to use the bathroom. I remember my mom trying everything to get me to take doses of Cleocin and Keflex (two antibiotics, for you non-pharm folks) including mixing them with Nestle Quik. That should be part of Mom Training 101: How to Get Something That Tastes Nasty Down Your Child’s Gullet When It Is In Their Best Interest… I have a feeling I will be referring to those class notes once I get some good fish oil for my kiddos.
Most of those issues resolved as I got older and I had a pretty normal life for a while. (Normal describing the life, not me. I’ve never been “normal”.) Looking back, I can see some symptoms that make sense in light of my current health situation. I was sick a lot. “Just” colds and flu and sinus infections and what have you, but it was frequent and way more severe than average.
I had my first migraine in fifth grade during the county spelling bee. It was quite memorable because I couldn’t talk–my tongue was numb (aura). Then, I spent lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant curled up in the booth with a raging headache. I had random migraines with auras every few years after that.
Yes, I was skinny. Yes, I ate. All the time. Probably twice my body weight in food. You would think that would be an ideal situation, but it just prompted unnecessary interventions from well-meaning camp counselors, etc. Though, I have to say, I now miss my old “metabolism”.
I was relieved to find out (at high school age, maybe?) that my quick fatigue and shortness of breath were related to iron deficiency anemia. All I had to do was take some iron supplements and I was good to go. Right? (NO. Big, sarcastic NO.) I recall asking the doctor why I was anemic. His answer was that I was a young, menstruating female. (Eye rolls aplenty.)
Let’s venture into TMI Territory and talk about menstruation. You’ve been warned, skip ahead if it makes you uncomfortable… I had super painful periods in high school. I would miss 1-2 days of school every month that I would spend at home curled up in a ball. At some point, around age 17 maybe, I got tired of feeling like poo and went to an OB/GYN for help. The med progression went something like this:
- Rx ibuprofen (no help)
- Vioxx (SCARY. THIS DRUG KILLED PEOPLE.)
- Sarafem (fluoxetine branded for the “new” diagnosis of PMDD. For which I did not meet criteria but had no idea. Because high school.)
- Oral contraceptives (Made me so sick because she chose a high estrogen pill to start with. Tried it for three months (aka was miserable and nauseated for three months) until she changed it to a lower estrogen version. That was at least tolerable. Kind of.)
I ended up taking various oral contraceptives for several years, and the pain was better but definitely not good. I took an unindicated SSRI for three to four years. I finally made the decision to come off fluoxetine in my third year of college when I learned about SSRIs and realized that it shouldn’t have been prescribed the first place.
I had never experienced depressive symptoms until I tried to discontinue fluoxetine. You know, the one with the super long half-life that “doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms”. Yeah, that one. It took me a year or two of cutting 10 mg tablets in halves and then quarters to completely get off that drug. I am a living, breathing example of what Dr. Kelly Brogan describes in her book A Mind of Your Own. (Yes, you should read it.)
In case you made it this far and you’re keeping score, that brings us to several risk factors and warning signs for “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability or malabsorption or gut flora imbalance, the primary mechanisms behind Celiac Disease–unexplained anemia, fatigue, underweight, migraines, menstrual pain, early use of potent antibiotics, NSAID use, and oral contraceptives. Add in my future long-term use of PPIs and you have a recipe for nutrient depletion disaster.
Stay tuned for my path to Crunchyville: Part 2 about triggering Celiac and finding a diagnosis, and Part 3 what I did about it!