As the one year mark slowly creeps around the corner to climax on Aug 23, it takes me back to look at where I was.
I suffered for seven months waiting for a much-needed bowel surgery, not including the year that it took to figure out what was wrong with me. So basically, two years of constant pain that was proceeded with forty years of periodic stomach and intestinal pain.
Looking back into my history, I missed almost the whole year of Grade Four. Back forty years ago, doctors didn’t take kids upset stomachs very serous, and my diagnoses was “hyper parents, hyper child”.
And so the doctors said there was nothing wrong and so I lived my life with as my son said, he can’t remember a time when I wasn’t sick with something.
By luck or miracle, I came upon a doctor who finally listened. I had x-rays done, ultrasounds done and the dreaded colonoscopy. The finding where… She is really sick.
Now to the average person that would probably have been OH NO. To a person who suffers from Fibromyalgia, Bladder Inflammation, IBS and both Arthritis, it falls under the “No shit, Really department”.
I wasn’t supersized when they found the pre-cancerous plops, which were removed during the colonoscopy. What surprised me was that the lower eighteen inches of my bowel had pocketed and thinned to the point that if I didn’t have the surgery, it would only be a matter of time before the bowel burst and I would have a one out of four chance of making it to the operating room.
With those odds not in my favor, it was agreed that I would have surgery. And so the waiting game started.
We do have a wonderful Medical System in Canada, but what most people don’t know is we just don’t have the doctors to perform those needed surgeries and they each have to share the operating room, only allowing them so much operating time each week.
Priority cases have to come first. Meaning, anyone who had an active cancer or bowel tear or bleed had to go in first. So I waited and kept working, till one day, I just couldn’t work anymore. Then the doctor pushed me up his list, I was number ninety-three, he moved me to critical and he got me into surgery.
I went into the surgery knowing that there was a few risk, one being not making it off the table and the second being that I could end up with a colostomy bag. I took the risk.
When I woke up after eight hours of surgery, two good things happened, the first being that I woke up and the second being that the doctor had done a beautiful job re-connecting my bowel and no bag.
I had five incision in my stomach, only one can be seen a year later.
But what I hadn’t expected was, that the recover was seven months off of work and a full year to be considered recovered. I now understand that. Bowel surgery is hell. As Nurse, I thought I was pretty tough. Ha…. Bowel surgery was hell. Recovery was long and painful.
But what was even more shocking than that, was the conversion post-surgery with the surgeon. You see, when they opened me up, there was so much blood that they didn’t know what was going on. Once they got in out, they could see that my bowel was not only stretched out and pocketed, but it was scared and bleeding.
It seems that all those years of bowel pain, back from the time I was a child. The one no one listened to. My bowel had been inflamed and swollen over and over again. The wonderful doctor ran a test on me and discovered I had Celiac Disease. Yes, since I was a child.
The treatment for Celiac is very simple, a Gluten Free Diet. But, since mine was never tested for, the damage had caused many of my health problems, including the malabsorption of vitamins and minerals, which is related to the early Arthritis. The inflammation in my body also made my Fibro Flair Ups much worse.
It’s a year later. I am happy to say that, Gluten Free is not a bad trade-off for feeling much better. I still miss a bit of work here and there and probably always will. The bowel is damage and there is no cure for IBS. The Arthritis is in most of my joints. You can’t fix that either, but you can slow down the progression. The Fibro Flair Ups have decreased majorly.
Over the past few months, my skin and hair have come back to a healthy glow. My energy level is higher than it has been in years. To look at me, you would never know I have any illness.
That wonderful doctor who listened, not only took away my constant pain, but he also gave me back my life. To him, I am forever grateful.
So whats it like being Gluten Free? Challenging. Eating in a restaurant is difficult, but restaurants are getting better with their menus.
I know what products I can buy at the grocery store, so shopping takes less time. In the beginning, I had read every label of every product. Gluten is in a lot of products.
Being sick, I gained twenty pounds from not being able to be active. The first ten pounds have come off, and now I am able to enjoy some sports again. I can cycle, swim and do a fast walk, no running anymore. The Arthritis and the Fibro took running away from me.
When I look in the mirror, I see myself looking back. When I was ill, I refused to allow anyone to take a picture of me. I hated what I looked like and didn’t want anyone to see me. You see, it took a toll not only on my body but also on my mental health. Being in pain all the time changes you. It makes you tired, irritable and emotional.
Is Gluten Free for everyone? No. Is it for people with health related issues? Absolutely.
I had a few people tell me they lost weight on a Gluten Free Diet and a few others who told me they gained weight on a Gluten Free Diet. The calories, in the pasta and baked good are fairly equal to those of “normal food”. The portion size is a bit smaller and heavier. I have not lost or gained weight on the diet. But, I feel like a whole new person, who doesn’t worry about planning things with my friend or if I am going to be able to go to work. Nine out of ten days, I feel good.
The Gluten Free Diet doesn’t take away Arthritis or Fibro. It takes away the inflammation caused by the allergy to Glutton.
Would I recommend to someone to try it? Yes, I would. But, you have to do the first month really sticking to the diet before you will notice the difference.
It’s a year later. Its been a long journey and not an easy one. But Gluten Free and the wonderful doctor, have turned my life back on the right track. Lucky for me, I get to keep the doctor.
Also, lucky for me, one boss, who is also a Nurse, she kept my secret that I didn’t want my staff to know about and supported me through the whole illness. And to her, I am also eternally grateful.
Then there is husband, who never complained and still doesn’t, and the BBF’s, who came to take care of me and cleaned my house. You know them as the Weekend Warriors.
They are now all very protective of me. I smile when they do it. You see, this has also been their journey too. Like the Love Shack, I am their group project.