Are you a cold turkey sort, or slow and steady like the tortoise?

If you were told by your doctor that you have a disease that there is no cure for, there is no pill for, the only thing you can do is alter your diet, would you do it? 

Well, that's exactly what celiac disease is. It is an autoimmune disease, that the only "treatment" for it, is to completely avoid all forms of gluten from wheat, barley, rye, and contaminated oats. There are studies that show that some people with celiac disease do not tolerate any grains at all, so we have to add corn and rice and even pseudo grains like quinoa to that list. I'm one of those people. I'm a 1%er of the 1%. This 1% of course being the population of people with celiac disease.

I was diagnosed in December, 2009, after having to argue with doctors for a few months to actually do the tests on me. I had been sick for years, pretty much my entire life, and in November 2008, in desperation, I decided to try the Atkins diet. Within just a few days, I felt so much better, and could even have a bowel movement almost like a "normal" person! I no longer needed to take stool softeners. I'd been taking them on a nearly daily basis for years by that point! Of course, the Atkins diet removes all grains from the first 3 phases of the diet. You don't reintroduce grains until the final phase. Which I never really got to, because I discovered I have celiac disease, just by eliminating grains in the Induction Phase.

It took me a year to be able to convince my (then) husband, and my doctors that I wanted to be tested for celiac disease. They all insisted that it wasn't possible for me to have the disease, that it always presents in children, and they're skinny with diarrhea. I said that when I was a kid, I *had* been skinny, never had been really healthy, and spent my entire childhood trying to figure out why! My (then) husband insisted that I should have allergy testing done first, because celiac is just too weird and it's not possible that I could have something so serious. At the time I was undergoing treatment for Grave's disease...yeah...couldn't possibly have another autoimmune disease...um...

Anyway!...When I finally got the testing scheduled, I'd already been "gluten free" for a year. Minus a few missteps of course, which are common when you're first diagnosed and just learning the ropes of this gluten free lifestyle. I had to re-introduce gluten to my diet for 8 weeks, in order to get an accurate diagnosis. The first bit of toast, and I was doubled over in about 20 minutes. I spent the next 7 weeks hunched over, in pain, in tears, constipated (again), bloated, and farting. I called the GI doc's office a couple of times to see if we could move up the test schedule, they of course said no. I had to give up at 7 weeks, I just couldn't handle the pain anymore. The day before my test I then gorged myself on gluten, so as to attempt an accurate diagnosis.

My biopsy showed almost complete villous atrophy. Meaning, the villi of my small intestine were damaged, and had smoothed out. Classic sign of celiac disease. My IgA blood test had come back negative though, so the doctor was a bit skeptical, but considering my symptoms, how well I did without gluten, and the villous atrophy, she said it is likely celiac disease. Yeah...

We now know that a lot of people with celiac disease also have IgA deficiency, so that test is no longer used as the only marker for the disease. In 2009, they didn't know yet of IgA deficiency.

I "graduated" from Atkins to JERF (just eat real food), because at the time, the cost of "gluten free" where I lived was astronomical! A loaf of bread could cost anywhere up to 7 times what a loaf of "regular" bread cost, and I just could not afford that! I decided I didn't need bread, or pasta, or junk food labeled "gluten free", so I decided to just eat real food. And I started to feel so much better!

From JERF, I graduated to Primal. And while grokkin' out with my friends I was feeling even so much much better! Amazing in fact! My diseases were managed, my fibromyalgia pain had GONE! I bounced back and forth from Primal to Paleo, sticking to an 80-20 rule. 80% paleo, 20% primal.  For the first time in my life, EVER, I knew what "healthy" felt like.

Then I didn't. *woe*. I went out for dinner with a friend one night to a restaurant, and I had some beans and rice with a steak. Bad idea. Then the following night, I was at a church pot luck dinner, and had lentil soup, cinnamon bread, and some cake. All gluten free, because I was not the only member who had celiac disease, and several other members were following the Primal lifestyle as well. It was a holidya dinner, so we were indulging in "gluten free goodies". Bad bad idea. I woke up the following morning with my mouth on fire! Seriously, on fire! I was in so much pain IN MY MOUTH, that I made a doctor appointment and asked to be tested for Sjogren's Syndrome.

Those tests were inconclusive, (turns out there's such a thing as "sero-negative" Sjogren's syndrome) but I decided right then and there to start AIP. Within 4 months, I was in remission! Huzzah! 

Was it easy? For me, absofuckinglutely! How? Why? Because I don't like to be sick. And I didn't want to take medications that cause horrific side effects like cancer and death if I didn't have to! I didn't know in 2007 when I was diagnosed with Grave's disease that there was such a thing as AIP, it was in its infancy. By the time Sjogren's rolled around in 2014, Sarah Ballantyne's book had been out for a while, and I'd been doing a lot of reading over the years! I was motivated, and I'd been tearing at that bandaid since 2008.

Not everyone can do a cold turkey, and not everyone would like to go slow and easy like the tortoise either. Each of us are unique, we all have our own lives, and our own experiences that will determine what we can tolerate when it comes to lifestyle changes. I really wish that AIP and programs like the Autoimmune Healing Intensive had been around when I was first diagnosed with Grave's in 2007. I wish that the ripple effect of health coaches had reached the small town I was living in in North Carolina, and that I'd have had someone to ease me through all of these changes, and would have been able to do a brain dump for me, rather than having to spend the next 7 years learning it all on my own.

Lucky for you though, you do have AIP, and AIP certified coaches, and programs like the Autoimmune Healing Intensive available to you. Choose to rip off the bandaid quick, or pick at it for a while. It's up to you. (how's that for visualization? LOL!) That's the beauty of the Autoimmune Healing Intensive n=1 experiments. Do the ones that interest you, and leave the other ones. Or do them all. It's up to you. Early bird pricing is still available. Give yourself the gift of health. There is no cure for autoimmune disease. But we have AIP, and that's the next best thing. 

Disclosure - the links provided to the Autoimmune Healing Intensive are affiliate links. I will receive a small commission on any sales made through the link. I am one of the 30+ AIP coaches and experts that are involved in the n=1 experiments. 


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