I spent the first 18 years of my life in Northern BC, in a small town called Kitimat, which means “people of the snow” in the Haisla Language. While a lot of youth in small towns run into troubles with drugs or alcohol, I spent my youth exploring nature. My family would spend our weekends driving on the back logging roads, looking for wildlife, hiking the mountains and searching for pretty rocks along the rivers.
During the later part of my high school years I had gone to my small town doctor in high school with an article on IBS from readers digest in hand, and said, “I think I might have this”. The article described episodes of diarrhea being related to being nervous or excited about things. My body had been, for as long as know, trying to do me in every time I got nervous or excited about things. Whenever I was excited about something, like a birthday party, I would come down with a migraine. So while all my friends were playing pin the tail on the donkey I would be sleeping on the couch trying not to vomit. If I were nervous about something, like a test or interview I would be glued to the toilet with stomach cramps and diarrhea all day. So when I explained all this my small town doctor, he said " it sounds like it (IBS) to me and there is nothing you can do about it, just drink lots of fluids."
Once high school was over I went to college and then university to study Environmental Science. My youth and those college/university years were all normal. I studied, went out with friends, and practically lived off of Burger King. I also had plenty of episodes of stomach pains, bloating and diarrhea and endless headaches, but that was all normal. There was nothing I could do about it. I just lived with and around it. I never had any energy either. I was always falling asleep in class and even went to acupuncture to try and get rid of my headaches and increase my energy. I enjoyed the acupuncture and it seemed to help a little bit, but as soon as I was no longer a student it also became too expensive to keep up (no more student prices).
All of this continued on well into my working world days. I had several environmental seasonal jobs that had me working in the bush season after season. One year it was silviculture surveys, another parks facility operator, electro fishing, etc. If you can imagine trying to deal with the runs when you have access to flush toilets, now imagine it out in the middle of the woods for 10-hour shifts? I managed and because it was normal I didn’t think anything of it. Until one year I had a series of bad events happen.
In that year I was (at the time) devastated by a break up, then told I had a tumor in my chest that would require cutting my ribs open to get to and 3 month recovery time (thankfully it turns out they were mistaken and I didn’t have to go through all of that), then finally I was involved in a rear-ending car accident. I was pulling over for an ambulance when the car behind me didn’t stop and totaled my car, so the ambulance stopped for me.
Needless to say those were emotionally and physically traumatic months and for some reason Celiac can be triggered by trauma. So after all that, my body started to hate me even more. Instead of occasionally suffering from the runs or headaches, it became a full time occurrence. Then I noticed that whenever I ate food, whether it was an apple or a cracker I would get bloated and I would look like I was 5 months pregnant. This had happened once in a while in the past, but now it was happening all the time. It was very uncomfortable and kept interfering with my fun. I mean, who wants to go out for dinner if 10 minutes later their clothes don’t fit anymore and you keep running to the bathroom? I was on the verge of not eating. Every time I ate I felt sick, so I was slowing down on the eating and was probably about to lose a lot of weight. But before I did, I started searching IBS and found a link that said, “Celiac Disease is often misdiagnosed as IBS”. So I started looking up information about Celiac Disease. This triggered memories of my grandpa who never ate bread. His sandwiches were made of special waffles. So I called my Mom and asked what grandpa had. She said “Oh he has Celiac Sprue”.
With this info I went to my new big city doctor with my symptoms and my grandpas history. He gave me a blood test and told me I would have to eat Gluten Free for the rest of my life. I’ll admit, at first it was like a death sentence and it was not an easy change, but now 6 years later it was a blessing in disguise. I have way more energy, far fewer headaches and feel 100 % better. Even little things that I had no idea where part of it, are better; my nails are no longer flaky and brittle, my scalp isn’t dry and itchy. It is great!
Now that I have this gluten free thing somewhat figured out, I thought I would help others who are newly diagnosed with recipes and information. I am always learning new ways gluten can get into things and if I new all this from the start it would have been even better. So for that reason I write this blog. To help others and it forces me to keep on trying new things.