It stared months ago. Stomach problems. I thought it was stress. How could it not be, school was crazy! I tried exercise, I tried massages, I tried to just relax. Some of it seemed to work. Some of it was quite enjoyable (go massage!) The intestinal distress just never went away, though. I made an appointment with a GI. Typical of a specialist, I had to wait a little over two months before my appointment date. When I finally saw him (wow, what a strange little man) he seemed to agree with me on the diagnosis. IBS exacerbated by stress. Ok, that's manageable. Exercise, healthy diet, manage the stress, and a nice little pill to help it all along. No problem. He didn't want to run an invasive tests that were not necessary. I thank him for that. "While we are at it, though, let's run this one blood test. It's a non-invasive test and will rule out a more serious condition. I'm sure you don't have it. It will just be good to be able to definitively say this is not the cause." Why not? One blood test and you know you don't have this other, more serious condition. Sounds good to me. I mean, he did say he was sure I didn't have it. Except...then he called with the results: abnormal.
So last week I went in for an upper endoscopy. Following three weeks of gorging myself on gluten filled foods, the doctor put a tube down my throat, into my stomach, through the duodenum, and into my small intestines to take biopsies. The results of the biopsies would determine if I have a condition called Celiac Disease. The Celiac Spruce Association website defines Celiac Disease as such:
Celiac disease (CD) is a genetic disorder. In people with CD, eating certain types of protein, called gluten, sets off an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This, in turn, causes the small intestine to lose its ability to absorb the nutrients found in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications.
Two days ago my doctor called with the results. I do have CD. No meds, no cure. That's ok. There is treatment in the form of a specialized diet. I like the term "specialized". It just implies different opposed to the other terms I've heard used like "restricted". Henceforth, my challenge is to cook and find foods that have no gluten in them. What is gluten? Well...
The offending protein, gluten, is found in wheat, barley, rye, and to a lesser extent, oats (WBRO). Related proteins are found in triticale, spelt, kamut.
(The folks at http://www.csaceliacs.org/index.php have a wealth of info for anyone who actually wants to learn more.)
So here is where the irony comes in (sorry, got a bit long-winded there), I can no longer eat wheat flour. One of the "allowed" flours is... you guessed it, fava bean flour. So thus begins my journey into a gluten free life. I'm sure it will be interesting. Certainly challenging. There will be ups and downs, of that I am sure. If you are interested in seeing how it goes, feel free to come along for the ride. I shall chronicle my adventures (and misadventures) here. Hopefully I can live up to the name and be quite the diva (in the best ways possible!)