One Month Gluten Free

Posted: May 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Celiac | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on One Month Gluten Free

It’s been more or less one month since my EGD and since I began working to be gluten free. With the help of my wonderful wife, I think I’ve been mostly successful at it. It’s been quite the crash course learning curve. I thought I would pause for a moment to compare the state of my physical health, or at least the things I’ve noticed so far.

Like many of those with celiac, I did not have major digestive symptoms or any intestinal pain. My intestines and nutrient deficiencies will take more than a month to heal, so nothing major on that front. I do think now that some of the things with my digestion that I had considered normal may have been related. I’m certainly adapting to a radically changed diet! Time will tell the rest here.

The place of biggest surprise, though, are in the improvements I have felt in a host of other areas unrelated to digestion. Celiac is an autoimmune disease, so its impact and symptoms are not limited to the digestive tract. I’ve been gradually learning some of these other symptoms and its in these areas that I’ve seen dramatic change.

My hands and feet no longer go numb and tingly frequently and easily. I just thought they went to sleep easily, but it turns out this is a neurological symptom. And its mostly stopped for me. I can lean on my arm or elbow without my hand ‘going to sleep’. Same with my feet when sitting crosslegged or in a chair with one leg curled up. It might seem very minor, but it’s so nice.

I’ve almost stopped having sharp, shooting muscle pains. I didn’t realize how bad these had gotten until I went skating with my daughter again. Right before my diagnosis, it had gotten so bad that when she went as fast as we go in the rink, my back and side and leg hurt enough that I couldn’t even come close to keeping up. A week ago? I was going as fast as she was and had no pain at all. No limping. No sudden back pain. I guess I thought I was out of shape or getting old or something similar. They didn’t cripple me. They just hurt enough to slow me down. And they are almost gone.

I used to almost constantly have canker sores inside my mouth. After the ones I had at the time of my EGD healed, I’ve had only one.

My mind has been noticeably less ‘foggy’. And my overall mood has been greatly improved. I simply have more energy. I’ve been recovering little things I thought lost forever. This past week, for instance, I’ve started waking up again many days a few minutes before the alarm goes off. I used to do that all the time and haven’t in a very long time.

It’s only been a month and already the change has been greater than I ever expected. This autoimmune stuff is nasty.


Not the Fast I’ve Chosen – Part 4

Posted: May 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Celiac, Fasting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

So, picking up in the 1990s, I want to focus on one event that sticks out prominently in my mind. At some point, I forget exactly what year, but I believe it was one of the championship years, I remember watching the Houston Rockets at a point in time when the NBA season overlapped the Islamic month of Ramadan. Hakeem Olajuwon, one of my favorite players ever (remember Phi Slamma Jamma in his college days?), is also a practicing Muslim. I remember that on day games on the weekends, he would play without eating or drinking anything to abide by the fast of Ramadan. By the end of those games, he would be hanging on the basket exhausted even with efforts to manage his playing time.

I was impressed by that degree of communal faith participation. I was still exploring Christian history trying to understand when and how its original strong, communal practice of fasting had all but vanished. Islam had never particularly interested me in my spiritual journeys, so while I had a pretty good perspective on its historical activities, particularly in the rise and fall of empires, I did not know all that much about the faith itself. Intrigued by the example of Hakeem Olajuwon, I began exploring as I had explored many faiths in the past. I learned the five pillars and the way they were interwoven in the life and practice of every Muslim. I read parts of the Qur’an. I gained some insight into sharia. I read some of the other writings from within Islam. I learned about their own major schism following the death of the Prophet. I found a faith that is richer and more complex than is generally given credence in the West.

I did not ultimately find it personally compelling. I had become far too focused upon and captivated by this strange Jesus of Nazareth, the center of all Christian faith. And even in my more widely ranging spiritual days, Islam would not have been the sort of spiritual practice that attracted me. But I did gain a deep appreciation for the communal nature of the practice of the Islamic faith.

This same sort of communal life had once been at the core of the Christian faith. That faith grew out of Judaism as changed by the revelation of God made known to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Where had those practices gone? What happened to them? I still didn’t know the answers to those questions. Nor did I change anything in my own practice of the faith at that time. I knew what Christians had once done. But they had done it together. My spiritual journey had been broad enough that I had learned the danger of an individualistic approach to spiritual practices, especially those that directly engage the body. You do not always know what you are engaging when you open yourself up or act to change your spirit. And without some community to guide you, things can go easily awry.

Yes, this meandering journey will, I think, eventually reveal the reason for my confession that I might never have chosen a fast. In the next in the series, I’ll continue my journey as I dove ever deeper into Christianity.