Monday, February 17, 2014
I have not been very active here on SparkPeople lately. Sorry about that. I missed you all and I am back! For the last several months I have been feeling miserable and for the longest I was trying to figure out what was going on.
I was extremely exhausted every day, no matter how much or little sleep I had at night. I even nodded off at work a couple of times. I had several migraines a week. My GI system was acting crazy. I had weird painful patches on my scalp that would appear and disappear unpredictably. My skin was extremely dry and I lost more hair than usual. I was unusually angry, tense, sad, depressed and even lost my appetite (I am usually a "foodie" as I love cooking and eating). I was short of breath a lot faster than usual which (at the time) I thought might just be a result of not exercising as much as I used to, yet this one felt different. Something was not right.
After talking to my Mom, who has Celiac disease, she suggested I should take a self test by checking off my symptoms on a list of common symptoms of Celiac sufferers. Wow. That one hit home. I sure was surprised to find many of my recent ailments on that list. Since my Mom has Celiac disease already, I am at greater risk of developing it myself. Another risk factor is having another autoimmune disease (I already have Hashimoto's disease). Since the beginning of the year, I started tracking my symptoms and whether I ate gluten or not each day. I set up a doctor's appointment to get a blood test for Celiac done as well as a large blood panel. Knowing that a Celiac blood test could come back with a false negative after cutting out gluten from one's diet, I kept consciously eating gluten up until the day of the blood test.
While I was waiting on the results, I kept eating gluten at first, in case a biopsy was needed. However, I was so miserable the weekend before last with one of the worst and longest migraines I have ever experienced that I decided to go gluten free starting that Sunday up until Tuesday night and I soon felt better. The migraine and my GI issues subsided. Knowing I would get my test results on Wednesday, I did go on a "gluten splurge" on Tuesday night with my favorite made-from-scratch homemade pizza (I will miss you, baby!). Well, let me say I paid for that on Wednesday morning...
Eventually I got my test results on Wednesday afternoon and the good news is that the Celiac test came back negative/non-elevated. I am still at risk of developing Celiac, but at this point I do not have it. That is great news. So for now, it looks like I am gluten intolerant and I am cutting it out for the next six months (and possibly forever) along with tracking my food meticulously to see if there is anything else I might react to. The big surprise that came with my blood panel was that I was severely iron deficient/anemic and that explains some of the above symptoms as well (including the unusual shortness of breath). I immediately started taking an iron supplement and got some extra rest the last few days. I am starting to feel a little better. Yay!
Here comes some female stuff, possibly TMI for some. You have been warned. ;-)
My last blood panel was in September last year and it showed all my values to be perfect with iron being just a tiny bit low and my progesterone levels being postmenopausal. I increased my dark leafy greens intake (I am not a big meat eater) and I am already taking a multivitamin which also has iron in it. That should have taken care of it, or so I thought. Well, it apparently did not. I have to add that my menstrual cycle has been crazy for years (since my miscarriage in 2007 to be exact). First, I did not bleed at all, then I started spotting and/or having minimal flow on a daily basis. Several doctors had previously suggested I take birth control pills to "reset" my cycle, but I did not want that in hopes of at some point becoming pregnant again. Well, that has not happened since 2007 and with my progesterone levels being postmenopausal (I am 27!), I eventually agreed to trying to "reset" my hormones with the means of birth control pills. I never stopped spotting, but I did have two very heavy cycles during which I lost more blood than usual. Looking back that probably was what depleted my iron levels. Especially considering that soon after that second very heavy cycle I started feeling exhausted and extremely tired for (at the time) no apparent reason. In addition, I continued to have (almost) regular cycles with spotting in between. Having almost regular cycles is a good sign and I really hope constant spotting will stop soon.
I will be taking my iron supplement daily and will keep getting my levels checked. I will also eat more yogurt again and also take probiotics which will hopefully get my gut back in order (I am still waiting for them to come in the mail, but they should get here soon). Through that and my diet change(s), I hope to be back to my old self soon (I sure miss her!).
At times I was so miserable that all I did was sleep as soon as I got home in the evenings and most of the weekends as well. I did not exercise much. This I am changing now. I need my workouts. I am going to a Zumba class once a week (Mondays) –I already went twice– and I am increasingly walking in the morning between dropping my son off at school and going to work. Eventually I want to go back to the 5K Your Way program and actually run a 5K this year.