Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Deciding to Go Gluten-Free

A few months ago, in November 2013, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. This diagnosis came as no surprise to me, considering both my grandmother and mother both have the same thing. Basically, my thyroid is underactive, which causes the hormones in my body to be released at a much higher rate than normal. (If you are not familiar with the thyroid, its underactivity causes too much hormone release and it's overactivity causes too little hormone release - it's the exact opposite of what you might think considering the normal use of underactive/overactive). Anyway, I was placed on thyroid supplements and started feeling slightly better. Some of my symptoms are still around, which is why I am going to go to a specialist to monitor my thyroid even further.

In January, I started getting pretty severe stomach aches. I've always had a "sensitive stomach" (as I'd call it) and felt that I got sick easily, for no apparent reason. After my thyroid diagnosis and 2-3 weeks of feeling miserable, every morning, all of the time, I decided to do a little research. Thankfully I stumbled upon an online forum for thyroid disorder patients, and read a lot. I mean, a lot. It's amazing what you learn from people who have been in the same situation as you, and know what they are talking about.

Many people had said that they started feeling better after they began a gluten-free diet. So, I did my own research and found that, indeed, gluten intolerance and thyroid disorders can be linked due to the fact that they are both autoimmune disorders. So I started my research on what it actually meant to go gluten-free, what it entailed, how it would work in my life, etc. Basically (there is more than this, trust me), no wheat, rye, barley, or oats. No traditional breads (the horror!), cakes, cookies, chips, anything and everything that included wheat, rye, barley (like beer), or oats. Ok, I told myself, I can try this. I can see if this makes me feel a little bit better.

I was anxious. I downloaded an app on my phone which allows me to scan almost every product in a grocery store to see if it has gluten, and if it does, the app tells me to avoid that item. On Saturday morning, after a particularly severe stomach attack (the pain is indescribable), I decided to just take the plunge. I took my app and started scanning everything in my pantry. 70% of it was ok, but I had to throw away many items like pastas or noodles (or label them "Javi only"). We went to the grocery store and bought some gluten-free products. Luckily, I am able to eat all meats, fruits, veggies, cheeses (I'm glad I'm not lactose intolerant), I just have to be careful with my consumption of grains. I seriously probably spent an hour and a half in the store, and bought maybe 20 items. It was exhausting at the moment. So now my pantry has gluten-free items, and I find myself being really conscious about what I eat.

I'm quite aware that I'm probably not intolerant to a little bit of gluten, but when consumed in high amounts, it gives me terrible pains. For example, we went to a restaurant and I really wanted a hamburger. Silly me, because after I ate (and I only ate a quarter of the bun because I knew it would make me feel bad), I felt those pains coming on. I knew that had to be the last time I ate a grain like that, because it was just too painful otherwise.

It has been a few days, and every single day since I've gone gluten-free, I have had NO stomach ache! Maybe this was the key. Only time will tell.

I'm not going gluten-free to lose weight. I'm not going gluten-free because it's 'healthier.' I'm going gluten-free because otherwise, I'd be in bed every morning feeling like my whole body was going to die. We still have products in our house with gluten because Javi eats them. I have to choose: do I want to feel good, or do I want to eat gluten? (Because, seriously, bread with gluten is SO much better...)

I know that if this is the reason and I remain gluten-free, eating out will be harder. I will have to bring my own food. I will have to tell people of my dietary restriction. I'm making changes in  my diet to eliminate being sick all of the time. It's not really by choice, it's by necessity.

Now, if I can only make a gluten-free bread that takes like bread with gluten, and I'll be happy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter, Winter + Reflections

We're in the midst of what feels like the longest winter, ever and I have spent the majority of this very cold Saturday browsing blogs, refreshing Facebook, watching my husband play Call of Duty, finishing my homework, thinking about what I want as a snack, and moving my cats away from my legs since they think the couch is their domain.

I was supposed to travel to my parents' house for my little sister's birthday weekend, but travel conditions are awful and we recently took a 5.5 hour drive to Indianapolis a few weeks ago, when the normal drive is 2 hours. And I am not doing that ever again.

I'm in a reflective state of mind, one that involves a lot of prayer. I've spent countless hours talking to the Big Man Above, just chatting with Him about what seems like a continuous thought process that runs through my head with no end and certainly no beginning. I wonder what 2014 has in store for me. I hope for things to happen how I wish for them to happen. I'm pretty content with my life, but let's be honest. We all want something more. We all want to continue to 'improve' our lives in a way that we see fit. And this reflection that I've been happening has really been focused on that.

What is 2014 going to bring me?
Will it be balanced?
Can I celebrate some very big highs after some of last years very low lows?
Will I continue to be happy?

Life is sort of a conundrum. I like where I am in my life, but I'm striving for more. I'm studying for another M.A. because I want to move up in my career. I'm focusing on my health because I need to lose weight and I want a baby, so very badly. (No secret.) I want to travel, save money, buy a house. I want to experience things with my husband that are new and exciting.

This year has already brought big changes. My husband started college to complete his degree. I have lost 13 pounds. Minus this horrible, horrendous, bitterly cold winter we are having, we're pretty secure. We have a plan of action in place, at least.

2014, be nice to me!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Painful Side of 2013

2013 was a rather good year for me, but there were many moments of intense pain and silent hardship that I had to endure without letting it escape from my own heart and brain.

It's not a subject that many people are willing to talk about, but it's something that is rampant in many people's lives, as I've learned over the past eight months. It's not even something that I like to discuss openly with my family, as most people probably would feel uncomfortable talking about it and might shy away from it. The subject is even hard for me to type here on my blog, and I probably won't post this on any social media websites like I usually do because I'm not sure how some people might feel about it and their reaction.

So, here goes. I'm going to throw all my fear that surrounds talking about the subject and let it go here, on this blog, into the Internet, outside of my bedside journal and outside of my innermost feelings.

My husband and I want a baby. We have wanted a baby since we got married. We've tried to have a baby since we got married. But, we still haven't been able to get pregnant. I read statistics that 80% of couples get pregnant after six months of trying. Well, we are outside of that 80% because we are now trying for the ninth month in a row. People who know me in real life might wonder why I would even want to get pregnant because I'm overweight, but that doesn't determine if you can get pregnant. Sure, being overweight can cause health problems which can, in turn, cause infertility. But I don't have any health problems like that. I've talked to my doctor and she has given me the go-ahead to have a baby, at the same time encouraging me to lose weight (which is obvious to me, and the reason why I'm now on Weight Watchers). But, BUT, I don't need to be skinny to have a baby. It's not a requirement.

The only issue that I'm dealing with is having hypothyroidism. I'm on medication to stabilize my hormone levels, which is necessary for my overall health.

People who have not tried to have a baby don't realize how hard the whole process can be. In the beginning, it's so exciting and new and fun! You are going to have a baby! Then if you don't get pregnant in the first months, you start to feel a little stressed. You start to wonder if something is wrong, and you end up going to the doctor for vials and vials of bloodwork. Been there, done that. The only problem was my thyroid.

Now, I'm just not arbitrarily hoping that I get pregnant. I am not innocent in my belief that having a baby is easy. It's incredibly hard to get pregnant, especially when you REALLY want to get pregnant. It seems to get even harder. Every morning, I wake up and take my temperature and put it in an application on my phone to monitor when I ovulate. I take a prenatal. I take my other medication. I've tracked my cycles for nine months. I pee on ovulation predictor sticks a week every cycle to see when the right time is. I stock up on pregnancy tests when they are on sale, and even have bought cheap pregnancy tests online so I can test as much as possible.

Getting pregnant is really emotionally exhausting when you want it as much as I do, and as much as other women that I know want it. It really starts to get to you after awhile, and your hopes get dashed every month, especially when you really think that month is YOUR month.

What is hardest is that people don't necessarily know what to say when they find out you've been trying for a long time. They say a myriad of phrases that they think are helpful, and they don't anything else to say, but they often don't help. My husband doesn't even help when he says such things. It's hard not to feel like a failure month after month, taking a pregnancy test hoping that you are pregnant and it ends up a big, fat negative.

My focus of 2014 is getting pregnant. My husband is going to get a few tests done, and if everything is ok with him, I'll go have more tests done too. I'm sad. I thought I'd be pregnant by now, and I'm still hoping that I'm pregnant by my birthday. We want more than one child, and I'm afraid that every child will take this long.

So, if you read this, just keep me in your prayers - as well as all of the other women in this world who desperately want a baby and for some reason, cannot get pregnant - that every women can have a baby that she really wants.