I haven’t seen the new year in for several years, I’d love to but by 8pm most nights I am in bed, if not asleep, well on the way. The Myasthenia Kid household is just pure rock and roll when it comes to celebrations.
New Year’s Eve is something I have hated for quite a while, even as a teenager I could never see the fun in standing around in a packed pub, with a load of strangers vowing to stick their tongues down your throat on the stroke of midnight. In fact I have only ever been out once (twice if you count a house party where we saw in the year 2000) on NYE and that was a disaster as a wisdom tooth decided to erupt, dragging a piece of gum up with it meaning every time I closed my mouth, I felt like I had been kicked in the face. Due to the severe levels of pain I had to call it a night around 1am, which I found out did not go down well with the friend I was with. It’s lovely when you find out through mutual friends your pain has ruined someone else’s evening! I also had to wait until January 2nd before I could have the bloody thing removed. I don’t know if that tainted my feelings towards NYE but another year passing me by doesn’t bring out the best in me.
The New Year also brings an anniversary, January 5th 2007 I came down with the worst migraine I have ever experienced. When the migraine headache cleared, I was left with the right side of my face feeling like it was coming around after a dental anaesthetic, by 11th January (2007) I developed ptosis. This year these dates will mark a decade of ever worsening health, when normal life finished and navigating the world of chronic illness started. This year more than ever I couldn’t shift the black cloud that was hanging over me on December 31st.
This last Christmas holiday period has been one of the worst I have experienced health wise. Normally I rally over the Christmas period, not this year. My PoTs ( I do hate it when I say my xxx condition but what else can you say?) was relatively well-behaved, other than two micro blackouts. My EDS has been naughty but just for two days however it was so bad that I would have happily ripped out my spine and pelvis if it had been at all possible. This year for a bit of variation I have been plagued by GI (gastrointestinal) issues.
To give you a bit of background a first degree relative of mine is probably going to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. In this person the disease has been asymptomatic or silent on the GI front. Some might think they have been lucky as GI symptoms with Coeliac Disease can be pretty awful but the problem with asymptomatic CD is that it can wreak havoc elsewhere in the body. Many people think that CD just means that you can’t eat bread or more specifically anything containing gluten but they don’t know why this is. To explain it quite simply the body sees gluten as an enemy and in its effort to destroy the enemy it also destroys the small intestine by damaging the villi which help you absorb your food. It is an autoimmune disease and it can only be treated (not cured) by never eating gluten again. For more information https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/
Now to test for Coeliac Disease you must have been eating gluten for at least 6 weeks prior, as the blood test looks for Antibodies IgA or IgGG. By eating gluten if you do have CD these antibodies will be in your blood at a high enough concentration for the test to be positive. I have been rubbish with gluten for years, eating large amounts (by which I mean more than the equivalent of two slices of bread a day) I get horrendous stomach cramps and diarrhoea. I feel as if I have been poisoned, after eating gluten. I have been tested previously for CD but it has always been negative. Doctors have always told me that it is IBS that causes my stomach pain and diarrhoea. No one has listened to me when I have told them the correlation between eating gluten and being ill. At various points in my life the symptoms have got so bad I have gone gluten-free and you guessed it the symptoms went away. So over Christmas knowing I would be asking for a blood test, I knew I would have to eat gluten.
I love mince pies, french bread, Christmas cake, every Christmas goodie seems to contain gluten and I indulged …..a lot. I have never in my life been as ill as I have this year over Christmas with stomach pain, diarrhoea, wind, bloating etc. In fact two days out of 14 I didn’t eat at all as I hurt from the back of my mouth downwards. I got through my IBS medication at a rate of knots. It got to last Sunday and I had to admit defeat, I just couldn’t do this anymore. Without over exaggerating I felt like I was dying, my joint pain was getting extreme, muscle pain the same, my shit did quite frankly stink as did my copious amounts of wind. When you fart and your husband runs away with his eyes watering you know there is a problem. When the dogs also leave the room looking at you with disgust, it’s time to say enough is enough.
So I have been 2 days gluten-free, my stomach has settled down. It’s still what I call a bit prickly but I can no longer feel every inch of my intestine. My stomach if it’s been through a bad patch will take a few days to settle but it is bouncing back much more quickly than it normally would. The levels of wind have dramatically improved to be almost non-existent, much to my husband and dogs delight. The bloating has also gone, I wish I had measured myself before I started going gluten-free because I swear it’s inches smaller (but I am big anyway). My joint pain severity has also decreased, they no longer feel like they are burning. I know its way too soon to put all this down to going gluten-free, it maybe that everything felt awful because my stomach was so bad and I felt thoroughly miserable. I know when my head pain is bad, I also feel horribly unwell.
Due to the time of year I can’t get a doctor’s appointment until next week (which I actually thought was good) where I will ask if I can have the Coeliac disease blood test. I won’t have been eating gluten so the test may come back negative but I just can’t go through another two weeks, like that again. For the moment I will be gluten-free.
For those of you with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) it maybe worth having a look at this study which shows that people with CD have a higher risk of also having EDS http://www.dldjournalonline.com/article/S1590-8658(16)30436-4/abstract