It Hurt To Eat
The Short Version of the Story
I Ioved food, but it hurt to eat. Nearly every time I ate, I experienced pain. Rarely did I escape the dreaded abdominal basketball feeling. I would get a few bites into whatever I was eating and feel like I had swallowed a basketball.
"All people must feel the same way when eating," I thought. Due to my assumption, I never told anyone how I felt.
Because these issues plagued me my entire life, it never occurred to me to say anything to anyone. I learned to hide my discomfort (sometimes outright agony) and developed a high pain tolerance.
When very young, I was diagnosed with Hyperactivity Disorder, which today is better known as ADHD. I had, and continue to deal with, learning disabilities, dyslexia and a number of other problems. My mom excused me and my abnormal behavior by declaring that I was 'creative' and 'artistic,' as though that meant I was exempt from socially acceptable behavior.
Most of the time I suffered these things with almost no guidance or support. Learning disabilities weren't really understood at that time and I didn't talk about that basketball in my stomach. No one was connecting the dots between diet, the brain and behavior. And it still hurt to eat.
The Problem: Eating Still Hurt and Was Getting More Difficult
Over the years eating became more difficult. I knew there had to be something wrong. I no longer was able to hide the pain. As always, it hurt to eat. A new experience of Bloating-while-eating became a nightmare. The problem was getting worse, rather than better. There were times that I couldn't even walk after eating just a small part of a meal.
I became prone to frequent meltdowns and emotional outbursts (Gluten Meltdowns are Not a Myth). I felt bad most of the time. Everyone around me thought that I was just horribly dramatic and hard to get along with. I couldn't control it. I couldn't explain it. There seemed to be nothing I could do to end the insanity. It appeared to me that the melt downs were connected to absolutely nothing.
Food had to be the problem. I tried vegan and them vegetarian diets. Ultimately neither of these did the trick. A rash appeared and spread over much of my body. I didn't connect the rash with my other problems. The doctor put me on steroids to deal with the rash.
Can it be Celiac Disease...or something else?
Finally desperate, I found a nutritionist. I explained to her that I thought that meat was causing most of the problems. Although, even on a vegetarian diet I was experiencing pain during and after eating. The nutritionist gave the the news: "It's not the meat - it's the wheat."
She put me on a gluten free diet. The first gluten free meal I ate will forever be embedded in my memory. I began eating. I ate to the point where I automatically expected the pain to begin. There was none. It was amazing.
Here's where you'd think I'd say something about living happily ever after. That was my thought. That's not what happened. Unfortunately, by the time I found out what my problem was, I was 49 years old. The digestive difficulties over all those years caused permanent damage.
My journey was just beginning and was going to be rough. After finding out about the gluten connection, I've been through cancer, developed additional food intolerances, and have a chronic autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis.
It's all about inflammation. Anyone experiencing symptoms similar to mine should speak up. Don't tough it out. It will cause more inflammation. Inflammation causes damage and diseases.
Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Diarrhea and/or constipation (sometimes alternating)
- Abdominal pain
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Skin conditions (including the so-called "gluten rash" dermatitis herpetiformis)
I recommend reading this article. Awareness of Celiac Disease is crucial. The information in the article may save you, your child, your friend or maybe a relative a lot of pain.