shapeofthings: (Wedding)
The last three years have been somewhat of a misadventure for me, with health woes piling on to medical complaints and mental melt-downs. I lost a lot of weight, gained a lot more and underwent treatment for anxiety. Just whenI was beginning to remember what "normal" felt like my immune system went to town on my thyroid gland and I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. It seemed like I no longer knew my own body. Nothing worked the way it used to and very little made sense. I had a severe case of hyper-thyroidism, yet I was gaining weight. The thyroid medication reduced most of the syptoms, but the upset digestion, moodiness and misbehaving metabolism remained.

By August it became apparent that something else was going on with my digestive tract. For several years I'd develop bloating and indigestion if I ate too much wheat, but in the months prior I'd been on the road so much that wheat had become a dominant part of my diet. I'd stopped noticing the reaction to wheat until it had become so much more severe. I had no appetite, felt constantly tired and bloated, had the runs and was putting on even more weight. I was catching every bug that went around; again. This was not right. In a moment of mental clarity I realised that I was reacting to something I was eating. I considered the two food types I'd reacted to indulging in too much in the past: wheat and dairy. I was facing a process of elimination. Remembering the bloatyness, I decided to start with wheat.

24 hours later I started feeling better.

3 days later my digestion started to behave itself.

I thought I had the answer: I was wheat intolerant! I just needed to avoid wheat flour-based products and all would be well.

That conclusion, as it turns out, was far too simple. Initial improvements were countered by sudden returns of those now-familiar symptoms. I eliminated spelt, then rye, and more improvements followed, but still new sensitivities emerged.

By the end of 2007 I came to the realisation that I am completely gluten intolerant. I have diagnosed myself with Coeliac disease. There is a medical check: a blood test to detect the anti-bodies produced in response to gluten, but in order to prove anything you have to eat enough gluten to produce enough anti-bodies to be detected by the test. How much gluten is enough? My doctor says to eat a normal diet but to include gluten. When even the gluten in one jelly bean is enough to make me sick, the official diagnosis just doesn't seem worth it.

So I can't eat bread, or pasta, or pastries, or breakfast cereals. That's the obvious stuff. But I also can't eat soy sauce or soba noodles, most potato chips or rice crackers, marinades or marmite. I can't even eat most brands of ice-cream! Supermarket products are rife with gluten disguised as wheat glucose or caramel colour or thickener or natural flavours. But you know, that's ok. As long as I know the gluten's there, I can avoid it. And the best part is that in avoiding gluten I'm learning to look after myself and to feed my body well. Because to eat gluten-free is to eat freshly prepared, high quality, naturally flavoursome foods. When you're eating like that, you really don't miss mass-produced foods that taste like artificiality. And good things follow: I'm losing weight, I feel energetic and bouncy. I feel properly like me for the first time in years. We are eating well.

Where it gets difficult, though, is eating out. At cafes, restaurants and friends' houses food becomes a risk. Not everyone understands the many forms gluten can take and the unexpected places you'll find it.

We spent the weekend past at Alex's parent's place, in celebration of my boy's recent birthday. Hs father takes great joy and pride in cooking, and has been happy to accomodate my increasingly difficult requirements. On Saturday night he made roast beef with baked vegetables and gluten-free Yorkshire puddings. He even used proper corn flour to thicken the gravy! But he didn't think to check the supermarket-bought stock. I was a veritable picture of mysery that night and the following Sunday; my belly hard and bloaty, and my stomach sore. It was Sunday night before I could even face up to food (a gentle, easy to digest gluten-recovery diet) and today I'm still feeling tender and tired, my digestive tract grumling gassily.

But even in recovery mode, gluten-free food is fabulous. Just look at what my wonderful husband has made me for dinner. And even better, it's made with love.



Jan. 30th, 2008 07:48 pm
shapeofthings: (Eye)
<a href="http://<a href="" title="Longreach Corella by the_smileyfish, on Flickr"><img src="" width="600" alt="Longreach Corella" /></a>

Alive and well, survived 5 weeks of holidays with a broken computer.

Doing fabulously, in fact.

Another year older, rung in with reckless abandon. ;-)

Please let me know anything important that I've missed.

shapeofthings: (toe sock)

Light and Shade

More and more, my life is a question of balance.
I swing, I teeter, over-compensate,
searching for just the right

Both light and shade, everything at once,
every day. Feet to the sky
for the sake of the view,
shapeofthings: (Wedding)

Eugh, busy. I've taken tonight off though. I made a very simple but yummy dinner (chicken breats stuffed with garlic, pesto and blue cheese, baked on top of potato slices and served with a simple salad and torn fresh dill), then had a luxurious shower, touched up the remaining red colour in my hair (not much) then painted my finger (silver) and toe (silvery red) nails. I'm making sure I set aside time to spoil myself after being rushed off my feet for so long. I've put on loads of weight because I haven't been eating properly, and because I'm low on sleep I've been craving sugar and carbs, and I've been giving in to those cravings. The result is an unhealthy, lumpy-feeling Toni, which isn't the way it should be, so I'm taking time out to be kind to myself. =o)

I'm in a funny place at the moment. Mostly I'm enjoying the business, because I'm doing good things, I'm doing well at work and I feel challenged. But I'm run down and lacking in shiny and my patience has run thin for people not pulling their weight (resulting in getting cranky with my housemate). I try to balance a lot of things and it doesn't always work out. At the moment work's the biggest ball in the air, but there's also the fish and the garden, cooking and baking, friends and family, and photography, topped off with a continuing out-of-balance thyroid (and $230 for the specialist to tell me what I already knew). LiveJournal has fallen behind in my list of priorities, and I haven't been able to keep up. I've had to hack and slash at my f-list through lack of time, cutting people I never thought I'd be able to. I apologise for any hurt feelings, it's not personal, just the reality of living a very full life.

You won't get rid of me completely though, I promise. ;-) And in the meantime, here's some shiny from when we went to Pride.

shapeofthings: (toe sock)
Toni was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. There wasn't much she could do about that though; the doctor had said it would be another two weeks or so until she began to feel normal again. At least there was one big positive to come out of this whole thing, she thought, being that Graves' Disease sounds far more ominous than it is. The shock on peoples faces when she informed them of the diagnosis hasn't ceased being funny yet. It's also been a great excuse for sleeping in, and Toni had been exploiting that to the full, arriving late to work every day since.

She did wonder how much it all was truly affecting her. Some days she felt perfectally ok and others she could barely drag herself out of bed. After a rough week last week Toni somehow managed to haul herself off to a rave on Saturday night and not come home until 5 o'clock in the morning. Sure she'd felt pretty ordinary for the next few days, but seeing Infected Mushrrom playing live was worth every ache and exhausted day afterwards. Mind you, Toni always has been stubborn, so pushing her body further for a night of fun is completely in character. Her only concession to illness was staying sober for the night, though that was made up for on Sunday night with no restraint shown towards a nice pinot.

As much as she hated to admit it, Toni knew at heart that ill health was knocking her around. Sometimes the little things did it, like being put back on anti-depressants to manage the symptoms. The hardest thing to take though was that she'd been so close to good health. After several years of frequent illness and chronic stress the girl was finally getting on top of things. Truth be told, Toni hadn't felt this fabulous in five years or so. How cruel it then was to slip back down again to serious illness, and how bleak the promise of a life-time of medication.

Currently, our girl's just taking each day as it comes. Some are not so good, but on the whole she's fine and most certainly life could be worse. Her work has been extraordinarly supportive, thoguh the finances less so since she ran out of sick leave. She's been spoiling herself too, with bright bunches of chrysanthemums, cheese and chocolate. She's been spoiling the boy as well, of course, as he's had too many late nights giving massages and cuddles and keeping insomnia company. He's done the dishes an awful lot too, as Toni's been quite the demon in the kitchen lately. Cooking makes her feel better, it requires enough mental attention to be distracting without being draining and provides a creative outlet. Best of all it means she gets to eat all sorts of delicious goodies, though consequently she's running out of clothes that fit.

The week is short and she's grateful for it when every day seems uncannily long. Outside of work her hours are filled with blood tests, trips to the doctor and physio, though at least her back has stopped hurting now. Don't worry, she's still spending hours in front of the computer (too much of it spent incompetenly "fixing" a hardware problem that crashes Photoshop) and relaxing. Toni's decided she needs a little time away from alcohol though. She hasn't had a hangover in over a year, but it's the frequency that's caused concern and when a week without is the the biggest break in a while, drinking needs addressing. (I assume I've alluded that she adores aliteration earlier.) Perhaps she imbibes like her user-name a little too frequently. Regardless, she feels a respite can't do her any harm and added alcohol to her list of (temporarily) banned substances.

The main thing is that our girl and her boy are ok. The novelty of rubbing his fuzzy head had not yet worn off, though he's not complaining. All this health concern has provided an excellent distraction from the demands of university (her boy's been a bit of a slack bastard), but he'll still get full marks from her.

Click! )

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