Hi everyone. I found this site during a desperate web search for resources on gluten allergies/sensitivities. I am in need of answers and reassurance that I'm not losing my mind!
My name is Sarah, I'm a 30 year old married mommy of 2. I work full time as a Registered Nurse on a cardiac intensive care unit. My life is busy busy busy and always hectic to say the least!
Last fall, I started having a lot of digestion issues, but I chalked it up to poor eating and stress. I've have intermittent bouts of nausea/dry heaving, mostly in the mornings, for years. For a long time, I thought I had gall bladder issues, but I've had that route checked out at least 3 times, and nothing ever comes back abnormal (ie: no gall stones, sludge, inflammation, etc.). October of last year, I started breaking out in hives for no apparent reason. I had made no changes in my diet, no new skin products, no new laundry products, nothing. I just woke up one morning itching like crazy, looked on my stomach, and I was covered in hives. That went on for about 2 weeks, just random hive outbreaks that I couldn't get rid of with anything OTC, so I went to my primary doctor. They thought it could be a reaction an antihypertensive medication that I was on (ACE inhibitor), but I had literally been on that medication for over 10 years. They changed my meds around, gave me Rx strength antihistamines, and told me to continue taking Zyrtec everyday. The hives cleared up and I didn't have any problems until after the start of the new year.
Since January, I have had constant diarrhea. Within 30-60 minutes of eating, I am nauseous and in the bathroom. I started to notice it was a lot worse after I would eat things with bread, like sandwiches, and especially pizza. Pizza is the absolute WORST. I have taken enough Immodium in the past 3 months to clog a person up for a year, yet I was still having diarrhea. The end of February/beginning of March, I broke out in another rash that started on my legs and spread to my arms. The itching was so intense, I literally did not sleep for days on end because I could not stop scratching. I tried everything I could think of, including the Rx antihistamines I had been given in October, and they didn't even help. I scratched my skin until I had sores on my legs and arms, it was awful. I got in with my doc after a week of going crazy from itching, and she referred me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist said she was pretty sure I have follicular eczema, gave me Rx strength hydrocortizone cream and lotion, and told me to up my Zyrtec to 2x daily. Finally, after several days, I started to get relief from the skin issues.
However, the GI issues have still remained. I generally feel miserable all the time. My gut hurts continuously. I feel bloated and swollen all the time. I'm gassy all the time. I have horrible indigestion and acid reflux (I'm on Prilosec and Zantac). I'm tired of being tired and feeling like crap (ha!) all the time.
2 weeks ago, I decided to go gluten-free. I just completely cut all gluten out of my diet. Within the first week, I felt 1000 times better, and actually lost 4.5 lbs in 5 days (which is good, I need to lose weight). Like a fool, after a week, my kids talked me into ordering pizza one night, and I ate a piece of it. Laziness on my part for not making myself something "clean". Within an hour, I was in the bathroom with the worst stomach cramps and diarrhea. I was nauseous all night after that. I vowed then that I was never eating gluten again! Bold statement, I know. Fast forward to tonight, a week later, and I stupidly did it again. And once again, within an hour of eating, I was in the bathroom. And I am so nauseous and dry heaving, I had to run to the store to buy Tums and I grabbed some Probiotics to see if that would help too. I am currently in misery and it's my own stupid fault! I guess I just needed to be absolutely sure.
I know this is long, I'm trying to wrap up...hang with me!
My biggest issue is trying to figure out how to approach this subject with my doctor. I love my doctor, I trust her opinion, we have a great relationship. But I sometimes feel like she must think I'm a hypochondriac with all of the health issues I've had at such a young age. I really, truly, deep down think that a lot of my issues may stem from this issue with Gluten. I'm going to call her office tomorrow and see if I can get an appointment with her soon to discuss all this and see if she will refer me to a GI specialist. I guess I have to start somewhere.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading my story, and any insight anyone can give me is greatly appreciated. I just want to feel good and I'm hoping that this is a step in the right direction!