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Lenowill

Would This Mess Up A Biopsy? (and Other Pleas)

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I do not have Celiac's myself but have a friend who probably does, and I am asking this question on his behalf since his Internet access is currently very limited.

If anyone here happens to live in the area of Seattle, Washington, please take special note of the end of this post, as my friend is also from that area and his life might be saved by any assistance you can offer him, be it wisdom, just giving him someone to talk to who knows about the disease, or materially helping him or giving him a ride to his doctor's appointment. I am not saying this to beg; I'm saying it because we feel like we have no one left to turn to but God and people who know a lot about this disease already.

The Short Version:

My friend has an appointment for a (colon?) biopsy and was told by his doctor to make sure he keeps eating foods that include gluten for now--just in case--so that the biopsy will be more likely to come back showing a positive result if he in fact has the intolerance to gluten.

My question is this: if my friend takes some Iberogast or enteric-coated peppermint oil (as herbal remedies to try to soothe his bowels and return them to something halfway resembling normal function), will that interfere in any way with the doctors' ability to get a solid yes or no diagnosis when the time comes? My friend wants to try taking the herbals but is afraid to because he's scared he won't be able to get the diagnosis if he does, and if he doesn't get the diagnosis his parents are unlikely to ever take his condition seriously (among other things).

Longer Details:

My friend currently has many of the usual nasty digestive symptoms: he has irritable-bowel-like symptoms with bloating/constipation/diarrhea issues and describes the experience of food being in him as being "like eating rocks" and feeling them go through his system. His nutrient absorption is failing badly (he continued to lose about 1 lb. per week while eating a 3000 calorie intensive diet) and he has become anemic. The physician who evaluated him the first time suggested that there's about a 1% chance he has cancer of the colon or small intestine, but that the more likely possibilities are Celiac's, Crohn's Disease, or a phenomenally bad case of IBS. Whatever the case, the pain from his digestive tract is dramatically hurting my friend's quality of life and contributing to feelings of despair and a loss of the will to live. I would be tickled if we could find anything to soothe that part of it--but we want, again, to be sure it won't mess up the biopsy if we do so.

Emotionally and socially my friend is in a bad situation. He comes from a violent/abusive household, and he recently checked himself into a mental hospital for a few days because he was becoming extremely suicidal, and his father was filled mainly with resentment when he did so. It was at the mental hospital that his bowel problems finally got some serious attention. They tried probiotics and I believe some common antibiotics used for regular IBS, but none of them did any good and he continued to lose weight. His mind isn't functioning as well at this point and he feels like his brain is slowly being starved and that even if he lives through this he might come out of it with most of his intellectual potential lost (he was a very bright student in school despite his family), so I'm trying to continue encouraging him on that.

My geographical position sorely limits how much direct help I can give him (he lives in Seattle, Washington and I live in Kentucky), but he has one other friend who lives in the area (still with parents, who are unfortunately hostile to my sick friend's presence and doesn't want to let him stay with them). Both my sick friend and the other friend are 18, so they could technically get away from their families if they had to in order to get him treated, but realistically the money involved isn't panning out.

We're kind of desperate at this point, and as it stands the hospital isn't even going to do his biopsy until December 26, let alone actually take steps toward getting him healed. I had the idea to try herbals because they've been known to have near-miraculous results in some IBS patients who had never been able to find relief in any other way. So with his permission I've ordered him some of each as a Christmas present (I'm a recent university graduate and unemployed), and so I suppose I'm mostly here to vent and cry for us both and try to find out if it's all right for him to take these herbals, on the prayer that they might do something sooner rather than later. If nothing else maybe it would help the foods stay in his system long enough for the weakened vili (if that's what the problem is) to scrape some badly needed nutrition from it.

My friend tried going off of gluten for one month but didn't feel any improvement during that time, by the way. He's back on it for now at the doctor's recommendation. His home environment continued to be very stressful throughout that so it's possible that may have contributed to making sure the inflammation remained a long time.

His mother has no car and little income of her own (and is living separate from the father but not divorced--the father helps support her financially). The father is sufficiently irresponsible in these matters that he'd probably let his son die (or become so far-gone that it would be inevitable) before he would admit anything was seriously wrong. His response to being asked to do something has usually been to complain that his son is making his day too gloomy. :-/ My friend is currently living with his mother but has little transportation besides what his best friend (lives ~2 hours away) or father provides.

I know more about the father than this and also know he isn't a complete monster; he just happens to completely fail when it comes to matters of this nature.

We're trying to get our friend out of the bad family situation, but at the same time we're trying to save his life physically. Can anyone offer advice, particularly about the situation with the herbal remedies and the biopsy?

If any kind souls are in the Seattle area and might be able to give him help with basic things like transportation to or from hospitals and pharmacies, or with anything else, we'd also be eternally grateful.

God bless.

--Leno

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Hi Leno,

While your friend is awaiting testing he should have the Celiac Panel, requested from his doctor:

Anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) both IgA and IgG

Anti-endomysial antibodies (EMA) - IgA

Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG) - IgA

Total IgA level.

Your friend should have an endoscopy exam (small intestines) to detect Celiac Disease. A colonoscopy (large intestine) can look for other things.

Good luck.

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I am so sorry your freind is going through this. I do wish I lived in Washington, he would have an invitation to my house at any time. Unfortunately I live on the other side of the country so I can't help there other than prayers for him.

As for the oils and herbals as long as he is still eating gluten they shouldn't effect the test. Celiac can also effect the brain causing overwhelming depression and anxiety amoung other things. I think your freind will improve greatly gluten free but if he is living in a home with gluten eaters he will need to be very careful about cross contamination issues.

I do hope someone from his area responds and can give him some guidance and a ride to the doctors for the testing. If no one can be found try contacting the Red Cross and see if they can link him up with someone or guide him to an organization that can help with a ride to the testing. He may also want to contact Social Services at 18 he can go out on his own and while the amount he would have to live off of would be small a tiny apartment where he can live unharrassed may help him mentally. I am glad he has a freind like you and I will be praying for him. I have been where he is and know how trapped he must be feeling by his health issues and his living circumstances.

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Please, before you encourage him to take anything for his discomfort, have him call his doctor's office and leave the doctor a question regarding the use of any treatment not prescribed by that doctor. Using any medicinal, herb, etc. could affect the appearance of the bowel on examination. I know your friend is suffering but it would be a shame if he took something that had a negative effect on any tests or exams. It is important he stay hydrated and he should also ask for advice as to what he should drink to best maintain his electrolytes without skewing any test results. I am a retired RN and I believe the doctor would want to be asked before adding any remedy he didn't order. Tell your friend to call the office fairly early in the day and then make certain he can be reached when the office calls back. Calls like this are sometimes not addressed until late in the day, but you just don't know how long it will take to get an answer.

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Thank you for the replies and advisings, all.

It turns out that the hospital managed to move his appointment up to _today_ after he called and informed them his health insurance would have lapsed by the originally planned date. *thanks God* So, the herbal question is almost moot at this point.

The 'scopies revealed _absolutely nothing out of the ordinary_, which is peculiar. But the biopsy results will also be forthcoming soon, and then we'll have more of an answer.

My friend and the supporting friend and myself are all Christians and we're praying hard on this.

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