I had a teacher in college who at the beginning of the term would tell all of his students that sickness was only mind over matter and therefore there wasn’t any reason to not be in class, this especially went for anyone who was sick with the “barley flu.” I took courses with him several times, and it always took a couple of seconds for the class to catch onto the fact that barely flu really meant being hungover. Of course, for those of us in the Celitariat, this is something that we can literally come down with.
I spent part of last week with one of my worst cases of glutening. For me, I’m really sensitive to the glutens (some of you may have gathered that from previous posts) but my symptoms are not very severe. I have never had the intestinal bleeding or have needed to go to a hospital for a glutening. I basically turn into a frat boy with a really bad case of the flu. Let me explain a little bit better. When I got my endoscopy, I had a lot of blunting in the place where the stomach transitions to the intestines. This, amazingly enough, is right where your gallbladder is (the upper right quadrant of the abdomen) or the same location that someone whose having a heart attack will have pain. This blunting caused a lot of gas. A LOT of gas. It was to the point that I joked with my nephews that I had a burp button. They enjoyed pushing it and getting me to belch like Homer Simpson. I also got borborgmus, which is a very technical, very onomatopoetic way of saying tummy rumbles. So, I would have some gas that would run through my intestines and come out either end in a very melodious way.
We always can tell when I get glutened, because it starts out with burps. Lots and lots of burps. They start little and then turn in to full fratboy within a few hours. Sometimes I even get hiccups, because of the trapped gas. Hours and hours of body wrenching hiccups that don’t stop no matter how many times my husband suggests Donald Trump doing the hula in a pokadot speedo.
Don’t tell me that this doesn’t sound frightening to you.
Anyway, the best way to combat gas is activated charcoal. Seriously, I didn’t get this tidbit until after I saw a Gastroenterologist for the first time (and seriously I see it all over the place at this point in time) and it was a literal lifesaver. Overnight, I was starting to feel better. Well, not overnight, but as least the gas and the borborgmus were better. And those are the things that would keep me up at night.
It’s kind of amazing that gas could catch in the twists and turns of the intestines, and just be THAT painful. I know you all know what I’m talking about, because it’s happened to you all too. But it’s worse then the gas it try to rise or fall but both of those directions don’t lead to a hole, because that’s just how it happens when you lie down and it’s literally the worst. (By the way I had that last week, and it’s been a while since I needed to run to the bathroom and just sit up for a few hours in the middle of the night.) Honestly, I can deal with a most of the rest of the symptoms, but that one is the worst, so the charcoal is a very welcome reprieve. Of course this generally only lasts one day.
Phase two is my absolute least favorite, this is the true flu part of the barley flu, the body aches and foggy head and lightheadedness. If day one is about decay, I feel like day two is the beginning of the repair. It’s like my body has finally figured out that something is wrong. It makes sense. On day one, the body starts fighting what it perceives as an infection (aka the gluten) and attacking everything that is nearby. It’s kind of like the end of the Avengers, fighting the Chitari and leaving New York in ruins. Day two is the body catching up with the infection, saying “Hey, you stay over here and keep out of trouble like a good civilian bystander. We’ll take care of this.” So I turn into a vegetable on the couch and watch a whole lot of Netflix.
I’ve tried to work through day two. I wind up sitting at my desk with the world spinning and barely able to lift my arms. Usually I get super goofy. Oh, and I’ll still be burping like a drunk. Really, I kind of act like I’m drunk. I can drink a lot of water. I can take take Aspirin and Advil, but y body is still going to protest and say “Hey, you’re supposed to be resting.” And because this isn’t an infection there’s really no way to speed it up like taking vitamin C. You just gotta ride it out and hope it’s all okay. This is a good time to take a some iron. We all know that celiacs are anemic, this is because our intestines are not able to ingest nutrients, so it help to replenish some of those at this point in time. Kind of combats the virago, a bit. Still haven’t figured out how to get it gone the rest of the way.
Now the body aches, I have a really interesting solution for. I eat popcorn. Yup popcorn. There’s no scientific reasoning behind this one, but I suspect that the fiber in the popcorn helps…um…bind things up and pushes some of the gluten through. No idea if this is real and scientific of whatever, but it works pretty much every time. Try it and tell me if you get the same reaction, but popcorn…never get glutened without it.
Phase three lasts the longest. That’s the part where the body is trying to get it’s self back to normal. Hormones are re-asserting themselves, because those are regulated by the intestines, and so I’m moody. There’s always a couple of aches and pains that linger, and that foggy brain stays around. I tend to like to be in control of my faculties and emotions, so this bothers me, but there are far less physical symptoms, so we don’t really think about it. Phase three is the part that my husband hates the most, because it’s the one where he has to be the most careful. I get cranky and easily offended, so he walks around for a few days trying to not make me cry. It’s super fun.
Of course, during all of this, there is the poop. We don’t like to talk about poop, and I’m
not sure why. In Japan, people pay attention to their poop as a way to track their general health and well being. Heck, in America, if we discussed poop, I might have gone to the doctor YEARS before saying, “my poop isn’t normal” and might have gotten tested for Celiac (this probably would have been in the late ’90s early ’00s so it’s a toss up.) I mean, until a year ago, I don’t think I understood what a normal bowel movement was supposed to feel like. We don’t discuss long ropy poops or what the consistency of tarry stool is like (what does that phrase even mean?) So, here we go. Normal poop you have to wipe once or twice. It holds it’s shape when it does in the toilet. It even will fold over it’s self when it does in the bowl. Oh, and it’ll float. That’s how you know it’s healthy. Gluten poop is none of those things. It’s sticky and loose and generally all of the not healthy things. Or it can get really hard and causes constipation. Or sometimes both in the same BM. The last thing to recover will be your BM, so when you’re back to normal your bath habits will be back to normal too.
And then it’s mostly life as normal again. I know that people say there’s no way to really treat the symptoms of getting glutened, but we all have our tricks. I would really like to hear how other people experience the gluten and what you do to combat it. So feel free to comment below with your experiences and solutions.