This month's header is dedicated to my favorite song by Prince that I've been playing on my iPod whenever I ride the indoor bike trainer.
Shortly after returning home from Istanbul, I got serious about solving my health problems. I was pretty sick this summer before my London trip in July. Remember how I fell asleep at Tate Modern? In August, Mr. Wild Dingo had to drag my ass around the ruins in Istanbul trying to ignore my sour puss from the constant joint pain, exhaustion and my inability to focus on anything interesting. When we came home, I could barely bring myself to even write this blog. September was a record low for me of only 4 posts.
Somehow the insomnia returned this summer and fall with a vengeance. The pain all over my body and in my joints soared to new highs. No matter how hard I tried, my yoga practice was in the toilet. I felt physically horrible for so long. The week before London, I had to lay on the sofa practically all week just so I wouldn't get so sick from the non stop insomnia that I would miss out on an awesome time with my brother. I'd have some weeks of everything just dandy in my body, then hit with months of insomnia, joint pain, body inflammation, brain fog, racing heart, forgetfulness and exhaustion. Some days all I could do was walk the dogs.
After Istanbul, I had set up multiple appointments with different doctors both traditional medicine and holistic. I ate a clean diet. Still, at one point, I had enormous pain in my abdomen and had to go to get urgent x-rays. It was then things started to fall into place. The x-rays showed a major digestive problem. I went to a juice-only diet to give my body a break. After a week, as things settled down and I noticed the joint pain lessened, I started slowly adding back in normal foods, starting with legumes, eggs, light meats and rice. I added wheat last and that's when it hit me like a large baguette of French bread whacking me clear across my face. The pain in my abdomen and joints returned the next day. It was so powerful a change that it was completely obvious what was wrong. So I took myself off all wheat and read up on wheat allergies and gluten intolerance. One doctor's tests confirmed wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity.
After six weeks of a gluten and wheat free diet, all inflammation left my body, joint pain subsided, sleeping improved 90% and I'm back to my normal yoga practice. It feels like my brain woke up from a 6-year hibernation and I can actually attempt more French conversation now. French words are coming back to me and I have NO idea where they came from. Not that I speak French fluidly. Pas de tout! But a door has been flung open and all those resources are there ready for me to access so I can challenge my mentals again.
In the last 6 years, no doctor ever suggested it or tested for food allergy, even though plenty of digestion problems run in my family. Instead, they'd shrug their shoulders, give me a pat on the back and a bag full of sleeping drugs which only ever made me worse. "Dr. Everything'll Be Alright will make everything go wrong."
Reading about food allergies, I've learned that the wheat we have today doesn't resemble the wheat we had only 50 years ago. It's been genetically changed worldwide for noble reasons (to solve world hunger) and not-so-noble reasons (more gluten for fluffier baked goods). Hence the rise in "gluten intolerance" in today's population. If you read about gluten, whether you are sensitive to it or not, it's bound to do a number on your digestion at some point in most people's lives. Some medical theories find that some people are pre-disposed to food allergies never to show symptoms but a big life stressor can elicit their symptoms later in life. That would certainly fit my story given my accident a few years back.
I don't know enough about my own level of allergy or sensitivity. I don't know if it's permanent or temporary. There are many debates, holistic and traditional on the their permanence. I do know that since healing my digestion and keeping wheat at bay, my skin, hair and nails have become vibrant. I can definitely tell I'm now absorbing nutrients from my food properly. I don't take vitamins and feel great again. While it sucks to be sensitive to wheat--I really hate being one of those people who can't have this or can't have that-- it totally rocks to aware and in control of the unexplainable pain and insomnia I've had for several years.
I can't even look at photos of me in Istanbul or London because I just look like I'm in pain. But photos Mr. Wild Dingo took of me in Greece tell a different story. I'm happy and at peace.
Over time, I'll likely try to learn more about my sensitivity level and experiment with trying to keep a varied enough diet and try to introduce it again in small amounts. But I'm not holding my breath. For now I feel so good, I'm happy to leave it out. I feel strong enough to resume a normal life. I also have a bucket of travel planned for this year.
My crazy energy has returned, so babies, this year is dedicated to "Let's Go Crazy!"
For fun, go check out the lyrics to the song. In usual Prince fashion, they're meaningful, fun and goofy.