Eric Van De Vens Blog

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The Gloom of Gluten!

Many of you that know me, know that I have had “issues” regarding my diet. I will now tell you the full story.

All through my life, I have had issues, mostly, after eating large, carbohydrate filled meals, with going to the bathroom. Without getting graphic, explosive diarrhea, constipation, having to run to the bathroom immediately after eating, to name a few, were issues that I thought were normal!

In April of 2003, Tealas mother passed away. As sad as that was, things got worse. The apartment that she was living in was filled with all sorts of “nasty” items. Decayed food, fecal matter, etc. I got the dubious honor of cleaning this mess up, which took about a week of non-stop work. Several chemicals had to be used and of course, there were the mold splotches all over the walls.

Immediately after cleaning the apartment, I began to feel sick. I developed a nagging cough, phlegm, and a host of other respiratory problems. Finally, in August of 2003, after coughing up blood, I decided, with a little prodding, that it was time to go to the emergency room. When I arrived, I said the magic phrase, “I am having trouble breathing”, which I was, and I got right in to see the Doctor.

The first thing that was done was to obtain all of my vital signs which were good. The next thing was to get a sample of my blood. When the nurse started to draw my blood, he looked at Teala, she looked at me, I looked at them, and Teala looked at me! I asked what was going on? The nurse informed me that usually, when someones blood is this color, they are being embalmed! My blood was a dark shade of purple. The next thing that was done was an O2 saturation test. Normal readings are in the high 90s. Mine was 78…which is close to death!

I was admitted to the hospital for a week long stay. When I got out, I was on a series of medications including steroids, antibiotics, and several other things. I had pneumonia, a nasty sinus infection, and a lung infection. By September of 2003, I was feeling much better. Or so I thought!

For whatever reason, now, my eating “episodes” had gotten much worse. I was also constantly getting sinus infections or some other respiratory issue. I managed to stay out of the hospital for four years. Unfortunately, I did see quite a few doctors for various issues. Allergy tests, MRIs, CAT scans, and a host of other tests, that in the long run, turned out to be useless and a waste of my time.

Now, in the summer of 2007, I had gained quite a bit of weight, which is not normal for me. I cracked the “magic” 250 pound barrier and at 5 feet, eleven inches, that makes me “morbidly” obese! I had severe bloating after eating and especially after drinking beer, severe diarrhea, cramps, and a host of other issues that in some instances required an emergency trip to the nearest bathroom, or, a change of clothes!

The final episode occurred on the golf course. A group of friends and I would play golf every Friday at one of our favorite courses, Palm Aire. This golf course had a special that ran the summer, the “Bonanza”, which consisted of all the golf you could play and, a buffet lunch that was all you can eat!

On this particular day, the lunch special was tuna salad and the beer special was Coors Light. After three helpings of tuna salad and at least as many beers, it was time to play the second round of the day. Immediately after getting out to the cart, I felt extremely bloated. I looked at my belly and it appeared as though I had suddenly become eight months pregnant! I was having difficulty breathing and by the third hole, began to throw up after every shot, and not due to the result of the shot. After nine holes, I decided it was enough and went home.

I had been reading a bunch of stuff on the internet regarding bloating and that perhaps the cause may be a clogged colon, which I highly doubted, but nevertheless, I continued reading about body and colon cleanses. Most of the stuff was all fake and the reviews were less than supportive.

Right around this time, a good friend of mine suggested that I take the 7-day body cleanse available at GNC as he had just completed it and said he felt great. I decided that, hey, it couldn’t hurt! I purchased the product and then followed the directions. By the second day, I felt like I was 25 again..well, maybe not 25 but at least a lot better than I was feeling. By the end of the 7 days, I felt great. I had no bloating, my stool was regular, and all was well.

It was at this juncture, that my Loving Wife, who happens to be a registered dietitian and has witnessed several of these episodes, suggested that I may have a “gluten” issue. I asked her, “What is that”? She explained to me what it was and then I went and did some research and  with a few exceptions, this seemed to fit.

At her suggestion, I did an experiment. I drank a can of root beer, which is on the list of drinks to avoid if you have a gluten issue. She didn’t tell me this until later! Within ten minutes of consuming the root beer, I was bloated and within a half an hour…I was in the bathroom. Two days later, I was fine. The next experiment, I made some spaghetti. Same results. A week later, I made spaghetti again..only this time, I used gluten-free pasta. No bloating and no trip to the bathroom!

It was at this point that I decided to avoid all foods containing gluten. What I didn’t know is that almost everything contains gluten! After doing a lot of research, I have remained gluten-free, for the most part, for the last three years.

Approximately one year ago, I went to see a doctor who specializes in gluten issues. As I was “clean” there were two options.

  1. Go back to eating items containing gluten for two months and get the test done, or,
  2. Take the DNA test to see if I have the gene that causes Celiac disease.

I chose the second option as I didn’t want to make myself sick just so some doctor could say “your sick”! The result of the DNA test came beck negative. I don’t have the genetic trait so, eat as much gluten as you can, is what I was told. The doctor said “I should be glad as I didn’t have Celiac”. I said to him, Yes, that is great news……..what is wrong with me”? I’d rather know than not know.

I started eating food that contained gluten. At first, everything seemed OK. After a week, the symptoms returned. In three weeks, I gained 18 pounds, was bloated, and all of the other symptoms returned. I was exhausted, had trouble sleeping, and was feeling miserable.

Back to GNC! Did the cleanse and stayed off gluten. Now, that it is after the holidays, I did one more cleanse and have started the Atkins diet and will begin a strict, well for a fifty year old with a bad knee and back, fitness regiment to “regain my youth”.  The end goal is to lose 40 pounds and to participate in the Food and Wine 1/2 marathon at Disney in October 2011. That journey will be posted elsewhere on this blog.

I plan on staying gluten-free for the rest of my life. Regardless of what the doctor has said. He isn’t the one who has to live with this disease, whatever it is. Which brings me to another issue…Doctors! How much pain and aggravation does one have to go through to get a straight answer and a proper diagnosis? I’ll have other posts regarding the two butchers who operated on my knee and elbow as well as the dentist, that so far has cost me $30,000.00 and that tab is still running!

Stay tuned…………………………

Some helpful links for other gluten intolerent individuals:

Gluten Free Drinks

Gluten Free Works

Irritable Bowl Syndrome

Store Bought Gluten-Free products


January 6, 2011 - Posted by | Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] To read about my issues, go here: Gloom of Gluten […]

    Pingback by Running…Day 12 Gluten Strikes!!! « Eric Van De Vens Blog | February 8, 2011 | Reply

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