Sunday, July 26, 2015

He's Dead

My Gray Tree Frog, Edgar, is dead. I opened up his tank to feed him yesterday, and found that he was dead. We have had him for not quite a year. He was a rescue, and we really have no idea how old he was. I feel awful about it. I don't know if it was my fault or if it was just his time. I don't think it was my fault, though that didn't stop me from feeling terribly guilty about it all day yesterday. I fed him regularly, checked his water regularly, cleaned out his tank, made sure he had everything he needed, and took the best care of him that I possibly could. I love frogs, and jumped at the opportunity to rescue him. He had an injured back leg & did not move a lot or spend much time climbing when we first got him. However, his leg healed, and he became pretty active. I put fake plants in his tank for him to climb on & would often find him sitting in the leaves of the plants. He had rocks that he loved to sit on, moss for a soft ground, a bridge that led into the water, and of course, fresh water at all times. He loved sitting on the bridge. I would always out his crickets on the bridge for him, and he would wait until I put the tan lid back on before he jumped to the bridge to catch his food (he preferred to hunt when you weren't watching). When the crickets were all gone, he would jump up onto the bridge & sit there for a while, while he digested his food. At night, when I would go over to turn off his light, he would often be sitting on his bridge, just chilling. Then, after I turned off the light, he would hop into the water. He was a bit emaciated and definitely unhappy when he first came to us. While he was with us, he was a fat & happy frog. It sucks so much that he is gone, but at least I know that for most of the last year of his life, he was happy, well cared for, and loved.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Well, That's an Answer

So, about a month ago, we started a gluten elimination diet. I went into it with no expectations of any of us actually having an issue with gluten. It was basically just that I want to be able to say that we have legitimately tried everything, even the implausible, to find explanations/causes/remedies for the plethora of medical issues in this house. I know that diet can cause medical problems. I know that some physical & psychological issues can be misdiagnosed due to symptoms caused by diet. So, just to be able to say that we tried EVERYTHING, we got rid of gluten.

Now, I will admit that I have had some doubts about the gluten intolerance thing. Not doubts that it is a real thing or that some people have it, but doubts that the number of people who claim they have it really do. Pretty much everyone I have ever met who was gluten "intolerant" seemed to have no improvement off gluten. Their life was not better than when they ate gluten. There was no relief from pain, digestive issues, or anything else people blame gluten for. They often seemed more pessimistic than gluten eating people, as they all seem to complain about how hard their life is without gluten - the foods they can't eat, the amount of work they have to put into food prep, the lack of good gluten-free options when eating out, etc. Almost all of the gluten-free people I have met were like this. They just whine & complain about how they have to be gluten-free, but none of them seem to be better off without the gluten.

These experiences made me question how many of them really are gluten sensitive. If they really can't have gluten, why don't they get any relief from any symptoms despite the fact that they work so hard to make sure everything they eat is gluten-free? I mean, seriously, if you have a gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten should improve the quality of your life. Yes, there may still be other conditions that you have, and gluten-free eating is not always awesome, but if there is no improvement when you stop eating gluten, then.............why do it?

Anyway, I went into this whole thing not expecting any results. Boy was I wrong!

Within the first week off gluten, my fibromyaligia almost disappeared - my back, neck, & shoulders were pain free most of the time ( a huge relief considering how bad the pain sometimes gets). My migraines drastically decreased in severity & frequency. My chronic sinus & nasal congestion, which I have had since early childhood, was almost totally gone. I had more energy. I felt more like myself again. 

For 4 weeks we were mostly gluten-free. I once accidentally ate something that contained a little gluten & had a headache and wrist pain that evening. My husband had gluten a few times, especially in the first week or two, since he was really not happy about the elimination diet.

Last night, after 4 weeks gluten-free, we ordered pizza. I had a headache, had been busy, was working on schoolwork, and simply didn't feel like stopping everything I was doing to go into the kitchen to cook dinner & do dishes. So, I decided we'd order out. I figured that seeing as we had been on the elimination diet for four weeks, it was a good time to try some gluten-containing food and see if there was any kind of a reaction. After all, the improvements may have been coincidental, and the only way to truly attribute them to gluten would be to eat gluten again & see if there was any change.

Within 30 minutes after finishing dinner, my congestion was worse. I started having digestive issues. My back, neck, and shoulders started to hurt, and by 45 minutes after dinner, the pain was almost debilitating. When I told my husband, he was shocked at how quickly the pain had come on & how severe it was. He looked at me and said, "Well, it looks like we have an answer." 

Yeah. We have an answer. Apparently, I cannot eat gluten. I am still in pain today. Though, it is  a little better than yesterday. I am still having digestive issues, and I am still congested. For the last 4 weeks, I have not had to deal with these issues, and my body got used to that. it is not appreciating this very much. 

I am happy, though. I have an answer. After years of dealing with these things, I have a way to really help. I can get rid of my congestion without daily medication. I can prevent the debilitating fibro pain, instead of just trying to treat it when it flares. I can prevent at least some of the migraines. I can actually improve the quality of my life just by avoiding gluten. 

Honestly, a gluten-free diet isn't too bad. I like the gluten-free bread that I made. We found a frozen gluten-free pizza that is actually pretty good (for frozen pizza), and I am sure homemade pizza will be great. I like some of the gluten-free cereals, like Chex (except the Wheat Chex, obviously), and Cream or Rice is a fine substitute for Cream of Wheat & Cocoa Wheats (which I typically eat instead of oatmeal in the winter). I am not a fan of the gluten-free hot dog & hamburger buns we have tried (either store-bought or the ones at the local fast food places), but am cool with eating my hot dogs/sausages/brats/burgers without buns. We found gluten-free noodles we all like. Really, this won't mean a ton of changes for me.

I seem to be the only one in the house that is affected by gluten. They will eat many gluten-free foods, since I am not buying & preparing tons of extra foods just to accommodate my dietary needs. However, they will still get to eat gluten-containing foods. I will just avoid some foods, and for some things I will have to get both regular & gluten-free versions. 

It is a little strange knowing that I will now have to be on a gluten-free diet. I am not looking forward to explaining to family & friends that I cannot eat some of the foods I have always eaten & loved at our cookouts or family get-togethers. However, they will adjust. I will still be there, will still eat, will still bring a delicious dish to pass, I will just be a bit pickier about what I eat. Now that I know how severely gluten affects me, I am willing to make these changes and face the derision of certain unsupportive people in my life to improve the quality of my life & health.