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Posts Tagged ‘gluten’

rebuilding my life with paleo: gluten free, grain free

In amazing body transformations, inspirational, paleo on July 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm

My health journey has been a long arduous road to regain what little health I still had. In some areas I feel better than I ever have. Other areas still need improvement, which I hope comes with time and my determination to continue working as hard as I can, while pushing my personal limit’s as much as I can without setting myself back. So the history goes like this: In 2008 I found I’d had testicular cancer. I had the affected jewel removed only to find that the cancer had travelled into the lymph nodes which needed radiation treatment. I’d left the lump too long unattended to. I like to call it “stupid idiot syndrome”.  I ended up very sick around new years 2009. I was home sick in bed with what felt like the worst flu/stomach bug I’ve ever had, and I’m sure know what comes with a stomach bug! This is already graphic enough, I don’t think I need to explain. I also had major canker sores in the back of my throat. All the antibiotics in the world were doing nothing for me at home!

By the time I ended up deciding to go to the hospital, my brain wasn’t functioning as it should. Having to be told “you should go to the hospital”, I did, only to pass out in triage. I do remember though trying to answer the skill testing questions when being admitted. I failed. “What is your name“? Troy Villeneuve. [I got that one] “What is your date of birth?” No problem, I got this one too. “What is your age?” Apparently I was off by 3 years too many, and that was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was someone telling me to breath over and over again. Then I remember taking one very deep breath and everything went dark. The thought came to me that this was the last one. My last breath. Three times I had to be intubated. I came to once during the second or third time thinking this guy is choking me. I recall trying to struggle free only to pass out again. I held a grudge against that guy for a long time while in the hospital. I know now he saved my ass! I cannot believe I am still on the surface of the planet! So thankful!!

OK so fast forward a bit cause this is going to be long if I don’t condense as much as possible. There were many diagnoses and treatments throughout my stay in hospital; none of which were very helpful. When they finally got to have a look at me, they found I’d been at home slowly bleeding to death from an intestinal bleed that they could not find. I also presented with complete ulceration of the GI tract from top to bottom, sepsis, multiple organ failure among other things.

Eventually, after being transferred by air ambulance to the second hospital in Toronto, Ontario, where they did all the same testing, they narrowed things down to my colon. But they still could not pinpoint it clearly enough to fix the affected area internally, so the suggested method to fix the problem was to remove the whole colon and give me an ileostomy. I gotta say that I was devastated! Took me a few days of mulling it over in pain. As well as dealing with the whole loss of blood issue and all that comes with that and the past treatments for the ulceration issues and other bunch of associated symptoms. I was treated with heavy doses of antibiotics, steroids and even a round of chemo (steroids) – which seemed to be what kept me going.

I don’t remember exactly why Chemo, but it kicked the shit out of me on top of what I was already dealing with. I was so being fed up with being sick, I said. “OK, let’s get this done”. In retrospect I have to say that it was the right choice because there was no repairing what they did find once they cut into me. My official diagnosis was Radiation Enteritis, but this didn’t seem to fit the presenting symptoms of complete ulceration of the entire GI tract due to where the radiation actually contacted. Only that tissue should have been damaged or affected. Much of the upper ulcerations were gone, which, from what I believe, was due to a TPN diet. Food through IV was letting my body fix some of the damage.

So after that it was to start rebuilding. I was sent back to Sudbury where I was to do rehab.

Learning how to stand and walk and do simple tasks were completely horrifying and hard to do. I remember being asked to stand as long as I could. I managed about 2 minutes before feeling fatigued and shaky. I pushed till just under 3 minutes before I just had to sit go back to my room, where I fell  asleep to try to recover from the stress I‘d just created. After a month of that, I was sent home on May 19th 2009, with a walker, a wheel chair, a cane and bath and toilet rails. Being as stubborn as I am, not wanting to have to use them at all, I refused to use the wheel chair and eventually the walker when I was able to move jumped pretty much to the cane. Balance was a tricky thing for a long time. Putting on pants was interesting, to say the least.

Things progressed slowly at home. I was still feeling horrible and sick as time kept passing. I started thinking “OK boy it’s time to start taking care of yourself”. I started noticing that, after I’d eat, I’d feel horribly unwell and had horrific sinus issues and blocked ears. I started by going to get some allergy testing done. I was also worried that if this happened now and I still don’t feel like I’m healthy then I may not be here very long. I didn’t feel like I was really healing or living well. My results came up: Wheat, Rye, Grass, Birch and Maple. The allergy doctor said, “Just try and stay away from the things you’re allergic to. Try to get someone to cut your grass and stuff.”

Disgruntled, I posted my new found issue to my face book wall saying “What’s next now I’m allergic to wheat?” A friend of mine piped up asking did I have celiac disease too? I said I don’t even know what that is! Then I got mad that the doctor didn’t suggest it was or should be something that we should be looking into. I researched celiac, then I asked for testing to be done. Three blood tests later there was still no diagnosis, so when I went for a follow up scope with my GI doctor in Toronto, I asked them to do the biopsy’s to look for it. They had a peak while checking me out. The doctor said afterwards that he could visually see the damage to my villi. He said “Oh yeah, that’s Celiac”. He took biopsies anyway, and they came back positive. So 3 negative blood tests with complete villous atrophy, was there something wrong with the blood tests?? They gave me some basic “Gluten free guidelines” that tell you what you have to remove from your diet after this diagnosis, and what you should replace things with. (I now know that they were horrible guidelines!!!)

Still not educated in what was good for me to eat nutritionally, I went on my merry way eating up all the gluten free substitute foods I could get my hands on. I’d even travel to find the best tasting stuff. My weight was taking off like the Space Shuttle. I went from 196lbs to 215 in a very short amount of time. I remember thinking that gaining weight at this rate I’m going to explode like the space shuttle too, so I need to stop this or I’m going to end up back at my original weight which was 287 lbs, or worse! My health did improve some, but recovery stalled.

Talking with a friend of mine who had also been diagnosed with Celiac had mentioned it could be more than just Wheat, Barley, Rye and Oats. She suggested removing corn! So I’d continued my research, all the while thinking, Why only some of us in the world’s population? Why only me and not someone else? It just did not make sense to me. I started by removing corn after some additional research, and my recovery sparked up again. Many symptoms improved temporarily but only to stall yet again. I was still not feeling like I was doing well so I continued my search for alternate inflammatory foods to my system. I removed virtually all processed foods, only to include those with rice and other less popular grains like Teff. Which incidentally removes virtually all processed foods, even gluten free stuff. My recovery got kicked into high gear yet again. There was more improvement in symptoms,  which was great, but there was still more information that needed to be found.

This was the point when I’d started thinking, “Okay, what did man eat before we started farming?” I was still not completely convinced I should remove dairy and legumes from my diet,  so I continued to eat cheese and beans. But systematically I started removing things one at a time, with continued improvement as each item was removed. At this point my diet was pretty strict Paleo. Removal of all grains, legumes and dairy seemed to work best for me, with the addition of limiting eggs and nightshades (potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers). Looking back, it seems as though I had multiple issues going on at the same time or that one seemed to help promote the other. Thinking back I’d always had symptoms of Gluten sensitivity since my teen years. IBS, fatigue, gut cramps and pains, joint pain, the list goes on.

This is a breakdown of how I figure it all went down: I always had gluten sensitivity since my teen years. My poor diet led to a shitty immune system and testicular cancer. The radiation treatment damaged gut flora even further. Then, besides the gut flora killing, processed foods made of grains, while damaging the already weakened colon and intestines, lead to the actual autoimmune flare of Celiac disease. So not eating a healthy paleo type diet and repopulating my gut flora properly after radiation treatment, is what I believe led me to full blown celiac disease and my body’s inability to repair damaged cells due to severe nutritional deficiencies and damaging effects of those toxic foods. I hate to even give them the credit of being called food any longer, to me they are now poison! I should add that antibiotic use also affects gut flora in a negative way, and that in the past I’d been on them time and time again without ever repopulating the colony.

I still, to this day, have issues, even after 3 years of being released from the hospital and sorting out as much as possible with my diet and lifestyle. I will continue to tweak and change things as I go to try to feel optimal. I continue to see improvements in how I feel and perform as time passes and I look back to see how far I’ve come in these 3 years of being reborn. I feel lucky for being able to try again and do this right. I feel much stronger mentally now than I ever have. I feel liberated. I feel healthier and stronger than I’d ever thought I would be after my ordeal. And I feel optimistic that I will continue to heal! I now feel like I am not deteriorating and on a path to destruction as I once was so fearful of! All good feelings, I assure you, even though I am still not exactly where I’d like to be with my health, I am happy with where I have gotten. Considering the amount of damage my body had sustained, I have to say I wasn’t sure I’d ever get this far. I’m quite proud of my accomplishments. Oh by the way, I’m not looking for sympathy. I hope this post inspires people to keep pushing for their optimal level of health. It is Sooo Worth It!

Written and shared with permission by Troy Villeneuve
Also see Troy’s blog:http://paleopinions.wordpress.com/

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