© 2012 jen

Results From My Colonscopy & Upper GI Endoscopy- Gut Reaction

I got the call from my doctor with the results of my colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy and it turns out that I have Celiac Disease.

These results were determined by a biopsy and blood tests that both came back positive.

It’s such a crazy thing to hear this because I’ve suspected it and yet I’m still surprised.

I feel a combination of relief and sadness: relief to finally have some answers, sadness because my food life will be changing so much in the very near future.

It’s all making so much more sense to me: the brain fogs that I get some days, my general blah feeling that I feel so often,  my inability to lose weight, how some days I just feel weaker than other days, why my hands randomly itch sometimes, why my body reacts so strongly with inflammation at the hint of injury or pain, the lower than normal heart rate, the pre-diabetic diagnosis and why bathroom times have been such an angry situation for some time now, so I try to avoid injuries the most I can now, and when a work injury happened in the past I got help from sites like https://tuleylaw.com/work-injuries/ that offer the best injury legal help for these cases.

It’s clear by the photos taken during the procedure that there has been damage to my small intestines. I have all of these little nodules, along with some other damage, which are signs of chronic inflammation. I’m such a visual person that I need to see things that are described, so I’m attaching a link to someone else’s nodules, so you can get the idea of what’s going on in me. Squeamish folks, don’t click this.

I’m actually really surprised there’s as much going on in terms of damage in my intestines, because I’m not an upset stomach kind of person generally.

I’ve always had a strong stomach. I’m rarely affected by stomach flu. I never throw up. My stomach has almost NEVER gotten in the way of me doing ANYTHING in my life, but my overall health has been affected and I didn’t know it was coming from my stomach.

Me looking pretty healthy with a brand new diagnosis- Celiac Disease.

If I were to self-assess the discomfort level I’ve been experiencing for the last say, 6 months, I’d say on a scale of 1-10 my pain from my stomach has been somewhere between a 2-4, the main reason I decided to go to the doctor was that it wasn’t going away and I was wondering if things were getting worse.

I actually wouldn’t even describe what I was feeling as pain. I felt more just depleted, tired, bloated and I’ll be honest I was having loose or hard stools chronically. It didn’t matter what I ate, everything came out angry and mad either screaming on the way out or refusing to budge, but I still wasn’t in much pain, more like uncomfortable.

More pics of me. I don’t think I’ve said this before, but I don’t “do” my hair or wear make-up when I do these pics, with the exception of occasional lipstick. I want to keep this real and so there’s no prep for these photos.

I know so many people who get stomach pains that either make them double over, or others report always having a weak stomach that is sensitive to spicy foods or drink. I’m not one of those people. I wake up strong, with a can-do attitude, like a tired, foggy-brained, bloated horse and do it all over again.

It’s had me wondering if my discomfort was mild and my body wasn’t reacting violently to this damage that’s been happening, what’s going on in other people’s guts? I know that many of my friends are artists and entrepreneurs without medical benefits so they may not have the means to have this procedure done. I want to share some information that I’ve been reading that everyone should know, but especially people with any stomach discomfort and with or without medical bennies.

I could have gone years without going to the doctor and getting this checked out, but the more I listened to what my body was saying the more I realized that something felt a little off.

I’ve been reading everything I can on celiac disease and gluten intolerance and I have learned a number of interesting things.

About 50 years ago as part of the Green Revolution the wheat we eat was tweaked and changed to a  seed that was really fast growing and that was much hardier than most wheats are and this wheat has waaaaaay higher gluten content than other forms of wheat. The high gluten content is also related to how the bread is produced. The faster bread is kneeded the higher the gluten content. The bread we eat today, that doesn’t have big holes in it so that nothing falls out of the sandwich requires the highest gluten content we’ve ever had in our food supply- ever.

Here’s an article that my friend Jo sent me that does a great job of explaining that the wheat we are eating  in this country is different than the wheat in other parts of the world and different than what we were eating for most of this country’s history.

This article also shares information about how gluten isn’t listed on all of the products it’s really in. Gluten is used as a thickener in TONS of products you wouldn’t suspect, like lip balm, lipstick, ketchup and many other commonplace items which aren’t labeled as having gluten in them. What this means is that for people who might not otherwise have a sensitivity to gluten, because most Americans are consuming extremely high levels of gluten, even if they don’t eat much bread the quantity of gluten in the our diets is creating an overload situation that is bound to make people sick.

So to all of my friends without insurance, who feel stomach pains, some of you with sharp pains, vomiting and other sorts of issues- listen to your body. That pain isn’t happening in a vacuum. The pain is a sign that something isn’t right. Maybe it’s not celiac related, maybe it’s something else. My suggestion would be to see a doctor ideally, but if that’s not possible, do an elimination diet where you cut out various allergens from your diet for two weeks and slowly add them back in so that you can see what your body is reacting to.

I write these words because after all the reading I’ve been doing I’m seeing that chronic inflammation and other damage to any part of the body exposes the body to disease. I cannot remember the exact numbers, but I read somewhere that people who have chronic stomach issues are more prone to stomach and intestine cancers and other really bad diseases that you don’t want to mess with. Ignoring your stomach issues won’t make them go away. It will make them worse.

Here’s the angle I never show of my bloated belly. No amount of exercise will change this, but my new g-free diet will.

Making changes in your diet is the best way to change your internal environment and make it a healthier place to be.

For me, I’ll be meeting with a dietician and learning about the g-free lifestyle.

I’d love to know what you think about all of this. Are you rolling your eyes that I’m another diet sensitive Portlander? Or are alarm bells going off because you too feel the way that I’ve been feeling?

Are you a g-free person already? If so, I’d love to hear about how you get by: favorite foods, great restaurants, other products with gluten that aren’t labeled. Please share.




  1. carye
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm | #

    Hey I just went gluten free this year — and it’s not so bad.. so so so many restaurants and grocery stores are getting on board with this as it’s a nation-wide problem affecting tons of people == I was tired, moody and irritable a lot and an artist friend suggested losing the gluten/wheat. And I’m much more happy, the few times I cheat, I end up sending myself to bed. The thing to worry about is having too much corn and rice — easy to do. I haven’t lost any weight on this new diet — which surprised me since I’m eating way less bread and pastries. but I feel better. I think also have a dairy intolerance though I’m not ready for that one yet. Yes I think one of the biggest things is that our wheat has changed so it’s not healthy for us anymore. I hope your diet change goes smoothly!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm | #

      Thanks for sharing your g-free experience here, Carye. A dairy intolerance too? I’m so sorry. Keep me updated on how you are doing and let’s start sharing tips about different g-free products, restaurants, recipes and so forth.

  2. Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm | #

    Welcome to my world, Jen. :) I have an off-shoot of Celiac called Duhring’s disease. I didn’t have the typical symptoms of a GI disorder, mine exhibits with blisters. No fun.

    You’ll get used the changes and soon it won’t be too terrible, I promise. I have plenty of opinions on GF foods if you ever want to know which brands suck and which are okay.


    • Tina L
      Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm | #

      Hey Jen,

      I found out 2+ years ago that I have gluten sensitivity. I read this book and found it to be very helpful.It is called the G Free Diet.

      One of the places I have found gluten rearing its ugly head is in my shampoo bottle. I kept getting scalp sores and upon further investigation, low and behold there it was on the ingredient list.

      I’m glad you wrote this! It helps bring people together to understand and share ideas about the lifestyle change that has to happen once you figure out what has been making you so sick.

      The change isn’t bad and there are so many more products now then there were even two years ago. You will find that changing your diet is the best thing you have ever done for yourself. So much so that sometimes I even wonder why everybody doesn’t give gluten up.

      Glad to share,

      • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:14 pm | #

        Tina, thanks so much for sharing! I had no idea you were g-free too! I want to start posting more about g-free things and having everyone else sharing too so we can keep each other updated on great products, recipes, etc. I cannot believe how much better I’m feeling after 3 days alone. I can’t wait to keep going!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm | #

      Thanks, you are part of the g-free welcome wagon! Ha ha! I’d love to know more about great brands of g-free foods. Let’s start sharing some online or something. Thanks again! xo

  3. Eva
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm | #

    I’m so glad to hear that you have a definite diagnosis now, Jen. You’re diet will be tricky to work with for a little bit, but I think you’ll get used to it. You’ll also get used to feeling ten times better than you do right now, so good on you!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm | #

      Thanks, Eva! I’m already feeling so much better! And I think my diet will be so much easier her in PDX. I’ve already been out to eat a couple of times with no problems getting the gluten free version. Thanks for keeping up with my posts! xo

  4. Posted September 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm | #

    Hey Jen!
    Great post about what you’ve gone through. I’ve had similar issues, but because of food allergies. Not only did I go gluten free this year, but I went grain free entirely, and it is transforming my health and energy. I post a lot of recipes online if you ever want something tasty and tested for deliciousness. And, I highly urge you to consult with a (sliding scale) Naturopath, because it was life-changing for me!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm | #

      Phoebe, let’s start sharing recipes, restaurants and brands we love! Thanks for sharing what’s going on with you! Yes, I’m interested in seeing a naturopath. Do you have someone to recommend?

      • Phoebe
        Posted October 1, 2012 at 1:26 am | #

        You bet Jen! I’ve been pinning a ton of recipes here: http://pinterest.com/superphoebe/food/

        Unfortunately for me, I wont be going to any restaurants any time soon, and the “brands” I indulge in are, well, none! I’m cooking everything and going full on whole foods only- nothing processed.

        And, yes, I HIGHLY recommend Nature Cure’s clinic which gives a discount to the un/der-insured. The practitioners there have really truly helped me change my life, several times, for the better. http://www.naturecuresclinic.com

  5. Jenni
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm | #

    Ugh, well…looks like I need to make a Doc appt. soon. I am still skeptical though. Me, gluten sensitive? I have been eating gluten all my life! And things aren’t *that* bad. But some things aren’t *that* good. And the similarities with what you list, it is kind of uncanny. So yea, I guess I will make that call.
    I am glad that you have a diagnosis/answer. I am looking forward to hearing/seeing results as you shift your diet.
    I follow a gal on twitter and read her blog: http://glutenfreegirl.com/ She is from Bainbridge Island! Anyway, her recipes and food always look incredible and she certainly doesn’t have a sad or paltry meal because the items lack gluten. Far from it. I’d check her out for deelish recipes (and insight. If you go to her profile/archives, it is really interesting).
    Thanks again for sharing such personal yet important information!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm | #

      Thanks for the link and I’m so glad what I wrote resonated with you enough to look into your health. Take care of yourself, my friend!

  6. Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm | #

    Good luck with all of the changes, Jen! I am one of those chronic-stomach (and inflammation, and other issues) people who has been underinsured and unable to seek alternative treatment for a doctor who won’t look at me like I’m crazy. Then I read, “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes and my whole life has changed. No gluten, limited carbs, increased fat, and losing weight finally and my health issues are disappearing one by one! Change is hard but it makes a huge difference!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm | #

      Yay! I can’t wait for us to get together and talk. I could meet you around 10:30 on Wednesday. Do you want to go to Genies? Looking forward to seeing you!

  7. Posted September 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm | #

    So glad to hear a final answer that means you can get back to taking charge of your life, like you always do. Dietary issues are a real problem, and it makes more sense to me that it comes from how we make our food than the food itself.

    I’m definitely leaning toward the “diverse and moderate” diet philosophy and concerned about “industrial consumption” of anything. I think this one part of our life may force us to move away from industry to smaller scale and diverse business in some areas of our nation (hopefully).

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:19 pm | #

      I’m so glad to have a final answer too! I’m already feeling better! Thanks for supporting me along the way. You are a great friend! xo

  8. Lisa
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm | #

    Yikes, but so glad to hear you’re getting it figured out. I’m not gluten free, but Randy used to like to try to be and we have family members who are (Randy went through the full testing including a colonoscopy and it all came back negative). I’ve got a nice handful of recipes I really like. The Vegetarian Mulligatawny Recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess blog being among my favorites (dairy free too! which is good because my daughter can’t do dairy). The best gluten free noodles I’ve found are the Tinkyada ones (I think Fred Meyer sells them, if not New Seasons or Whole Foods should). Randy likes to take his brother to the Hawthorne Fish House for gluten free fish & chips when he visits. While you maybe another diet sensitive Portlander, at least the large number here in Portland means there’s lots of alternatives. Good luck!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:16 pm | #

      Thanks for sharing Lisa! You know, me having celiac disease is turning out to be a blessing in disguise. I’m feeling so much better than I have in years! I kinda can’t believe it. Thanks for the g-free tips!

  9. Ivy
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm | #

    My eyes aren’t rolling, but tears are pouring down my face as I try to explain to Joel why I am crying. Jen, you are an inspiring pioneer and I am so happy that you are sharing your story. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about diet and trying to stick to a whole foods, plant-based diet. We’re on the road, and dang!-it’s hard to find REAL FOOD sometimes! I love you and am cheering you on with all my heart!!!!!!!

    • Posted September 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm | #

      Ivy, you are the sweetest! I just adore you. Thanks for your kind words! xoxo

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