Saturday, July 13, 2013

My (New) Gluten Free Life

As I sit here watching the Phillies and drinking my Gluten Free beer, Redbridge, a Gluten-Free Sorghum (rice) beer, made by Anheuser Busch, I can't help but think of how this lifestyle has changed my life. 

On June 14, 2013 I went to my Gastroenterologist for a follow-up to an Endoscopy I had in April.  Although my blood work was negative for Celiac Disease, an autoimmune allergy to Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, a biopsy of my duodenum, the beginning part of the small intestine, showed indication of Celiac.  (For those with Celiac Disease, the small intestine does not digest the gluten which can cause all kinds of problems, especially for those very sensitive to gluten).  The Doc explained that for every person diagnosed with full-blown Celiac Disease, there are 3-4 like me who have some indication of this disease.  The Doc said it's hard to explain because they don't quite understand it, but it could be what I understood as a pre-cursor to, or a mild form of, Celiac Disease.  The Doc said I could come back in a few years and have full-blown Celiac Disease.  The Doc suggested I try a Gluten Free diet for 30 days and see how I feel.  Other than occasional heartburn and regurgitation, for which I take Nexium, I do not feel bad.  The Doc said that sometimes if someone lives with certain conditions they're entire life, they don't know what anything else feels like.  So, I decided to give the Gluten Free thing a try.  Doc said if I was feeling better I could try stopping my Nexium to see if I still have any gastro distress.

I left the Doc's office and immediately headed to the local ACME to see what Gluten Free stuff they had in stock.  I just happened to run into the Vendor who showed me where all the Gluten Free products were.  Quite a large selection of various breads, flours, snacks, candies, oatmeal, etc.  I was a bit shocked by the cost!  I bought a loaf of Gluten Free bread, which was about half the size of a regular loaf of bread with much smaller slices, and it was on sale for $5.49!  I bought some pretzels and other snacks while I was there.  I have been trying more and more stuff as the weeks progress.

Fortunately for me, a coworker is also on a Gluten Free diet, and she has been a big help in locating food items.  One of my first worries was what type of beer or alcohol can I have.  My coworker assured me that wine and any hard liquor is ok as any gluten is burned out during the processing.  She said they make Gluten Free beer, but it doesn't always taste that good.  I have tried several kinds, and I find them not too bad.  So I enjoy wine if I go to dinner and cannot have beer.  I was also very pleased to learn I can have regular potato chips, Doritos, and Cheetos, as they do not contain gluten.

Eating out at restaurants has been a bit of a challenge.  Most restaurants from what I have been told, will accommodate any allergy, including an allergy to gluten.  When ordering, I usually just try to stay away from wheat products the best I can.  One of the foods I seriously miss, however, is pizza.  I bought a Gluten Free frozen pizza today and will be having that for dinner.  I'll see what that brings.

Despite the difficulty with this diet, I have to say I felt better almost immediately.  (I'm not going to give you all the gory details about my gastro system that indicate I'm feeling better, but I have noticed several changes).  I have also lost about 10 pounds, not intentionally.  Since I do feel better, I really don't want to ingest any gluten.  I did try to stop my Nexium, but felt some indigestion so started it back up the next day.  I'll try stopping the Nexium again later.

So my Gluten Free life has begun.  It's an adventure, and I think I'll keep it up.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Moving On

As I sit here this Sunday morning, coming off a week's vacation and heading back to the office tomorrow, I count the number of days left to work:  54 calendar days, 8 full weeks.  I could probably get it down to the hours if I wanted to, but I am trying my hardest not to "wish my life away!"  (My Mother used to always say, "You're going to wish your life away" whenever I'd hope for some day in the future to come).  Confident that I am making the correct decision, I still occasionally get that uneasy feeling in my gut! 

My biggest concern is what I will do with the rest of my life!  I usually respond with, "Anything I want!"  I am still young, relatively speaking, and fortunately, in good physical shape.  I have no plans to just sit around and do nothing.  Although I am "retiring" from State government, I am not "retiring" in the true sense of the word.  Firstly, I do realize I'd go nuts with absolutely nothing to do.  No routine structure in my life would become boring.  I will do absolutely nothing the first month or two, but then, I will need to find something.  Secondly, I do believe I have yet more to offer society, in some form or another.

Last weekend was spent in NYC.  Love it in NYC!  The weekend in the City is pretty quiet, but on Friday and Monday, I got to see the "everyday" life of the people.  I watched construction workers doing their thing, watched the "suits" early Monday morning making their way to work, and from the hotel window I could see the hustle and bustle in the streets below.  And was I watched, the "What's-It-All-About" question kept creeping in my mind.  I know there are lots of answers that are given to that question, but seriously, "What's it all about?"  Day in, and day out, we go about our daily routine, rushing off to do a job, and for what?  For some, work entails performing a service for others.  For others, work involves having a service performed for them while they "create" things.  But in the end, "What's it all about?"  We live, we struggle to get more and keep it, we die!  That's how it's been since the beginning of time.  In olden days, men got more land and power, others tried to take it, men defended what was theirs, and then they died!  People build fancy houses, only to have them destroyed by fire, natural disaster, etc., then rebuild or move to a new place, only to try again to keep what they have built. 

After watching this, I realize I don't just want my next years to just be a "job."  I want to do something that adds to the life of someone else.  I want to make a difference.  Because maybe, just maybe, that's what it's all about: people helping people while we exist! 

Still doesn't really answer that question, "what's it all about," but, as I like to say, "It is what it is!"  We're here for hopefully 70, 80, 90 years.  I want to make the most of my next 30 to 40!