April 17, 2014

Mystery Solved!

I haven't written on my blog in a very long time. I've been missing it lately. A lot, actually. I don't know why, maybe because I do find it therapeutic. Not when I think I have to write every single day, but it's nice knowing I have a space that I can just plop my thoughts into at any given time. I do miss the link-ups and the giveaways and such, but my new job (new as in 10 months ago, new) really has been keeping me so busy. Not so much in the beginning, but definitely now. Perhaps, I can get back into the swing of some type of blog normalcy and make a more regular appearance from here on out. (I know...promises, promises!)

I've been thinking about sharing this story for awhile now, because I think it could be helpful to someone. It was such an eye-opening experience for me and my family. (Family = husband, because I don't think my kids give two rats. haha)

Around Christmas, I began seeing dry patches around my body. On my finger, the inside of my elbow, and my face. The spot on my face was pretty big and it was painful. I treated it like eczema and went on with life. We were experiencing bitterly cold temperatures around this time, so I just chalked it up to winter taking a toll on my very sensitive skin.

While I was in Kansas for the Christmas Holiday, I spent one full day applying moisturizer over and over again, and it helped. The next day I noticed it was pretty dry again. I had make up on that particular day, whereas the day before I didn't wear anything on my face, except moisturizer. We were leaving for Vegas that day, so I wanted to be somewhat presentable for traveling and running last minute errands.

When we arrived in Vegas, the spots were pretty much the same the first day. However, the second day, the spot on my face got worse. I assumed it was from the dry, desert air, so I didn't think too much about it. I just went on with it, again treating it like it was eczema.

The spots continued for weeks, into months. I was noticing that I seemed to get flare ups when I was around the pigs my daughter was showing for FFA. I began to think that the flare ups were caused by the pigs somehow, like I was having an allergic reaction to something, specifically their bedding. In the month of January, she had shows every single weekend. On Friday, my skin would be normal (clear), but by Sunday, it would be red and/or crusty. Just one spot on my face, one spot on my inner elbow of my left arm, and directly under my wedding ring on.

In February, I had a follow up appointment with my dermatologist, for my adult acne. She noticed the crusty spot on my chin and gave me some samples of a steroid cream to try, and also gave me a prescription for it. She, too, thought the reaction had something to do with the pigs and advised that I keep my hair pulled up, gloves on when possible, wash my hands like a freak, and not touch my face. She also said to take Claritin or Zyrtec a few days before each show, during the shows, and a few days after to see if that would help alleviate some of the normal reaction I get from being at the shows all weekend.

 About a week after my appointment with my dermatologist, I began to search the Internet for different things - gluten related. I found articles that explained that gluten was, in fact, in a lot of farm animal feed and can cause symptoms to humans, who are sensitive to gluten. I also began searching for other gluten-related symptoms and begin seeing things I was very familiar with: eczema-like patches, cystic acne, fatigue, etc. A light bulb went off in my head and I knew I had found the culprit. I had a sensitivity to gluten. What I still couldn't grasp was why I just started noticing symptoms, after all of these years. Then I found an article that explained that when you rid your body of gluten for several weeks and then re-introduce it back, you could notice a sensitivity to gluten. It also went on to explain what gluten does to your body, causing a leaky gut, and the side effects of that happening and how to repair it. (yeah...gross, but fascinating to read about)


It all started when my boss' mom came to Oklahoma for a visit. While the guys were doing their thing, she sat on the sofa in front of my desk, and we visited about this that and the other. During our conversation, she proceeded to tell me about a book she had read called Wheat Belly. She discussed how she had been terribly sick and went to visit a holistic doctor that recommended she eliminate all wheat (gluten) from her diet immediately. She did and felt remarkably better and also lost several pounds in the process. Of course, a light bulb went off in my head and I ordered the book the next week from Amazon.

When I received the book, I immediately began reading it from cover to cover. The science behind gluten and the damage it can do to your body is incredible. I immediately decided to cut the gluten from my diet, more so to lose weight, than for health reasons. I went from Thanksgiving until about Christmas with zero gluten in my diet. Right before Christmas, I began introducing it back into my system, because we were going to Vegas and I wanted to enjoy the food!

It was when I started introducing all of the gluten-filled foods back into my diet, that I had these eczema-like skin issues pop up. My cystic acne had come back, but at the time, I hadn't really thought about it being from anything other than I wasn't taking my meds on a regular basis.

I totally self-diagnosed myself with this sensitivity, but ever since I made a conscious effort to not consume any, or very minimal gluten, my dry patches and cystic acne has cleared up. Now, I will say that I haven't been 100% gluten-free. I try 90% of the time, but sometimes I do just deal with the consequences and enjoy the food that I'm craving.

For instance, last night we ordered Pizza Hut for dinner. I know not to consume large amounts of gluten, but I did anyway. I gorged myself in pizza and cinnamon sticks. I woke up this morning and I had a ring of dry skin, all around my mouth. My plan is to back off the gluten consumption for a few days and everything will get back to normal.

I know if I was more disciplined, I could repair my body of this sensitivity, but I'm not disciplined enough right now. I would have to completely give up gluten again, eat certain foods that will help repair the leaky gut, and take a daily probiotic. Although the benefits of all of these things will be good for my body in general, I just don't want to mess with it right now. I am satisfied knowing that I have properly self-diagnosed myself and I do a pretty good job of keeping it all in check. I know what my limits are and I know what happens when I exceed those limits. I don't feel bad, when I consume gluten, but it does take a toll on my skin. Perhaps  in the future I will avoid gluten once and for all, but cutting it out 90% of the time, is still a win for me.

Do any of you have issues with gluten? Please share your stories, symptoms, and cures (if any) you've found.