Gluten-free living is not for everyone but it can be life-changing. In some cases it is the only way to go, In my case it has been an interesting (and somewhat scary) journey:
July 10th, 2009 was an unforgettable day for me: I was leaving in the fantastic city of Rome, life was, overall, good. I was about to graduate on my MA in Communication science in the most prominent university in Europe “La Sapienza”, I was in great shape, working out regularly and paying attention to my general health.
One Scary Afternoon
It was a Friday afternoon, I was sitting in front of my PC, browsing the web, and suddenly the screen went blurry.
I didn’t pay too much attention to it for a few minutes when I suddenly felt like something is wrong, I started feeling a “pins and needles” senseation in my palms.
It moved up my arms towards my shoulders than through the neck and almost immediately, it reached my face, my chin and then to my tongue. It was the one of scariest experiences I ever had.
When I tried talking, the words came out wrong, it was a bizarre sensation, scary as well, but super weird, I was fully conscious and aware of the situation.
It Gets Serious
I alarmed my (at the time) partner, I told her, listen, something is very wrong, “words are not coming out right”!
When she realized it’s not one of my pranks, she was even more scared than I was. She ordered a taxi to the nearest hospital. I was concerned off course but also sure it was “nothing”.
The 10 minutes cab ride seemed endless; even though it was under 10 miles from my apartment, the ER never seemed so far away.
When we reached the ER, I went talking to the receptionist (as I was the better Italian speaker between us). Now, trying to explain you are having some freaky seizure and at the same time, you’re not able to talk right is quite an experience. I wanted to explain I usually speak great Italian, but something is wrong with me: ” cè’ qualcosa che non va bene” di solito il mio Italiano è eccelente”.
The receptionist was alarmed! She immediately called the doctors and this is where I understood something is really wrong.
I was placed in a wheelchair, and shortly after was given a decent amount of antithrombotic. The CT showed that the blood circulation to the brain was not 100% right. My body compensated for it so no permanent damage was spotted in any of the tests.
I remained hospitalized for seven long days in the Roma Policlinico Hospital. I was placed at the Neurological ER to be precise, and it was a challenging experience. As a was 28 YO, sleeping among guys with neurological damages of different kinds. visits were allowed an hour a day, one visitor at the time- crazy!
So What Next?
There was no one conclusive definition regarding the medical episode I had. The parenthesis went away after a few hours, but some severe headache attacks took their place. It wasn’t just a regular headache; It was a kind of headache that ends your day, a “you have to stay away from everything and everyone, shut yourself in a dark room and cover your head with a blanket” kind of headache.
Only later I learned to name it a migraine and I learnt that Migraines may be caused by glute.
I went back to my homeland and had many more medical evaluations. The headache were coming and going on daily basis. I was more tired and weaker than I’ve ever been in my life. The worst thing was that there was no conclusive diagnosis here.
There were a few assumptions about the causes for my situation that went between TIA( Transient Ischemic Attack) to aortic dissection but nothing conclusive.
The bottom line given to me by the experts was “in some cases, we simply don’t know”. I was told to move on with my life but left with uncertainty and no real solution for my frequent headaches.
It’s Not Just a Headache – It’s a Migraine
A couple of months later, I went to get another expert medical opinion from Professor Moshe Gomori at Hadassah Medical Center.
That was the first time the headaches attacks received a name/diagnosis that made sense to me: “Migraine”. Apparently, migraines come in different shapes and forms, and mine was quite aggressive. A migraine can even leave you with long term irreversible neurological damage(that wasn’t the case for me fortunately enough).
All the pieces fell right under the migraine definition – the migraine aura(blurred vision), the super aggressive migraine headache, the migraine parenthesis, it all came together. I “adopted” this diagnosis.
Explaining that I’m suffering from migraines is more surely “comfortable” than explaining I have occasional non explained headaches with some minor stroke symptoms. 🙂
About a year and a half later, I started working in the Online industry as a campaign manager/ Analyst. I loved this job and was actually doing a good job and progressing nicely. But, working long hours in front of the computer screen had its price and I was experiencing migraines every few weeks. I even got hospitalized a few times for the acute headaches caused by the migraines.
My Gluten-Free Love
Fast-forwarding 5 years I met Keren, my future to be wife and mother of my children.
She’s been practicing Paleo diet for almost ten years now. I used to make fun of that when we started dating, after living in Italy for several years, giving up on a good pasta or pizza wasn’t an easy task so I used to make fun on this “strange” paleo diet she was following.
I was well familiar with the Paleo lifestyle since my sister has been following it for years (that also made the two of them connect instantly) so I was very much aware of what is included in following this diet.
Keren suggested that I’ll go to a therapist her brother visited on several different occasions. He was a rather non-conventional therapist applying a treatment that combines acupuncture with a Tuina or tui-na (pronounced twee-nah) massage. I later came to know that it is one of the oldest body treatments.
Gluten and Migraines, Are They Related?
Now, he wasn’t a big Paleo diet fan, he was nearly vegan. He had many different and somewhat unique theories about nutrition, but there was one thing he was confident of: I should try going Gluten-free for several weeks and see how it goes.
Initially, I said, “yeah sure” this isn’t happening… but after another migraine episode that came shortly after the first treatment, I decided to give it a go.
At the time, Keren and I moved in together, so gluten-free living was a (relatively) easy task. Since she’s been gluten-free for several years, I had a good information source about different gluten-free food ingredients.
So I went “all in” 100% gluten-free! It was a big thing and took some getting used to, but after a few weeks I started noticing the difference. Not only the migraines frequency and fortitude wend dramatically down. I also lost some weight, and my stomach felt much less bloated. The overall feeling got much better due to one small change (well.. it’s not a small change, but it was the right one for me)
The Migraines went from a monthly basis suffering to about once a year (or when there’s a significant weather change) so it’s no longer as acute as it was.
A Gluten-Free Fan
I’ve been avoiding Gluten for almost seven years now. It has made an enormous change for me.
I don’t think that Gluten free living is right for everyone, on the contrary! My nutritional point of view is that there isn’t one diet that is good for everyone. The emerging trend of personalized nutrition is the right way to go. In my case, I was fortunate to find my “nutritional road” that significantly improved my life.
I came up with this blog to share my Gluten free living journey, and some general knowledge and recommendations to those who chose to – for medical reasons – Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance avoid Gluten.
Even though I was never diagnosed with neither Celiac Disease nor Gluten Intolerance, but I live as If I was, (with a concise list of small sins)
on GFF will share some general information and some nutritional advice and recipes. Gluten-Free life makes you very creative as you need to apply ingredients that often are not considered elementary in a “regular” kitchen.
Nowadays, gluten free living and maintaining good healthy nutrition is easier than ever, the gluten-free awareness is higher than ever and so are the gluten alternatives.
I’ll be more than happy to elaborate further or answer any questions, don’t be a stranger! contact me!