05 December 2011

wheat trouble

I'm sitting here, drinking a cup of Kenya/Ethiopia coffee (I didn't have enough of the Gichathaini for a full cup, so I supplemented it with some old Yirgacheffe I had lying around), marveling at how good I feel. I woke up rested, calm, & happy. I have energy, & I have the inspiration to get up & do the things that I want to do (like, say, write). I feel very, very good.

This is in contrast to just a few days ago. I was downright giddy. All the time. I smiled at strangers, my days were a frenzy of activity & good will, & I was remarkably uninhibited. It felt like I was a little bit drunk, all of the time. It startled me, frankly. It felt good, but it was unnerving. I kept stating it: "Hi! I feel giddy. How are you?"

Fortunately, I wasn't actually drunk, & I decided to use this hiccup of good feeling wisely. I used this newfound energy not in making things (I have a few art projects in various stages of completion & a book to write), but in setting up the proper conditions to create better, later on. I didn't believe that this uplift in spirits & productivity was going to last, so I figured I'd better prepare. And I was right — it didn't last. But this is a good thing. One can't be drunk all the time.

Well. One can. But it's not recommended.

"So what changed? Why the giddiness?" Well, thanks for asking. Before The Giddiness, I stopped eating wheat. My family is Irish, if that wasn't patently obvious. People of Northern European descent are more apt than others to develop something called celiac disease (they aren't born with it — my mom developed it in her fifties). The short version of celiac disease is, when I eat wheat, an enzyme in my person modifies some proteins in said wheat, & my immune system is all just like "WHAT, NO." My immune system then goes about fighting those proteins as though they were foreign bodies, like it would fight a virus. The crux is in the modification. People without celiac disease don't modify that protein, & they go about their doughnut-eatin' ways. (Poor saps.) People with celiac disease, in contrast, feel like all of their systems are just a little bit depressed. This is because they are. Their immune system is taking up much of the body's energy to fight this "virus". They experience fatigue, stomach upset, & lowered mood — everything from crankiness to mild depression. To keep with the booze analogy, I felt like I had a teensy, tiny hangover. All of the time. But since it got progressively worse over time, I didn't notice. I kept re-setting what "normal" meant. But there came a point when "normal" felt so ... abnormal, that I decided to do an experiment.

The experiment is still in the works. I'm simply & only cutting wheat out of my diet for a while, to see what happens. The Giddiness happened, but it's ebbing, & now I feel merely very good. Also of note: The emergence of The Giddiness doesn't necessarily mean that I have developed celiac disease. It means that I might. It's possible I can stave it off, if I cut wheat out now. Conveniently, the treatment is the same: Don't eat wheat. The difference is in the degree of terrible I will feel if I do eat wheat. If I stave off the disease but then at some point eat wheat unknowingly, I will feel down & gross & cranky for a small time. If I keep eating wheat until I develop celiac disease, then at some point eat wheat unknowingly, I will feel terrible. Maybe for days. So, y'know ... I should just stop eating wheat now.

"A stitch, in time, saves nine." Or so the kids say. But man — I'm gonna miss you, doughnuts.

No comments: