It’s hard being a little bit of a hypochondriac.
Nobody takes you seriously when there’s actually something wrong.
I got my eyes tested when I was 11, and the optometrist said I had 20/20 vision. Perfect eyesight. So a year later, mum didn’t believe me when I told her I needed glasses. But when she was finally convinced to take me to get my eyes tested again (one of my friends’ dads noticed I couldn’t read shit on the signs outside the car and told my mum) lo and behold, I was prescribed my first pair of glasses.
So when I felt sick as a kid and googled my symptoms, and went to mum “mum, I think I am intolerant to gluten”. She just kind of shook her head at me and probably wondered why she didn’t get a normal third daughter, instead of one that always thinks she’s sick, dying or otherwise suffering from some kind of ailment. Maybe it’s a middle child thing. I guess I can’t blame my mum for assuming I was making up illnesses to get some attention in a house where I had two older and two younger siblings.
But, kids, I’m here to tell you why it’s important to listen to your body. Because while you might just be a hypochondriac, you might also be nearly blind, and have coeliacs disease.
See, I guess I just got used to feeling kind of shitty. I didn’t have overly severe symptoms, and by this stage I’m 22 years old, so I guess I just kind of thought that’s how my body felt all the time. It was pretty much an accident that I even got my gluten levels (or whatever it is they measured from my blood) tested. Which happened to come back as a High Positive, greatly indicating coeliacs disease. But without a biopsy of some part of my digestive tract (I should listen better to my doctor when he speaks doctor at me) cannot be 100% diagnosed. And as soon as someone mentions a word ending involving ‘gastro’ and ending in ‘escopy’ I’m like hellll no.
So now, before we (my pal Dr J and I) decide if I’m going to have what I can only assume is an extremely terrifying procedure, I’m on a gluten-free diet. Which is fine by me, because I HATE pasta, pizza, Red Rooster, bread and just about all other popular foods. Oh wait. No. No, I don’t.
Yes, yes, I know it could be worse. As far as diseases go, food intolerances aren’t the worst, especially a non-life-threatening one such as mine. And I am genuinely excited about the prospect of feeling better. Something was always kind of off and I either assumed that’s just how my body was or that I needed to eat more veggies. My mums solution to everything is “eat more veggies” or “drink more water” so I always figured one of those would help. “Man, I feel pretty sick after all those sandwiches. Better eat some more veggies with dinner”.
But now that I’ve looked into it a little more, so many of the things I complained about, that everyone thought were just symptoms of my hypochondria, are explained by this (possible, 90% confirmed by doctor and blood test) diagnosis. Fatigue, tiredness and feeling weak? Anybody who’s met me knows that I’m pretty much always complaining about being tired, for no real reason. Low iron? That’s the symptom that first sparked the investigation into my gluten tolerance or lack thereof. Mood of irritability? That may as well be my middle name.
Thing is, a lot of the symptoms don’t necessarily say “gluten intolerance”. Like, low iron. Heck, most women I know have low iron. It’s one of the joys of having all our viable minerals and such expelled from our uteruses once a month. Bloating? I only have to stick around at the end of a lunch involving carbs or too much liquid to hear all the women in the room complain about being bloated. So to be on the lookout for these symptoms is hard. People are like “Rosie, you’re 22 years old. Surely you would’ve noticed by now if you had any form of gluten intolerance.” To them I say, would you!? I grew up in this body, with it feeling like it always has. I have no frame of reference. How am I to know something’s wrong?
I just want to know why it had to be gluten that I’m intolerant to. Gluten. Man, that fucker is in EVERYTHING. That bad boy is in BBQ sauce, it’s in chocolate, it’s in Coca Cola Chupa Chups. As if missing out on normal bread and pizza bases wasn’t enough, I no longer get to eat Vegemite. Who’d have thought? When I worked in the bakery I never understood the customers that would load up on gluten-free lamingtons. I was like man, lamingtons aren’t even that good, do you really need THAT many packets? No wonder they were cranky when we ran out, one specific brand of lamingtons are about the only sweet thing they can buy from the entire Coles bakery.
So now I’m just waiting for modern medicine and science to catch up. C’mon fam, it’s 2017. We can literally take an organ out of a person and successfully put it in another person, for goodness sake. Surely we can figure out a way for me to eat proper pasta (none of that gluten-free crap) without causing damage to my bowels, tiredness and irritability to my mood.
So yeah, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It could be telling you that you’re slowly destroying the villi in your intestines with every piece of popcorn chicken you toss in your mouth. It’s okay if everyone thinks you’re a hypochondriac. If you think something’s wrong, check it out. And if it isn’t, that’s good! You can laugh about it later. If it is? You can sort it before it comes a bigger issue. I could’ve adapted to this diet a long time ago, before I became obsessed with the mini burritos from Salsa’s and developed a liking for beer.
Let’s hope this gluten-free diet works, since I’m pretty sure my boyfriend is now expecting a brand new, happy, less-irritable, full of energy, hyped up on iron, flat-stomached version of his girlfriend. We’ll see.
Send me gluten-free recommendations and recipes! And please do not eat near me if a) it’s from KFC, or b) you don’t have any salami, cheese or delicious gluten-free substitute to shove in my mouth when I open it to complain.