Sunday, November 13, 2011

Field Trip

The best place to start is the present, so I'll start with yesterday. (hey, it's more recent than say three years ago!) A couple of my new friends from a university club who's goal is to bring local food to campus and I drove out to a farm yesterday. A local Unitarian congregation had connections and invited us to tour a local farm. I knew one of the people I was driving out to the farm. The two others I had only met at club meetings. We piled in my little car and headed south with incorrect written directions and an iphone. After taking the scenic route for about 15 miles, we finally reached our destination. The tour lasted about two hours as the farmer showed us his crop, cows, and chickens. Man, cows have big eyes!

We had a bit of time before dinner was ready so I began speaking with a member of the church who standing next to me in the little kitchen the farmer's used to make granola. I don't remember how our conversation began, but she said something about gluten and my ears perked up. I tested positive for gluten intolerance test this past summer which confirmed my self-diagnosis. I also found out I was casein intolerant, too. Awesome. I immediately gave up gluten and dairy (after one last trip to to the local frozen yogurt stand) and have been gf/cs for about five months now. The first thing I noticed was my face; within weeks my acne had substantially decreased. My stomach felt much more settled after a meal and I rarely felt bloated like I used to. I could exercise sooner after eating as well. That was amazing. Before I had to wait at least 3 hours before I could do any sort of impact exercise or I would cramp up like no other. Now I could be out on the trail in an hour. I miss cheese a ton and frozen yogurt even more, but I feel better than I have in years after eating.

Back to the farm...So the woman I began speaking with told me she was a nutritionist for cancer patients at the hospital. Boy that woman had an opinion about gluten and Celiac's. Apparently the blood test I had for Celiac's a while back is not always accurate. I tested negative for the antibodies but I could still have the gene. We have met our insurance deductible for the year. I will see what I can do when I return home for winter break...

The focus of this post, though, comes from her comment, "I was looking at you. You look so healthy- Your hair, skin, your eyes. I can't see any obvious signs of a deficiency." I just about died when she said that. I did laugh, though. Me, healthy? That's debatable. My hair is shiny, sure, but it is thin. I can fit my entire pony tail in my fist. It goes down to my shoulders. I have have a fatigued look in my eyes, because, honestly, I am hardly ever mentally where I am physically. Nightmares leave me exhausted the following morning even though they hardly ever wake me up.  My hands are pale, purple at the tips, and alway cold. And I just got out of my walking cast for my fourth stress fracture three days before this trip. Maybe I am being a bit overly critical, but the physical signs don't lie; I am not the picture of health. I found sick humor in the dietician's observation. They again, she's not the only professional I have fooled.

Or have I fooled them? The sports psychologist and my family doctor bought the load of shit about training too hard to maintain my weight. Yeah, I just trained so hard for 6 months 12lbs just melted off my already slight frame. Uh huh. I didn't fool one of my coaches, but he could only say so much without crossing personal boundaries, I guess. I lied about my weight, too. To him, my doctors, and other concerned individuals. I mean once you're as small as I was can any adult tell the difference between 90lbs and 82? Oh, probably. Would say anything? Maybe. Would they do anything about it? No. After all, I was running fast, winning races, and getting colleges to recruit me. I was excelling at school and winning awards left and right. Life was good. I was on top of the world, my world at least. I had this game figured out. And this is how I dug myself into the biggest f-ing hole of my life. If only the woman on the farm could read my mind she wouldn't be puzzled as to why I have a bone density so low it is considered osteoporosis for a 70 year old woman. But, alas, she cannot, so she, like the rest of the world, will take pity on me and my situation oblivious to the truth that the sickness is myself.


  1. I would have to agree with what the Sport Psychologist said. Be sure to substitute the gluten from your diet with quinoa or other grains so you have enough carbs going into your training. Weight loss too fast is a danger sign and bad for your metabolism.

  2. Firefly,
    Thanks for the tip! Quinoa is one of my favorite foods! I cook a batch every weekend in the dorm kitchen and keep it in the refrigerator. I also make rice and even millet when I feel up to my roommates teasing me about eating "horse food."