Thursday, September 12, 2013

Going with the Flow: Liquid Diet

Imagine a juggler with three batons poised perfectly in the air above his head. Now, add a little fire on the heads of all three. And, of course, a hungry tiger to avoided while keeping those lit matchsticks flying high in the sky. This is basically what I feel like after two weeks into college as a gluten free celiac.

Now, I already posted some about my life in college. The cafeteria, with its imperfect but pretty dang tasty food compared to the packaged cardboard sold at common health stores. The social scene, where I'm continually playing the "look-don't-touch" card and munching down on my own gluten free munchies during midnight burrito runs and fro yo adventures. The fact is, since this last week, the cafeteria and restaurant food is the least of my problems.

My stomach and I have what I'd call a hate-hate relationship. It doesn't like what I put in it - gluten free, paleo, healthy, or not - and I don't like the aching pain and burning volcanoes of acid that erupt minutes after I chow down. Well, the symptoms that started out as slow healing and an annoying dust bunny under the bed has mutated into an army that's stomping all over my college experience.

My college experience isn't like movie night...
Because, right now, I'm "that girl." The 87 lb girl other people touch and say, "Hon, you gotta eat some protein" at the same time as they complain about their "fat" stomach. The girl who has to explain to every person that offers food that she can't eat while saying, "But I'm not anorexic, I promise!" The girl who pants so loudly after climbing stairs and walking to class that soccer practice seems like a made-up memory.

And then, one week ago, the day before my 18th birthday, came the emails, beeps and dings accenting the dread building inside my stomach as I started to read. Healed villi. Good. Continual inflammation in the stomach. Bad. Very bad. A liquid diet for three months on the doctor's orders. If I failed that? Two choices: a nose drip, or a hospital stay. Not mutually exclusive.

I stared at the screen and started to cry. 'Cause you know, it's hard enough being gluten-free in college. It's hard enough wiggling around the cafeteria crowd to explore my three pans of gluten free food sides and live near the salad bar while my friends devour specialty pizzas and mexican burritos without a second thought. It was my eighteenth birthday, dang it! I was supposed to be throwing caution to the wind, making bad decisions, and celebrating my newfound freedom. Instead, I was stuck planning to live off of advanced baby formula. Talk about a bad birthday present.

Happy Birthday to Me!
A week into my new temporary lifestyle, though, and I have something to say: I'm alive. I'm struggling, I stare at my friends' "normal" lives with puppy-dog eyes and drool, but I still have one. The liquid diet hasn't been easy - in fact, it's kinda sucked. When I first saw the cans my protein drinks are packaged in, I laughed and joked, "So I'm a dog now?" From the can size to the shiny labels pasted on the side, it fits canned dog and cat food to a T. After two days of extreme nausea and stomach pain, I've switched over to juice packs and protein mixes meant for kids 14 and younger. At least I'm on the human side!

Sometimes, when I'm feeling down and frustrated, I ask why. Why was I chosen to have celiac? Why are my intestines not healing compared to the norm? Why me? Why now?

As my stomach sloshes full of sugary drinks and anti-nausea medicine, though, I've found an answer. Because I can handle it. Because it has solidified the bonds between my dorm buds and I as they support me even without entirely understanding my screwed-up stomach. Because now I literally drool over gluten free foods, cousins of cardboard or not.

My "last meal" - Chick Fil' A, I miss you! 

Right now, I'm juggling a lot. By November or earlier when I'm hopefully healed, though, balancing a regular college life of social and academics will be a breeze. That fire-juggling, tiger-evading clown's got nothing on me.


Have you ever heard of a celiac going on a liquid diet? What were your struggles to heal? Comment below!


9 comments:

  1. Hey Casey, just wondered how you're getting on with the diet (and school), now that it's been a week since you posted this. I hope you're feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Molly! Thanks for the concern. I'm actually planning on writing a new blog post in the next couple of days. Unfortunately, my liquid diet isn't doing enough to heal me so I'm headed to the hospital right after classes today. Hopefully I'm only going to stay there for three days, but it's kinda up in the air right now. Depends on how this finicky stomach decides to behave.

      Hope your week is going better than mine and I will definitely keep everyone updated!

      Delete
    2. Praying for you honey. Hope the docs are able to fix whatever is going on ):

      Delete
    3. Good luck, Casey! I'm sorry to hear you're still having such a tough time. I hope they figure stuff out so you can get well soon.

      Delete
    4. Than you guys for all the well wishes - it definitely brightens up an awful day! Hopefully I will be giving some good news soon! :)

      Delete
  2. Hey Casey,
    I just had to comment because reading this blog entry was like reading my own diary. I was shocked because you are so similar to me. I have Celiac disease and have been on a gluten free diet for over 3 years. I never got rid of my symptoms and they progressively got worse.I dropped 50 pounds in less than a year and was down to 82 pounds. I was hospitalized in Rochester MN at mayo and had to have a drip feed for a week. I too have been prescribed a liquid diet. I was diagnosed with something called collagenous colitis which has been found to be related to celiac disease. I'm on meds for it but still have symptoms.
    I just HAD to comment because I feel for you. I know how it feels when people stare at you and think your anorexic. It is so embarrassing when they look at you that way when you wish you COULD be bigger, but can't gain weight, and on top of that feeling sick.
    I hope you find some answers soon. I'm posting this anonymously because I don't have an account to pick from but my name is Andrea. Hang in there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your comment and it is AWESOME to know that I am not alone!!! I'm seriously in the hospital right now crying my eyes out because of the stress and nerves about the feeding tube, etc and your comment totally brightened my day!! :D

      Delete
  3. Sorry if this comes through twice, I didn't see my first posting. HI Casey, prayers to you and your family. Michelle in Ohio.

    ReplyDelete
  4. As horrible as it sounds, I found some comfort in reading someone else journey of the "unhealed villi".. I started getting sick at age 9 and went undiagnosed up until 2 1/2 years ago.. I too have a finicky stomach no matter what I eat, I have the same reactions as to gluten / dairy / soy.. Frustrating to say the least and unfortunately, no Doctors to even recommend a different diet.. I keep removing items from my diet hoping it's just another food allergy/sensitivity. I'm 32 - 5'6" and 105lbs, can't gain weight if my life depended on it, lost 70% of my hair - which I think as been the hardest.. I just want to curl my hair, pull it up and style it or go to the salon.. It's been 7 years since I have been able to do those things and so far no turn around..
    On the upside I finally am putting some muscle back on, but back to being severely fatigued and needing sleep all the time.. I'm happy to hear your doctors are leading you in the right direction and I believe you will start to feel better in no time - once your body receives all the wonderful nutrition you will be getting.. Hang in there, it will get better.. As for myself, I have several follow up visits, praying and believing the doctors will have the answers I need. ~K from PA~

    ReplyDelete