Monday, May 27, 2013

Pasta - You Don't Have to Settle

I love Italian food!  My husband and I both have Italian grandmothers, and so many of our family traditions and dinners involve pasta, pizza, panini, etc.  Oddly enough, I wasn't a huge fan of pasta as a child.  I didn't like my family's old school Italian sauce that was cooked on the stove for hours, and hours, and hours.  My parents said I would grow out of that and like it some day.  I proved them wrong on that count!  I used to eat the homemade pasta my mom and grandmother made with butter, instead of sauce.  It seemed kind of dull and unexciting.  It wasn't until I discovered that I liked Romano cheese that I started liking pasta a bit more.  Then, in my 20s, I worked at a restaurant called the Italian Oven and fell in love with so many different pasta dishes.   I love alfredo, and carbonara, and pasta primavera with vegetables.   My mom also started making a quick cook tomato sauce that I really liked.  My mom and my aunt also make amazing beef ravioli.  Gnocchi, which my husband's grandmother is incredibly skilled at making, is another family favorite.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Phone Calls

I got the "you have celiac disease" phone call  5 years ago, about 2 months after being diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  Two autoimmune diseases in one year didn't even phase me or yield a tear at the time.  I've probably only cried a handful of times about my celiac, and never about my sluggish thyroid.  This might seem a bit odd considering that my favorite cuisine is Italian - pasta, pizza, bread, cannoli, tiramisu, etc.  Maybe something my best friend said helped.  As I was sitting outside my doctor's office in my car, after I described my symptoms, she said, "maybe you have MS."  Thankfully, I did not.  It could have been worse.  Maybe it was because I pretty much diagnosed myself and knew what was coming.  The phone call just confirmed what I already suspected.  Maybe I wasn't too upset because we were just about to leave North Carolina to move to Orlando, and I was leaving the best pizza restaurant in the United States behind.  I would not have to watch my husband and kids eat pizza that tasted just like the pizza we had enjoyed during our trip to Rome years before.  Plus, I was moving closer to Disney, my favorite vacation spot, where the restaurants are allergy friendly.

After living in Mooresville, NC for a year, I began to experience numbness in my feet while standing in church for prolonged periods of time.  I didn't really notice it when I was teaching, because I was always walking around my classroom, so I didn't think much about it.  I also started to notice numbness and pain in my hands all the way up to my elbows, but blamed it on the fact that I was spending too much time typing history notes every day.  I finally went to see a local doctor about the pain in my arms.  During the examination, he noticed that my thyroid seemed to be enlarged.  Two days later, my doctor called and told me that my thyroid was a "slug" and I would have to start taking Synthroid.  One pill every morning.  It seemed pretty easy to me.  No big deal.  My dad is a pediatric endocrinologist, and he wasn't concerned.  Hypothyroidism is not uncommon in his family.  Did I have symptoms?  Maybe I was a little more tired than normal, but my twins were 3 and I had a new job, so I wasn't concerned.  I had been struggling to lose a pound or two, but I chalked it up to lack of exercise, and age as I neared 40. 

Towards the end of the school year, I began to do some research online, and discovered that numbness in your extremities (hands and feet) can be a symptom of nerve damage, caused by prolonged B12 deficiency.  I finally went back to my doctor's office as my symptoms became more unbearable.  The physicians assistant I saw had the same thought that I did, and had me tested for B12 deficiency.  A nurse called me several days later to tell me that my B12 levels were very low, and that I  would have to come in and learn how to give myself B12 shots.  Again, no big deal.  I had been dealing with allergy shots for years.  As I researched the causes of B12 deficiency, I read that it can be caused by celiac, a hereditary disease that my aunt had.  I had to ask to be tested for celiac.  Sadly, no one in my doctor's office even thought to wonder why I would be so B12 deficient.  I am so thankful for the Internet!  

I got my next phone call a couple of days later.  This time, I was told that I had celiac, and I should probably look into a gluten free diet.  Probably!!!  How about definitely!  I ordered Celiac Disease for Dummies from amazon, and I started a gluten free diet a couple of days later, after eating one final Sebastiano's pizza.  

The numbness and tingling in my hands and feet have lessened over the years, but I have probably suffered permanent nerve damage that will never completely heal, and I still have to give myself B12 shots to keep my B12 levels at a place that is healthy.

I shed a few tears as I proofread this post, but I am not  sure why.  I'm so thankful my diagnosis wasn't anything worse.  I have a supportive family.  I eat amazing food every day.  I rarely feel that I'm missing out on anything.  Plus, feeling sorry for myself will get me nowhere.  I do hope, though, that I'm done with phone calls from the doctor for a very long time.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome to Gluten Free in Orlando!

I have been posting for about a year on my Facebook page, Gluten Free in Orlando, and recently decided that it's the perfect time to start a blog.  I have been a teacher for 18 years, and a mom for 8 years to my beautiful twin girls.  On June 1st, I will be starting a new chapter in my life as a stay-at-home mom.  I love to cook and go out to eat at restaurants throughout the Orlando area, including the happiest place on earth, Walt Disney World.

Please join me in this new adventure!