Healthy Obsessions

The Adventures of a Mild Obsessive Compulsive

Category Archives: Medical

How Celiac Became the Disease Du Jour

This is my theory. I make no claims of scientific thoroughness, just some logical extrapolations.

Baby boomers.

Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, so we’re talking about an age range of 48 to 66. The baby boomers are getting older and beginning to hit senior citizenship. Understandably, they’re getting most of the focus of the medical industry at the moment. Things don’t work quite as well as they used to, but they still work well enough that care is optimistic instead of palliative, and people in that age range, on average, are already established. They have health insurance.  They probably have more money than, say, a 22 year old would. So that explains the focus on their generation.

Part 2 of the puzzle has to do with what happened when the baby boomers were kids.

At that time, celiac disease was considered a childhood illness that one could grow out of. Sprue was a more common name then (and that’s what my Grandma still calls it). A fair number of baby boomers were diagnosed with celiac disease; makes sense, the disease hadn’t really been diagnosed before the 1940s. Those children were put on gluten free diets.

After you’ve been on a gluten free diet long enough, your body recovers. It regrows the villi in your intestine. You regain the ability to process other foods (like dairy, which is the first to go when your villi start taking damage).

When the baby boomers were kids, that recovery was considered permanent. So, after a long enough time, the kids were told they no longer had celiac disease and could go back to eating gluten. Because the damage from celiac disease tends to accrue over time, the kids didn’t show immediate severe symptoms.

Not all the symptoms of celiac disease are obvious, hence the appropriately titled Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic. Basically any condition that can be caused by either vitamin deficiency or inflammation can be a result of celiac disease. Doesn’t guarantee that it’s a result of celiac disease, just means that there’s a huge number of potential symptoms. This makes it harder to diagnose.

So we have these kids who have been told they’ve outgrown celiac disease who go back to eating gluten. They develop symptoms that are unpleasant, but not life threatening. What’s more, the symptoms aren’t always the obvious intestinal ones. And because the American medical institution believed for a very long time that celiac disease was ONLY a childhood disease, that means these now-adults weren’t diagnosed with it. It likely didn’t even occur to them or their doctors.

Nifty diagram of Secondary Celiac Symptoms from http://allergiesandceliac.blogspot.com

Instead, the doctors diagnosed them with the secondary conditions that were just symptoms, not the source of the problem. Heart burn? We have medication for that. Hormonal irregularities? We can treat that. Frequent respiratory infections? Happens. And we can treat that, too. Infertility? Well, it’s hard to know what causes that.

But the baby boomers are getting older, and this is when the damage from celiac disease takes a huge toll. Arthritis, osteoperosis, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, depression, neuropathy, fatigue… The body doesn’t have the benefits of youth to offset those symptoms. So the baby boomers go in to their doctors and they demand something be done. So it is.

So, yes. Celiac disease is the latest fad. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t real.

Fitbit Redux plus the new Aria

I gave in and ordered a fitbit ultra. At some point, I lost my original fitbit and by the time I found it again, I lost the charger. I kept thinking I’ll find the charger, and what a waste it would be to buy another fitbit when I already have one! And then I thought I could get a charger through ebay, until I realized that would cost me at least half (if not more) the price of a new fitbit.

So. New fitbit! I got the plum one since it was on sale through my gym.

The ultra is pretty nifty; it’s a lot like the original but with a stopwatch and stair mode. But those are not the things that excite me.

As awesome as the fitbit is, and as awesome as all the graphs and stats are (and they are an OCD dream), I have always hated the food logging interface. It was clunky and time consuming. Creating custom foods was a pain. I used to wish that I could somehow combine LoseIt with my fitbit data, and guess what… No idea when this happened, but sometime during my long separation from my fitbit, they did exactly that.

For that matter, the food logging interface on FitBit itself looks a lot better now. Will have to play around with that some.

The fitbit aria

Want

Fitbit has also just launched their new product, the Aria: my new object of health-tech lust. A scale. It looks like a competitor with the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale, which has long been the gold standard of high tech scales. Both obviously measure your weight, but both also measure your body fat vs. muscle percentages. They also each have free iPhone and Android apps, wireless syncing, family settings (so more than one person can use the scale), nutrition recommendations, and exercise plans.

For that matter, both can be linked to your fitbit or LooseIt data, among many other apps & services. Withings seems to have more services set-up already, but that’s not too surprising considering how long they’ve been around.

The only real difference I’ve been able to see, not having used either one, is price. The fitbit aria is $30 cheaper, clocking in at $129.99.

Crazy Tired and Don’t Know Why

There are so many potential causes:

  1. Mom’s radiation is over. Tremendous relief coupled with some amount of emotional collapse.
  2. Went back on sugar over last weekend when we went wine tasting.
  3. Went off SCD (see previous line).
  4. Ran out of Welbutrin (sort of). Did have a few pills left that were not extended release. Problem was, I forgot to take the second dose in the afternoon. Back on full dose as of yesterday.
  5. CPAP has sprung a whistle. The intake is whistling like mad whenever I use the CPAP. It’s bad enough that neither J nor I can sleep through it. I futzed around with my CPAP settings the last two nights (yeah, yeah, I know patients aren’t supposed to hack into the Clinician’s Menu, but I’m nosey). Which helped a little. Lower air pressure, lower whistle. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the setting my doc had me on was probably correct. My AHI was not so good on the lower pressures. And the pressure average, come the morning, was always very close to the max pressure.
  6. Crazy hormone nonsense. Have I mentioned I have crazy hormone nonsense going on all the time? Yeah. I’m increasingly tempted to go back on the pill just to have it all STOP. But that has its own repercussions.

Today, off to the DME to see if they can fix the whistling issue. And then back to work in rush hour. Things are okay. I’m just tired.

Things to Do with a Zeo & Why FAA OSA Rules Suck

Another interesting thing to do with a Zeo: make your partner wear it.

Particularly if your partner, like mine, complains about being tired all the time and thinks you’re the cause because you always want to go to bed late.

Turns out, his sleep when I’m next to him is actually better than when I’m not. Also turns out that me waking up regularly throughout the night doesn’t actually register with him. Instead, we have learned that his sleep is very disturbed and he gets a very tiny amount of deep sleep.

Hopefully this is something easily dealt with. Hopefully it’s not his sleep apnea coming back. He had a surgery before I met him that supposedly dealt with it. Certainly made him feel better. It was not the UPPP nor the MMA, but I can’t recall the name of the procedure at the moment. It did involve restructuring his soft palate and removing the uvula, but it also involved other steps I’m not recalling.

He’s reluctant to go back to the sleep doc, though. If he does, and he’s diagnosed with sleep apnea, he loses his piloting license. There are tests that he can undergo to get a medical exception, but those are exceptions. And expensive.  And, while he isn’t a professional pilot, flying is one of the few things he does just for the joy of it. Losing that outlet would be bad. Read more →

10 Effective Sleep Aids

There are tons of different sleep aids out there. Some work, some are complete snake oil. Expensive snake oil, at that. Lord knows many of us have bought plenty of it. Here are some things that do work. Not all of these items actually help you get to sleep. Some help you wake up at the right time or in the right way, which kinda goes hand in hand with that whole trouble sleeping thing.

  1. Melatonin Sublingual 3mg – 60 – Tablet - Gluten free sublingual melatonin from Douglas Labs. It’s a small, small tab that you place under your tongue about a half hour before bedtime. It will dissolve slowly. This is by far the most effective melatonin I’ve found out of the many that I’ve tried. The only thing more effective than this, for me, is Ambien. For some reason, this brand is only distributed through “healthcare practitioners” and, apparently,  Amazon. If you’re like me, and you have trouble falling asleep at night, it might well be from a lack of sufficient melatonin, and this may well be worth trying. Read more →

Gluten Free is Such a Fad

I’m standing at the checkout at WholePaycheck with my usual basket of gluten free items, and the checker looks at my basket and then smirks and says, “That’s such a fad right now.”

Anyone else ever get this kind of reaction?

On a very personal level, I find it frustrating. Not the fad itself, not precisely. But… Celiac disease is a pain in the butt. Particularly when I was first adapting to the lifestyle, I resented it. No cookies, no kitkats, no pasta, no flour tortillas, no easy shopping anymore. And getting that kind of smirk and snark just made it worse. Like ladling a cup full of condescension sauce over schadenfreude pie. No one likes being the on the receiving end of schadenfreude.

Read more →

23 and Me Sale! (and another health tracking related sale)

OMG. They’re back down to $99 until 11/29. That’s the deal I took advantage of in April. For full genetic testing – health and ancestry. That’s how we learned that both of my parents carry the same marker for celiac disease. And that my mother’s Italian Catholic family can be traced back to Yemeni Jews. And that my father’s family can be traced back to one particular Jewish woman 2000 years ago.

You know how obsessed I am with health and data. This is exciting! I need to ask my Mom if she wants one for my brother, or her brother. Or if Grandma wants one…


Edited to add – The glucose testing meter I bought the other day (impulse buy at the pharmacy) is also on sale at Amazon. For those, like me, who want to obsessively check everything. Or are at risk for diabetes. Or who have diabetes. You get the gist. Bayer Contour USB Blood Glucose Monitoring System. Has a USB interface that allows you to upload data to your computer and track that way. I’ve tried the meter today, haven’t played with the USB interface yet. Amazon has it for $29 + $5.48 shipping. Walgreens has it for $30, in store (sold out online).

I bought mine in store; it’s normally around $80.

Six Gifts for the Recently Diagnosed Celiac in Your Life

Friends and coworkers seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately asking me what they can feed/give a recently diagnosed celiac relative (amazing how many of us there seem to be wandering around). And seeing as the holidays are fast approaching, I decided to write up a  list of several things that can be incredibly helpful gifts for a celiac just starting out on a gluten free diet.

  1. Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic – Did you know that Sweden had an epidemic of celiac disease among children born in the 1980s and 90s? This book tells you how and why it happened. Did you know that celiac patients are at higher risk for Lupus and Diabetes? This book goes over the research. This book was first on the list of resources my celiac doc gave me (and first in this list I’m making) because it gives a superb big picture overview of Celiac Disease.
  2. Gluten Free Living Subscription – I recommend this one because I know how much I want it :) It’s a quarterly magazine covering the gluten free lifestyle, the latest medical developments, recipes, events…
  3. Read more →

How Long Should a Gluten Challenge Be?

celiac diseaseRecently, I talked to someone I’d gone to college with who was trying to figure out how to do a gluten challenge in order to test for celiac disease, after having been gluten free for several months (not that I’d know anything about that). Her doctor had told her to eat gluten for a few days, then tested her, and the tests – so surprisingly – came back as negative.

Then, a few days ago, I talked to my 92 year old grandmother, who was diagnosed with celiac disease 42 years ago, who had a doctor tell her pretty much the same thing. Two weeks of eating gluten, she was fine, no problems, he tested her, told her she didn’t have celiac disease, she’d outgrown it. But then…

Read more →

A Follow Up on the Nasal Turbinates

I had the turbinate reduction towards the end of October. We’re now about mid November, and it’s mostly healed. It’s kind of funny. You don’t think about the issue of scabs going into it. Or at least, I didn’t. I just thought about the inflammation being gone, and actually being able to breathe through my nose. And then I thought about needles being inserted into my nose. But I didn’t think about the scabs.

You do get them. And they’re kinda big, all things considered. The first couple weeks, your nose feels dry. The saline solution nasal spray is a must. I had one I kept at work and another I carried in my bag. Use them freely, should you ever be in this situation. Because if your nose gets too dry, it will hurt. And the injured area will ooze. And it will crust. And that will be unpleasant, too. Do, however, keep kleenex around. You’ll need it about two minutes after using the saline spray, because your nose just starts to drip.

I’ve stopped using the saline. Doesn’t seem necessary any longer. I’m back to using my antihistamine nose spray and my steroidal nose spray. And I don’t know yet how much of a difference the procedure will make. Because of those scabs.

(Do not read further if scabs gross you out, k?)

Read more →