In the words of the Germans: Ich fühle mich hundsmiserable.
So last Thursday or Friday I ate something with gluten in it (I think it was actually chocolate), an started a very unfortunate auto-immune reaction. Yay Celiac Sprue Disease. I was sick most of last week but the really fun stuff happened this Friday and Saturday. So Thursday night I went to ned without taking my eyeliner off (it was an older generic brand eyeliner I was trying to use up), and in the morning my eyelids were swollen from an allergic reaction. Woohoo. Then when I was in the shower I got soap in my eyes, on the floor, and smacked my head into the shower wall. Yay! I took a nap and was fine, but I feel kind of cruddy the rest of the day. Later, I helped Kevin (guy from Notre Dame) with brainstorming for an essay, then hung out with friends, during dinner and went to a Biergarten. A few glasses of wine with dinner was enough for me, so when we went to the Biergarten I had a coca-cola. When we came back to the guest house, I had another half glass of wine and a tiny (and totally disgusting) sip of vodka. We all chatted for a while and then went to bed around 2AM. Little did I know that even the minimal amount of alcohol I had consumed would be a terrible idea.
When I have gluten reaction, I tend to have problems with my blood. I’m not entirely sure if this is caused by too much insulin being released for the amount of carbohydrates I am actually taking in from my food, or if I’m just not getting enough nutrition from my food period. Whatever it is, it causes me to be lethargic, have severe mood swings, and have general apathy toward most activities. And on rare occasions like Friday night/Saturday morning, actually causes a more severe reaction. I had trouble falling asleep on Friday, but I think my eyes actually closed for good around 2:45. Then I woke up around 4 feeling kind of crappy and a little hungry. Then I woke up around 5AM super shaking, both hungry and nauseous, very anxious, and had a rapid heartbeat. So I got up, grabbed a chunk of dark chocolate, and laid back down while I ate it. Then about 15 minutes later I was feeling slightly better but still shaky, so I got up and cooked a giant pot of basmati rice. While waiting on my rice to cook, I did some research and found that likely reason for my blood sugar being particularly low was the alcohol I drank earlier in the day. If a person’s blood sugar goes low, the pancreas creates glucagon which signals the liver to make more sugar and raise the body’s blood sugar. While processing alcohol, the liver may not react to the presence of glucagon and the blood sugar will remain low. This would seem to explain why I was feeling so crappy.
After eating a ridiculously early breakfast, I tried to go back to sleep which I failed at until around 9AM. When I finally got up at noon, I was feeling significantly better than at 5AM, but still slightly “bleh.” Even though I kept eating all day, I still felt hungry and like my blood sugar was on the low-ish side. This is caused by the damaged micro-villi in the small intestines. Since the intestines are damaged, they cannot process food and absorbs nutrition from food including carbohydrates (Or significantly less than normal). Eventually (and most fortunately), my friend Maggie dragged me to the grocery store and forced me to eat a full meal of something other than rice. That helped a little, but my mood was still pretty low.
After eating my own gluten-free dinner, I went with a group of friends including Maggie to an Italian restaurant. Of course I couldn’t eat anything so I had a very delicious two glasses of Lambrusco. This made my mood significantly better because of the simple sugars I was absorbing through the membranes in my mouth and stomach (and the alcohol probably had some affect as well).
After dinner we all walked back to the guest house. About a half hour after getting back, I was hit by excruciating cramps the likes of which I have not felt in years. This is another one of the wonderful effects of eating gluten. You get painful cramping when your food tries to be digested in your intestines. So in short: you feel hungry, you eat, you still feel hungry, you are in terrible pain, you feel hungry again, repeat the whole thing. I took three ibuprofen and after three bouts of being curled up weeping in my bed, everything finally felt better. Sort of. At this point I was far too exhausted to do anything or hang out with anyone so I just went to bed.
Lessons of the weekend: 1) don’t eat gluten 2) don’t drink alcohol while having a gluten reaction 3) if drinking cool while having a gluten reaction, eat a small meal before going to bed. You’d think that after working at a diabetic camp, I would realize all of this. But, I think I deserve a pass considering I had never before encountered this scenario. Lessons learned.