Good news, bad attitude

Guess what.

My test results came back!

I had been anticipating them with the same bated-breath anxiety that has preceded every report card or grade posting in my life (like I said, total Ravenclaw). When the email appeared in my oft-refreshed inbox, here’s what I found:

My tTG antibodies, which in January were hovering at some nebulous above-100 level, are down to 4. Single digits, baby! With the “negative” range defined as 1 to 3, that makes me practically normal.

My vitamin levels, which we all know I was having some trouble getting up, are now normal to HIGH, thanks no doubt to the multivitamin I’ve been dutifully taking (increasing my risk of cancer with every milligram, if the New York Times is to be believed). The one exception is the still somewhat low vitamin D, which is hard to believe considering how much sun I get. I mean, look at this healthy glow:

Photo on 6-27-13 at 8.51 PM

My WBC is just barely low and my RDW is just barely high, which according to Google indicates anemia, or maybe AIDS, or, most likely, nothing.

Everything else? Normal, normal, normal. Normal!

This is good news. It means my body is backing off. It means I’m doing this gluten-free thing right. It probably means, as my sister reminded me, that the Arrowhead Mills popcorn was perfectly safe. Phew!

With the active siege nearing an end, I suppose it also means that my little sprue city has begun to recover. Somewhere deep inside me, villi are getting to their feet, stretching out, feasting on now-overabundant nutrients. At peace at last, my body will, I suppose, turn its attention to patching wounds and rebuilding infrastructure and, from there, to business as usual. The battle is won.

But, like any good pessimist, I’m not satisfied. Eating away at the sense of victory is the fact that I still feel about the same.

If you’ll permit me to return to the report card metaphor: It’s a bit like getting an A in a class without feeling that you actually learned anything. There’s a sense that the instructor missed something, that the serviceable papers you wrote and the multiple-choice bubbles you filled in merely concealed the depths of your ignorance. That if the grader were just a bit more perceptive you’d have failed.

Thus, the picking through the results for abnormalities; thus, the restless Googling of unfamiliar abbreviations; thus, the overwhelming urge to diagnose myself with latent adult-onset type 1 diabetes or Sjögren’s Syndrome or acute hypochondria. Like any objective, abstract metric, the test results are unconvincing in the face of my subjective but oh-so-concrete feeling of being unwell.

I’ll see my doctor in a couple weeks to discuss the results, and if the visit is anything like the last one, she’ll tell me not to worry, that this takes time, that a handful of months—however long they’ve seemed, however many blog posts you’ve crammed into them—are brief in the scope of celiac recovery.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know, for those of you with celiac experience: which went first, the symptoms or the antibodies? 

And, for everyone: how do you think I should celebrate?

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11 thoughts on “Good news, bad attitude

  1. Any victory is worth celebrating. It took me years to start to “feel” better after going gluten-free. Multiple trips to the doctor showed I was indeed healing. I think it’s just a patience game. Keep doing what you’re doing and…keeping my fingers crossed…eventually you will feel it.

    To celebrate? I’ll go with Jessica.

  2. SStitches says:

    It took a full two years before I felt good — and I do feel good. Better than ever in my life. I did feel incrementally better after 11-12 months. I can’t speak to the antibodies bit because I was working between two countries. I was diagnosed in the US, but, when I went back to the UK, they didn’t bother to do any follow-up and won’t include it in my record. My medical life is as confusing as the rest of it!

  3. Dad says:

    Far be it from me, as a good Catholic, to discourage alcohol, but let me remind you of a little project you and your sister and your devoted parents have this weekend, and suggest that a pounding head after a night of celebration will not help the project along 🙂

    Mom and I will look forward to celebrating the good news with you on Sunday, and perhaps a little gluten-free beverage might be in order then!

  4. Laurie C says:

    So the donation of nine vials of blood was worth it! At least, sort of, anyway. Maybe? Kind of? I’m glad to hear you’re on the road to normal!

  5. Jess says:

    Hi Molly,
    Congratulations on your awesome test results! It took me almost 2 years to feel healthy. My celiac antibodies normalized somewhere between 3 and 6 months after diagnosis, well before I was totally healed. You are doing a great job! I hope you are having a great summer.

  6. Molly says:

    You’re all wonderful! Thank you for sharing your experience and for the reassurance, congratulations, and celebration tips. Spent the whole weekend moving, per my dad’s wise advice, so I’ll have to delay gratification on that last front. 😉

  7. Yay congrats!! But I hear you about the pessimist thing, cause I’m like that too 🙂 it’s hard if you don’t feel the resuls. But I’m happy you’re at least well on paper, ha. Here’s hoping you feel like you earned your A very soon.

  8. […] advised me on eating out, revealed your doctor horror stories, cheered me on when my results came back, shared your grocery shopping adventures, helped me write a letter to my doctor, and indulged me […]

  9. […] In truth, all that avoiding you has taken a toll on my social life. But mostly, things have been better. I smile wider, I laugh louder, and I can’t recall the last time I pulled a Myrtle. But I can’t say I’ve been quite as happy as I’d hoped. I thought you were the only thing holding me back—now I fear there’s more. […]

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