Category Archives: Whine is Gluten-Free

Insomnia: A Sob Story (with Gluten?)

Yawwwwwwn. If I’ve seen you lately, I’ve probably graced you with one of those. It’s not that I’m bored or being rude. It’s just that sleep . . . hasn’t been happening lately.

I’ve written before about such light, possibly celiac-related topics as bloating and hair loss. After several low-sleep months, I felt it was time to address this new one. I’ve tried writing this post many times already but kept falling asleep in the middle of a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding. Honestly, if I could fall asleep so readily, I’d welcome it (and then complain about it). But, I can’t. So, with all of us alert, let’s talk insomnia.

In the past, I’ve occasionally gone up to a few days having trouble falling asleep. Lately, though, it’s been constant.

Insomnia, among other sleep disorders, is on the laundry list of conditions associated with celiac disease. Jane Anderson has written it up for About.com. That said, like bloating and hair loss, it’s also associated with a million other conditions and sometimes exists on its own. (The NIH can tell you all about it.)

So, where’d mine come from?

Because my insomnia started long after I went gluten-free, I have a feeling, for once, celiac’s not to blame. However, in the past, I did wonder if occasional insomnia meant I’d been glutened. (I’ve never “caught someone in the act” of glutening me, so it’s hard to be sure. Still, certain blech patterns appear.)

Thus, my first thought was: have I been eating something new and contaminated that I didn’t properly check? I don’t think so . . . though I did eat too much gluten-free junk this winter. A dietary spring cleaning is underway, and way needed.

Insomnia cookies

Not gluten-free. Probably for the best.
Photo © Robyn Lee | Flickr

My next thought was to blame a new medication. Insomnia’s not a known side effect, but I wouldn’t put it past my body to react in a unique, idiotic way. It’s slimly possible that the medication was contaminated; though I checked with the manufacturer, I received the standard “We can’t guarantee it” response, since they don’t test their final product. Having stopped taking it, I’m waiting for changes. So far, zilch.

Or maybe it’s stress? It is a possible trigger for roughly 75 percent of bad things. A colleague gave notice and I got promoted right around the time this started. Not bad, except that I feel even more buried than usual underneath a mound of work that never shrinks.

At night, as I try to make myself a willing vessel to oblivion, my mind jumps to multiple unchecked to-do list items. I’m not going to do any of them in the middle of the night, but I do shift position, refluff my pillow, and worry about it. (Mindfulness gurus would say to keep a notebook on my nightstand to jot these things down. Setting this up is something else I never manage to check off my list.)

Sprue Jr says labeling it “insomnia” is the problem: that by expecting it, I perpetuate it. But I disagree. It is . . . what it is. And insomnia by any other name would still suck.

While I’m not sure what is causing my insomnia, I can tell you one thing my insomnia has caused. Sleeplessness, you see, leads to bloglessness. For some time now, I’ve been down to one post a week. And it’s not for lack of ideas or time, I swear. It’s lack of sleep.

insomnia digital clock

Watching the clock is another insomnia no-no. Seriously. Don’t do it.
Photo © Fairy Heart | Flickr

Sleeplessness spawns laziness in more ways than one. It saps your energy, motivation, and attention. Sleep is incredibly (though still largely inexplicably) valuable to humankind’s ability to think, learn, and generally function.

Staying awake too late the night before encourages endless snoozing sessions (a horrible habit, and not actually restful at all, but tell that to my half-conscious brain) and skipped morning workouts. Bummer, because “regular exercise” is another top tip for insomnia prevention.

After feeling tired all day, it’s inescapably appealing to go to bed as early as possible. Plus, standard anti-insomnia advice preaches not to stare at backlit screens at night, so I’ve been trying to power down earlier, even if it means no post the next day—and even if I’m likely enough to simply lie in bed, unable to nod off, for hours, wishing I’d just stayed up to write.

Sluggishness and sleeplessness: two miserable conditions that reinforce one another nightly.

I’ve tried melatonin, chamomile tea, and valerian root, which I must tell you smells like death. None worked.

Still, I’m hopeful this’ll be the last time I complain to you about sleep. It’s spring: time for regeneration, spending time outdoors, being active, and maybe less stress at work. Somehow, I feel this must get better.

But for the time being, at least, my posts will continue to come about once a week, possibly sporadically, and I hope you’ll keep checking in despite that (subscribe, even—make my day!). At heart, this blog is about health; and right now, for me, that means getting back to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Do you struggle with insomnia, or have you ever? Does it seem to be linked to gluten? What works or doesn’t work for you? 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t waste my time! (On “patient autonomy” and health insurance)

If there’s one thing that makes my blood boil, it’s having my time wasted. I only have so much, and I waste enough of it myself that I really can’t afford to lose any to others’ incompetence.

Unfortunately, one of many frustrations that come with a chronic illness is wasted time. Managing celiac disease takes a fairly large toll on your time in the form of food research and preparation—though that’s, arguably, time valuably spent rather than wasted. Far more annoying, really, is dealing with doctors.

I, for example, have an HMO (health maintenance organization) insurance plan. The main difference between that and a PPO (preferred provider organization) plan is having to be referred by a primary care physician (PCP) in order to see a specialist. Even a specialist specializing in the chronic condition I will have for the rest of my life.

Researchers have actually felt the need—and gotten funding—to study the benefits of long-term follow-up care for celiac disease patients. Turns out (surprise!) it’s good for us. (See, e.g., this article in the Canada Journal of Gastroenterology.)

Judging from that, for the rest of my life, or at least the next few years, I should see a celiac disease specialist now and again. So can’t I just have a standing referral?

No.

Instead, before I can see my gastroenterologist to try to find out why I still feel crappy after over a year of being as carefully gluten-free as can be, I have to:

  1. call my PCP’s office
  2. wait on hold
  3. talk with a receptionist who seems determined not to understand what I’m asking for or help me to get it
  4. wait nearly a week for a return phone call
  5. follow up myself
  6. learn they need me to supply the doctor’s ID number (whether they were planning to ever, oh, call me for that information, or why they couldn’t ask me for it the first time I called, I do not know)
  7. tell them the ID number
  8. be advised to see my primary care doctor about whether I need to see the specialist
  9. snap that I have a chronic condition that my doctor already knows about
  10. feel bad for losing my temper
  11. agree to wait several days more for them to put through the referral
  12. and then and only then, finally, make the appointment with the specialist I already saw a year ago, who we all know I need to see.

I understand Oxford wants me to get referrals rather than run around willy-nilly to specialists and expect insurance to pay for it. They don’t trust me to know who to see, and why should they? Most people are idiots, and I haven’t proven to them that I’m not.

But wouldn’t it be nice if I could?

Look, I’ve been SAT tutoring for a while now, and if there’s one thing SAT tutoring will do, it’s turn everyone involved off of standardized tests. But some tests are necessary proving grounds or barriers to entry. No one wants people behind the wheel who haven’t passed a driving test, right?

So what if there were a test for basic medical common sense? Since “the prevailing ethical mantra in medicine” is supposedly patient autonomy (scoff), we could call it the PAT (Patient Autonomy Test). Those who passed could be trusted to refer themselves to specialists.

Insurance companies should be on board with this—after all, if I wind up needing to see a specialist, they lose money by making me see another doctor first to get the go-ahead. With the PAT, we all save money (and time).

Questions might include:

What kind of doctor should you see if you have a lifelong disease primarily affecting your gastrointestinal tract?

a) a gastroenterologist
b) a podiatrist
c) a cardiologist
d) none of the above

In your opinion, specialists and specialized medical tests and procedures are:

a) fun toys to enjoy at a whim
b) resources to turn to under specific, necessary circumstances
c) both

Are you:

a) a child
b) an adult capable of rational thought
c) a complete idiot
d) really struggling with these test questions

A quick reading comprehension portion on a passage describing recommended follow-up care for a specific condition could come next. And then a section on triangles, because—as my SAT students could tell you—that’s stuff we all really need to know.

bubbling an answer on standardized test with pencil

Don’t make any stray marks, now.
Photo © biologycorner | Flickr

What time wasters get your blood pressure up? And do you daydream about patient autonomy, too?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crossfit: There’s a first time for everything, unfortunately.

Have you ever done Crossfit? Sprue Jr. has been wanting to for a while, so I bought her a Groupon to a “box” nearby for Christmas. I knew I’d never try it without a buddy, so I got myself one, too.

Last night, we went for the first time. Today, I have no idea what to say in response to such basic questions as “How’d it go?” or “Did you like it?” To sort it out, I’ve turned to facts.

Body parts that don’t hurt: 0.

That’s an exaggeration; my forehead feels okay.

Percentage of kneecaps covered in bruise: 100.

That’s not an exaggeration. Repeatedly throwing yourself onto a wood floor to do “the one exercise to rule them all” will do that (if you’re doing it wrong).

bruised knees from doing burpees at Crossfit

This will look even prettier tomorrow.

Degrees to which I can raise my arms: 20.

Wait. You want me to do four minutes of pushups?

New exercises I learned: 0.

But I did get forced to do ones that I would never, ever, ever do on my own. And do a lot of them. Really badly.

Number of times the instructor singled me out: a lot.

I was the group’s “problem child.” Whenever I thought I was doing something right, I wasn’t.

Likelihood I’m going back: ?!

It’s important for even those of us with chronic illnesses to do what we can to get or stay fit. And you may recall that last year I was suffering from daily-cardio-induced workout fatigue, so it makes sense to try something new. Besides smacking painfully of gym class, this was certainly new.

The decision shouldn’t be made while too sore to think, so I’ll reserve judgment. For now, I’m working on a response to, “How are you?”

Are you trying any new health or fitness strategies this year? And…how’s that going?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Dear Thief,

We met under simple circumstances: I was hungry, you offered me cookies. In six weeks, that is. Cash upfront.

Photo © C. C. Chapman | Flickr

Photo © C. C. Chapman | Flickr

Our encounter’s conclusion was foregone before I even opened the door, before your mother could turn to you with that “What do you say?” face, before you could cock your pigtailed head and say, “Do you want to buy some cookies?”  You were adorable, your mother frightening. You made a great team.

I hesitated, just for a moment, before your reluctant salesmanship won me over. Thoughts of my own brief stint as a cookie barker flooded me with sympathy: hours spent hitting the pavement, hundreds of knocked-on doors, desperate pleas to strangers and neighbors to support the annual cause without a thought to their waistline. By which, of course, I mean giving up almost immediately and hoping Mom and Dad would agree to take the order forms in to work like everyone else’s parents did.

I smiled, I shrugged, I paid for a box of Do-si-dos.

Like I said, the circumstances were simple. You were a small and enchanting Girl Scout; I was a peckish twenty-something who was assuming no news on her celiac blood panel meant no celiac. In fact, gluten didn’t even enter my thoughts as I considered whether or not to fork over my four bucks. (I’m not sure what did enter my thoughts, because really? Do-si-dos instead of Tagalongs? What was I thinking?)

But here’s the thing, my dear Scout: I know how long I’ve known I have celiac disease. And I know how long before that I knew I might have celiac, and I know that it was before any of that that you sold me that box of cookies and told me you’d deliver it to my door in six weeks. I know precisely how long it’s been. And I won’t embarrass you or risk your mother’s wrath by revealing the figure here, but let me just say, it’s been more than six weeks. And no cookies in sight.

You live in my building somewhere, or so I assume, so one day our paths are sure to cross. Will I ask? Or will I just shake my head and disapprove from afar? Will I blame it on your troop leader, or your mother who coached you so well? Will I chalk it up to the inevitable leaning back girls do from sales careers? Will I forgive?

Look, I know you girls have been through a lot this year, and it’s not as though I can eat the cookies anyway. But it’s the principle of the thing. One fraud does not warrant another. I paid good money for those cookies. Four dollars for one measly box of the worst flavor! The least you could do is give me the satisfaction of staring longingly at the packaging, maybe taking a sad photo for my blog, then passing the cookies off to my roommates.

I must say, this failure to deliver does not bode well for your future job performance. Where’s your follow-through? And, more important, where are my Do-si-dos? Where’s your Scout’s honor? Is that for boys only? The Girl Scouts may have lost me as a customer already, through no fault of your own, but if my lifelong and complete inability to consume your wares hadn’t convinced me, you have. This time next year, I’ll be making my own. And you’ll be scamming somebody new.

Disappointing, little Girl Scout. Disappointing.

Sincerely,
Molly

Tagged , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: