>In 2000, I was basically constipated for the entire year and emitted flatulence that made me think that I lived in a sewer, rather than a 428 square foot apartment. (Note: That was the year I got married. One would think that would cause diarrhea, though, and it was officially eliminated as a cause.) I went to see a gastrointestinal specialist in spring 2001, and after undergoing a colonoscopy, which I swear was not that bad despite having a camera shoved up my ass. I honestly enjoyed seeing my innards – how cool is seeing inside yourself? (I know, I am a major freak.) The doctor pronounced all normal and prescribed a diet of more fiber and fiber supplements.
Being a good little patient, I did as requested. It seems that I did more than loosen some shit up. From July 2002 to December 2002, I could not stop shitting. I was constantly stuffed up, and it used every opportunity it could to evacuate my bowels. I used to tell people not to hug me too hard, lest they squeeze some shit out of my ass. (This is a definite disincentive for people who are annoying bear huggers.) The doctor did lots of non-invasive tests. The shit bucket test (which you must read about at"How I learned to stop worrying and love tthe doody bomb parts I and II" if you missed it back in February) indicated that I stopped digesting fat for some reason. But why? Other non-invasive tests came back clean. I did not have any parasites nor did blood tests indicate markers for Celiac sprue or other bowel diseases. I even had a genetic test to search for cystic fibrosis, which in a mild form can cause the digestive tract to get gunked up and thus literally fuck shit up, but that also was negative.
For a while, the doc suspected something with my pancreas since it seemed that the bowels were A-OK. I went through a pancreatic MRI, which actually has a very long and fancy special name that I forgot right now. It showed my pancreas was also normal. Regardless, I took some pancreatic enzyme supplements when I ate, and things were normal for a while. There have been some minor flare-ups and medicine changes over the last few years, but it was never as bad as it had been in 2000 and 2001, until recently.
Yep, the weird complex geared up again after I ate a delicious BBQ seitan sandwich for lunch a few weeks ago. Seitan is a super tasty fake meat made from wheat gluten. (I am not a vegetarian, but I really love the taste and texture of seitan that is prepared well.) Also, I broke out with either itchy assne (ew) or a rash on my legs and ass. These are symptoms of celiac disease. Celiac sprue is a disease in which one’s immune system begins attacking the villi in the gut as an overreaction to an allergy to wheat gluten.
There are two ways to go from here: I can see if I feel better by not eating anything with wheat or gluten in it, or I can have an endoscopy. The GI reminded me that, as with any invasive procedure, things can go awry. I’ll be under anesthesia from which I might not wake up, or the endoscope can poke a hole in an organ, or whatever. While this would be no good, I decided that it was worth the risk. I hope that I can get some sort of definitive answer from the small bowel biopsy that would be done with the samples obtained in the endoscopy procedure. Of course, it is possible that they will find nothing or the results could be inconclusive, which is exactly what they were when I went to another GI in 2002 for a second opinion and he did an endoscopy. That time, though, I was already watching what I ate very carefully, and thus that influenced the condition of my gut. My plan this time is to be sure to eat lots of wheat and gluten products in the two weeks leading up to the procedure, and hopefully there will be plenty of evidence for a diagnosis. (Yes, it will be a smelly two weeks, so if you are visiting me before Sept. 21, bring nose plugs.)
The safer way to figure out what is wrong would probably be to avoid eating any wheat or gluten and see what happens. Two things are stopping me from going down this path, though. One is that I still might not know what exactly is the cause (a risk also with the invasive procedure) and then it would involve long-term experimenting with diet to figure out what I can and can’t eat. The second, but more important reason in my mind, is that I would not be able to eat anything that I like, and for possibly no good reason. Gluten is an ingredient in everything. Look at the ingredients on the label of almost any packaged food. Not only would I not be able to eat bread, pasta, and baked goods, but tons of things that seem innocuous. That is too fucking hard. I’d rather go for the endoscopy.
Am I insane? What would you do?