Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Change in Plans

As many of you may know I will no longer be going to Vietnam in the fall. While I was in South Africa and since coming home my sensitivity to gluten has gotten much much worse. I wrote a little about it while I was in South Africa. This was a huge decision for me and a very difficult one. I went to see a doctor the day after returning from New Orleans and her diagnosis was basically: you can't eat gluten for one reason or another and you just have to avoid it completely. She ordered lab tests and tested me for celiac again. Although it came back negative she said it was still likely I had it. Celiac is a disease where when gluten is ingested it does damage to the intestines. If it is caught early the damage can be reversed,but if it is diagnosed later in life it is likely it will cause permanent damage. There about hundreds of symptoms of celiac and it is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases in the world. It is guessed that 1 in ever 133 people in the US has it,but only 5% of those are diagnosed. Anyway,I won't go in to details about my reactions but I'll just say not only do I have stomach and abdominal pain but I also experience full body exhaustion and pain. Plainly,it's incredibly uncomfortable when I eat gluten. It's in practically everything and I'm having an insanely hard time avoiding it,even in Portland. So I decided that it would be too difficult for me to completely avoid it in Vietnam and I could not, with a clean conscious, ask my host families to cook gluten free for me.

While it's upsetting that I won't be able to continue my language studies and research in Vietnam, I'm sure Max and I will get a chance to travel in the area in the future. For the time being I've registered for classes at UW again(after much arguing with the school around my credits & financial aid) and I'm attempting to get my body healthy. For a while I did not want to be officially diagnosed with Celiac because that would mean I would have a 'pre-existing condition' and have a harder time buying independent insurance. Nobody should have to worry about that,yet another reason we need Single Payer health care. But I have only gotten more sensitive to food and so I am going to see a gastroenterologist in a few weeks in the hopes they'll be able to help me.

Work at Jobs with Justice has been going great,it feels like I never left. It's only become more evident how much I love this work,and how lucky I am to be doing it at such a young age. Although food has become such and issue because I can't eat anything I don't make,or any processed foods for the most part, life is still good.