Back at the end of May I wrote about my relentless stomach/GI issues when I run, and my decision to try a gluten free diet.
After that post I continued on the gluten free diet. I educated myself about it and read labels like it was my job. If I wasn't sure about something, I erred on the side of caution and did not eat it. I was crazy careful. My GI symptoms while running did not disappear. They improved somewhat, but were definitely not gone. I was/am still dealing with this on a daily basis and on most of my runs.
My doctor had me see one of his colleagues that is also a family practitioner but has more experience with GI issues, and he did some further testing, including a panel of blood tests that he was confident would tell us "yes Celiac's" or "no Celiac's". The blood tests came back "perfect". The doc said that with the results as good as they were, he was confident I did not have Celiac's and there was no reason for me to be on a gluten free diet. I asked if it was possible the blood tests looked good because I had been off of gluten for six weeks at that time, and he said that he would not expect my results to be as good as they were even after being off of gluten for six weeks if I had Celiac's. He also felt (because of the blood test results) that there was no reason for the endoscopy/biopsy. He thinks I just have a very severe case of exercise/running induced diarrhea.
So off I went on my merry way, relieved to not have Celiac's, to eat peanut butter and jelly on real whole wheat bread and to have a bowl of non-gluten free cereal (with almond milk - I am still avoiding dairy as I know that bugs me), and within a short period of time, I HURT. I felt sick. I felt awful. I didn't care what the tests said or did not say - I knew that eating gluten made me feel really bad. So I went right back to the gluten-free diet.
I did some reading about how inaccurate the testing is for Celiac's, and how gluten sensitivity has similar symptoms and would not produce the test results that Celiac's should. Honestly, I don't know if I have Celiac's or gluten sensitivity, but I am done with testing since it is inaccurate, expensive and not fun. I do know that I feel tons better not eating gluten, so I am not going to.
The new doc prescribed me an IBS medication to try called Bentyl. I do not even like to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen when I have a headache, so I am not a big fan of medication, but I told the doc I would try just about anything if it helped me run without the emergency pit stops.
And then I got the medication and started reading about the possible side effects. Drowsiness. Dizziness. Blurred vision. Inability to sweat and heightened risk of heat stroke. The directions said, "Avoid activities that might cause you to overheat (such as doing strenuous work/exercise in hot weather."
Seriously? Does this sound like something I should even try?
I get six hours of sleep most nights, I am the mom of 12, and I am training hours a day. I don't need any help being drowsy, I need to see straight, and I am not going to avoid strenuous exercise.
So yeah - the medication sits thus far untaken, and I am frustrated.
To recap, (despite hating to be high maintenance with my eating) I am eating gluten and dairy free. I eat small meals throughout the day instead of three bigger meals. I am well-hydrated. I do not eat anything before a run or during a run except for liquid fuel during long runs. I have tried peppermint oil, over the counter meds, and a prescription medication (and was referred another one I do not think I will even try). I know some foods that are likely to make things worse (broccoli, onions, etc.) and I avoid them before key/long workouts. I very rarely eat fatty foods. SHEESH. What else is a runner to do?
I am hoping maybe more time on the gluten-free diet will just lead to continued improvement, even if it is slowly.
For the moment it seems I just have to deal with this as reality at this time and handle it the best I can. I am so used to it during training that even though it is frustrating, I just know all the possible pitstops on all my routes. I do not let this challenge affect my love of running, my goals, or my training. During races though it REALLY frustrates me. Chances are high I won't make it through the half on Saturday without having to dive into a portapotty, but I am trying not to stress about it (since that doesn't help!), and if I have to stop quickly I won't let it get me all stressed out. (Last year I lost a minute and a few seconds for this reason in this race and still won my age group).
Any advice out there? Am I missing anything? Would you try the Bentyl and just hope to not end up drowsy, blurry-eyed and dizzy, collapsing into a pile mid-run because of of heat-stroke?