9/3/2019 – The Day I Found Out…

…that I have Celiac disease.

Yep, it’s official. Not only am I highly reactive to gluten, but it’s even worse than that. I have full-blown Celiac disease…

The last three markers in the panel are the autoantibodies. Yep, that’s permanent. Looks like my adoption of a gluten-free diet is permanent. I knew I felt better doing it, I had no idea why it was so instantaneous until then.

Also complicating things? I have all sorts of autoantibodies – the strongest of which are heart, joints and thyroid (having a family history of Graves’ disease I wasn’t surprised by the latter).

Ugh. What a pain. The good news is that we caught it early and can contain the fire. Of course, I have the best support system ever in doing so, and here we go with a much better and healthier, happier me.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Wish me luck.

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Almost Two Weeks Straight Gluten-Free

Wow. Can you believe that? I’ve stayed gluten-free for almost two weeks now! I’ve still not gotten my Cyrex Array 3 back yet but it’s a matter of days now I would think.

Alas, I naturally ate gluten-free all during my vacation (having discovered many delicious options for both eating at home and eating out), including entrees, snacks and even desserts! As much as I was dreading it, I can honestly say the discovery has been a ton of fun! It’s a new way of eating but I don’t necessarily feel deprived.

As far as changes in how I feel? Holy shit! I no longer struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I’m up and revving straight away. I’m much less irritable. My clinical depression has lightened dramatically. I don’t feel like I’m about to crash come mid afternoon. I’ve also lost some weight without even trying. My “skinny” pair of DD’s? I can button them again! I don’t have them with me right now (as I loaned them out to someone else for the time being), but that was huge when I was able to.

Does the work day still suck? Oh yes. I still hate the shit out of my job (which yesterday marked four years in the crane and rigging industry for me). I’ll still leave that toxic industry behind sometime (trust me fellow Aspies/Autists – you do NOT want to work in the crane and rigging industry), but I’m not as edgy as I was before.

Further leading credence to the gluten reactivity theory is a physical exam of my tongue. I had a large, jagged fissure in my tongue prior to cutting gluten out. I always thought nothing of it, but apparently it’s a sign of food reaction (according to a certain Functional Medicine practitioner I know ;-)).

Right now my biggest challenge staying gluten-free is a family that does not practice the lifestyle. I’m having to do my own thing and for now actually hide it from them, because I don’t want them thinking I’m a hypochondriac as they have in times past (such as my own Asperger’s self-discovery and when started having heart problems about 10 years ago, which was later shown to be WPW). Rather, I will wait until I get the test results back to disclose so I have some scientific backing for my lifestyle change.

Anyway, just some random observations. I know with 99.9% confidence now that I am reactive to gluten. What form that takes will be seen soon (I’m hoping Non-Celiac as that’s easier to manage). All I know is I feel loads better following a gluten-free diet.

So that’s where I’m at now. I’m anxiously awaiting the test results, but noting the marked changes in how I feel, for now I’m sticking with being gluten-free.

On Being a Total Fireball

If it is one thing that’s so true of me, I’m a fireball. I have the temper of Satan incarnate. It takes me awhile to get to that point, but when I blow, run for fucking cover. That’s how I’ve always been, and as I now know, how I always will be.

For those curious, here is my True Sidereal Astrology (TSA) birth chart. Pay close attention to my 12th house (about the 9:30 position) to see what’s in there, and also follow the red dotted line to the other symbol it’s paired with:

mynatal

See that? The red male symbol is Mars, follow that along the red dotted line with the square (indicating a “square” aspect – a pi/2 [that’s 90 degrees for you non-mathy types] angle +/- a few) to the green female symbol, representing Venus.

Yep, that’s a total double whammy there. My fireball tendencies? There you have it. Mars in 12th by itself is a dangerous placement, and totally explains why I have the tendency toward intense, and often violent, anger. It can often happen abrputly and without warning, and depending on what else has been going on at that point in time, it can take very little to set me off. When I learned about that placement, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, made sense. How I have never been arrested in my life I have no fucking clue. Truth be told I probably should have been a time or two in my life.

It made even more sense when paired not only with the constellation placement (Aries) but also when squared with Venus. When I do blow up? It’s usually at those who mean the most to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown up at close friends, parents, siblings. It also explains why what few of my romantic relationships I’ve had have been highly volatile and never lasted more than a few months.

If it *IS* one thing I can honestly say it’s I’ve never hit anyone or used a weapon against anyone in a fit of rage, even as violent as it gets. I sure have a lot of destroyed personal possessions and property in my wake though! I’ve punched holes through walls, broken various objects, even ones one wouldn’t think would be breakable. I will also say I’ve used pictures of exes for target practice, but who hasn’t?

Anyway, when you combine the astrological aspects with being on the autism spectrum, you can only imagine it’s led to some pretty epic meltdowns over the years. Yeah, I was dealt a bad hand for sure.

Luckily, all is not lost. It’s not like I’m predestined to become a serial killer or some shit like that. It’s one thing I’ll have to learn how to channel and harness, and one thing I knew for sure before I learned about this is that boredom is not my friend. I had always known that, but all this just confirms it. I need to be entertained and active, even as introverted as I am.

This is another thing that solidifies my decision to move. Abilene only has limited opportunities for me to “get out of my head” and do shit. A bigger city such as San Antonio is much more conducive to that, and though Dallas was a bigger city I still felt isolated and idle. That place was not a good fit for me. San Antonio is a better fit, especially when I’ve got my spiritual guide beside me to keep me on the straight and narrow and help me avoid these pitfalls.

So there’s that. If you’re just a casual acquaintance I woudln’t blame you if you ran for cover. If you’re a closer personal friend I only hope I’ve not left some of your shrapnel in my wake. If I have, I’m sorry. Really. I know I’ve not always been a very pleasant person to deal with. Please know if I ever do rip into you, it’s nothing personal. That doesn’t make it right but damn it’s hard sometimes.

Trust me, I wish I didn’t have this placement. If I could choose any other placement I would. My life would be so much easier, as well as the lives of those around me. Alas, we don’t get to choose our placements so I’m stuck. I guess I’ll just deal as best I can.

Foxtrot Mike Lima.

Continuing the Gluten-Free Discovery

I spent yet another weekend in San Antonio hanging with Laina, sniffing out some other parts of town and visiting tourist locations (downtown, the missions, etc.) and of course food destinations, in which I jump in to gluten-free mode.

The more I get into the whole GF thing (with Laina practically holding my hand through it all), the more I discover so many new favorite flavors. Saturday mid-morning we ventured into the Pearl Brewery area (which is no longer a brewery by the way) for the farmers market, intending just to peruse for the time being but she spotted a stand making gluten-free crepes. Naturally we had to stop, for neither of us have had a crepe in years. We both ordered one to our tastes and they were absolutely delicious and filling. We totally skipped our planned lunch spot as it held us over until dinner. Like wow.

Also at the farmers market there was a winery with a stand (Bending Branch). I decided what the hell and got a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. It was delicious, so much in fact I went back and bought a bottle.

Over the course of the weekend we also visited two sushi places, and while I wasn’t able to order what I am accustomed to, I found other great, flavorful alternatives. Pitfalls to avoid include, but are not limited to, imitation crab, wasabi, soy sauce, eel sauce, none of which you would think have gluten but in fact do. That’s ok, with help I navigated to safe options, axing wasabi and doubling down on ginger instead. Oh, and GF soy sauce is a thing, and I cannot tell any difference between that and regular soy sauce. Why then do they add wheat to soy sauce I haven’t a clue. Oh, and I can still have sake too, which I love and will order with sushi when they have a hot sake option (I don’t care for cold sake, has to be hot for me, for that’s how my great-grandmother drank it and what I developed a taste for).

Sunday morning I munched on some GF crackers with roasted red pepper hummus while we ran some unexplored territory (at least on my account). Oh man that was delicious. We then stopped into a Mediterranean place. I considered a lentil soup appetizer but that was quickly shot down as I asked and it was in fact thickened with flour (dammit!!!), but afterward I was glad I forwent it as the entree was very filling indeed, with lots of very exotic flavors from the sauces used (which were totally safe).

So then the weekend comes to a close and I venture back to my dwelling place, where dad had grilled hamburgers. Not having any GF buns on hand, I grabbed a normal bun and had dinner. First bite of gluten since the Thursday evening prior to my trip. I also had a scotch with my cigar after (which is distilled from barley – and while there is no consensus as to whether or not it is GF, I would assume it at least contains traces of gluten). I had no ill effects at the outset, but I woke up this morning with terrible stomach cramps. OMG I hurt something fierce, and whereas I can’t tell for certain that the gluten was the cause, I can’t think of any other variable that would account for it.

At this point, given my own personal anecdotes and experiences it seems to be that the evidence is stacking up – I would say there is a higher chance that I am reactive than not. Again, I’m not jumping to conclusions and I will have the Array 3 run to verify, but it just seems that way to me. And if it is, I’ve decided I’m ok with that. I’m quickly discovering great new flavors that I love. My palate is morphing the more I consume GF foods, many of which I’m finding I like better than the mundane things I was eating day to day. Like this has gone from “well shit, this fucking sucks” to “oh wow, this is actually fun!”

I’ve learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I can still have many of my existing favorites, some with just a slight modification, and I’m exploring all sorts of uncharted territory and finding great new-to-me flavors. Whereas beer and probably whisk(e)y is a no-go, I can still have wine, hard cider and a variety of liquors I’ve yet to get into. I can still have sushi (while avoiding certain pitfalls) and sake.

I can totally do this. If my suspicions are confirmed, I’m ready to make the switch full time. I’ve proven to myself I can do it, and I will do it if my well being depends on it.

Move and Other Life Updates

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a general life update, so I figured I’d do that here.

The first one, and the most glaring for everyone, is the status on my move to San Antonio. When is it going to happen? Quicker than I thought it might. Currently, I’m looking at a fall move date (after the upcoming Mercury Retrograde passes – I’ll talk more about that later). My boss has given me the blessing to work 100% remotely when the time comes, so long as I can show up in the office “as-needed” (which he will give me enough heads-up to be able to do so). It’s such a relief I won’t have to worry about a job hunt, because in today’s job market that could take months to years.

Laina came up and visited this past weekend, and we had a blast together and with a couple of my local friends. We went bowling, something I love to do but haven’t done in years and it sure as hell showed. We ate some great gluten-free food at a couple of my favorite local eateries. I showed her some highlights of Abilene (what few there are). She drove Phoenix for a little bit, did excellent for someone who hadn’t driven a manual transmission vehicle in 16 years, and I drove her pickup for a bit and realized just how easy it was to drive (oh, and I didn’t lock up the brakes trying to clutch!). I’ll be going back down to San Antonio this weekend for a visit, also, and to do some more scoping. This will be my first road trip with Phoenix, so I’m really hoping her ailing fourth cylinder has been cured this time around!

Concerning the gluten-free thing, I’m coming to realize in the few times I’ve gone gluten-free to make Laina’s life easier when eating out together or having drinks, that there is in fact a life after giving up gluten. Sure, there are so many things I won’t be able to have, but I’m surprised by how many things I will be able to still enjoy if I in fact have to go gluten-free. I wasn’t willing to consider it before, but now I totally am, for I want to stick around and see my vision come true. Once I get settled into my real home, I’ll have the panel run to see if it is in fact the thing. As mentioned previous, it could explain a lot of things ailing both my physical and mental health.

I’m slowly working at getting into music again. I’m playing my guitar and pipes more, and am gradually inching my way back out to performing again. It was a great outlet, and I loved it before that one time I got booed off stage. Singing along to the radio and jamming with a certain special someone and a close local friend has helped me to regain some of my confidence, and while I’m still a long way away from ready to getting back to performing, but my confidence is slowly returning. Very slowly, but returning.

Concerning my next tattoo, I think my next one won’t be a new one, but a re-work of an existing one – my dagger and Saltire flag. That one healed like complete shit. It’s already lost so much definition. Many lines are blown out, the color saturation is spotty and the detail in the dagger is blurred out. I’ve stopped putting sunscreen on that one and am letting the sun do its thing to lighten it up to make it easier to re-work. Hopefully that will come before the end of the year, for I’m out of ideas for a new tattoo at the moment but I still need to go under the needle regularly as that’s an integral part of my overall well-being. That tattoo was the only one my primary artist hasn’t done, and needless to say I’ve learned my lesson not to get tattooed in the back of a camper.

Anyway, probably the biggest transformation in me now? Remember how I mentioned Mercury Retrograde earlier? Recent months has served as sort of a spiritual awakening for me, getting in touch with my higher consciousness and the ways of the universe. It’s an angle I’d never considered before, but after so much of what Laina has shared with me about true Sidereal astrology (not the Tropical bullshit that came out of the Council of Nicea, along with that lying sack of shit called the Bible), and how true it’s rung to me in my own life, I can’t help but think there’s definitely something to it. Of course the Abrahamic/monotheistic religions are obviously total bullshit, but that doesn’t mean spirituality isn’t a thing. I can be quite comfortable being an atheist while adding that dimension, and it’s so very fulfilling. I’m just lucky my sign under both the real and fake systems is the same, for I’d already been permanently marked as a Pisces!

Is there anything else? I can’t think of anything at the moment, but those are my biggest life updates. I’m on my way to being a better version of me. Don’t worry – I’m still the short shorts (warm weather) and leggings (cold weather) clad, tatted, Aspie me I’ve always been and always will be. I’m just putting to rest some demons in my past and coming out of my shell more, embracing my true inner self. This has been a transformative experience for me, and it’s only the beginning. What’s next? Only the universal consciousness knows, but I can’t wait to find out!

Some Brief Reflections on Going Gluten-Free For a Weekend

As the sun set on the biggest day in motorsports, with a stomach full of all gluten-free food and plenty of Ace and Angry Orchard hard cider, I smoked the day’s last cigar and wound down for the day, completely satisfied that I had accomplished my major project for the weekend: going gluten-free for a couple of days.

Of course, it’s not because I had to. I don’t know yet whether or not I am gluten reactive, though I still think there’s a high probability that I am for reasons mentioned prior. Rather, I did it because it was because I wanted to. I wanted to experience the struggle first-hand, as sort of a sympathy/empathy thing for those who have to fight this battle every day. I wanted to learn about what all has gluten and what doesn’t, and just how careful gluten reactive people have to be day to day. I wanted everyone at my viewing party to feel fully accommodated so that nothing was off-limits. And…there might have also been some other ulterior motives for this personal project. 😉

At any rate, I was shocked by two things – not only how much stuff actually is gluten free, but how much stuff is NOT that one would think is. In looking at getting hamburger patties, my jaw hit the floor when I saw that the lesser priced ones actually had soy flour in them! Like what the actual fuck? Why does that shit even need to be in a hamburger patty? Needless to say I quickly rejected those and paid the premium for the “real thing” – the real thing probably tastes better anyway.

So after figuring out what all I could and could not have, it was a huge learning experience to say the least, not only about the logistics, but some about how I personally felt this weekend. For reasons I cannot explain, I did feel like I had more energy this weekend than I had in a long time. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I did eat gluten free this weekend, maybe it was some other factor. I don’t know and I’m not going to make a call one way or another.

Lastly, I also figured out just how flavorful gluten free food can be. I actually found out that I prefer the taste of a gluten free hamburger bun over a plain white bun, especially after toasting it (though I should say I absolutely despise the taste of plain white bread). Gluten free barbecue sauce? I couldn’t tell the difference. Of course, base spices, etc. are also great and dress up just about any food, and everything in the end came out just fine.

I guess at the end of the day, I proved to myself that if I do wind up having to be gluten-free, it is something I can do. There are as many different varietals of hard cider out there as there are beer, of course I already love wine and rum. I could still have sushi, minus wasabi and imitation “crab”and with gluten-free soy sauce (yes, there is such a thing!). Who knows? Maybe even sorghum beer is better than it used to be, and I forget what it’s called by a prominent bagpipe maker who is also a homebrewer has to be gluten-free and brews his own beer with normal barley malt and adds an enzyme that removes the gluten. Maybe I could try my hand at homebrewing and still have my beer and drink it too?

Of course, I can’t go completely gluten free yet. I need to wait until the test because I’ll need to continue consuming gluten at least intermittently to keep the antibodies up to show in the test (assuming I do have such antibodies). Alas, nothing says I can’t experiment with doing so on a part-time basis in the immediate future, and I plan to do just that.

I guess whatever happens, does. So be it.

 

A Sunday for the Record Books

First things first, a big, hearty congratulations to Simon Pagenaud, champion of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. He qualified pole and brought it home in a very exciting fashion. He earned it heartily and I tip my hat to him.

Second, wow, what a Sunday. Laina and her best friend since grade school graced us with their presence for a totally gluten-free cookout and an outdoor viewing of the greatest race on earth. We had fun, a ton of fun, great food (it’s amazing at how great GF food can be!), hard cider. It was a total blast – it’s always fun watching racing with her; virtually is fun but in person is so much more fun.

Anyway, as much fun as that was, I did have one major ulterior motive for bringing her out here, one which she gladly obliged. As an owner of multiple small businesses in the past, I really wanted her here when I had “the talk” with my family so she could offer her perspective on my next major life transition. I had a feeling they’d listen to her better than they would me. Whereas I’d been dropping not-so-subtle hints and references all day, the time came after the race and after dinner to have the talk.

We excused ourselves to my bedroom for some “private conversation” in which we discussed how I should approach the topic (and maybe a few other things). We emerged from my bedroom, sat down side-by-side, holding hands, and I started the comversation.

I can honestly say my parents saw it coming. They could see it in me months ago. They knew what was I was about to say as though I had already said it, but much to my surprise they seem very supportive since 1) I have a plan of action in the works and 2) I’m not going into this blind. They know this is something I *WANT* to do. This time, I won’t be moving because I have to, but because I want to. There’s a totally different vibe to that when one’s heart is actually in it. Cranes aren’t my passion. My passions lie elsewhere.

Of course Laina offered her perspective from having done this herself, to help put out some of the fires that I knew would start during this conversation. This is why I wanted her with me when I had this talk so she could help me put these out, which she was a very effective firefighter through it all.

Being a “corporate slave” (my mom balked at the term but that’s what it feels like to me) is a toxic environment for those of us on the autism spectrum. It just is. If I keep doing what I’m doing now for the next 10+ years I’m going to go insane. That’s just a fact. I’m too “different” and free-spirited to do be just a slave surveillance (insert loud, raucous “throat monster” here) I mean social security number drawing a paycheck for doing mind-numbing tasks day in and day out with people I absolutely despise.

Needless to say I feel better – much better – now that everything is out in the open and I have my family’s blessing in this endeavor. I’m sure they’ll miss me, as well as my Abilene friends when I do take that step to “go home” and start putting my plan into action, but I’m sure they’d rather see me happy, even if someone else, than cooped up in hillbilly hell (which is exactly what Abilene is) doing corporate work for the rest of my life.

All in all, a great day. One of the best in recent memory for me. I can sleep more easily at night now with everything out in the open and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a very real future for me in which I can not only survive, but thrive. It’s a totally different feeling for sure, and a total relief.

Thanks again, Laina. Couldn’t have done it without you. Really. I am in your debt.