Thursday, January 1, 2009

Taking the Bull by the Horns

My Grandma was the type of person who paid close attention to what doctors told her. She acted very dutiful and docile to them. And then she would go home and exhaustively research every prescription they gave her and every diagnosis they gave her, and then she would decide for herself which way she was going to treat it.

She was very big into holistic healing, believing that doctors tended to be too focussed on their pharmaceuticals and the symptoms rather than the big pictures. She made her own herbal remedies. She believed in vitamin and mineral supplements. She believed that diet affected us, environment affected us, mental states affected us.

She spent a lot of time pushing articles on Mom and me throughout her life, articles out of several health food and New Agey health type magazines, as well as more mainstream mags like Reader's Digest and whatnot. She didn't nag so much; she'd just cut out the articles, hand them to us, and then leave it up to us from there to read it and do something about it.

Mom told me that after Grandma died and she was going through Grandma's things, she found a whole pile of clippings, and magazines with pages marked, and notes to Mom about how she needed to read these things. So Mom read them, really read them, and she was amazed that Grandma had noted that Mom was stressed, overworked, overtired, possibly depressed, and that all of these articles were tips about how to address those issues, how to make her healthier.

My point here is, I guess, that having lived with my Grandma most of my life, I have this habit of researching. I don't just take doctors at their word. I have to know more. I have to know everything. And luckily I have the Internet, where Grandma used to have only the library and her magazine subscriptions, so it's so much easier for me.

Also having been raised by my Grandma's health consciousness, there's a very ingrained part of me that believes every health condition is an effect; there is a cause, you just have to find it. So it doesn't sit well with me when a doctor tells me, "No one knows why it happens. It just does sometimes." Just because there's no emphatically proven cause doesn't mean there isn't one; it just means it's not important enough or lucrative enough to research.

So I felt guilty about Kiki's alopecia. I cried all day. I felt like I had done something wrong to cause it, or that I hadn't done enough to stop it. I felt sorry for both of us.

And then Grandma's genes kicked in, and I went Internet surfing, and I found a link between alopecia arreata and celiac disease. And then I found a link between celiac disease and Ds. And then I read the symptoms for celiac disease, and this little bell went "Ping!" inside my head.

Now maybe I'm grasping desperately at straws. Maybe. All I know is that now that I'm taking some kind of action, I feel empowered. I feel like if I can put up some kind of battle, then even if she does lose her hair, I will know I did everything I could.

So as of dinner last night, she's on a gluten-free diet. It turns out there are a couple of health food stores in town, and one of them has a huge selection of gluten-free products. I will be checking them out tomorrow.

Being gluten-free is certainly not going to hurt her, and there's such a huge chance that it could actually improve her health, decrease her chances of developing autoimmune thyroid disease, and maybe even get her hair to grow back -- you know, we have to try it.

I feel so positively charged up right now, I don't even know how to express it. Thanks, Grandma. I love you and miss you so much.


Stephanie January 6, 2009 at 2:09 PM  

Get her pedi to order the blood test for Celiac.

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