Going against the grain


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Celiac disease is usually best left to Dr. Rob Sealey(yak) rather than myself as he is tickled pink to have both a disease and a Posturepedic Pillow named in his honor. He is now going for a breakfast cereal, a death star and a fungus.

Celiac disease, which affects about one in approximately 133.638 folks, is all about an adverse reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, which translated means whatever, whatever and beer. Antibodies, triggered by gluten, flatten tiny fingers in the intestines, called villi, which are needed to absorb any nutrients found in Denny’s Sunshine breakfast. Celiac disease comes complete with any intestinal symptom you can think of, as well as some “outside the gut” symptoms including fatigue, arthritis, numbness depression and anemia. What is a mystery is why the incidence of celiac disease is rising sharply and even being diagnosed in people as old as 70 who previously have eaten gluten safely all their lives.

The pleasant part about celiac disease, from a doctor’s perspective, is that we can test for it by means of a blood test or, if we want to be really certain or are in an intrusive mood, we can ram a long tube the size of an anaconda, through your nose, snake it down into your small intestine and tear out a piece. Your choice. 

The other pleasant part is that we don’t have to get out our prescription pad and scribble another illegible prescription which prompts Zbiegniwtzkiskaya, the local pharmacist, to call us to interpret what we wrote, even though we can’t interpret what the hell he’s saying. (It’s a miracle when you actually get the drug meant for you.) This phone intrusion on our precious time could cost us a stroke, as it might take our focus off an important putt. Rather than medication, if you have celiac disease we can simply tell you to “go on a gluten-free diet” and then go play Space Invaders in the back.

“Well Doc, I don’t mind going on a diet. I could do to lose a few pounds.”

Sorry, but a gluten free diet will leave you with a sorry butt. It is a “diet” where you may well gain a few pounds. As a gluten-free glutton, you’ll free your glutes from ever trying to squeeze into those lulu lemons again. 

But what if you are plagued with celiac-like symptoms yet your celiac blood test comes back negative? (Note: in medicine, negative is a positive thing the same way that a positive test is a negative thing. But to be positively certain that your negative test isn’t positive, test your negative test for a possible positive by means of a bowel biopsy, which would negate your negative blood test, leaving you feeling positively negative.) 

What if, despite a negative test, when you go off gluten, you feel so much better? Sort of goes against the grain. Well, you might actually have celiac’s more popular cousin, gluten sensitivity. Affecting about one in 20, folks are lining up to get it like it were the latest iphart. Yes doctor, I would like a test for celiac disease, floating stools and can I get 3000 minutes on my calling plan. Why? Is it a fad, or possibly a medical excuse for that elevator eruption disruption. “My apologies, but it really is my doctor’s fault. He told me I have gluten sensitivity.” 

Gluten (Latin for "glue") is a protein that makes bread and cakes chewy (Rhymes with gluey). It gives elasticity to dough, (like having your cheque bounce?)  

It thickens soups and malts up the Schlitz. In fact, beer is one of the things that is loaded in gluten which means that many men are now tossing the newspaper aside uttering epithets like “quack” not realizing that this is a compliment...to a Wisequack. 

Dr. Dave's book The Doctor is In(sane) is now available for those with a sense of humor and half a sense of health.