Adverse Effects of the Rare and Unusual Kind

confused-smileyIt was the burping.

There are a lot of side effects that you hear about with medication. Headache, nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, mood changes. Death. (I still can’t figure out how that’s a side effect.)

But for me, it was the burping.

Actually, it wasn’t just the burping. It was the gastrointestinal distress that really set it off for me last August. It came, quite suddenly, and it was miserable. And I couldn’t figure out what the hell was causing it. I hadn’t started anything new. I wasn’t eating anything new. Was it just “one of those things”? Had I suddenly developed a food intolerance? I had no idea.

So I did what anyone with a confusing stomach problem and an autoimmune disease would do: I gave up gluten. For three whole months. I only ate it a couple of times, to see “test” it out and it seemed to confirm that I was now intolerant if not completely allergic to gluten. Celiac panel was negative, but lab results can lie. Right?

Even with no gluten, I still had symptoms. But there was a new one.

Burping. I don’t know why, but my body decided to react to whatever it was I was doing with burping. All the time. Like, every five minutes. Another little burp. I would wake up in the middle of the night with stomach pains, get up to go to the bathroom, only to reason I needed to let out a belch. It was Horrible.

I googled the shit (sorry, bad pun) out of burping to see what it meant, and it really led me to absolutely nothing useful. But I kept up with the gluten-free diet, because it was the only thing I had to go on. My symptoms were less than they were before I was gluten-free, and no other nutrient had consistently bad effects.

I had almost come to accept that I was now one of the many people who had to live a gluten free life. And for the most part I was pretty okay with. Gluten free bread? Kinda tiny, but not bad. Gluten free cookies? Pretty tasty. Gluten free pasta? I’ve been eating it since before gluten free was cool. Gluten free pizza? Well… like I said, I was pretty okay being gluten free. I wasn’t totally okay.

My late December endo appointment arrived and I checked in with my endo about my new dietary habits. She thought it was kind of weird. She didn’t think I suddenly had a gluten intolerance. She thought it was the Victoza.

My precious, darling Victoza.

Which I had gone up in dose in late July.

She suggested that the higher dose might be affect my gut motility so much that I could handle certain foods anymore. Eliminating the gluten protein might just be mediating the effects.

“We really don’t know that much about Victoza in type 1 diabetics,” she explained. “It’s not working the same in you as it does in a type 2 diabetic because you don’t have a functioning pancreas.” She suggested that because it couldn’t do anything to my pancreas, that the drug might be focusing its action entirely on my digestive track. She recommended that I lower my dose to what I was taking at the beginning of the summer, when I wasn’t having the symptoms.

She told me to wait a month. Then add gluten back into my diet.

Well, I made it two weeks. Because I’m going to Mexico next week and I’ll be damned if I needlessly avoid flour tortillas and cinnamon-coated churros (hey, it has cinnamon — it must be good for me!).

So I had gluten one night at a dinner with a local book club. Nothing happened. A few days later, a muffin. A couple days after that, a Quiznos sandwich. It’s been one week. So far, nothing has happened.

In fact, everything seems to be quite normal.

Of course, with the sudden appearance of gluten back in my diet, I’ve, um, indulged a little too much so I need to work on not going crazy with the junk food. But it does seem that my body might do well on Victoza, but it doesn’t do well on too much Victoza. And that to me makes sense because there are other medications, like anti-depressants, that can do wonders on the right dose. But if you take too much or too little, things start to go a little crazy.

I’m back down on a 1.2 mg dose of Victoza. It doesn’t suppress my hunger quite as well as 1.8 mg did, but I’m also not crazy ravenous as I was before. So far I haven’t seen the need to change my insulin doses at all. As long as I continue to watch what I eat and exercise regularly, I don’t imagine that I will gain any weight but I know I have to keep a close eye on things to make sure the reduction doesn’t have any negative impacts.

But at least the burping is gone. Burping is the worst.

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