I know, I’ve been very quiet on the blog front and I’m sorry about that.

There has been a reason, no an excuse, but a reason.

On the 16th of July, I got some results back from an endoscopy that in a moment changed my life and that of Charlottes and Mack’s.

But at least I have some answers.

For the past 8 or so weeks my stomach has been in pieces. For even longer than that I have been dealing with what only I now know as brain fog. I could get a full nights sleep and be playing nodding donkey at my computer within minutes of sitting down to work.

And even while training volume was pretty low.

There was some good weeks and bad weeks … weeks were it felt like I was starting from scratch.

My motivation bucket which is normally overspilling was running on empty. Getting out training wasn’t so hard when you just make the choice and go and scratch-n-claw your way through. Not pretty, but what else to do when you have 10 days, 2000k (50k of vertical) and 100 cols to get over in the Dolomites starting you in the face.

At first I thought as relapse of giardiasis (swimming in Bondi Beach after a storm back in 07) as the feeling was similar.

What ever I ate would react. Some days have been brutal and foods that were normally aok were now resulting in full blown reactions. Any intensity on the bike and my guts felt like I was making them hypoxic.

As I said, my head hasn’t quiet been in the game as my usual self.

I’ve tried but it’s been struggle street. A daily fight in fact.

An interesting fact is that 90% of the serotonin (popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well being and happiness) produced in our bodies is made in our intestines? If something is wrong in your gut, something is wrong in your mind.

Anyone that has followed me for sometime knows I put a lot of emphasis on good nutrition. Our eating habits had sat around 80-90% gluten free most of the time.

I would still eat a bit of sourdough bread when opportunities presented (mainly in Sydney), I’d eat some organic sweet n salty popcorn (corn is NOT gluten free) and I don’t mind the bit of good chocolate and of course there is a nice cold micro brew – but anytime I did this over the last number of weeks would leave me in pain.

A quick trip to Sydney to see a sports doc to still work out thoracic, diaphragm issues (IMM) ended with a left field thought process. “Musculo-skeletally you are fine fine. Sure a little scoliosis of the spine but I think it could have something to do with your gut.”

I hadn’t mentioned my stomach woes till that point.

So back home and an endoscopy was in order.

On the positive note, nothing untoward was found when the gastroenterologist had a looksie. But I had to wait a week for the biopsies.

On the 16th I was told I had villous atrophy among other things and what that means is that I have blunted the villi in my small intestines which is congruent with celiacs disease.

A gene test result came back yesterday confirming I have one of the two main genes for celiac disease expression.

Why after 36 years of no problems consuming gluten do I know have an autoimmune disease were even a single milligram of gluten could potentially make me pretty sick?

From the research I have done in the last week – the most likely scenario is that we actually have parallel genomes. The human genome which is what we get from mum and dad (that cannot be changed) and also a microbiome which is the genes of micro-organisms that take up residence within us. These microbiome can change all the time because we don’t always have the same bacteria living within us!

“Let’s say all of a sudden you get an infection, you take antibiotics, you have surgery, you have a pregnancy, which by the way are all examples in which your bacteria will change tremendously and are all linked to the unmasking of celiac disease. A lot of cases of celiac disease
start after one of these occur. We always thought it was silent and was then unmasked for some reason by these things.

Let’s say, indeed, that is not the case. What happened now, you have another microbiome, another set of genes from new bacteria, that switches from tolerance to gluten to the autoimmune process. That is the only way I can explain these results where people who, despite having the genes, did not have celiac disease (as determined by positive blood tests and other measures) until they were 60 years old.” — Dr Alessio Fasano (a world leader in celiac research)

So if I take a look back into 2012 where two weeks out from IMNZ  I swallowed food wrongly (rough cut raw salad) and ended up with a slight oesophagus perforation which led to a shit storm of intravenous super heavy antibiotics to stop high risk of infection and a 6 days say in Le Hotel de Royal Brisbane Hospital. I can’t remember exactly but I had continual issues and bouts of antibiotics post that … then had all 4 wisdom teeth removed .. the doc forgot to prescribe post op drugs and I got an infection …  much more heavy antibiotics … which seems to be possibly my way of switching from tolerance to autoimmune process.

Interestingly I had a great build up to Ironman Melbourne…. but then had some t-spine, diaphragm/respiratory issues that killed my race. Three days later a chest infection and a viscous cycle of symptoms above.

So seemingly I have been peppering my insides with continual gluten bullets on a stressed immune system. I can only imagine how much more damage or how much quicker if I consumed a normal full grain diet.

Anyway onwards and upwards and getting into a new life 110% sans gluten. We had to throw away toasters, chopping boards and anything that can withhold previous gluten. Ditch any foodstuff that contain gluten or have been made on product lines that contain gluten and be very careful about cross-contamination.

99% of sports nutrition is out for me, so I’m on a discovery path on what I can use and make .. thankfully I’m a pretty fat adapted athlete but I’m on a fast course on working out how to get through 10 days, 2000k and a shit load of climbing in the Dolomites in five short weeks and the training leading into that.

So I’m going to be writing a side blog on experiences and being a celiac athlete as there is so much information out there and as usual a lot of pure B.S. So many of the GF products aren’t in fact GF and definitely do not fall into the category of good for you. I’m so fortunate to have the awesome Steph Lowe aka The Natural Nutritionist in my corner making my life exponentially easier.

and the good news is that a week in with no gluten what so ever, the brain fog seems to have lifted and my stomach is no longer in pieces. That’s a big win in my book.

Tomorrow I’m loading up a great podcast with my buddy Raoul De Jongh of Urban Ninja who will be riding with me in Italy on the Cent Cols Challenge. (Read Raoul’s write up here … saves me from doing it and as usual he has done an impeccable job)