Monday, July 8, 2013

Putting two and two together

I guess I wasn't really surprised when my doctor called me with the diagnosis: celiac disease.

My husband's nephew has been dealing with CD for more than sixteen years. He had suffered malnutrition and stomach/bowel issues as a baby, nearly losing his life before his doctors finally figured out what was wrong with him.

I probably should have figured it out for myself sooner. I had chronic diarrhea, painful bloating, and dreadful gas. By the time I was diagnosed,  I was swiftly losing weight, and I was severely anemic.

It was the anemia that caused my doctor to rethink an earlier diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and   test my blood for celiac sprue.

When he called to give me the results of the test, he was very concerned. "I have bad news," he said. "You have celiac disease. You're going to have to give up wheat, rye, barley, and rice."

"What a relief," I said. "I think I can deal with celiac disease. I thought it was something worse. And by the way, I'm pretty sure I can still eat rice."

Since my doctor had little knowledge or experience with celiac disease, I turned to my brother-in-law and the Internet for help. I feel so fortunate to have hundreds of reliable sources for tips and information about how to eliminate gluten from my diet right at my fingertips. Restaurants and grocery stores are making great efforts to provide food for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. It has become infinitely easier to avoid gluten since my nephew was first diagnosed.

Two years after my diagnosis, I have learned to (mostly) enjoy a happy and healthy gluten-free lifestyle. I have regained 18 pounds, I am no longer anemic, and I no longer suffer from diarrhea and bloating.  Looking back on my health issues (including Hashimoto's thyroiditis and fertility problems), knowing what I know now about celiac disease, I realize that I've been symptomatic for many years.

I wish I'd put two and two together much sooner!