I remember it well… it was in 2010, in July. The sun was shining, the air was warm, there was that free and easy feeling that I get in the summer, because we can go out without worrying about taking a coat or wearing any socks! I remember how I went to my doctor’s to get the results of the blood tests… and how strange I felt coming out of his office, with a diagnosis of Celiac’s disease.
I had been ill for months – not life-threateningly ill, but seriously unwell. I had had “tummy aches” throughout my life, and they had recently got a lot worse: severe stomach cramps which came on suddenly, forced me to stop everything I was doing and had me doubled up in pain. I had always had a tendency to develop mouth ulcers and that too, had got worse: three times in a row, I had an “attack” of mouth ulcers… my mouth was covered in them, literally dozens of them! I couldn’t eat anything I was in such pain. The third time it happened, the doctor prescribed me cortisone tablets it was so bad. I had a mysterious back pain too. Ever since I had given birth to our third child, in 2006, my back had been hurting badly. I went to the physiotherapist over and over again. “I’ve never seen anything like this” he said; he just couldn’t understand why I was in such pain and why it wasn’t getting better. An MRI scan had revealed nothing and no one got where this persistent ache was coming from. There were many other “little” things bothering me… joint pains in my legs and arms, headaches, constant fatigue, brain fog, and, embarrassingly, chronic constipation and gas that I found increasingly difficult control. I was constantly bloated. I felt constantly uncomfortable.
“The results leave me in no doubt” said the doctor, “you have Celiac’s disease, for sure.”
I was both stunned and relieved. Finally they’d found what was wrong with me – and it was “only” a food that I had to cut out of my diet, not some awful illness that would need long and painful treatment. That was the relief. Then images of lovely crusty pizzas and croissants flashed through my mind, and I just couldn’t believe I’d never, ever be able to eat those for the rest of my life!
I remember going home and thinking “I might as well start now!”… and so I began my gluten free diet straight away…
The results were astounding… within a few days I started feeling better: the bloating and the gas stopped, the stomach cramps too. My back pain disappeared and has never come back. I then stopped having joint pains. Within a few weeks I noticed an incredible difference in my energy levels. I felt alive again! The frequency of my headaches decreased dramatically, my skin looked a lot better, I began to “think more clearly”, I was able to concentrate much better.
Soon I was feeling so absolutely fantastic that I didn’t even want to look at gluten! People said how sorry they were when I told them I couldn’t eat it, and I would laugh and say:
“Don’t feel sorry for me, this diagnosis is the best thing that has ever happened to me!”
Today, 9 years after the diagnosis, I have only one regret: that I wasn’t diagnosed earlier. As a child, I was a fussy eater, I had regular tummy aches, my family constantly commented on how little I ate. I had recurring pains in my legs that forced me to lie down; I was told they were growing pains, but I now know it must have been inflammatory pains. I had regular mouth ulcers too. I was always the smallest girl around and I remained tiny (I’m barely 152 cm (5’2″) now). One doctor, when I was very young, had suspected Celiac’s disease and I was on a gluten free diet for a few months apparently. Why this wasn’t kept up, I don’t know. It was back in the 70s, and I can only guess that the diagnosis techniques were not as good as they are now, and that awareness of the disease wasn’t what it is today. I guess I didn’t have it “bad enough”: my symptoms were there but they were light enough that they could be dismissed or given another explanation.
So… how did I feel when I found out I couldn’t eat gluten any more??
Stunned and relieved… and very soon after that, ELATED! I felt I had been given a new life, a second chance, and I am extremely grateful that I was diagnosed. The diet is well worth it and made very easy for me to follow because of the benefits I get from it.
How about you? How did you feel about it? How do you feel now?
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Have a fantastic day 🙂