Tuesday, September 13, 2011

National Celiac Awareness Day

Five years ago, I found out something that changed my life. I have Celiac disease. What is Celiac disease? You can go here for more info.

For close to 7 years, I had been suffering with symptoms so severe, I really thought that I must be dying.

I had been to several doctors, and none of them could figure out what was wrong with me.

Part of the problem was, I think they just didn't believe me when I told them what was wrong. Every symptom I gave them, there was an explanation for.

I started experiencing symptoms after my 2nd daughter was born, but since I had just given birth, it was attributed to that. My thyroid was failing. That is not uncommon after childbirth.

By the time I was pregnant with daughter #3, I was in full blown thyroid failure. I was very sick. But, once again, since I was pregnant, it surely must be from that.

I had horrible pregnancies. Each one was worse than the last. So sick that I couldn't eat anything but crackers and pretzels, and drink Sprite. With daughter #3, I was sick for the entire pregnancy, though it did get better as time went on. I only gained 18 lbs. with her.

After she was born, things went downhill fast.

Over the next couple of years, I just got sicker and sicker. I was miserable.

My hair was falling out. I was so exhausted, I had to take naps just to be able to make it through the day. I was anemic. Even though I was on massive doses of thyroid medicine, it just wasn't working. My memory was awful. I was depressed. Who wouldn't be? I was cold all the time. It was like my body couldn't regulate my temperature. I had severe intestinal issues. Severe. I won't go into detail, but you can imagine.

Once again, it didn't seem like doctors took me seriously. I had gotten to the point where I had basically given up. I couldn't get anyone to listen to me. Something was very WRONG. I knew it. Why wouldn't anyone believe me?

Then, God placed into my life two wonderful doctors, who became my friends. They realized that the symptoms that I was experiencing were NOT normal, and sent me to a rheumatologist. There, I was tested for everything under the sun.

I'll never forget the day that I got the call. What was wrong with me? Cancer? Lupus? Was I dying?

The doctor on the phone told me that a test had come back that showed I had positive anti-bodies for something called Celiac Sprue disease. He told me that, although this was not something he specialized in, he did know that if I DID have the disease, the only thing that would help me is to eat a totally gluten-free diet. The only way to test for sure if I had the disease was to do a "scope" of my intestines, but I could try the diet for 3 months and see if it would help me.

That was it. There was some irreversible damage that had been done, but if I would just adhere to a strict gluten-free diet, I would gradually get better.

With that, I began my journey into the land of "gluten-free" living. And what a journey it has been!

Today is National Celiac Awareness Day. For many people, eating gluten-free is not just a "fad" diet, it is a way of life. I am one of them.

How do you know if you or a loved one may have this disease? Here is a checklist that shows some common symptoms. It is not just intestinal issues, like many people believe.

Do you see any of YOUR symptoms on this checklist? If so, it's time to start asking questions...

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