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Celiac, A Personal Story

Celiac disease is personal for me.

About 20 years ago, I was sick all the time and didn’t know why. Sinus infections every month. Stomach pains after eating. Tiredness all the time. Unintended weight loss. Head fog. Skin issues, including acne and eczema. I never felt well, even when I wasn’t really “sick.” I was depressed because I felt so bad and couldn’t find a way to feel healthy, either mentally or physically. I felt like I was missing out on a lot in life.

I was doing everything right. Eating vegetarian and organic. Exercising regularly. Taking supplements. Keeping an active social life and doing happy things. But still … every day I had a nagging feeling that something was very wrong with me. No one should get a sinus infection every month, right? My doctors just prescribed me another round of antibiotics and talked about more sinus surgery. It didn’t seem right to ignore the whys. Why was this happening regularly? Why was treatment only solving short-term symptoms. Why couldn’t I find answers?

Then, at age 35, I got shingles. The doctor who diagnosed me said that it was not a big deal before prescribing medicine and telling me I would be fine. Listening to his words, my head was racing. I had been on medicine (mostly antibiotics) for the past three years straight. The thought of simply taking medicine and not mining for the underlying cause(s) of my diagnosis did not sit well with me, and I wept and felt defiant. I went home and researched shingles and found this was something you could get with a very compromised immune system. Most of the time, shingles is found in the elderly or someone who has a serious immune issue (like HIV). More worried than before, I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician. He met with me right away and gave me two things to do immediately: Don’t eat wheat or gluten. Come back in two weeks. Ummm, ok? That’s it? I was skeptical. It sounded too easy. But OK, I can do this!

Only two days into the no-wheat, no-gluten protocol, I felt as though I had so much energy that I didn’t know who I was. I was beaming. With two weeks under my belt, I did face some challenges. Eating vegetarian while not eating wheat caused me to lose even more weight. Another challenge was to learn what foods had gluten in them — something I am still learning about. A few months after cutting gluten out of my diet, I was tested and officially diagnosed with celiac disease. That was one of the happiest days of my life. I was feeling better and I had an accurate diagnosis.

I’ve been faithfully gluten free for 20 years now and have never felt better. I have energy and have regained my ability to focus and “be here now.” I can enjoy life to its fullest again.

Think you might have celiac disease? While the disease has a list of a 100+ symptoms, here are some of the most common ones:

- Pain in joints or abdomen
- Digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, or flatulence
- Fatigue or brain fog
- Unexplained itching or skin rashes
- Weight loss
- Depression

If you suspect you or one of your children suffers any of these symptoms due to celiac disease, please consult with a physician and inquire about testing. If you’re diagnosed as a celiac, it is one of the few autoimmune diseases that can be managed with a change of diet.

Be well everyone. Lisa