My symptoms began to show about 4-5 years ago: Extreme fatigue, brain fog, daily migraines/headaches, depression, anxiety, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. I attributed my failing health to the extreme stress within my immediate family while juggling work, attending school and caring for two children. I had a full plate and then some. Something had to go. I dropped out of school, but that wasn't the answer. Nothing improved.
In October 2007, I acquired a new doctor and explained my symptoms. Based on my life's current events, the diagnosis was stress. Not long after that appointment, I was back at the doctor’s office. This time, I couldn't lift my arm. I felt incompetent that I couldn't tell her how I injured my arm. It was a mystery to me.
The doctor prescribed physical therapy, but I was back in her office a month later--this time, with severe chest pain that developed out of the blue. Tests found that my pancreatic enzyme lipase was elevated--an indicator of celiac disease, but it was overlooked. Instead, I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Prescription: manage your stress better.
For the next 2 years, I was back and forth to the doctor’s office with one ailment after another, with a new diagnosis after each trip: hypoglycemia, IBS, anxiety, dehydration, hypochondria, pregnancy, Crohn’s disease, anorexia, bulimia, multiple sclerosis and more. I took all prescribed medications. Nothing helped. At this point, everyone thinks you’re crazy--and you begin to believe it's true.
Celiac disease changes the person who has it on all levels. I was depleted physically, emotionally and psychologically. My weight dropped to under 100 lbs.
In 2008, I battled pneumonia and bronchitis, but it didn’t feel like “just a bug.” After recovering, I started working 50 hours a week. I didn’t have much time to eat, and my symptoms reduced to night sweats and another mysterious pain in my hip, which I went to physical therapy to treat. I decided to reduce my work hours and resumed a normal diet—but then my symptoms returned with a vengeance.
On May 5, 2009, I was too ill to go to work. I was listening to “Good Morning America” when a segment about celiac disease perked my ears. I re-watched the episode on the Internet and researched the gluten-free diet and celiac disease for two days. On day three, I started a trial diet for three weeks. It was a phenomenal success.
I could tell my body was still missing something vital. I located a nutritionist and began a diet of whole foods, eliminating non-essential food and taking the recommended supplements to begin healing the damage caused by gluten.
Looking back on my life, I can see how I was affected by this genetic disease throughout my life, but lacked the outward symptoms to be diagnosed. I believe I was meant to see that “Good Morning America” segment, and now I'm back in the game of life.