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Debbie's Story

 
10/12/2011

Looking back on my life, I realize I have always had stomach problems. As an infant, I was intolerant of formula, vomited constantly, and screamed in pain with "colic." My parents were told I was allergic to milk. So, no more milk products.

As a child, I missed so much school that my parents took me to the doctor repeatedly. They became frustrated thinking I was making it all up and told the doctor to embarrass me into going to school. Upon the completion of a rectal exam while I sobbed my heart out, I went back to school no matter how bad the pain was. I had the threat of another exam always hanging over me, and anything was better than that!  

At age 11, I had my first severe migraine.  Vomiting, canker sores, mild bloating, and constipation became the norm for me.  I was underweight by at least 20 lbs. at all times.  I always thought it was normal to have a "sick headache."

Fast forward to my late 30s. Add in years of chronic exhaustion and many misdiagnoses. It began getting so bad that I could hardly function.  I was not a morning person, and became semi-functional around noon. Eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, body aches, horrible heartburn, dental issues, massive canker sores, diarrhea, and joint pain added to my frustration.  I was exhausted after doing the simplest things.

I put on some weight - not typical after being a size 2 for my entire life, and my stomach began bloating to massive sizes along with the terrible pains. I looked 8 months pregnant and could not wear any of my clothes. I was convinced that I was getting old, or something was off… hormones, thyroid or something. So, I went to a new doctor for a complete work up.  

I was tested thoroughly, but not for celiac. Everything came back normal; my blood work levels were all perfect or better than perfect.  I was instructed to spend more time in the gym, eat more salad, and count calories. I was absolutely disheartened beyond belief. I went home and sobbed, thinking I could not live like this for the rest of my life.

I decided for the first time in my life to try a "fad" diet to quickly drop the weight I had gained.  I was too exhausted for the gym! I opted for a popular low carb diet. Only meat, fats, and small amounts of veggies - absolutely nothing else. I got physically sick for the first 5 days from the lack of carbs, then I felt wonderful. Better than ever.  I began dropping the weight, the bloating and stomach pain stopped, no more bathroom issues. Life was good until one night I cheated on my diet during a birthday party and I ate a s'more.  I got violently sick, bloated to a massive size, migraine, brain fog, vomiting, and horrible stomach pain. I felt like I was dying.

After much research on my own since doctors weren’t helping, I finally came up with gluten intolerance.  Suddenly, my entire life made perfect sense.  I was the poster child! I finally found a doctor who didn't ignore what I was telling him. Testing completed and verified celiac.  I’m now gluten-free and vegetarian, feeling better than I ever have in my life.

It was a long and painful journey, but now I am healthy, pain-free, eczema free, migraine free, and I can finally drink milk after all! I'm so thankful that this journey was mine; because of it, my daughter's celiac was caught very early and she didn't have to suffer like I did.

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