I threw-up all of the time. My stomach always hurt. I cried easily. My head hurt often. I was irritable. I had difficulty concentrating. I was considered a ‘fragile’ girl.
When I was 5 years old, my Mother who is a kind, soft-spoken, gentle woman – was taken aside by my pediatrician and told that my problems were because of her, that she was creating my anxiety, and that she needed to be a better parent. My Mother sobbed all the way home while I cried too knowing that my parents had nothing to do with it – and wondering what was really wrong with me.
I always felt a little better when I woke up first thing in the morning, but then right after I ate the wholesome breakfast my Dad always made my brother and I before going to school the stomach pain would return. Breakfast; of course, always involved either wheat infested pancakes, toast and/or cereal.
I threw up a lot.
It’s sad, but I had no other choice but to deal with it. Every doctor I saw before age 15 said my problems were either viral, bacterial or anxiety related. Those were the three constant diagnoses. I was sick all of the time, and comments were made about it around me. Surprisingly, it made me dig my heels in and just work harder.
At age 15 I had been to one particular doctor enough that she decided to probe further. I had a full body CT scan, a lovely barium enema with x-rays, and some sort of nuclear scan as I recall. I also had numerous jabs to the arm for blood tests. All negative. I then went through the joy of having an endoscope rammed down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines to discover I had a peptic ulcer. Yippee, I thought, the diagnosis I had been waiting for. This was it; I would now begin a road to recovery I thought. I was prescribed Zantac and took it for years thereafter. I endured a yearly endoscope to ensure the ulcer was gone.
In high school I took up running as a sport. During my sophomore year I was running in a Cross Country race (3.2 miles). During most of the race I was in second place but was fast approaching the first place runner. At the 2-mile mark I caught her and passed her and within the next few feet I actually heard a snap and extreme pain followed in my lower leg. My adrenaline was surging so high I just kept running. I was running and limping. My coach was screaming at me to drop out and even tried to run alongside me and lunge forward to pull me out. I kept dodging his reach knowing if he touched me I would be disqualified. I won that race. And later learned I had run the last mile with a broken leg. Not particularly common – a stress facture in a 15 year old. But now it makes perfect sense – In my opinion I’m certain I had severe calcium deficiency due to the malabsorption resulting from Celiac.
I had terrible insomnia. I even wrote a lengthy research paper on insomnia my senior year of high school in my search for answers to my problems. I remember my English teacher asking why I wanted to write about insomnia and looking perplexed when I told her that I was up all night, every night. I was tired all of the time.
During my freshman year in college I was doubled over in pain and could barely get myself to the student urgent care facility. I remember that pain vividly – it felt as though I had a raging fire in my stomach. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me, but I was in such obvious physical distress he had to attribute it to something. Ovarian cyst the doctor decided.
I had headaches all of the time and at age 22 I had a cat scan performed on my head to look for a brain tumor. It was negative. I then went to a doctor who classified me with mild migraines and gave me a nerve block. In non-medical terms it’s when a large needle is inserted onto or near the nerves and injected with a medication. My entire face and head went numb and I was in sheer panic. It was awful. And the headache returned as soon as I could feel again.
Did I mention I threw up a lot?
I was going through a bottle of Tylenol every couple of weeks for headaches and an industrial sized bottle of antacids per week for stomach upset. I would choke down an occasional sleeping pill at points of desperation for my insomnia.
In my mid 20’s I fell so ill at one point I had to take 3 weeks off from work because I physically could not get out of bed. My roommate was afraid I had meningitis and dragged me to the doctor’s office. Viral, the physician said. Ya, it’s typical for an active 20 something to have the ‘flu’ for 3 weeks. I remember lying on the floor in my bedroom staring up at the ceiling wondering, “What is wrong with me? Is this what dying feels like? Why is my body in constant turmoil? What is amiss and why can’t anyone help me?”
My pregnancies were extremely challenging, to put it lightly. I threw up several times a day for the entire 9 months – both times. “Morning sickness,” the obstetrician said. “Just eat some crackers, a dinner roll, or a sandwich – that should help”. Amazing I survived; I now understand that I was precipitating the problem by eating toxin ridden food.
My last trip to the doctor was a few weeks before my diagnosis. I landed in the Emergency Room for debilitating stomach pain. The ER physician said I had an ulcer. My primary care physician, after ruling out an abdominal tumor, said my gallbladder was inflamed. I was given a myriad of medications – none of which made me feel an ounce better. Three weeks later my two children were diagnosed with Celiac Disease ~ which is a harrowing story in itself. I too was tested only because it’s genetic – not because the doctor thought I had it. I have Celiac Disease. And now we know my father, my brother, and three cousins do too.
Myself and my two beautiful daughters have been on a gluten free diet for over 3 years now. It’s a challenge, but worth it. And by the grace of God, I don’t take any medication at all and my:
Headaches – gone.
Insomnia – gone. I had never slept an entire night without waking until age 33.
Anxiety – gone.
Irritability – gone (although my husband’s answer may be different).
Stomach pain – gone.
I don’t throw up anymore.
Does this story sound similar to your or a family members? You might have celiac disease, find out now, take our celiac disease symptoms checklist.