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Debra's Story


I am 48 and was diagnosed in 2004 after a lifetime of illness. When I was very young I was quite anemic. The doctor told my mom to make sure I ate spinach and liver once a week - not something a little child wants to hear! I had plenty of stomachaches with bouts of unexplained vomiting, ear infections, allergies, etc. I also had my tonsils removed at age 6, and the health issues go on.

I never felt well growing up. I had extremely rough menstrual cycles, which caused more anemia. I had spine problems and was on many anti-inflammatories before I reached age 20. I also battled with migraines and passed out a few times. I had ulcers at 16 years of age, too.

I had my first child at 21. No problems other than extreme anemia when I found out I was pregnant. My second child was born premature, at 7 months and only 3 lbs. 1 oz. Doctors could not find an explanation as to why I had Placenta Previa.

During my early to mid-twenties, I experienced quite a bit of pain throughout my skeletal system.  Emergency room visits, X-rays, etc. No explanation. The migraines were worse, and I was still plagued by anemia and acute stomachaches.

Six years later, I became pregnant with my youngest. He was also born prematurely, and this time I was only a little over 6 months pregnant. He weighed 2 lb. 1 oz. – again due to Placenta Previa.

At this point I was told “no more children.” I definitely had a pattern, and it was time to stop. I readily agreed. Fortunately, my two youngest are happy and healthy young men, although my second oldest was diagnosed with celiac 2 years ago. So we were extremely blessed.

I was eventually diagnosed with IBS, and was strict about the foods that would irritate my stomach. It did help a bit, but I still battled with crippling stomachaches, diarrhea, horrid migraines and tons of female problems, not to mention my joints getting worse. I lived with a lot of pain every day.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis was also plaguing me. For those of you who deal with this, you know how difficult it can be.

Finally, my doctor sent me to the right rheumatologist; after 10-15 minutes of talking to him, he asked if there was anyone in my family who had celiac disease. I knew I had an uncle pass away from complications due to celiac disease at the age of 42, but no one ever told me it is hereditary.

This June will be 7 years since my diagnosis, and it has been a tremendous blessing! I am not bothered by having celiac, but an earlier diagnosis could have prevented so many other illnesses I live with to this day. So much damage was caused, and I do have secondary autoimmune diseases that cause physical stress every day.

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