My mom told me that my first two years I was always at the doctors or hospital for skin problems and fevers. But the doctors could not find anything. These symptoms slowly went away, and for the next 16 years, I seemed to be healthy.
When I turned 18, the reactions began. Sandwiches, salads and pizzas would have me break out in hives; pasta sent me to the ER because I couldn't stop vomiting. I had to get my tonsils removed because I was sick every 2 weeks with Strep Throat. For the next 2 years, I was in and out of the hospital with health problems.
At one point in those 2 years, I decided to go on a whole wheat diet to complement my workouts at the gym. Unfortunately, it only lasted a week due to a horrible pain on my right side. I was rushed to the hospital with a fever of 108 and seizing. My white blood count was high, which happened on more than one occasion. Doctors couldn't figure out why or what my body was trying to fight, so each time I was told it was just an infection.
Thankfully, I met a girl who had celiac disease, and it came up during one of our discussions. I told her of my reactions and she advised me to try the gluten-free diet because she had all the same problems I did. I decided to try it out for 2 weeks. I laughed more and smiled more; my focus and memory was better; no more bloating, hives, headaches or vomiting. I felt great; I was “me” again.
After being convinced that I had celiac disease, I visited a doctor for a blood test. And of course, the results came back negative. I wish my doctor or I had know that once you are on a gluten-free diet, the blood test will always come back negative. Not knowing, I continued my regular diet.
To keep from any allergic reactions, I stayed away from foot long sandwiches as much as I could and completely removed pasta from my diet.
In September 2009, I was 23 years old and working in New Jersey. Every morning, I would have a bagel from Dunkin' Donuts or a bowl of cereal, and every afternoon I would have fajitas, sandwiches, or salads. My symptoms got worse every week. The pain on my right side would get so bad I would fall to the ground. It was so embarrassing having to leave work early every time I went in. Everyone thought I was making it up, and in the meantime I would be at home suffering in pain.
By November, my small intestines were so damaged I couldn't absorb any nutrients. The back of arms were filled with bumps, I had a headache every day, my stomach blew up, I felt groggy and was often in a bad mood. Depression kicked in.
By late November, I was diagnosed with Colitis. It was such a horrible experience. I had to visit the doctor three times a week for 3 months, until my doctor was out one day and I had to speak to another. This new doctor automatically knew what was going on with me. He diagnosed me with celiac disease and, due to the damage, he said I had developed a mild lactose intolerance. The next day, I began my gluten-free diet.
My lactose intolerance improved, and Colitis resolved within a couple days. All the pains went away within weeks, and my small intestines healed after a few months. It has now been a full year and I am my happy self again. No more hospital visits!