In the 2nd semester of my junior year in college (early 2001), I got very sick (I was told I had mono). I became very tired, was depressed, anemic, and developed horrible stomach problems. When I went home for the summer, I went to a gastorenterologist who listened to my symptoms and, since IBS was the "it" stomach illness of the time, he diagnosed me without running any tests and prescribed some muscle relaxers.
Needless to say, my stomach problems did not go away. A couple of years later, my iron deficiency had worsened to the point where my doctor referred me to a hematologist. After several weeks and multiple blood tests, I was told I just had heavy periods. When I objected, the doctor said, "Would you rather I told you that you had cancer?" I didn't really want to argue with that, and since he couldn't find anything wrong, I just learned to deal with my problems.
By late 2004, I could not take it anymore and decided that I needed to go see another gastroenterologist. I asked the nurse practitioner at my doctor's office for a referral, and we began talking about my symptoms. She told me that a friend of hers had almost the same problems, and that it turned out she had something called "celiac sprue."
Thank goodness for Google, because I immediately went home and did some research and found that the Celiac symptoms are practically identical to the IBS I had been diagnosed with (except that I had been walking around with a box of Saltines every day to try and settle my stomach, and that's all well and good for someone with IBS, if I was a Celiac, I had been making myself more and more sick every day - a horrifying realization). I could have had either one. I took this information to my gastroenterologist, who immediately scheduled a biopsy.
I am so grateful that the results came back positive for Celiac Disease! My life has changed drastically in the past 2 1/2 years! I am a happy, energetic, and healthy person again- I feel like I have my life back. There is no sign yet whether the 4 years between the start of my symptoms and my diagnosis has had any ill effect on my health, but I worry for a lot of people who may have been mis-diagnosed like I was. I have seen so much more about Celiac in the public arena these days, and it gives me hope that soon, people will not have to go through the long journey I have been on.
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