Throughout my entire life, I've always been a very active and healthy individual (I’m 33 years old). I really never had to deal with any sort of major illness, outside of the occasional sinus infection or upper respiratory virus.
But in the summer of 2009, I started to experience very painful stomachaches and cramping a few times a week within hours after eating a meal. I figured it was just your basic indigestion and I’d remedy the problem with a dose of Pepto Bismol (this was the advice I received from my internal medicine doctor).
After a few months of continuous stomach pain, I started having bouts of diarrhea that would leave me running for the nearest restroom in a complete panic. I couldn’t even make it through a meal without making two or three trips to the restroom. It was very embarrassing. I was also starting to have issues with heartburn and nausea.
I knew I should have seen a specialist, but I procrastinated on making the doctor’s appointment for a couple more months. I just kept thinking that whatever was wrong with me was no big deal and it would eventually work itself out.
When I finally sought the help of a gastro specialist, she immediately scheduled me for an EGD the following week. When I woke up from the EGD procedure, my doctor informed me that I had two duodenal ulcers and a significant amount of inflammation in my small intestines (which was biopsied and sent off to a lab for testing).
A week later, I got the call from my doctor informing me that gluten intolerance was suspected and I needed to take a blood test for celiac disease. Even before the blood test results came back, I started on the gluten-free diet. Within a week, I started to see improvement in my health: less fatigue, more energy and fewer episodes of diarrhea. Of course, the test came back “off the charts” positive for celiac disease.
I’ve been gluten-free for about 6 months, and I feel about 75% better now than I did before being diagnosed with celiac disease. The diet can be frustrating and very inconvenient at times, but it’s worth it to not have to deal with being sick all the time.