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Shayla's Story


My story starts all the way back in my freshman year of high school. I started feeling sick to my stomach a lot and found myself vomiting almost on a daily basis. For a while, I just brushed it off, thinking I had some bug or something. This went on for a while, and eventually I was sick of dealing with it and went to the doctor. They told me I just had a stomach flu. So, once again, I brushed it off.

I would like to say that things got better, but they didn’t. I went to doctor after doctor, and they always told me the same thing: Just the stomach flu. I had my thyroid checked, was tested for diabetes, and those tests always came back negative. So I lived with it.

When I went to college, it just seemed to get worse. The vomiting used to be just in the mornings, but now it was anytime of day, and sometimes more than once a day. But still not every day. I continued to just live with it.

During my last year of college, I decided I had enough. I went to a local doctor whom I had seen a couple times before. By this time, I had started vomiting up blood. The doctor told me I had a bleeding ulcer, but other than that, he did nothing for me. So, I continued to live with the pain of vomiting up blood.

After finishing college, I moved back to Sioux Falls, and these symptoms continued to escalate. I started vomiting daily multiple times. You would think after all the vomiting I had done I would be dropping weight like crazy. On top of vomiting every day, my immune system seemed to start failing. I found myself getting sick a lot more often, and it was very hard to get over these illnesses - anything from the common cold to Influenza B.

Having my mom at my side was the only thing that kept me from going insane. I missed more days in college than I ever did in high school, and eventually it started to affect my job. I started missing a lot of work. I felt like a hypochondriac, and it seemed that everyone I knew thought so as well - including my mother. Talk about a knife in the heart. I just couldn’t seem to convince her that it wasn’t in my head, and that something was wrong. I continued to live with these problems because it seemed no one believed me. Not any doctors, and not my family or friends.

Finally, almost 7 years after the start of these symptoms, I saw a new doctor. She immediately ordered a battery of tests. Once again, my thyroid and diabetes tests came back fine, but my vitamin levels were horribly low, which led her to order one more test - the test that would change my life forever.

I received the phone call that said my celiac number was severely high. My heart sank and I began to cry. I had never heard of such a thing, but I knew it couldn’t be good. The doctor told me it wasn’t a sure thing and that I would have to see a gastroenterologist. So I made the appointment and started researching celiac. All I could do was cry. I know the disease would not kill me, but when your whole life revolves around food and it’s what you love to do, it’s a sudden blow when you can’t do it anymore.

So here I sit, writing this story of my medical problems. It has finally occurred to me that even though this will last the rest of my life, it’s something I need to do for me. I still find myself sick, but not nearly as often as I was before. I am learning that there is gluten in almost everything, and that it’s a very expensive road as well. But I am doing my best to continue living my life to the fullest every day. I’m going to figure this out, and eventually, I’m going to be happy once again.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me throughout this ordeal. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. You know who you are. I love you!

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