I was always told “It’s all in your head,” “It’s normal for a girl your age to experience pain in your stomach,” and “We can’t find anything wrong with you.” All I knew was I was tired of feeling sick and I wanted to know what was wrong with me.
Since I was 5 years old, I would get an excruciating stomachaches and flu-like symptoms. I would get hot flashes and nausea so bad that I spent entire nights lying on the floor in the bathroom feeling like I was going to throw up.
I went to pediatricians, gastroenterologists, specialists, counselors, family doctors and even chiropractors. They took my blood, ran several tests, checked my liver and took an ultrasound of my gall bladder. All the tests came back normal, so they suggested that my mom take me to a counselor, that it must be an emotional problem.
So, off to counseling I went, but after several months without any relief from the sick feeling my mom decided it wasn’t an emotional problem after all and we stopped counseling.
Since counseling didn’t work, we decided to start documenting when I was getting sick and what I ate. We were determined to solve this mystery. We started to see what we thought was the problem! I found when I didn’t have anything to eat a couple hours before bed, I could go to sleep without feeling nauseous.
We thought we had it all figured out, but I realized I was also feeling sick during the day. This went on for several years, seeing doctors on and off, taking over-the-counter antacids, prescription antacids and many other medications. Eventually, all the doctors gave up and told us it was an emotional problem.
I was so frustrated and started to feel like I wasn’t normal. I was often depressed. One night, as I was lying on the bathroom floor crying because I was so sick and my ribs hurt so bad, my mom came in and said we were going to go back to the doctor and we were not going to stop until we knew what was going on.
I was tested for everything under the sun. They took my blood so many times that when I went in for a draw I told them which arm they should use. I went through CT scans, upper GI’s and more ultrasounds. I was even tested for celiac disease, but it came back negative!
My mom was so defeated that we still didn’t have any answers. We started thinking of any other doctor that could help. She had done some research and read that if your body is out of alignment it can affect your nerves and stomach. We were not giving up and made an appointment with the chiropractor immediately.
The doctor walked in and asked how we were doing. My mom started telling him about all my symptoms and tests that had been done and didn’t stop for what seemed like forever. When she finally stopped, he said “I think I know what is the problem.” I couldn’t believe it. No tests, no blood draws, he hadn’t even examined me yet. How could he know what was wrong?
It turns out his own son has a gluten allergy and had experienced all the symptoms I had. He told us to immediately cut all gluten out of my diet for one week. After one week, have a piece of bread or something with gluten and see if it makes you sick. After just one day with no gluten, all of my symptoms were gone. After a week without gluten, I was feeling great, but it was time for the test. I made a piece of toast and after just a couple bites I was sick! I immediately turned red and felt hot followed by the all too familiar nausea and pain.
So that was it, I had a gluten allergy! I was so surprised and ecstatic that we had found what was going on after struggling for so many years.
Now for almost 2 years I have been gluten-free, and I feel so much better.
At first it was really hard not to eat gluten, especially when I was out with my friends or my family. Also finding out as a 13-year-old girl was hard because not only was I going into middle school and everything was changing, but now my diet and lifestyle were changing, too.
We have come a long way, and our grocery store has even (after many requests from my mom) devoted a whole section to gluten-free foods. There are lots of foods that can be bought gluten-free, so I can again enjoy eggs with toast, bologna sandwiches and brownies again. Yay!