As a child, I was always on the smaller side and quite skinny. Even as a teen and growing into my 20s and 30s, I just never gained weight. I could eat whatever I wanted (and did, for the most part). The constant fatigue, joint aches and dark circles, the red rash and dry skin on my hands, not to mention the constant stomach issues ranging from diarrhea in the morning to constipation later that afternoon were, well, just normal for me. I didn't know any better that I shouldn’t feel that way. I weighed 130 lbs. for years.
Then one day, after eating some fast food, I became really sick with chronic diarrhea. After a few days of racing to the bathroom, I thought, "I don't think the fast food is the problem."
I made an appointment with my then doctor, whom I’ve since "fired." He diagnosed me with IBS without any tests or physical exams. He gave me some pills for stomach cramps and told me to eat more fiber. After a week of shoving bran muffin after bran muffin in my mouth, fiber was NOT an issue. I was still racing to the bathroom! Of course, I didn't know I was just poisoning myself even more with all of that wheat bran. When I fired him, I submitted a check for payment, and in the memo section wrote "For Misdiagnosis." It's the little things, you know?
My second doctor was a lifesaver. When I went in for my initial appointment, I told him all of my recent symptoms and a general health history. Right off the bat he said, "You have gluten intolerance. We'll do some blood work and biopsies, but I think that is your problem."
After receiving my antibody levels, where anything over 3 is positive, mine were over 100. Holy moly! We scheduled the biopsies to see if my small intestine had damage, and not surprisingly, it did. The official diagnosis was celiac disease.
Immediately after going on a gluten-free diet, I noticed positive health changes. I was no longer exhausted all the time. Color returned to my face. In the 5 years since going gluten-free, I've gained 30 lbs. and went up four pants sizes! To me, after being so skinny all my life, I am happy gaining 30 lbs.!
Sure, it's tough at times to live with celiac. But there are so many other worse health issues I could be dealing with, so I am grateful I can manage mine by diet. And I am so thankful I have a loving partner who does his best to ensure my food is always safe no matter if we're dining at home or out. And he is always looking for new treats for me marked "gluten-free."
It's rare to hear guys telling their celiac or gluten-free story, but we're out there. And I for one will sing the praises of talking with your doctor and pushing them for answers. Ok, maybe I won't sing, as you really don't want to hear me sing.