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Monica's Story

 
11/23/2011

Last year, I was always sick. I went to the doctor in March to get my thyroid tested to see if it was causing the panic attacks I was having. The next day, the doctor called me and told me I'd need to come in to get checked out because the blood tests showed elevated levels of liver enzymes.

Upon further sampling, they decided it was a gallstone, a severe infection, or hepatitis A. I cried on the way to the hospital for my appointment to have an ultrasound to see if there was a gallstone. Later that day, the doctor called again and asked how I was doing, said I didn't have hepatitis A and recommended that I go to the emergency room because I kept getting worse. The staff at the ER told me I just had an infection in my GI tract and that I'd get better in a day or so.

I was still in a lot of pain for the next week and didn't really seem to recover. In June, I got very sick and was home for a week, throwing up. After that, I still got sick occasionally, but none of it compared to the week of Thanksgiving. Wednesday, I woke up so dizzy and light-headed that I didn't even want to leave my bed. My stomach was cramping and I felt awful in general. I ended up vomiting several times that day. I tried eating saltine crackers (in hindsight, that was a bad idea...) but I just felt worse.

Over the course of the next few days, I got progressively sicker. I would start out at the same sickness level as the day before, but then I'd get even worse. I couldn't even bring myself to get off of the couch. I had a few close calls in almost not getting to the bathroom in time.

Finally I had enough, after I couldn't close my eyes because it hurt so bad. I went to the emergency clinic to get checked out. Unfortunately, since it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, there was a shortage of staff there. I sat in the waiting room for about 2 hours, probably looking like a drug addict going through withdrawal because I was rocking back and forth in my chair and was constantly close to tears. I finally was called back and poked and prodded to no end. Fortunately, the doctor was kind enough to turn down the lights so my migraine lessened a little bit.

I was given two bags of saline solution in my IV because I was so dehydrated. Right before I got an X-ray of my abdomen, the doctor mentioned that he was sending in a panel for celiac disease. That freaked me out because I had heard of it but didn't know exactly what it was or why he was testing for it.

The next week, I got a phone call from the doctor and he told me that I'd need to come down to talk to him because all of the antibodies came back positive. As soon as I hung up the phone, I burst into tears. I tried to keep my composure when I was talking to him, but it was very difficult. He educated me on what celiac disease is and what I would have to do in order to control it.

I made the adjustment to the gluten-free diet at the end of January, with the diagnosis made in early December. I have been feeling much better ever since. I can now tell when I've been contaminated, because I get a huge migraine a few hours later (tell-tale symptom) and then I feel like I'm going to throw up. I'm so grateful to the doctor who decided to check for celiac disease, because if he hadn't, I'd still be getting sick and wouldn't know what's wrong with me.

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