My whole life I had stomach issues. Cramps, bloating, diarrhea, constipation...as far as I can remember. When I started my menstrual cycle, it was always irregular and heavy. Then when I was around 12 or so, I remember getting this painful rash on my elbows and knees that would come and go. Doctors had no real explanation for the rash, and only told me to use mild soaps. It was so frustrating! On top of everything, I was exhausted all the time! I used to get in trouble for sleeping too much.
Finally, when I was 17, my gynecologist checked my iron level and it was 8.1 (very low; it’s supposed to be at least 11). She started me on an iron supplement, rechecked my iron in 3 months, and it was 7.9 (even lower!). She immediately referred me to hematology for an iron infusion and then I went to GI for more studies.
Two years later, after being in and out of doctor appointments and getting numerous blood tests and GI studies, I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Of course, I was not happy with the diagnosis (all of my favorite foods contained gluten), but once I started the gluten-free diet, I felt 100% better in about 2 months! It's amazing. Now, 6 years later, I no longer feel like I am on a "gluten-free diet.” It's just the way I eat. Now, all my favorite foods are gluten-free and it's just second nature.