Since today is Celiac Awareness Day, it seemed a fitting time for me to blow the dust off my computer and blog about what’s been going on with me during the last couple of months.
By July, my illness was not improving much, despite a few new treatments and medications. Some days I simply battled exhaustion and minor neurological difficulties. Other days, I could barely walk because of numbness and pain. I had severe insomnia, and my exhaustion worsened.
I began looking into the processes of obtaining a handicap parking permit and a wheelchair. I researched the possibility of a chair lift for the stairs in my home. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I saw very little hope that my health would ever improve significantly. My goal became finding ways to cope and make life as normal as possible for my husband and children.
My neurologist and I eventually came to the conclusion that I had fibromyalgia. I started on yet another prescription medication, and went to a rheumatologist whom a friend had recommended. The rheumatologist agreed that my symptoms fit with fibromyalgia, and also diagnosed me with hypermobility, which was adding strain to my joints and compounding the problem. She ran a bunch of blood tests to make sure that there were no underlying issues, and prescribed a new round of physical therapy to treat the hypermobility.
Two weeks later I went back to get my blood test results and to develop a treatment plan for the fibromyalgia. I just about fell out of my chair when she told me I had Celiac Disease. My recent miscarriage and a few relatively minor digestive issues made her suspicious enough to run the test, even though I don’t fit the (stero)typical symptoms of Celiac.
Celiac Disease causes an auto-immune reaction to gluten–a plant protein in wheat, barley, rye, and most oats. It damages your intestines and, among other things, impairs your ability to absorb nutrients from food. I had become malnourished, and therefore so low in certain vitamins that my neurological system wasn’t able to function properly.
I began a gluten free diet just over a month ago. I still can’t believe what a difference it’s made. I started seeing improvement within a few days. Now, my neurological symptoms are virtually gone, my energy is returning, and I am able to sleep at night. By all indications, I will continue to improve over the next several months.
I am so thankful to God that He revealed the cause of my illness, and is healing me from it. I am very aware that I could have continued to live this way. His mercy is overwhelming.
Almost 5 months ago, I was told I would need surgery on my spinal cord. If that was true, He would have been faithful. If I had multiple sclerosis, He would have been unchanging. If I had brain tumors, He would have been kind. But, I have Celiac Disease, and I can clearly see His mercy and grace.
Since Celiac is genetic, my family is going through testing as well. Two members of my family have already had positive results, and given certain family “traits,” I wouldn’t be surprised if several others are diagnosed as well.
In honor of Celiac Awareness Day, please read the Celiac Symptoms Checklist and see if these symptoms are ones you or a loved one suffer from.
My gastroenterologist said that about 1 in 100 people have Celiac. However, it is grossly under-diagnosed. The treatment is entirely dietary, so pharmaceutical companies don’t develop awareness like many other diseases. If you even wonder if you could have Celiac…get the blood test. I don’t even fit the checklist above, but my result was through the roof.
Thanks for reading. I should be “seeing” you around more now that I’m feeling better.