My Celiac Story…

Vegan Gluten free Cupcakes

Image by paulr_42 via Flickr

…or subtitled: Thankful I Didn’t Die in the Meantime.

May is National Celiac Awareness Month. For me, it a reminder of where I was ten years ago, with my body collapsing from a myriad of painful symptoms  that I was to learn were caused by a little known and baffling condition, one I may have had since birth.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.  ~ National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

I cannot pinpoint an event that signaled when celiac disease started for me, but I remember in my teens and into my twenties having spells of carrying around a bottle of Pepto Bismol in my purse because of recurring sudden onset of diarrhea. If you’ve always been this way, and your well-meaning mother thrusts a Pepto Bismol bottle at you and says, “There’s probably something in the water,” you don’t think anything of it. Also, I did not have the type of relationship that I discussed such things with my mother, nor with anyone. In our society people will speak of intimate affairs on television, but are not about to mention the words diarrhea or constipation.

In my early thirties I did mention, in passing, stomach pain to my doctor; I was prescribed the then-new (and of course expensive) drug, Zantac. It worked! For the next decade, symptoms of digestive stress and low energy and melancholy seemed to abate. I got so busy with being a mother, a wife, a writing career, and enjoying my horses and all manner of nice living that I did not notice declining health creeping up on me in my late forties.

It began with aching joints and back. I had always suffered the aching, but it became more severe. My doctor ordered a bone scan; the result showed osteopenia, at the age of 46. I was told to take calcium. Then I began to suffer aching elbows, arms, shoulders. Continue reading