Time Out for a Public Service Announcement: May is Celiac Awareness Month

Fact: 1 in 100 people in the United States will develop celiac disease in their lifetime.

I am one of those people. My mother was another. I have now lived with the celiac diagnosis for twenty-two years. I am deeply grateful to God for leading me to answers and to being able to maintain the gluten free diet. I truly consider it a miracle. We believe I likely had celiac in childhood, and my mother the same. There were telltale symptoms at various points until my late forties, when I gradually became sicker and sicker–growing debilitating fatigue, repeated bladder infections and viruses, brain fog instances, bouts of diarrhea and severe stomach aches, relentless joint and body aching, and my hair falling out and struggling with depression. In the end fierce mouth sores and drastic drop in weight brought me to my knees. To all of this the doctor I had for years told me I needed to take hormone replacement therapy and anti-depressants, and “I would be fine.” That doctor knew nothing of celiac disease, and when I began to learn and question, simply put me off. Unfortunately, the doctor’s behavior was much the norm back in the late 1990s.

Twenty-two years ago, the medical establishment in this country was just beginning to learn about celiac. Today many more know, and yet sufferers still report doctors who say, “Oh, that is a made up disease.” People who must eat gluten free to stay alive are ridiculed on social media and in film for laughs.

Thus the great need for information.

It is estimated that a diagnosis of celiac disease takes an average of eleven years. Celiac disease runs in families. If you have a first-degree relative with celiac disease–a parent or sibling or child–you have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

For learning more, I recommend Gluten Intolerant Group, Celiac Disease Foundation, and Beyond Celiac organizations.

Now, for this week’s encouraging word:

A conversation with a long-time writer friend prompted me to pick up “Techniques of the Selling Writer”, by Dwight V. Swain. I’m surprised and delighted to see the book available on Amazon, since it was first published in 1965, updated 1973. Dwight Swain was much revered at the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism, where I was fortunate to study. My copy dates from when I began to seriously write in the early 1980s. My dear dog got hold of it when she was a puppy. The gnawed corner makes the book precious on more than one count.

I never met Dwight in person, but I was blessed to speak to him once on the phone. I was a newly published author, and he kindly complimented me, encouraged me, and celebrated with me. As I read his book now, I hear his kindness throughout. He truly wanted to help writers in their work and their lives.

A writer who became tremendously famous once told me that she read “Techniques of the Selling Writer” all the way through before she began writing each new book. Perhaps that was one secret of her success. I find myself absorbed by the book and am re-reading it much like reading a novel.

“To be a writer, a creative person, you must retain your ability to react uniquely. Your feelings must remain your own. The day you mute yourself, or moderate yourself, or repress your proneness to get excited or ecstatic or angry or emotionally involved. . .that day, you die as a writer.” ~ Dwight V. Swain, “Techniques of the Selling Writer”

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Grace and peace,