Thursday, May 5, 2011

In honor of celiac awareness month

Here is my story.

I've always been a high strung person. Super type A, very driven. But I was also highly, highly sensitive. Things that wouldn't bother someone else drove me up the wall. And I was hungry all the time. I remember being a kid and thinking that I just needed more food than other people, and that was the way it was.

Fast forward to early adulthood. I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) around 24 years old. Still hungry all the time, still easily irritated. Stomach problems were almost a daily thing for me.

Then I had my son in 2005 and was soon after diagnosed with post partum depression and anxiety and panic disorder. Thankfully I never had any thoughts of harming myself or my kiddo, but it was a struggle just to function every day.

My symptoms continued until October 2010 when things took a bad turn. I started having severe stomach problems, running to the bathroom 20+ times a day (vomiting and....other things). For a solid month I lived on brown rice and bananas while they did test after test to find out what was wrong with me. Then they did a blood test for celiac disease. My Dr. called and told me that my levels weren't just elevated, they were through the roof. But that wasn't enough to diagnose me, I had a colonoscopy and a sigmoidoscopy and the diagnosis? I had celiac disease.

How long have I had celiac disease? I think that I've had a gluten sensitivity all my life that turned into full blown celiac after my son was born.

Since my diagnosis in November 2010, I have noticed a huge change in my health, my appetite and even my moods. I haven't touched a single speck of gluten intentionally (I've been "gluten-ed" by accident a few times) since then. While I've never been much of a cook, I've been making things that I would normally buy at the store. Soups, breads, cakes, desserts. And I've discovered a huge love of quinoa - I can't get enough of the stuff.

I had a big breakthrough this past Easter weekend. We had Roman's cousins over for a few hours for a visit, plus a friend from next door came over to play too. So there were five kids playing and running around while I was trying to bake a cake while my husband was mowing the lawn outside with the window open. For me, that usually means the stress of the kids being too loud (and me worrying about the kids hurting themselves, making a mess, etc.), the stress of making the cake and the noise of the lawn mower. And of course all things happening at once makes it infinitely worse.

I realized while I was mixing up the cake that I was smiling. And then I realized all the potential stressors that were going around me and I nearly burst out crying - I didn't feel any stress. None. I was thankful to hear the lawnmower outside because that meant it was spring, I was thankful to hear the kids playing all around me and I was happy to bake the cake. But most of all I felt this overwhelming comforting calmness that I have never felt before. I was able to function.

I’ve also lost 20 pounds without trying because I’m not hungry all the time as well. And the food that I'm eating now is amazing - fresh, organic, whole grain, whole foods.

My body is still in the process of healing itself. They say it takes six months to a year for your body to completely heal from all the damage gluten does.

Thank you for reading my story. And if you have similar symptoms to mine at all, PLEASE get tested. Only a small percentage of people who have celiac disease know they have it.

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