Monday, January 23, 2017

Celiac Disease

I have recounted this story so many times I'm tired of it, but I have not yet written it down.  So.  At least one more time I will have to share it.

Clear back at the end of 2015 I woke up with strange spots all over my skin that were round and itchy but looked more like a mild cigarette burn than a rash or hives.  I skipped church that day not knowing why my skin was reacting this way and didn't want to spread anything on the off chance it was a weird contagious thing.  Instead, I went to my doctor's office.  The doctor just shrugged it off as something I probably ate.  For the record I could not think of one single new thing I had eaten.

This past summer I started getting red, itchy spots again.  I was trying to ignore them as best I could. However.  I saw a link to this post on Instagram from Becky Higgins.  She shared how important it is to listen to your body.  I started to think maybe I should look into this a little bit after all.  But I didn't do anything sure it was nothing and I'd have the same response as before.  Really soon after I read Becky's post, I saw this one from Ali Edward's who had a health scare and also cautioned her readers to listen to their bodies.  How could I ignore it this time?  I called an allergist and made an appointment.

I second guessed everything the whole way through.  I was sure it was nothing and that I would walk away $40 poorer with no new information.  The allergist was fantastic.  He did the scratch test I requested, but the only thing that turned up was grass.  He checked my ears, nose and throat.  He thought my thyroid felt a bit enlarged and wanted to draw blood to check it.  He was taking notes as he explained this.  He sort of stopped and looked up at me and said, "Let's check for Celiac, too, since we're drawing blood." He explained that sometimes it can manifest as a rash.

It took almost a week to get the results back due to Labor day.  When the doctor's office called me back, they told me my numbers were high.  The doctor wanted me to meet with a GI doctor and get an endoscopy.  I did that and yes.  It was confirmed.  I have a moderate case of  Celiac's disease.

As much as I have hated the idea of it, I am so grateful to have an answer.  I did a lot of reading after the diagnosis, especially looking into the symptoms.  I know people with Celiacs.  I've had to cook for a Celiac friend at Girl's Camp. I thought I knew what they symptoms were.  Apparently there is a lot more to it than just tummy troubles.  (which I never had)  I read through the symptoms and could check off several!  (Just not the super obvious ones)  I now had an explanation for so many mild problems I had been having.  I had been working with my doctor on trying to figure out a few things because I knew something wasn't right.  I was so relieved and grateful to have somewhere to start making improvements. I started feeling better within the first 2-3 days of giving up gluten.

It's been a good thing.  That said, it has it's challenges.  It's hard to find things I like - breads, crackers, etc.  There are options out there and I'm grateful for them.  Despite the well meaning comments of people, it doesn't really help.  I still try not to cry at the grocery store.  I just paid $5 for 10 tortillas.  This is pricey.  But.  That 50 cent tortilla wrapped around my hamburger was heaven.  It was the closest thing to real bread I've had since september.

I know this will get easier at some point. Maybe in the summer when fresh, delicious produce in crazy abundance.

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