It's easy to imagine that when one finds out she has a condition like Celiac disease, her initial feelings would be ones of sadness, confusion and even loss.
What is Celiac disease?
What will I be able to eat?
What about all of my favorite foods?
How will I ever enjoy eating again?
But it's weird: I never felt that way when I found out I have Celiac. Sure, I had feelings of being cheated (so no more Oreos?) and I wasn't sure how this would all pan out, but I was never upset.
Perhaps, it was because I am some sort of ultra-strong woman, or maybe, just maybe, it was instead because I always knew.
I always knew something was off. Something just wasn't jiving in my body. I would eat and feel sick rather than energized. A simple meal could send me to bed (and the bathroom) for hours, my stomach cramping with pain. I consistently felt nauseous. I suffered from migraines that hurt so bad I was positive they were going to kill me. I had skin rashes every day. I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. And I never, ever didn't feel tired.
I knew something was wrong and that's why I persisted when the doctor's told me I was stressed out or, perhaps, I had a thyroid problem. And when that test came back negative, they went back to telling me I was just stressed out. I have been tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, anemia, an overactive thyroid, an under-active thyroid, leukemia, insomnia and more. I've had more blood drawn from me than I could ever keep track of, and I have had a bone marrow biopsy that had me clinging to my mom's hand like every inch of my soul was about to be wiped from the face of the earth.
All to lead me to ... nothing.
But I am a firm believer in the idea that what are bodies are manifesting on the outside are very often the direct result of what we are putting on the inside. Sure, there are things we can't prevent. But somewhere deep inside I knew my case was the result of what I was or wasn't eating.
I just couldn't put a finger on it.
And then, I came across a piece of literature about Celiac disease and gluten-free eating, and it was like a loaf of bread smacked me upside the head.
I knew this was me. I just knew.
The stomach pains, migraines, unpleasant bathroom experiences, exhaustion, depression, skin rashes ... it was me.
I went to the doctor and sure enough, I was right. I have Celiac disease. Presto!
There was a part of me that was so entirely angry about the many years I had spent pushing doctors to hear my story, and no one once mentioned this as a possibility. No one ever said, hey, how about this?
Here's why: The push for most doctors to understand Celiac disease and its symptoms is so severely lacking because of the fact that there are no drugs to treat it. No drugs to treat Celiac disease = little money in doctor's pockets = little interest in research = an understudied condition. Thank goodness for Celiac-focused groups, like the Celiac Disease Foundation who are consistently working to promote awareness and encourage research.
So, maybe now you can understand why my initial reaction to "You have Celiac disease" was less than surprised. It made sense to me. Of course, it was the gluten! Of course, it was the gluten all along. It was the reason for my stomach troubles, the instigator behind my persistent hives and rashes, the culprit of my darkest days, filled with migraines, feelings of worries and depression.
No, it wasn't all to blame. But that little guy gluten had been a major contributing factor in sucking up my precious time. And like a relationship that has seen its last day, saying goodbye was freeing and left a road full of possibilities lying ahead for me.
Do I pass a rack of Spring Oreos (a very sick obsession before my gluten-free life) and feel a twinge? Absolutely. Do I attend a birthday party and sometimes want to try a piece of the triple chocolate chip cake? Uh huh. But I know gluten and I have happy memories ... and a lot more painful ones, too. What I have now -- curling up to watch a movie after dinner and feeling pain free, energy to suck up life experiences, a less committed relationship with a toilet -- it trumps any of my days with gluten.
So, with that I said, "Goodbye, gluten ... I won't miss you at all." And I haven't looked back since.