It begins innocently enough. A small twitch in your gut, an inkling in the back of your mind. Something is not right. You ignore it at first. Surely you are just being paranoid. You were so careful…it can’t be happening again. Maybe, it will just go away. Sorry, not this time. May God have mercy on your soul.
Immediately upon waking your brain is screaming, “GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!” The fun has only just begun. The next 18 hours are a living hell. Your body is overcome by a pain so intense rational thought is nearly impossible. You can’t eat. Drinking water seems like a cruel test. You try to pass out but nausea mocks you and sleep is only an illusion. By the time night falls, everything about you is exhausted: your mind, your body, your emotions, your spirit. You lay in bed and pray to God to take this away or take you. Mercifully, sleep overcomes.
As quickly as the storm hit, it is over. Slipping away in the night like a thief; taking with it a small amount of your trust in your own body. You wake up. Your head clears. You survived.
So, this was obviously a little bit satirical and overly dramatic. However, this is not all that different from the thoughts and feelings I have after I eat a seemingly innocuous bread crumb. One bread crumbs is all it takes. It’s a little intimidating.
This is only one version of a reaction to gluten, a common protein that is found in foods, dental products, drinks, even things the most health conscious gluten-free veteran might not think about checking. My reaction is usually over in a few days, some people react for a week or more. My reaction, though it might not seem true, is relatively mild while other sufferers may be hospitalized.
Celiac disease is not all that rare. I was shocked to find out it is one of the more common G.I. disease, yet one of the most least likely to be diagnosed. I most likely have had this disease since I was born. I was not diagnosed with it until last December, nearly 25 years later. My story is not the only like this. Countless people have suffered in silence, believing this was simply the hand they were dealt, until some doctor finally whips out their ace in the hole. Still many more continue to suffer without answers.
The symptoms for celiac are all over the board. It is an auto-immune disease so it not only affects the G.I. system but every single part of the body. Short stature is a symptom, hair loss, mood swings, diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, anemia, urinary tract infections, even itching that won’t ever stop is a symptom. The disease is so widely variable that many doctors are unable to put the pieces together. Simply looking for failure to thrive doesn’t cut it anymore. Doctors need to look deeper, yet many are unable or unwilling to do so.
I am asking everyone to be aware. So many people are going undiagnosed. Having suffered though the pain, nausea, and fear for almost 25 years, I would not wish this on anyone. Unfortunately so many people are unaware of this silent epidemic. The more informed you are the more helpful you will be to yourself and to those you know. Having knowledge is powerful. Knowledge can help beat celiac disease.