The only word that I can think of when I reflect back on my journey with Celiac disease is WOW. This autoimmune disease has absolutely changed my life…some of it good, some of it rough. But I would love to share my story with you, not only to raise awareness, but to help change you and your families’ lives as well! Because, chances are, you could have symptoms of Celiac disease or gluten intolerance and not even know it.
If you don’t know all that Celiac entails, neither did I. Therefore, I am going to start off my story without telling you what Celiac really is, because I was in the dark as well.
It all started over Christmas in 2012 when I went to Kansas to celebrate the holidays with my in-laws. My family had been sick with a weird virus and I also developed the symptoms. Christmas day, I was locked inside of the bathroom, chugging PeptoBismol, trying not to ralph. We were headed to Colorado the next day to meet up with some more family and go skiing.
My queasiness continued in Colorado but I fought through so I could have my first skiing experience the next morning. BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER. I went skiing all day. Dry heaving and telling my in-laws that I was fine. The cold air was burning my lungs and the workout that I was getting put me into exhaustion. I made it home that night and went immediately to bed. I woke up the next morning with a terrible cough. The only thing I wanted to eat were the rice krispy treats that I made while I stayed home sick and everyone else was skiing and enjoying the vacation.
It was time to go home and I sounded like a seal, coughing. The 13 hour drive home was…fun. I went to urgent care as soon as I could and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Ain’t nobody got time for that!!! I was feeling slightly better, when I hit a brick wall exactly a week later when I was teaching. I was staring at the kids with a glazed over look. Every break I got, I laid down to rest. Went to urgent care again…still had bronchitis, with a side of strep throat. Took a Z-pack and felt okay for the next few weeks.
During those weeks, I never went back to my normal eating habits. I still felt sick. I attributed my sickly feelings to just recovering still. February rolls around. I was not feeling well AT ALL. Strep throat AGAIN! This was sending off alarms in my mind. I took another Z-pack and it all went downhill from there.
Each day was a test and a battle. I was trying to teach when I would get hit with massive waves of nausea and debilitating acid reflux. Reflux to the point where I thought it might just come all the way out of my mouth. By the time March came around my bowel movements were abnormal, I had lost about 15 pounds (not in a good way) and was miserable. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I literally felt like I was dying…not to mention the toll that it was taking on my marriage and other relationships. I fell off the face of the Earth. I was NOT myself.
I had been to a few doctors. I went to urgent care a few more times because my throat was so raw from reflux that it was developing white blisters. I went to my primary care doctor who offered to give me Prilosec at age 24. THIS put me over the edge. I left her office in tears. I called my husband bawling. I had hit rock bottom. NOBODY was LISTENING to me…but most of all, nobody was willing to search for the ROOT of the problem. Many doctors wanted to prescribe me something for a quick fix to cover up my symptoms. I wasn’t havin’ it.
Chapter 1 Overview:
*For more than 3 months, I was chronically ill with no answers.
*Symptoms that I noticed at this point: fatigue, acid reflux (the worst I have ever had or could ever imagine), nausea/vomiting, irritable bowel movements (lose stool), lack of nutrition, weight loss.
*I had been seeing doctors for 3.5 months. I believe I went to 5 different doctors during this time. Something in my gut told me to keep searching (no pun intended). I needed to find a doctor who would listen to how I felt without wanting to prescribe me something for a quick fix. I knew that something SERIOUS would happen if I didn’t find someone FAST.
Stay tuned for the next chapter!
If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms without a known cause, please direct them my way. I would love to help them find answers. It’s never too late and no symptom is ever too minimal to look into. Happy Tuesday!