I’ve read so many things about coeliac disease, it can be genetic, you can of course have it from birth, that it’s common for females to develop an intolerance as they go from their 20’s into their 30’s and you could also develop an intolerance of some sort due to stress or a traumatic event. To be honest for me it could be any of the above however when I think back to being a child I believe I did have it then as I’ve always felt this really off feeling and lethargic after eating but I do think it got considerably worse the second half of my 20’s which in turn could have been made by a very stressful time I went through. These are only my own thoughts and there is no evidence to prove this but I believe we know ourselves how our bodies change and how we feel.
When I really started to feel unwell I constantly felt so tired, not sleepy as such but my body felt exhausted and my limbs ached and I had to force myself to get up sometimes. I went to the doctor several times over the course of a few years and was told ‘do you have a carbon monoxide tester in your house’, ‘do you know how many people tell me this in the winter’ and ‘you get up early for work and do long hours’. I was made to feel stupid. Yeah I was up early each day, I worked as a radio breakfast show producer and yes the hours could be long but I knew it was a different feeling to just being tired.
I was constantly bloated, I never felt right after eating and it started to put me off going out with friends for something to eat or arranging to do anything in the evening because I was so worried about my stomach after I’d eaten. On top of this I was anaemic and had low calcium levels (which I discovered after finally getting a blood test!) plus I started shedding a lot more hair than usual. As you can imagine these symptoms put together were worrying but they were dismissed by the doctor and I carried on. Something else I’ve suffered with all my life is sinus problems and severe headaches (I know I sound like a walking disaster!) so while all these other symptoms were coming to the forefront my headaches were getting worse than ever, I could have a headache that would last for days and nothing helped. I was starting to get paranoid and googling all sorts, as you do. During this time I had read about cutting out wheat and gluten and suggested it to my doctor, I was told it would be ‘too much hassle’ to have the intolerance test done but if I felt I wanted to try it then just do it. The problem is that without the proper information you just cut out the basics like bread not realising what else all contains the G word. My doctor never explained anything to me about coeliac disease or even mentioned the word so to a degree I was still in the dark. Two months later over Christmas and New Year I was so ill and felt rotten, by chance I picked up my mums magazine and read an article on coeliac disease, every symptom they listed I’d had and now I was able to approach the doctor with what I was sure was the issue.
Cutting out all gluten which was quite an eye opener when you realise how much stuff contains it! Within 2 weeks I already knew the difference and within 2 months I finally knew what it was like to feel ‘normal’ after I ate a meal, to still feel like I had energy to do things and to realise I didn’t have a weight problem I just had a wheat problem! Most of all I just felt happy about eating again.
3 years on and I have only ever been glutened a handful of times, yes you do have to be careful when eating out but I have to say that I don’t find it a hassle. Being coeliac doesn’t have to be difficult, you just have to be careful. You soon get into the swing of it and its second nature to know what you can and can’t eat. What amazes me is when you say to people that your coeliac and they make the face of ‘oh dear what a shame’! The other week I even had someone say ‘oh I’m sorry’! Why?! Because I can’t eat a ‘normal’ pizza? there is nothing to be sorry for, I’m in better health for it and I live a very ‘normal’ food life as fas as I’m concerned. I’m just glad that to be happy again and not live with the worry of eating.