Life with Celiac disease: The journey and the outcome!

1 Heart, 1 Family, Celiac disease

For years I have struggled with stomach problems.

The first time I went to the doctors regarding my stomach, I was 13 years old. I felt like I had a pit of hot acid in my stomach. It was worse when I lay down and after I ate. At first my family doctor fluffed it off to poor teenage eating habits. So I changed the way I ate. I focused on the Canadian Food Guide’s recommendations (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats) and made a valid effort to eat healthier. After 6 months of eating healthy, I still didn’t feel right. I went back to the doctor and I was diagnosed with Acid Reflux and put on an acid reducer prescription. This seemed to do the trick as my symptoms dulled and I had only the occasional flare up.

Fast forward 10 years. I was now in university and cooking on my own. I started having symptoms again. Being a university student and working two jobs, I didn’t have much time (or money!) for cooking healthy, gourmet meals. Instead I relied on pasta, sandwiches and cereal to get me through. Since I was still taking my acid reflux medication, the doctor diagnosed my symptoms this time as lactose intolerance. I was advised to continue taking my acid reflux pills and take lactase before eating anything containing dairy. This didn’t solve the problem, but I was so busy, I just learned to live with the symptoms.

Flash forward 6 years. I am now married and have just given birth to my 3rd child. After two normal births, I was rushed in for an emergency c-section when my DD went breech as I went into labour. After birth, I started noticing my stomach symptoms again. I was first told they were the after effects of the surgery then told it was exhaustion. Instead of getting better with time, they increasingly got worse. I went from bloating and acid reflux symptoms, to throwing up and sever diarrhea. It was bizarre. I would go from feeling fine to severe throwing up for hours back to feeling fine. When my post pregnancy weight of 140 lbs dropped to 110 lbs in 4 months, is when I really started to worry!

Again, I went to my doctor and this time it happened to be in correlation with my DD’s 6 month check up. The doctor suggested that in light my symptoms and the fact that my DD wasn’t gaining weight properly, that I switch her from breast milk to formula. At this point, I was sent to a gastroenterologist. From the explanation of my symptoms (bloating, acid, throwing up, diarrhea, fine motor problems), he immediately diagnosed me with Celiac disease. After having an endoscopy, it was 100% confirmed.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine where by the body views gluten as a poison. As a result, in the presence of gluten, the small intestine becomes damaged and doesn’t properly absorb the vital nutrients the body requires from the food we eat. The person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food he or she eats. Celiac disease can develop at any point in your life, from infancy to late adulthood. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as other problems (i.e. acid reflux, lactose intolerance, etc.) and other times it can remain dormant until a traumatic event occurs (i.e. stress, pregnancy, surgery, etc), which triggers the symptoms. Unfortunately, I was the victim of both circumstances. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale, barley. Because it helps foods bind and prevents crumbling, gluten is widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods.

How has life changed?

Celiac disease as yet has no known cure, but this doesn’t mean that you are doomed to live a sheltered life. The symptoms can usually be effectively treated and controlled with the adherence to a Gluten- Free diet. With dietetic counseling, the knowledge of hidden sources of gluten (i.e. soups, luncheon meats and drugs) and the knowledge that you MUST read the ingredients on all the food labels you consume, you can live a happy, normal life.

My family is very supportive, especially my kids (DS6 and DS4)! They know what celiac disease is and constantly make sure that what I’m eating doesn’t contains gluten. They are aware that we have separate butter containers and toasters to avoid cross contamination and are conscious about cleaning up any gluten crumbs they leave behind.

By reading labels, educating yourself on the foods that contain gluten and being aware of your surroundings one can easily eat gluten free. Thanks to new government regulations, companies are now required to label all traces of gluten, making it easier to discover where hidden source can be found. There are some amazing companies out there that provide great tasting gluten free breads, cookies and muffins, so you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on foods you once enjoyed.

Overall, Celiac Disease has not really changed my life. I’m a little more aware of what I put in my mouth, but I can easily enjoy breads and cakes, only mine aren’t made with Gluten!

My name is Jennifer Van Huss. I’m a Mother, a wife, a person who loves to help and a blogger for 1 Heart, 1 Family. I blog about my children, parenting,real life situations, life with celiac disease and product reviews, I blog to show people that they are not alone in the hilarious, stressful and emotional journey in parenthood. I write honest, true, real life stories in the hope that I can help my readers learn how to survive parenthood and live to tell about it. I hope that through reading my personal experiences they are able to learn from my flaws, feel less alone in the journey and learn which products would benefit their lives.

Trackbacks

  1. […] 1Heart1Family: Life with Celiac Disease: The Journey and the Outcome […]