Life after diagnosis has been smooth sailing for the most part. Since my father and I are both gluten free, even Thanksgiving and Christmas (normally a pretty gluten-y affair) were both huge successes for us, and by success, I mean it felt normal, and that meant a lot to the both of us.
Having Celiac Disease makes it very easy to feel weird or left out, but I’ve been very lucky, especially during the past few months, that I’ve been able to surround myself with people who understand that this is a lifestyle for me and that it’s a lifestyle that I’m working hard to maintain. I can’t quite describe how incredibly lucky I am to have such a supportive family, fiancé and work family here at Lauren’s Hope. During last week’s January Luncheon, I was included and not in a way that made me feel like a sore thumb. It was the sort of seamless integration that I had before my Celiac Disease diagnosis, and I am so incredibly thankful for that.
Getting the diagnosis of Celiac’s Disease is a very difficult one for most people. Initially, the shock and gravity of those words, “You have Celiac’s Disease,” can feel like a ton of bricks, but knowing that a gluten free lifestyle will grant you a life free from stomach issues, fatigue and the entire array of possible symptoms is the most empowering thing a person can do for themselves. Self-advocation is a necessity when it comes to feeling good and being healthy from the inside out.
What are the symptoms of Celiac Disease?
I love this infographic because it’s the first I’ve seen that really shows the array of symptoms someone with Celiac Disease can experience. For me, it was bloating, chronic fatigue, fluctuating weight, headaches, brain fog and one I didn’t even realize wasn’t normal for everyone to have: mouth ulcers. For others it could be things as blatant as stomach pain and nausea to something as far-fetched as muscle spasms, migraines, muscle spasms or seizures.
How to get diagnosed:
If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, it’s important to be screened for Celiac Disease. Speak with your doctor about getting a physical examination and blood tests to check your EMA, AGA, DGP and tTGA . Then, if those tests are positive, I suggest meeting with a Gastroenterologist to have an upper-intestinal biopsy done. This test gave me piece of mind that I was living this (at times difficult) lifestyle for a reason.
Since I started working at Lauren's Hope, I've really discovered how useful wearing a Medical ID can be. I bought the Hooty-Who since I'm mildly obsessed with owls, and I must say, I was worried that wearing it would be annoying. Luckily for me, I was horribly mistaken. Not only is it comfortable to wear, it's really adorable and something I'd wear even if I didn't need it for its use as a Medical ID bracelet.
Celiac Disease patients should wear a Medical ID. In the (hopefully unlikly) event of paramedics coming to your aid, it's important they know you have Celiac Disease or have a wheat or gluten intolerance. This way, in the event that you cannot speak for yourself, they will know not to give you medications or treatment that contains gluten.
Most people would call me a “Celiac Disease sufferer,” but I choose not to suffer. I am living with Celiac Disease, and I’m making the healthy choice for myself, my family, my friends and my future.