Even as a child, I can recall lying on the floor in agony until the pain subsided, the doctors always put it down to a rumbling appendix or a lazy bowel. As I got older I was diagnosed with IBS, by my GP, even though I didn’t meet a large majority of the criteria, thus a large majority of my pain and discomfort was left unexplained.
At 17 I was officially diagnosed with endometrosis, which I have continued to suffer from for over 13 years. This was not a good combination with coeliac disease, the monthly swelling and pain was beyond belief. Any digestion of high gluten containing food such as pasta and pizza would result in unbearable pain, which often resulted in me ending up in hospital.
I lived my life wearing stretchy pull up type pants and was even thinking of buying maternity pants, because without any warning, by stomach would blow up like a puffer fish within a few minutes, and I would look 5-6 months pregnant! I had to wear baggy tops, as a school teacher I was frequently asked by the younger children if there was a baby in my belly, I would respond with ‘no, I just have a sore tummy’! I’m sure the parents at my school were confused by my stomach, that would increase and decrease; pregnancy rumours were rife.
It wasn’t until I was extremely sick, suffering from severe anaemia, with iron levels of 4, requiring injections, which would cause me to pass out at times, or be so incredibly tired. My doctor referred me to a gastrologist, due to these iron levels; he ordered what I call channel 9 and channel 10 camera crews (an endoscopy and laparoscopy). I thought it might be an idea to mention the swelling to my stomach after eating certain foods. I received a very arrogant response, assuming I had self diagnosed from reading magazines. My blank face and asking what the disease was, changed his mind.
Sure enough, a month later, upon my return I was diagnosed with coeliac disease! Finally I had an answer to my problems. It was like an awakening, I could start my new life, simply by changing my diet.
It was amazing within a month I felt better, I had more energy, no massive belly, and I began to learn how to cook things the gluten free way. My iron stores built up and I felt revitalised. I still had the monthly pains, but minus the excessive bloating.
Living as a coeliac, my biggest problems are going out to restaurants or eating out somewhere for lunch etc! I have been contaminated with gluten, from a gf menu! Most chefs know very little of coeliac disease or allergies in general!
I now have my set of questions I ask, and I make the waiter go back and check with the chef. It isn’t worth ruining my night, for one meal!
About Rachel: Since being diagnosed I have started a blog, sharing my stories, recipes, restaurants etc with others. I have a world-wide readership! If you would like to read my blog the address is http://www.mishapsandmayhemofaglutenfreelife.blogspot.com or you can follow me on Twitter @MMOAGFL>
Please if you suffer any of the symptoms of coeliac disease or your parents do, go and see your doctor and ask to get tested. Untreated in can do horrible things to the body!