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The Story of My Diagnosis
- By Carissa Bell
- Published 09/4/2013
My name is Carissa and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in early 2009. Being diagnosed has changed my life for the better. I am grateful everyday to be gluten-free. My doctor advised I see a nutritionist and by the time I saw her, which was 3 weeks after being diagnosed I already knew more than she did about celiac disease. I also had an interest in nutrition but after realizing that my nutritionist knew very little about celiac disease I decided to study nutrition, which is what I am doing now. I spend a lot of time studying anything related to gluten free, it is my passion in life. Since being diagnosed I have helped many people around me realize how harmful modernized wheat is to our bodies and many of those people I have educated have given up wheat and feel great and have me to thank.
I had been throwing up for about 6 months on and off, and it seemed like no matter what I ate I would still get sick. I was transitioning from San Diego back out to Dallas where I was from, and was trying to get settled in. I had days where I felt perfectly fine, and on those days I worked out with my trainer at the gym for about 2 hours a day. I thought I was doing everything right at that point.
I remember waking up one morning and getting ready for an appointment at the women's clinic. That morning was peculiar, because my hands were very numb. I had been experiencing numbness and tingling in my hands and feet for a couple months now, but this was different. I don't mean numb like they had fallen asleep, this numbness was unlike anything I had experienced before. My hands were so numb that my thumbs were pressed against my four fingers and I could not pry them apart.
That day was four and a half years ago and still very vivid. I stood there in my kitchen trying to open a box of "healthy whole grain" cereal and could not get the box open due to my hands. I decided not to worry about it and drove myself to the doctor. My hands remained numb for about an hour after that. I mentioned to my doctor the numbness and she suggested I call my primary care doctor.
I had a checkup with my doctor that week so I waited until then. That appointment changed my life. I finally decided to mention to my doctor about my getting sick no matter what I seemed to eat. She asked me to do a blood test and those results explained everything. It's never a good thing when you are in your doctors office waiting for results and she rushes in, in panic mode. My doctor was running around like a mad women. She finally calmed down enough to explain my results. My calcium and potassium levels were half of what they should be which explains why my hands were so numb a couple days prior. I was taking vitamins everyday so how come I was not absorbing them?
The next thing I know is I was being hooked up to an EKG machine and then rushed off into an ambulance. The next 2 weeks of my life were miserable to say the least. I was given potassium by an I.V. and that burned so bad that it brought me to tears quite often. They put me on a liquid diet and I was still getting sick from the chicken broth. The doctors were puzzled because I was not eating anything, yet I was still getting very sick. My second to last day at the hospital they decided to do a endoscopy, biopsy, and a colonoscopy all at the same time. I fortunately was completely under and could not feel a thing.
Two weeks after having that done I received a phone call which made all the pieces to the puzzle fit. A nurse called me to say that I had celiac disease. Those words plagued my head for the next couple of days. All I could think about was that I had a disease and how was that possible? The nurse sent me some information and briefly explained what I had. That was the day I heard the term gluten for the very first time which was in March of 2009. That very day I threw away everything in my pantry that contained gluten which meant everything.
I was basically starting over and throwing out everything I knew about food and starting fresh. I started reading up on celiac disease and gluten-free night and day. I was scheduled to see a nutritionist two weeks after being diagnosed and by that point I already knew more than she did about celiac disease. She seemed impressed by that.
Fast forward to now and the term gluten is widely used in my vocabulary. It's been over four years since I have eaten anything with gluten and am much healthier than I have been in my whole life overall. I make it a mission now to spread awareness about celiac disease teach those around me about it. People need to understand that it's much more than an allergy to gluten and wheat. Being diagnosed with celiac disease made me decide to become a nutritionist, which I am currently studying at school.
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