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Suffering In School
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Hello,

 

    So based on blood tests and discussing symptoms with a GI, we have both come to the conclusion that I almost certainly have celiac. I am a 17 year old junior in High School. This week and the following are finals weeks. Gluten causes me a great deal of headaches, lack of sleep, lack of focus, as well as irrational depression. ( I do not know if the depression is a separate factor but it sure doesn't help.) But I have a Biopsy scheduled a few days from now. (right before the end of finals week.) And I am having a miserable time trying to study and get homework done now. I have a presentation to make for my english class, and it is way harder than it should be. I normally have an outstanding work ethic in school, but i just simply can't focus on anything. I have terrible short term memory loss as well. I am a very good student and can't afford to fail these finals. I am so damn depressed about all of this. I don't know what to do, I have been trying to tough out the symptoms I'm feeling until the biopsy, but it occurs and an unfavorable time. And I am receiving no support from my parents, just insults like "oh you're glutens making you act all illogical again huh? Deal with it, get your finals done." I have never worked so hard in my life before. I just would like to ask, what do i do? I have absolutely no idea how to cope with this, my most important year in High School is going down the drain because of this unforgiving disease. I almost just want to give up.

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Can you talk to a school counselor or a trusted teacher? Teachers or office staff usually work for days after students are released for the summer. Perhaps your finals could be postponed for a few days.

I can not imagine feeling sick and going through finals, but I have been in situations that have required me to push through. Let's see if any teachers or parents of HS students on the forum could offer better advice.

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Thanks, I have tried to contact my councilor or another reason. Yet school is almost over and councilors are unavailable.

Yes if there were any Teachers or Councilors with any sort of experience with this here, I would be very grateful.

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Well, there is the Principal or VP. They are there to help too. Or the school nurse?

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Though it would be great if exceptions could be made by your school, I'm going to guess that it won't happen. I'm not saying don't try, but do keep your expectations low, and don't waste too much energy trying to find a way to delay your finals. Schools really aren't set up to make exceptions for single students that way.

But I do think that it is a good idea to make sure your teachers know what you are dealing with so that they can take it into consideration when giving grades, for instance if you've been getting really good grades up until now, they could decide to weigh previous quarters more heavily than the last if they knew that you were experiencing health problems recently.

But you should presume that you'll have the worst-case scenario, that you'll have to take your finals right on time and deal with gluten and deal with diagnosis in tandem. Yes, it sucks, but it is happening.

And when it comes to going off of gluten in a couple days after the biopsy is done, don't forget that you'll also go through gluten withdrawal that will make you lethargic and not want to study, and you'll have to sleep more than normal. Not to mention that the first few weeks of going gluten free are pretty much guaranteed to include accidental glutenings that would also cause reactions and symptoms from which you'd need to recover.

If it were me, I'd probably plan to continue consuming gluten until finals were over, but in much lower quantities than your previous "normal" diet. Then, after finals, I'd switch to focusing on going gluten free, knowing that you won't be able to give that task the attention it needs until you don't also have to study.

In the meantime, you're going to have to stop thinking so much about your celiac diagnosis and focus more on your school work. Your health issues will still be here in two weeks. Having this diagnosis coming at you now is horrible timing, but I'd make a bet that having difficulty studying would have more to do with being extremely distracted by celiac information rather than experiencing a gluten reaction. Not that that couldn't be a symptom, but I've read your posts and your brain appears to be working just fine - though whirling with stressful thoughts. 

I'd also recommend forgetting about the celiac forum until after finals. Again, it will still be here when your tests are over.

When it comes to studying, the most effective memory tool I've ever had work for me is to write things down by hand, basically taking notes of key words and ideas as you study. There is something about the exercise of writing that solidifies memories in your brain, and gives you handy review sheets to go over before the tests. Saying things out loud helps too, though not as much as writing.

And if you still find yourself getting distracted and your mind wandering, then I'd try a little bit of background music - just enough to give the bored part of your brain something to pay attention to, but not enough to keep you from being able to focus.

I say all of this because you've been eating gluten all of your life, and as you said, you normally have an outstanding work ethic. So I think that it is possible for you to continue on with gluten in your life for the next two weeks and manage to get through your finals ... as long as you can push the thoughts of gluten and celiac onto the back burner for now. 

If you are suffering from the effects of gluten now, just greatly reducing how much you consume should have a noticeable effect in symptoms, and delaying going gluten free completely could mean that you also delay the withdrawal and accidental glutening reactions that are sure to happen in the first couple weeks. 

I believe you can make it and do well on your tests. But you have to believe it too.

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Have you talked to your doctor? The neurological effects of celiac are becoming more well know by doctors and he/she may be able to help you get the finals rescheduled for a later date or let you retake them if you do poorly. The doctor may also be able to get you in sooner for the biopsy so you can start the diet sooner. Call the office and ask to speak to a nurse. The will either relay it to the doctor and call you back or the doctor may call you back themselves. 

Meanwhile get some sublingual B12 supplements and some vitamin D3. Both may help with the brain fog and the D3 may help a bit with the depression. 

You have gotten through almost all the school year and you can make it through these last few days no matter whether under gluten effects or not.  

If you are able to get off gluten before the finals don't worry too much about withdrawl as not everyone will go through it. 

Try not to worry and just concentrate on doing the best you can. Get plenty of sleep and eat as nutritiously as you can. 

Hope things are better for you soon.

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I am sorry that you are going through this.  My son went through this his junior year of high school.   When he's glutened he fails exams; not glutened he's at the top of the class.   We were not able to get an agreement from the school that we were happy with, but he had been sick a lot.  I think that you would need to go to the principal with a doctor's letter about what is going on.  He can postpone exams, but he may not agree to do that. My daughter in university in Canada got glutened right before her exams and was able to defer them without problems.  If all else fails, you can make up for a bad high school performance in community college which is what my son is doing.  He will transfer to a 4 year college after that. 

 

My son and I both get terrible depression with glutening.  That should go away with diagnosis and recovery.  Lots of people have some problems in high school and then go on to have very productive lives.  You can recover from this.  Do the best that you can, and then do better next year when you are well.

 

I am sorry that you aren't getting parental support.  If it weren't for the fact that I suffer from the same symptoms myself, I might not be supportive either.  It is easy to think that it is an excuse.  You will get through this.  I hope you feel better soon.

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Hello, I'm a school psychologist and I recently got diagnosed with celiacs disease as well. I'm having the same trouble at work that you are I school. I can't concentrate, feel nauseous all the time and exhausted. I took three weeks off on short term disability and recently started going back for half days. Even that is hard. I find it terrible to hear that you say your counselor is unavailable. They should make time for you and I suggest going back to them and ask again. That is what they are there for. Although this is hard advice to give myself at times (as an over achiever as well) I think that you can only do the best you can right now and have to be okay with that. Push through he next few weeks. I think that the school should be understanding about your condition right now. Maybe you can speak to either the principal or individual teachers and bring a parent or guardian if needed. It seems to be that a lot of people do not understand celiacs disease and what it entails. Educate them and maybe they will lighten up your load or help you create a plan that can work. Good luck!!

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hi:

wish you had finished your school strong. i have been through the same thing. from i was born till now 25 years old. i always had issues with memory, focus, learning problem and etc because of gluten and dairy, i was a good student too. i thought i can relate to some of your concern and i thought that the worst situation could stimulate your maximum potential, if i was born without gluten or all sorts of other problems, the life quality will be better for sure, but i guess i won't be working that hard at school too. i work hard because i fell i am intellectually inferior to others. so translating to your case. try not to think about the diagonisis or treatment yet. but focus on your school work, calm yourself down. if you can't focus, force yourself to,  can't remember things, try to memorize more. i remembered sometime i would run down the road to cry just because my mind is so stuck and can't function.  that's what i was doing back then and i was striken hard with gluten not even knowing yet. in the end you will pull it through, because the high school is just starting of the phase in your life that quality learning starts. college is the most important thing, and the beginning stages of your work, so don't worry too much. you will get better soon. 

but don't delay any of your treatment too, get rid all the food trigger is the key for your long term success. 

i had days in school way harder than yours, till now i can't think how i pulled it through, and honestly i would die rather to relive any of these days. but i still performed well in coursework, scored high on SAT and got into an elite college, though the story afterwards is very depressing because the gluten sentitive got worse and my body eventually shut down in college. 

just remember there is a mechanism in your body that reacts to pressure and whatever situation, the more effect of gluten had on you, the stronger it will make you. 

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