Today marks the four year anniversary of my Coeliac disease diagnosis. I was sitting in ‘Pret a Manger’ in New York tucking into a breakfast baguette of all things !. This was a rare indulgence however I think I was eating the thing like it was my last 🙂 My consultant was calling to give me the results of some tests. This is quick I thought…bet she’s going to say ‘all clear nothing to report’. When she told me I’d Coeliac disease you could have knocked me over with a feather. My Pret days were over !
I’d spent time living in Asia prior to New York and was sure I’d a parasite that hadn’t fully cleared. The truth is I’d been suffering for years, things just got so much worse while I was there. I can in fact trace symptoms back to when I was a kid who was constantly sick. Nothing improved as I moved into adulthood which I put down to crazy work schedules, travel and stress. I went to doctors (lots), homeopaths, aromatherapists, nutritionists and no one was joining the dots.
One day in Singapore while shopping I felt very ill, it was a Sunday so I’d to go to outpatients. I thought I’d a virus, the doctor said ‘Aileen the problem is in your gut’….he was the first to make that connection. After a barrage of tests nothing conclusive arose and so life carried on.
Fast forward 2 years to New York and a new consultant. She suggested an elimination diet…sigh…another diet….more frustration and no improvement. After we tried and it failed I begged her to investigate further and she agreed.
The relief was immense, I wasn’t going mad, I finally had some answers. I used to think it normal for people to want to sleep in the middle of the day or worse at a meeting ! To not be able to read a newspaper due to lack of concentration and more than often feel depressed.
And so it began….a life without gluten ! Educating myself, my family and those around me. It’s an ongoing process, I learn new things every day and mostly how to embrace my condition. Like all Coeliacs I deal with ‘the gluten questions’ like ‘how sensitive are you?’, ‘what happens when you eat gluten?’. People love to ask that last question when everyone’s trying to eat….ehhh trust me you really don’t wanna know 🙁
I know it is hard for people to understand if they don’t know about the disease. It’s unlikely however we’d ask those questions of someone with any other chronic condition. Being on a gluten free diet and staying free from gluten for a Coeliac is our medicine. It’s how we keep ourselves healthy and well. It’s challenging, you’ve to think about how and where food is produced not just the food itself. It’s not a choice.
As owner of Unglu-d and Coeliac Society of Ireland Chair I’m passionate about raising awareness and educating people. There’s so many Coeliacs with their own stories to tell. So next time you meet a Coeliac ask them how they’re doing. Keeping the conversation positive is so important…we’re only human after all 🙂
Happy Wednesday and Happy Anniversary to all Coeliacs out there who might be celebrating a key milestone today….You are truly amazing !!!!!
Concerned you or a family member may have Coeliac disease ?, then please contact your GP. For more information on Coeliac disease head over to the Coeliac Society of Ireland website and check out their handy self assessment tool http://www.isitcoeliacdisease.ie/#