My name is Leah, and I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease almost five years ago.
I have always had a few tummy troubles, but nothing extreme. It was only after I got married that I had real problems. My husband and I decided we wanted to start our family right away. A few months after we got married, I saw those two coveted lines on a home pregnancy test. Three days later, I woke up with a huge migraine and bleeding. I lost the baby.
My Body Is Not My Friend
After that, my body turned on me. We were eating the typical college student diet: Granola bars, crackers, bread, pasta…gluten death. I tried hard to stay active and not eat a lot, but I kept putting on weight.
I would wake up in the morning, run to the toilet, and dry heave for ten minutes before I could start my day. I had massive migraines that put me out of commission for days and I had brain fog big time.
I went to my doctor certain that I was pregnant. Ultrasound came back with nothing. Blood work was all normal. I started to think they were right, and that it was all in my head; trauma from losing my baby causing me to imagine the symptoms. I finally stopped trying to figure it out. I kept putting on weight but I tried to ignore it and struggled to pull it off.
I Can’t Get Pregnant
About eight months after losing my baby, a friend told me she was pregnant. She’d been married for a few months and hadn’t even realized she was expecting until she blacked out giving blood. She called to tell me and I was devastated. I knew that whatever was keeping me from getting pregnant was on my side, not my husband’s, and that bothered me. Something was wrong with me and I knew it.
Months went by, and my friend had her baby. A little while after he was born, my friend and I were chatting and I told her about what I’d been dealing with. She said: “you really ought to go see Dr. So-and-so. He is amazing! He listens when patients talk with him.” This doctor had delivered her baby (and the two she has had since then.) So I agreed to call and make an appointment.
Diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance
I made a list of all my symptoms. It took a notebook page full to get them all down.
As we pulled up to the office, I turned to my husband and told him that this guy had one visit to diagnose what was wrong or I was done. We just simply didn’t have the money to pay for a bunch of tests and such. Bryan agreed.
I sat in his office waiting nervously. They took my blood pressure and my weight. I was weighing in at 205 pounds at this point. I remember grimacing as the number flashed on the scale. Then the Doc came in. He asked what I was there for, and I spent the next ten minutes telling him how the past year and a half of my life had just been a nightmare. I read of the symptoms and then waited. He looked me in the eye and said: “it sounds like you have a gluten intolerance.”
WHAT in the world is gluten???
He explained what it was and the things it causes…infertility among them. He told me that the blood test is wrong 99% of the times, so he recommended that – to save us money – I just go gluten free for a month to see what happens. He scheduled a follow up appointment a month away and we left.
Being Gluten Free
I went gluten free two days later. Within 24 hours, the brain fog left. Migraines stopped. I wasn’t nauseous in the mornings. I felt wonderful!
A little more than a month after going gluten free, I started waking up nauseous again. I panicked, wondering where the gluten was coming from. I didn’t dare entertain my favorite dream – that I was pregnant. Turns out, that is exactly what it was. My little boy was born 9 months later.
Over the years, I have learned a lot about what is and is not gluten free. The list constantly fluctuates and changes as companies change their manufacturing process. I have helped many people who have been recently diagnosed find food to eat and to have confidence in those choices.
I still forget to be careful sometimes. Just this last October I found myself “glutened” worse than I had been in years. All my symptoms came back and I began gaining weight again. I was reminded quite forcefully WHY I no longer eat gluten and why it is so important to check everything I eat.
My goal in life is to help those who are lost to figure out how to apply the changes of going gluten free as easily as possible. I get a lot of people who still tell me that it’s just a fad. It is not just a fad for me. Going gluten free saved my life and gave me my greatest dream: that of being a mother.