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Trying to Find the Joy in Celiac Disease November 3, 2013

Posted by Christine Coleman in Celiac Disease, Food.

It was exactly two years ago now that I was feeling sick. I remember it clearly, as it was immediately after the St. Louis Cardinals magical run to the 2011 World Series championship. Before they reached that pinnacle in late October, there was a tense month of baseball — and I dealt with the tension by drinking a lot of beer, game after game. Once November arrived and I felt sick, I remember joking that all that beer had made me sick.

Turned out my joke was partially true. And the night the Cardinals won the World Series was the last time I had “real” beer.

celiacdiseaseIt took several different doctor’s visits starting in November 2011, a variety of tests and no answers to finally end up at a gastroenterologist. Just going over my family’s health history led to a probable cause: celiac disease. My Dad had it, and the doctor wanted to know if I’d been tested for it given the symptoms I was having. No. But new blood tests confirmed I do indeed have celiac.

And then everything changed.

Celiac disease, if you’re not familiar, is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. The symptoms are many and varied — physical sickness, fatigue, rash and so many more. The treatment — and the only treatment — is a gluten-free diet.

Which might sound simple. But not necessarily.

Think about how much food is a part of your life. Now think about what it would be like to suddenly be told you couldn’t ever have much of what you typically eat, and love, without it making you sick and causing damage to your intestines.