Sincerely Carolina

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Caroline’s Story

What is celiac disease? What will I be able to eat? What about all of my favorite foods? How will I ever enjoy eating again?

caroline-in-the-kitchenI never felt sad when I found out I have celiac disease. Sure, I had feelings of being cheated (so no more Oreos?) and I wasn’t sure how it would all pan out, but I was never upset.

Of course, I would like to think my attitude was the result of my ultra-strong resolve, however, that wasn’t so much the case. Instead, my readiness to make the transition stemmed from a willingness to step away from the path I was traveling at that time in my life. If you have taken the journey too, then you might be familiar with this story.

I always knew something was “off” with my body. Something just wasn’t jiving. I would eat and feel sick rather than energized. A simple meal could send me to bed (and the bathroom) for hours, my stomach cramping with pain. I consistently felt nauseous. I suffered from migraines that hurt so bad I was positive they were going to kill me. I had skin rashes every day. I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. And I never, ever didn’t feel exhausted.

It was hard to ignore that something was wrong and that’s why I persisted when the doctor’s told me I was simply overwhelmed. I pushed and pushed for answers. When each test came back negative, I was again met with ” you’re just stressed out.” By the time I received my celiac disease diagnosis, I had been tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, anemia, an overactive thyroid, an under-active thyroid, leukemia, insomnia and more. The doctors ordered blood test after blood test, and I even had a bone marrow biopsy that had me clinging to my mom’s hand like every inch of my soul was about to be wiped from the face of the earth.

And all of that lead me to … nothing.

One of my last "gluten" days (pictured with our friend, Case, at Oktoberfest). Shortly hereafter, I went to the doctor for the final testing that gave me my celiac disease diagnosis.

One of my last “gluten” days (pictured with our friend, Case, at Oktoberfest). Shortly hereafter, I went to the doctor for the final testing that gave me my celiac disease diagnosis.

But I am a firm believer in the idea that what our bodies are manifesting on the outside is often the direct result of what we are feeding the inside. Sure, there are things we can’t prevent. But somewhere deep inside I knew my case was the result of what I was or wasn’t eating. I just couldn’t put a finger on it.

And then, I came across a piece of literature about celiac disease and gluten-free eating, and it was like a loaf of bread smacked me upside the head. I knew it was me. I just knew.

The stomach pains, migraines, unpleasant bathroom experiences, exhaustion, depression, skin rashes … it was me.

I went to the doctor and –– a couple of weeks and tests later –– sure enough, I was right. celiac disease was in fact the name of the roller coaster I had been riding. There was a part of me that was so entirely angry about the many years I had spent pushing doctors to hear my story, and no one once mentioned this as a possibility. No one ever said, “Hey, how about this?”

So, maybe now you can understand why my initial reaction to “You have Celiac disease” was less than sad or surprised. It made sense to me and that’s why all I could think about was, “Lemme off this damn roller coaster.”  Gluten had been the reason for my stomach troubles, the instigator behind my persistent hives and rashes, the culprit of my darkest days, filled with migraines, feelings of worries and depression.

No, it wasn’t all to blame. But that little guy gluten had been a major contributing factor in sucking up my precious time. And like a relationship that has seen its last day, saying goodbye was freeing and left a road full of possibilities lying ahead for me.

Do I pass a rack of Spring Oreos (a very sick obsession before my gluten-free life) and feel a twinge? Absolutely. Do I attend a birthday party and sometimes want to try a piece of the triple chocolate chip cake? Uh huh. But I know that while gluten and I have some happy memories, there are a lot more painful ones in our past. What I have now — curling up to watch a movie after dinner and feeling pain free, energy to suck up life experiences, a less committed relationship with a toilet — trumps any of my days with gluten.

What’s your story? Are you leading a gluten-free life as a result of celiac disease, gluten intolerance or some other dietary decision? Share your story below!