Sick For 40 Years
Stephanie discovered that gluten was behind her health struggles at the same age I was when I was diagnosed: age 40. And, like me, she lived her entire life with symptoms that went unrecognized. Forty years. That’s a long time! Instead of being bitter, however, she expresses a great appreciation for her renewed health.
Before removing gluten, Stephanie was malnourished and underweight. She had teeth issues, joint issues, and skin issues. She experienced stomach problems, diarrhea, bloating, and cramps. And she was anemic and always tired. As she said, “the list really could just go on.”
Instead of testing Stephanie for celiac, her doctor made the connection after her mom was diagnosed.
“My doctor said ‘oh…well that explains it!’ That was my diagnosis!”
Stephanie added, “That moment changed my life.”
*(I’ve been hearing this a lot, doctors simply diagnosing by symptoms, especially after another family member is diagnosed, rather than running the tests. I can’t help but wonder if this is skewing our statistics. By not testing, can they officially give a diagnosis of celiac? I don’t know.)
Once gluten free, Stephanie finally gained weight. The issues she’d been struggling with her entire life made a magical departure.
“I can actually LEAVE the house!,” she said. “No more waiting to see how I will feel! I have a brand new life! I never knew how awesome life could be when you are not trapped in your house because of illness!”
Eating Gluten Free
Stephanie said that she felt like she had the flu through her first month after removing gluten.
“Then one morning I woke up like a COMPLETELY NEW PERSON!!! I felt amazing! No sickness, no cloudy head, no body aches, no diarrhea, just nothing!”
She may be the only person in her house of 5 that needs to be gluten free, but she keeps a completely gluten-free kitchen. “I am the main cook. It’s all gf and they LOVE my cooking!”
She has to be safe in her own home. Even the smallest amount of gluten makes her very ill. “I’m so sensitive to cross contamination, the next time I accidentally ingest gluten, it will be a hospital trip,” she said.
Stephanie is grateful for the support of her family. “My husband looks out for me better than I look out for myself! My boys read all the labels. They don’t want to get mom sick!”
If mom can’t eat somewhere, no one does. Her family refuses to eat anywhere that she cannot.
“I couldn’t do this without them,” she shared.
While Stephanie wishes she could experience complete recovery from all the damage that her body endured through the decades she lived without answers, she has a positive attitude. “Being gluten free is not the end of the world! Yeah, it’s not easy but neither is being sick all the time!”
She loves food. She enjoys eating out at the few local restaurants that she feels safe eating at. And while travel isn’t always simple, she’s learned how to navigate it safely: “Get a hotel with a kitchenette!”
Stephanie is happy to be able to enjoy LIFE with her family. “We actually do a lot more of everything because I’m not stuck in the bathroom!”