Thursday, 5 December 2013

Me? Coeliac? Huh?

Is pretty much what I've been thinking, these past few days.

I've been feeling pretty rubbish lately. Well, since Lola was born, no, since I fell pregnant, possibly longer? Possibly forever?  Let me explain ...

I am always sick. Never anything serious, but I've always got a cold, or feel more tired than I think I should, or have a migraine, or a mouth full of ulcers. I was plagued with tonsillitus until I finally had them taken out when I was 29. Never anything enough to go to the doctor (except the tonsills) just low level stuff. 

Recently, I've been feeling a bit worse.  Due, no doubt, to the fact that we haven't had more than 3 hours continuous sleep in over a year!  So, just before we left for our first caravan holiday to France (that's another post) I told my doctor I felt like I was falling apart.  She was amazing - the best response I've ever had from a doctor.  She got out a pen and paper and said 'right, list it all'. So I did, and she ordered a whole bunch of blood tests to try and figure out what was up.  She also put me back on antidepressants with the warning that I need to be on them for at least 18 months, but that's for another post. 

A few days later, I read this amazing blogpost by lovely Gemma, who I had met a year or so ago, on one of Janet's amazing Kitchen Table Sewing courses (note - if you fancy learning to sew, go to Janet, she is amazing). Anyway, I read Gemma's post, sitting next to my husband, ticking off every symptom in my head.  'Listen to this, she's describing just how I feel!'

So, off I went back to the doctors to ask for the Coeliac blood test.  I really didn't think it would come back positive, but worth checking, I thought. 

The blood test results came back a week later. Low Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D.  Confused, because we eat a lot of Iron and Calcium rich food, but hey-ho, doc prescribed me supplements.  I thought that was that, but a few weeks later, after our France trip and a worrying letter from the doctor asking me to book an appointment (nobody wants to receive that letter!) it turned out I hadn't had all the results. Coeliac was back, and it was positive!  Not only was it positive, but it was very positive.  Where a range of 0-7 was normal, I was 309!

I was in shock. I mean, I could have kissed the doctor when she told me.  Probably a strange reaction to finding out you've probably got a lifelong, incurable condition.  But I was so happy to hear that not only had all of my symptoms been real (I had often wondered if they were in my head, a part of my recurrent depression maybe?) but that I could get rid of them all, just by changing my diet!

Don't get me wrong, that 'just' change my diet will be a big deal. Gluten seems to be in just about everything - especially the things I love to eat. This will mean major changes to my life, and to our family lifestyle. But equally, hopefully, it will be a lifechanging thing for me.  I can finally see a time ahead where I feel well, have energy, and don't catch each and every bug going.  Heck, it might even help me loose weight!

For now though, I have to keep eating as normal. It's important to confirm the diagnosis through a biopsy and in order for those results to be accurate, I need to keep eating gluten. It will be irritating to keep eating it, knowing that it's making me ill and actually doing my body damage, but it will be worth it, I hope.  

If any of this story rings any bells with you, please read Gemma's post, where she talks about the symptoms much more eloquently, and then check out Coeliac UK for more advice.