Celiac disease is a chronic (which means I will have it for life), auto immune, inherited digestive disorder that causes damage to the small intestine. When I eat gluten, my immune system is triggered and begins to attack my small intestine (SI), resulting in damage to the villi that make up the lining of the SI. The villi are necessary for the absorption of nutrients, which in my case went on for so long that I became very malnourished. Celiac disease will lay dormant for your whole life until there is some sort of trauma that causes it to "wake up." For me it was my 3rd pregnancy.
Gluten is a natural protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Sit for a minute and think about your favorite foods. I would wager that 80% or more contain gluten. Here's a short list of the obvious ones: bread, pasta, cereal, beer, cookies and cakes. Now, here's a list of items that you would never imagine: cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, soy sauce, instant coffee, some medicine, some cosmetics, bacon bits, deli meat, french fries, chicken nuggets, spices, salad dressing, envelope adhesive, stamps, play-doh and the list goes on.
This diagnosis has been a tough pill to swallow, but it explains so much. All the swelling I had while pregnant and post partum, my thyroid disorder, the severe iron deficiency anemia I have lived with for so long. Not to mention the problems I have with my teeth and the acid reflux I deal with on a daily basis. Learning that I have this condition does give me some comfort in knowing that I was not just a hypochondriac for all these years. I really was sick. VERY sick!
There is no cure for Celiac. The only way to treat it is to adopt a G-Free (gluten free) diet for the rest of my life. And let me tell you, I am NOT excited about it. G-Free bread products suck and going out to eat at a restaurant is nearly impossible. Especially in a small town. Cross-contamination is a huge problem for those that adhere to a G-free diet. It might be easy to chose the g-free menu item, but ensuring that it has not had contact with another gluten item is so hard. And let me tell you, shopping for gluten free food is not cheap! Geez...
BUT. I'm worth it. I have to be. I have three children and a husband who need me. They need me to be healthy, active and otherwise engaged in life. I know there will be days when I slip off the wagon, but I am making this commitment to Erik, Ella, Lucy, Jack and to me!