My Celiac Disease Journey
Celiac Disease, have you heard of it?
Life before my diagnosis of Celiac Disease
My name is Nancy Olson and I live in Minnesota. Life seemed pretty normal until 1990 the year I graduated from high school. That summer I got very sick, and no doctor ever had pin pointed a reason. Since the summer of 1990 I tried hard to be healthy, but had many stay at the hospital, trips to the emergency rooms, and numerous doctor appointments. I was doing this all with a college age income, it is very hard but I tried my best. If you know how most college age students eat I was spending more money on health food items and shopping in a health food store.
In the time frame from 1990 to 1994 I had many struggles with numerous symptoms. Then in 1994 I was at my weakest point in life emotionally, physically and mentally. At that time I was a patient at Mayo Clinic for 8 days for testing (the only testing they did was lab work in my 8 days), basically found nothing. I was told I needed to see a psychiatrist while I was at the clinic, who told me I might be bringing on ill feelings with my thoughts, I was also sent to listen a 4 hour session on how to live with IBS which is what the doctor diagnosed me with.
The doctor suggestions were to go home and live with pain the best I can with over the counter pain meds and possibly see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. I was living with so much pain and weakness and several other things for the next few years. Life was really becoming a challenge.
During the summer of 1994 which was at the time of my visit to Mayo Clinic I was fighting to weigh 100 pounds, constant belly pain, distended belly (my belly could distend out 2-3 pants sizes in a day, and then go back down when not eating for a period of a few hours). I was a waitress at the time but couldn’t any longer carry a full coffee pot or more than a plate of food per hand making my job difficult. I was losing muscle and nerve function. I was reading anything I could about health, trying to take good vitamins due what I could on basically not much of an income.
I had a major surgery in 1998 for some female discomfort that had been an ongoing thing since high school (so since at least 1990), but the doctors didn’t think that was the problem. However, at the time the surgery did make me feel better than I was feeling in the past few years. It made me feel better because I was having some female discomfort for a very long time but it didn’t take all the pain away. During the next almost 3 years I was eating more food, not necessarily healthy food, but it was the food that I could not keep down for the past 7 years so I was craving them and keeping them down at this point and that made my weight grow to 179 lbs.
My health was going down… though I believed it was okay.
I was considering my health to be fairly normal for the past few years, not perfect but I was doing daily things, holding a job and leading a normal life for the most part. I can’t say that I ever felt great. It is hard to know what feeling great is to feel like when that last time you felt great was grade school. I was still having some minor issues but refusing to see doctors at this point.
In 2002 I just started with a couple of complaints that could no longer be avoided, body just not feeling like it should. I started with sore muscles, back and leg pain, headaches, not sleeping, and then the loss of feeling in my legs that grow to all over the body and the list goes on. I am not one to complain and I will put something off as long as I can even in the worst pain. I don’t like doctors after my experiences early on so I didn’t go in unless I had to. Until the day I woke up and couldn’t get myself out of bed my back wouldn’t straighten and I had tremendous pain sitting and standing and laying down, so how are you to do anything? The issue with the back not straightening just added even more back pain and less sleep, to the point of some night getting NO sleep.
I used a chiropractor to try to get the back issue straightened and that was a long process. I made it back to work in a few weeks but I did stand at my job for most of the 9 hour shift just so I could get a paycheck, while still in so much pain. It seemed when the back issues hit this time around every couple of days it seemed as if I had another complaint or symptom show up. Personally for me I hate to complain about my health so I would work with some of the worst pain and literally would have tears in my eyes, I never slept much so that didn’t add any beauty to my looks. When you have had pain and no sleep for days on end you really don’t care much about anything else. I had no energy, or desire to fuss with how I looked as long as I was clean that was all I cared about. Some days I know I was nothing to look at or the person you wanted to be around as I got moody not feeling well.
Now, in late 2004 to early 2005 I started doctoring heavy as I have several complaints and couldn’t let it go any longer. I had so much bone pain, muscle pain, migraines, almost no feeling in my legs, shaky hands, don’t sleep much more than 20 minutes every 2 hours during the night, and depression that I kept as my secret, and several more things going on with my body.
Finally in July of 2005 I got a diagnosis, one which consists of Fibromyalgia, Celiac disease, Thyroid disease, severe malnutrition, severe anemia, high blood pressure, restless leg syndrome, and boarder line diabetic. You see I had a big bouquet of diseases!
What has happened with me since 2005 and my diagnosis of Celiac disease?
Me now: Celiac disease is controlled by diet so going totally gluten free is what needed to be done and I did start that overnight. Yes, there were challenges but I did it! What I have learned is that malnutrition leads to symptoms and I needed to find good nutrition. I am so thankful to have a diagnosis of Celiac disease, controlled by diet and nutrition. Once my body started absorbing nutrition my symptoms started to diminish and then disappear. I am a firm believer on great nutrition no matter what the issue. Once you have the diagnosis you know of thing to watch for such a low iron, malnutrition, B vitamins deficiency and other health issues and illnesses that may have links to Celiac disease.
My passion in the past few years in health has grown tremendously which lead me to going back to school to become a Certified Holistic Health Consultant. I can better help individuals and families with a gluten free lifestyle as the change can be overwhelming to many. I have had many experience, trial and errors, read many books and resources along with many lectures.
Wishing you Abundant Health,