Hi, my name is Beth and I’ve been GF for 3 ½ years. I am married to a wonderful, supportive husband, Gary. We have four children, two sons in college and a daughter and son in high school. Unlike many people who have celiac, I did not suffer digestive problems most of my life. In fact, I could be classified as a “silent” celiac. I still do not have pain when I accidentally get into gluten. My story began about five years ago when I noticed that I was experiencing increasing “gassiness”. It was gradual, and as I was getting older, I just attributed it to aging, with so many other things that happen as we age. I had been diagnosed with osteoporosis two years earlier, while I was still in my early 40’s and premenopausal. But the gassiness was becoming annoying, so I made an appointment with the only female GI doctor in town, who also happened to be my mother’s specialist. This doctor is wonderful, accounting for the four month wait I had before I could see her.
Let me interject here, that I have a cousin on my father’s side who had sent a note to family members a few years earlier informing us that he had been diagnosed with celiac disease. I had never heard of it (in spite of the fact that I was a retired nurse) and just out of curiosity at the time, I looked it up to find out about it. So when I saw the specialist and was giving her a history, I mentioned having a cousin with celiac and asked if maybe I should be checked for it. She told me that with my osteoporosis, celiac was the first thing she would check for, even if I didn’t have a relative with it. My bloodwork came back positive for celiac and we went ahead and scheduled the endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.
At that time, I told my mother about my testing and diagnosis and suggested she also be tested. She’d had osteoporosis for several years and had recently had issues with low blood levels of Vitamin D. She had the blood tests done and was also positive. We had our endoscopies with duodenal biopsies two days apart the week of Thanksgiving, confirming celiac in both of us. My mother-in -law was great about accommodating my new diet for Thanksgiving. She made the gravy with corn starch instead of flour and the only things I couldn’t eat were the stuffing and dinner rolls!
The next step, according to my GI doctor, was to have my four children tested to see if they carried the gene(s) for celiac. Those tests were done and sent off to California (at a fair expense) and the results came back that they ALL carried the gene. On to the next round of tests, much to the chagrin of my daughter who was NOT happy about a second blood draw! Anyway, they all had celiac panels done and the results showed that my second son, who was sixteen at the time, had celiac. So, in the course of three months, I and two family members who were diagnosed with celiac disease. And possibly more surprisingly, we were all “silent”, or in other words, didn’t exhibit the classic gastric distress that many celiacs spend years suffering from.
By the time my son was diagnosed, I had spent three months learning the ropes of the gluten-free diet for myself. Well, that may be a little too optimistic. I had, at least, become somewhat comfortable with shopping for gluten-free food and had begun my new life as an active baker of most things gluten-free. Anyone who has been in the same place knows the incredible learning curve you face when you need to begin looking for gluten in everything you buy, cook and eat. I think it helped him make the unwelcome adjustment of giving up many things he enjoyed, to have me cooking good substitutions. I should mention that we are avowed food snobs, my son and I. The rest of the family is too, to a certain degree, but of all my children, Matthew is the snobbiest. So, he wasn’t happy with the frozen breads and waffles available at the local groceries and health food stores. I have spent the last 3 ½ years adapting my old recipes, finding new GF recipes to replace beloved baked goods and experimenting with some of them to make them acceptable to us. I hope that my experiences and accumulated knowledge can help some of you.