Maggie's Journey

by Maggie Pearson
(Wellsburg, WV)

I am 68 y ears old, and my celiac disease was diagnosed when I was three months old. From what my mother told me, I had persistent diarrhea that was foamy and aerated. She said I would go twenty five times a day. What I remember is watching other kids eating things I was not allowed to have. Until I was about six, I ate nothing but bananas, cottage cheese, lamb, and skim milk. I had many health problems--over 200 ear abscesses, no immunity to childhood diseases (I had measles three times, mumps for nine months, chicken pox inside and out, scarlet fever that kept me in bed for five months,) and I had dandruff. In those days, the doctors thought that a child would outgrow celiac disease, so after a point, I was allowed to eat anything I wanted, and I did. I also missed months of school from being sick.

In my teens, I became constipated and gassy, but I wanted to participate in life, so I ignored it when I was sick. When I was an adult in my early thirties, I saw a nutritionist who never said the words "celiac disease," but she didn't allow me to eat any grains for several years, and when she did, it was buckwheat and millet, then eventually oats and rice. I have never felt better. In fact, it was the first time I felt good. Ever. I had energy, and I never got sick. Up to that point, I discovered along the way that I was sensitive to MSG, potassium sorbate, artificial sweeteners, and many fragrances. If I was exposed to these things, I instantly got something that resembled the flu and bronchitis. Eventually, I fell off this wagon and began to eat what others ate, and many of my physical symptoms returned.

I gave up wheat for a few years in my fifties and felt better, but again, I fell off the wagon.

Two years ago, I gave up all gluten for the last time, and I am much better. Over my lifetime, I have had a number of health problems that I think were either caused or exacerbated by celiac disease. I have skin problems--pimples and sores, especially in my scalp and wherever there is hair; I had gall bladder disease and surgery when I was 23; I had hemorrhoids from extreme constipation that required surgery; I had constant fatigue and lack of energy; I had the afore-mentioned multiple chemical sensitivities.

I will not deny my celiac disease again. I have to say that it's much easier now because there are so many gluten free products. I do love bread.

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