I struggled with health issues my entire life. For as long as I can remember, doctors were poking and prodding me, doing test after test. Usually they told me nothing was wrong and I needed to move on. As an infant, I had pretty severe acid reflux. I spent most of 1st and 2nd grade in the nurses office after lunch complaining of a stomach ache. The nurse would call my mom, reassure her that I was just anxious and would send me back to class. I had digestive issues as a child and went through a lot of painful processes to work them all out. I was diagnosed with Plantar’s Fasciitis in 6th grade when one day my feet were so swollen I could hardly walk. I wore shoe inserts and braces at night to help with the pain.
In 7th grade I started to get migraines. They would last for 2 weeks and they happened every month. I was eventually prescribed an prophylactic anti-seizure medication to take every day as well as the migraine medication to help when a migraine started. I was even prescribed Vicodin to help with the pain. That was my life. Stomach pains were a daily occurrence. I thought that you were supposed to feel sick and uncomfortable every time you ate. My weight fluctuated a lot, even though I was an athlete. I struggled with self confidence and body issues. I often went to school with a migraine and pushed through it, even though the sounds and lights made everything worse. As I got older, I learned how to push through the pain and decided to live as normal a life as possible. My junior year of high school the migraines and stomach pains were so bad I was sent to the hospital to do a round of tests. After a lot of poking, prodding, scans, and no answers. I was told I was stressed. No one had an answer for me.
Christmas 2010, I had my wisdom teeth pulled. My health issues had been especially difficult that year and I had gained a lot of weight. The oral surgeons office was next door to my mom’s allergist. She decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have an allergy test done since no doctor had recommended that before. On December 20th, I had an allergy prick test. The two things I had the most intense reactions to were cats and Wheat. The doctor then had me do a blood test to make sure I wasn’t allergic to any other grains and to rule out Celiac’s Disease. The test came back with the same result. I had a wheat allergy. The doctor told me to completely cut wheat out of my diet. It took me 9 months to completely get wheat out of my diet. Almost 6 years later, I am a completely different person.
I will occasionally still get a migraine, usually from hormones, lack of sleep, a severe air pressure change, or eating wheat. They only last a day and I can almost always sleep it off. After 10 years of suffering from Plantar’s Fasciitis, I haven’t had a problem in the last 6 years. I only have stomach pains when I eat wheat. I am down 50 pounds from when I was originally diagnosed with my allergy. I went from wearing a size 10 to wearing a size 4. Looking back at old pictures of me, my dad says I looked swollen. And I was. My entire body was inflamed in reaction to the wheat. My face is totally different now. I work very hard to keep wheat out of my diet. It is much easier now that it would have been 20 years ago, there are gluten free options everywhere. The food I cook at home is usually something that wouldn’t have wheat in it anyway so I don’t torture The Husband with gluten free substitutes.
I am often embarrassed to tell strangers I eat gluten free. I am afraid of the judgmental looks and the comments like “Are you really or are you doing it to lose weight?”. I also don’t like burdening other people with my allergy. I am always happy to eat something before I go to a party or take something I eat. I can usually find food I can eat at restaurants, even if there isn’t a gluten free menu. The longer I have dealt with my allergy, the more willing I am to talk about it and ask for gluten free options.
I tell my allergist on a regular basis that she changed my life. Every other doctor/specialist I went to wanted to treat the symptoms I was experiencing instead of fixing the root cause. My allergist wanted to know exactly what the problem was instead of trying to pigeon hole my symptoms into a category. Everyone’s bodies react differently. No two people are the same so how can our reactions to things be the same? If you are struggling with health issues and you are not finding answers, make sure you are being heard by your doctors!