A Personal Journey

 

I remember the day distinctly. I just picked the boys up from school and was heading home when I received the call.  It was my gastroenterologist informing I had tested positive for both Celiac and Lactose intolerance.  It was a five minute conversation … but one that would change my life forever. He told me to browse the internet and educate myself about the disease.  I questioned if there were any associated complications and he matter-of-factly answered, yes, untreated Celiac could lead to among others, osteoporosis and cancer.  That was all I had to hear – an increased risk of the dreaded “C”.   No way was I going there.  Within the next minute, I became gluten-free and I knew it would be for a lifetime – no turning back – there would be no cheating, and I have remained 100% committed.

Though it was a life-changing diagnosis, I consider myself fortunate, as so many people remain undiagnosed.  In my case, it took several years of symptoms before being accurately diagnosed.  My primary care physician suggested I had IBS, and alas, never considered – connected the dots – that my symptoms (chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, low iron & folate, 6 months pregnant-looking belly) were all classic Celiac symptoms.  Eventually I visited the gastroenterologist.  He didn’t suspect Celiac initially and scheduled a variety of tests to rule out other conditions.  My gastro issues subsided for a time so I didn’t return.  Months following, I travelled to Tuscany (thank goodness for Tuscany!) and when I returned home, I began to suffer painful lower abdominal spasms.  I gather my small intestines couldn’t take the nightly consumption of pasta and finally revolted!  I went back to the gastroenterologist and he suggested I test for Celiac – finally.

The day after receiving my diagnosis I headed to the grocery store.  There I stood, in the one-aisled section, perusing the gluten-free products, feeling a little numb, dazed, and yes, depressed.  The lack of choices was shocking to me and I remember thinking it was a good thing I did all my fine dining & exotic food experimentation when I was younger and feeling well – in the years BC (Before Celiac)!  The following day I visited my local Whole Foods, which was the best thing I could have done.  An employee, also diagnosed with Celiac, empathetically took my hand and led me on a personal tour of the aisle and frozen section containing even more gluten-free products.  I left the store feeling optimistic, rather than fearful about what I was going to eat.  Within the next year the gluten-free product explosion began and our community now has a decent assortment of tasty, gluten-less foods to choose from, in addition to all that is naturally gluten-free!  

Living a gluten-free lifestyle has opened up an entirely new way of eating (& cooking) for me.  While meticulously reading labels looking for the absence of gluten, I also discovered how many unhealthy ingredients are added -preservatives, dyes, etc.  I am now buying less processed, fresher & primarily organic foods for the entire family.  I experiment with gluten-free baking flours (Amaranth, Coconut, Brown Rice, Teff among others) that I never knew existed!

Ultimately, my diagnosis of Celiac has proven to be a serendipitous blessing! Does it come with challenges, absolutely.

Thank you for visiting CeliacCorner and reading about my Celiac journey.  I hope you will find my experience to be of some comfort and encouragement as you begin, or continue, your journey into a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.  Be patient, healing doesn’t happen overnight, but you will feel better with time & eating gluten-free, and if you do not feel well after a period of time, continue to advocate for your health! My passion for spreading awareness led me to create CeliacCorner, and my intention is to keep the site as uplifting an experience as possible for my readers … some of whom have just come through a tunnel of darkness, to finally arrive at a diagnosis. In addition to providing visitors with important Celiac medical information and news, I hope you will enjoy our posted recipes, product reviews, shopping tips & travel stories … perhaps you will become inspired to share a story of your own!

Come on over to our Facebook page!  We appreciate hearing from you. http://www.facebook.com/CeliacCorner

Wishing you well!

Paula

Co-founder, CeliacCorner

 

Though working on CeliacCorner.com keeps me quite busy, I have been invited to author blogs regarding celiac and living a gluten-free lifestyle for:

 
– *The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
– Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery
– Larabar/General Mills
 

*Read my personal story on getting at-risk family members tested … part of The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’ “Fuel the Family” Blogger series (open HERE) ; I was also invited by the NFCA to conduct Q&A’s with a leading U.S. Celiac Expert on celiac blood testing (find the Q&A HERE ) and with their Chef Ambassador of GREAT Kitchens’ Program … Restaurateur/Chef Jehangir Mehta (HERE)

Awards:

  • HealthLine.com: Winner, Best Gluten-Free Cooking Blogs of the Year, 2017
  • WEGO Health: Nominee, Activist Hero Award 2012, 2013, 2014 & Best in Show: Facebook, 2013, 2014
  • Gluten-Free Expo (Canada), 2014, Nominee, Best Gluten-Free Blog

Additional Press:

I was interviewed (6/2015) by a freelance French journalist about my experience leading to a CD diagnosis. The article was featured on the Paris-based website “Because Gustave”. The article (in french) is entitled Les cinq minutes qui ont bouleversé ma vie

 

[a few notes:  I’d like to express a special thanks to “Karen S.”, with whom I shared my introduction into the world of Celiac. Introduced to me by a friend via email, Karen and I were diagnosed within the same week.  Having her as a comrade “newbie” to compare symptoms with, testing results, food options, etc. helped with the transition … Thank you Karen! ; My brother is co-founder and oversees website management and technical issues.  He was the one who urged me to share my research and experiences virtually  … and with his technical (& emotional) support – CeliacCorner was born!]