Sorry I have been quiet lately but I have not been feeling well! I can barely put together two words in my brain, much less on a computer screen.
While I have been down and out, I have been looking through old photos and found this one of Alex the year before she was diagnosed. This photo pretty much sums up that year for us. If you ever wondered what someone with undiagosed celiac disease looks like, take a look:
Alex, now a healthy, beautiful, vibrant 16 year old, was once a non-thriving, somewhat depressed, shy and often sick child. When it all started, we really are not sure. She entered the world on Leap Day as a bubbly almost ten pound baby with hair you could braid. Looking back now, there were some warning signs: she was a colicky baby; the projectile vomiting in the ER in Iowa one Thanksgiving; the pot belly stomach; the not too infrequent "blah ness" when other children were running, laughing, exploring and having fun. Whenever the subtle signs started, by the time Alex reached third grade her illness became more serious.
Addicted to Pepto Bismal, she would drink it like it was chocolate milk (attributed to school-related stress). Stomach aches that keep her from playing on her basketball team (we thought it was nerves). And then the flu-like symptoms began. Every two months she would get what seemed like the flu and vomit for four to five days. We took her to the doctor who would run your standard blood tests. They would all come back normal, not even anemic. The doctors answered our questions with "it is just the flu; it has been a bad season." The almost ten pound baby was now so thin and dehydrated you could count her ribs and she had to have IV's to be rehydrated.
Finally, when she had the "flu" for five days in June, it was time to go to the doctor and not leave until we had some kind of an answer. They did stomach x-rays and ran additional blood tests. As an afterthought, the doctor threw in "celiac" - a word we would soon get to know very well.
Not wanting anything serious. Down on my knees praying for an easy answer. Somewhat relieved when the initial tests came back normal. But still that nagging feeling that not all was well.
Then the call that answered the nagging feeling - one of the tests, something called celiac was positive. Silly what? How do you spell it? Autoimmune? Gluten what??
Thanks largely to the internet; all of our questions were soon answered. Even while we waited through the tests that summer, more blood draws, the endoscopy at Children's Hospital . . . I did not want to believe it but deep down I knew that Alex had celiac disease. And finally we received the news (on the day that Alex also fell and broke her arm). The endoscopy was conclusive for celiac disease.
Within a few months of being gluten free, Alex started healing. One of the first changes we noticed was the color of Alex's skin. She had always been so pale. Two months into the diet in the middle of the rainy season in Seattle, my daughter had a tan! I could not figure out where it came from. Then shock at realizing it was because she was healing. Then came the spontaneous dancing, the little skip across the family room for no apparent reason and the incredible growth spurt.
Now nearly eight years later, Alex has grown into a beautiful, vibrant, 5 feet almost 10 inches tall, young lady. Yes, we have had our ups and downs, but just look at how healthy she is now:
Send me your before and after stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share them if you'd like.