• Karen Heckman Stork

Confessions of a Celiac on Gluten Free Day - January 13

After I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I said yes to food with great enthusiasm…I vowed to taste everything I could eat, rather than focusing on what I could not.” Shauna James Ahern

This “Sojourn in the South” blog is very personal and may be uncomfortable for some to read. But it’s my own particular health journey which began shortly after I arrived in Wilmington. Actually the first symptoms began at the end of May 2018 on the day my brother was leaving to return to Nebraska after his visit.

The diagnostic journey was two months long, with constant diarrhea, stomach cramps (sort of like menstrual pain if I remember correctly), significant unplanned (but needed) weight loss, and many other occasional symptoms like joint pain and headaches, among others. It was a frightening time for me in a new yet unfamiliar city and not having a medical team that I was yet comfortable with. Finally in August 2018 I received my diagnosis of Celiac Disease (CD). And I discovered that my health journey was not ending, it was only turning down a new path now with a name.

Some of you may have read a post dated 1-5-19 on my personal Facebook page from the website findatopdoc.com which discusses CD and possible new treatments. The following information is taken mainly from the article in that post entitled “Experimental Drug May Ease Gluten-Triggered Reactions in Patients with Celiac Disease.” CD is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system assaults and destroys the villi of the small intestine. These small villi contain specialized cells that transport nutrients into the bloodstream. When they’re damaged, the intestines can no longer properly absorb nutrients.

Gluten is a term for the proteins contained in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten gives foods their shape, almost like a paste holding foods together. Those with Celiac Disease cannot ingest any food containing wheat, rye, or barley (including, all breads and pasta and many other foods) because their immune system will then be activated and will attack the villi in their small intestines.

The only current treatment for those suffering from CD (about one in every 100 people) is a gluten-free (GF) diet. While there are many more GF foods available today, this is still not an easy diet to maintain.

t now have separate GF menus, and those of us suffering from CD are constantly on the lookout for such places.nswering questions, providing information on available GF products and being a sounding board when those of us suffering from CD simply want to vent. We don’t expect you to cater to our GF needs; we just want our friends and family to understand that this is a medical condition with serious consequences if not managed. We want eating establishments to treat CD with the same conscientious spirit as they treat those with a peanut allergy, especially regarding possible cross-contamination. Many restaurants now have separate GF menus, and those of us suffering from CD are constantly on the lookout for such places.

This new GF diet is not a choice for those of us with Celiac Disease or those with gluten intolerance. Please just be kind, be understanding and know how much we appreciate the support of our non-gluten-free friends.

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