Over time she had tried to determine the cause and gradually eliminated red meat, dairy, and alcohol from her diet.
Initially in the early ‘80s her doctor sent her to an eminent gastroenterologist (GE) who suggested she had IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
Over several more years, searching for relief from the ever-growing pain, she saw several other doctors who did allergy tests, abdominal x-rays, and then deferred to the GE.
She developed osteoporosis, had her appendix removed, and developed a hand tremor. She became vegetarian, took calcium supplements, and joined a gym working out regularly with weights to try to restore bone density.
In 2012, the abdominal pain and bloating increased and she finally asked to see a new gastroenterologist.
This new specialist started to again suggest IBS but, since Ann had done her research and connected the dots between osteoporosis and celiac disease, she asked about the possibility of having that condition. The new GE was amazed that had not been checked and immediately sent Ann for the required blood test.
Three days later, Ann was told her antibody count was off the charts and she most certainly had celiac disease. The doctor was so positive of this that she would forgo the biopsy generally performed to confirm the diagnosis.
She was put on a strict gluten free diet and, within two weeks, no longer suffered the daily pain.
Can you imagine suffering abdominal distress for 30+ years and even though you regularly visited your doctor, described your gut pain, and asked for help, there was no relief or even a diagnosis?
Can you believe that one in 100 North Americans suffer in this manner? How would you feel if you were one of these people? Such is the dilemma of those with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity.
May has been designated Celiac Awareness Month and the Canadian Celiac Association Manitoba Chapter is asking for your help. No, they are not asking for money.
What is needed is to increase the awareness of celiac disease and consequently try to decrease the average diagnosis time of 10 to 12 years.
Currently, one in every hundred people has celiac disease and many more suffer from gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy. Over and above the abdominal distress of pain and bloating, there are multiple other symptoms and each person may have a very individual mix ranging from skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis), anemia, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
The medical profession has only begun to incorporate information about celiac disease into its academic programs in the last 30 years and those who graduated before this have limited awareness. It is common to be told one is suffering from irritable bowel syndrome instead.
Celiac disease has no cure and there is no pill to take. The only solution is a gluten free diet for life.
Imagine not being able to eat your grandmother’s freshly baked pie, not being able to drink a beer with your friends after work or pick up fast food such as a burger or pizza in a pinch. That’s right; all contain gluten which is the trigger for the destruction of the lining of the small intestine leading to malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies in the body which in turn lead to a host of other health issues.
The Manitoba Chapter of the CCA is a volunteer run, not-for-profit organization that is working to not only increase awareness in the general public but to ensure the production of gluten free foods by food producers and restaurateurs.
The national organization has successfully lobbied for the inclusion of gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye) on food labels and the development of a Gluten Free Certification program for manufacturers. We continue to work for the benefit of our members and all sufferers, even those who may not yet be diagnosed.
Ann has had her life turned around and is now an active volunteer with the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association. She continues to heal after years of damage done by gluten ingestion and believes, as so many of CCA members do, that there are many individuals who are not aware of this possible source of their discomfort and ill-health. Medical practitioners as well as the general public, need to be educated.
The CCA is asking for your assistance, by including promotion of the organization, and May as Celiac Awareness Month, in your newspaper, public service announcements, newsletters, emails or blogs.
The Celiac Association has a poster, a Basic Facts pamphlet about the organization for your use (all you have to do is just ask), and have knowledgeable personnel available to discuss this effort.
To help the Canadian Celiac Association make a difference, call Donalda Johnson at 204-832-5590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org