Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The World Turned Upside Down

I’ve heard people talk about the shock of having been diagnosed with (or having a child diagnosed with) Type 1 diabetes. The anger, fear, insecurity, and uncertainty of being diagnosed with a lifelong illness can be a lot to deal with. Or so I’ve heard. I was diagnosed with Type 1 when I was 4 years old. I have some memories of my diagnosis, but overall, I remember very little about life before diabetes entered it.

Over the past 30 or so years, I’ve learned to live with diabetes. I know nothing else. I test, bolus, and count carbs like a champ (most of the time). Sure, there are up days and down days, but it’s my life. And it’s all I know. Anything different would be strange to me.

Back in the spring, I noticed I was getting unusually tired. The kind of tired that is abnormal, even for me (a girl who LOVES her sleep). When I went in for a regular check up with my PCP, I mentioned this and she tested me for anemia. I was pretty severely anemic. She prescribed three months of iron pills and vitamin C (it helps with iron absorption) and set up a follow up appointment for September.

I began to feel much better. Less tired for sure. I was convinced my iron levels had returned to normal, so when I went for my follow up appointment, my PCP shocked me when she suggested, strongly, that I be tested for celiac. Turns out that my iron was STILL low (though not as low as it was in the late spring). And my blood test came back positive for celiac.

And that’s when MY world turned upside down (I couldn't resist the Hamilton reference in the title). I always knew it was a possibility. After all, one auto-immune disease leads to another, right? I mean, we hope not, but the fact remains if you have one, the chance of another grow. I have fellow T1 friends with celiac. Friends who are D parents who have kids with celiac, and a friend from my childhood whose youngest son has celiac. It wasn’t a foreign term to me. But it was enough to know my world was not going to be the same. Ever.

According to all the official websites, celiac can’t be completely confirmed without a biopsy of the small intestine. I assume we’ll discuss that at my first gastroenterology appointment.  Also, I assume I’ll eventually be able to spell gastroenterology without spell-check, like I can spell endocrinologist.

For now, gluten is still in my diet. I’m awaiting instructions at my first gastroenterology appointment. I’m also trying to eat all the glutenous (is that a word?) things I can before they disappear from my diet forever.

When I found out about this a week ago today, I had a rough few days. But I am blessed with wonderful friends and family who are both giving me support, and encouraging me. My frame of mind is much better now, and the more research I do on celiac, the more things in my life (and health) I think could be attributed to celiac symptoms, that on their own meant nothing.

This is going to be a big learning curve. This is not going to be easy. My world is never going to be the same. But the thought of being healthy and happy and having energy give me so many things to look forward to.

I know someday I’m going to look back and say, “Life before celiac was normal? No, my life is normal now.” Just like life with Type 1 is my normal, sometime life with celiac will also be my normal. I’m scared. I’m hopeful. And I’m certainly going to be one that is going to need a ton of support. But if I know the D-OC, I know I’ll get the support I need and then some.

And this blog just suddenly became a diabetes AND celiac blog…..


StephenS said...

Cara, if anyone can do this, you can. But I know it's not easy, and I honestly wish it was me rather than you. I support you no matter what. Good luck... reach out if you need anything!

Colleen said...

Well, darn.
I'm sorry.
I'm so glad you have a HCP who listens to you.

Lori said...

Good luck with your potential big changes ahead. The transition over to strict GF isn't easy but you will feel much better. Those look like Loveless Cafe biscuits and jam...that's my favorite restaurant...enjoy them while you still can!

k2 said...

2. Now, that you know, we are all going to help you figure it out
4. Foodshouldtastegood.com makes great GF snacks - you can still get your chip fix without worrying
5. Kind bars - yummy and GF
6. HailMerry.com - SO GOOD
7. Did I mention that I love you?

NeurosurgeryNP said...

Hang in there. Sorry for this diagnosis. Tim has Celiac. Thankfully since he's been diagnosed, over 10 years ago, there is so much more available GF out there. I should get tested but don't want to know if you know what I mean.