I was diagnosed last month with celiac disease. When I really start to think back I realize celiac disease has been an issue since at least high school. I thought I was lactose intolerant. I would get sick and stop eating cereal with milk and feel better. I felt sick after eating things like pizza and pasta with cheese. I thought it was dairy. Around 10 years or so ago my mom was diagnosed with IBS. At the time my mom and I had the same doctor. We thought I had IBS.

Then I got pneumonia and had a massive allergic reaction to one of the medicines I was given. It affected my joints and since I had always had some problems with my wrist and joints I went to Mayo to check for things such as RA, lupus and other related joint diseases. Everything was negative. I don’t know for sure but I can only assume this auto-immune response was related to celiac disease.

Back then I had never even heard of celiac disease. I would have never thought I had it. I didn’t even know what gluten was. I knew wheat, rye and barley but I didn’t know about the gluten protein. I was active and tried to eat healthy but I didn’t know about macro nutrients. I would have never known to ask about celiac disease.

Even a few years ago when a friend was diagnosed I didn’t connect any of the dots in my history. I learned a lot about celiac disease and being gluten-free at the time but never applied it to me. Even though I could only drink one beer without getting too sick. Even though I didn’t eat bread with my lunch because it made me too tired for an afternoon at work. Even though I didn’t put my hamburgers or hot dogs on bread because I felt better when I didn’t. Yet I never thought that I had celiac disease. I still thought it was IBS.

I wish 10+ years ago celiac disease had been more prominent. I may have been able to be diagnosed sooner. I wish when I went to the doctor about five years ago that she hadn’t been so terrible. I had told her I thought I had IBS but my symptoms were really acting up. She didn’t understand how I could feel constipated yet have diarrhea. She either had no clue or didn’t believe me. She felt my stomach and dismissed my complaints. At this point I changed insurance at work to get away from the crappy doctors at the insurance clinic. For the next five or so years I only went to my ob-gyn because I was so upset with how I was treated under my old doctors. I had symptoms still but at times they wouldn’t be as bad. Then in October I had two instances that pushed me over the edge and made me sick for several months. I needed to find out what was wrong and how to fix it.

If it was IBS I thought I’d do an elimination diet to figure out my triggers. Well, it turned out to be something else, celiac disease. I have been eating gluten-free since March 15th and I feel so much better. And yes, I get upset about the limitations especially when eating out. It will take time for me to totally accept that aspect. At home it is no problem. I love fruits, veggies, meat and dairy but I wish I could just go out and eat anywhere. I hate the fact that I have to plan ahead and restaurants give me 4 or 5 choices in their 20 page menus. In time I am sure I will get over this. I am glad to have the fog lifted and not have a headache every day. I just wish I had found all this out sooner. I had some miserable days.

I encourage those who aren’t sure what is wrong with them to keep digging, keep asking and find a doctor who will listen. There may be something wrong; it might not be what you think it is. Doctors should explore everything. Don’t give up. It may take 10+ years but once you know what’s wrong and how to fix it you will feel better.


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.