A few weeks ago I went to the doctor because I had been having bowel trouble for the past year and, while I could function (only just, sometimes), it just didn't feel right. I told the doctor my symptoms and she scheduled blood tests and prescribed anti-diarrhea medication while I was waiting for the blood tests. I showed up at the surgery again for the blood tests and the nurse on duty took about 5 or 6 samples for the various tests. She scheduled an appointment with the doctor again for today to get the results.
I showed up and the doctor read out the results. Vitamin and Iron levels were, as she put it, perfect, cholesterol level was normal, white blood cells normal, thyroid function, liver, kidneys, all absolutely fine. I was actually going to be a bit disappointed if nothing showed up after all that and some days feeling weak and drained because of my bowel troubles. She came to the final blood test result, which was a test for coeliac disease and, lo and behold, a result! It came up positive.
One of the first things she pointed out to me when going through probable and possible effects of this, was that it can effect the function of the spleen. But she said there was nothing for me to worry about because, as I mentioned, my vitamin and iron levels were fine on the other blood test. She did say that one of the reasons I felt week some days was because my body wan't absorbing enough nutrients from food because of the diarrhea. But she said that I will have a normal and healthy lifespan once I completely cut out gluten from my diet, so I have nothing to worry about as a result of this diagnosis.
The doctor gave me a leaflet to explain what the condition is. It's an autoimmune disease where my body mistakes gluten for germs and produces antibodies to fight it. She said it's very common in Ireland. About 1% of people in the UK have it, but the percentage is far higher here in Ireland. So I have to cut out gluten from my diet completely. It's the only way to treat it. It's a bit of a problem at the moment. I bought pasta for my dinners for the week, I have rolls for my sandwiches for lunch and the Aldi weetabix I eat for breakfast has gluten. I have to eat all that before I can start the gluten-free diet. Gluten binge!
The doctor will refer me to a dietitian for the moment and check up on me herself in a couple of months. It isn't long ago that I was giving out about so many people going gluten-free in what I thought was just the latest health fad. "Why is everyone allergic to wheat all of a sudden?" I'd be saying. I've learned my lesson the hard way.