Bodybuilder Joins Athletes for Awareness Team
This blog is proudly sponsored by:
The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness is happy to introduce our newest Athlete for Awareness – Susan Maloney. Susan is involved in the Department of Nursing at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and has a PhD and CRNP. Not only does Susan have an extensive background in healthcare, but she is an active bodybuilder as well.
For her first Athletes for Awareness blog contribution, Susan speaks out about her recent celiac diagnosis (January 2011) and going gluten-free. Read more below to get the full story of how Susan Restored Her Health and Reclaimed Her Life!
1. What symptoms had you experienced prior to becoming diagnosed?
2. How long were you misdiagnosed?
I think this was one of the most frustrating aspects early on as I was so desperate to understand why I was feeling so ill, and received far less than compassionate care. I had never before struggled with low energy, as I am someone who’s typically highly motivated, energized, positive and upbeat. But the fatigue and GI symptoms I was experiencing were overwhelming to the point where I wasn’t functioning well at all!
When my symptoms escalated to a point where I couldn’t go to the bathroom for weeks at a time and was vomiting daily, I sought a referral to a GI specialist.
3. What were you misdiagnosed with?
My initial celiac panel (which I had to ask to be tested for) came back negative. However, by the time I was tested, I had been gluten-free for over 3 months. Follow-up testing and diagnostics that I had to pursue and go find a different clinician to perform, confirmed my diagnosis after what seemed an unnecessary delay with a great deal of physical and emotional angst as I was trying to make sense of my symptoms.
4. As an athlete, what was the experience adjusting to a gluten-free lifestyle like?
And, I know I didn’t bring my best in the gym each day for my lifting partner. For the first time in my life, I just didn’t even want to go to the gym! That was what really got my attention and I knew something was really wrong with me. Having never felt that way before, it was scary!
Changing to gluten-free foods left me with some new symptoms as my body responded to the different glycemic index of these foods; I wasn’t tolerating the essential fats that are found in many gluten-free foods, and my symptoms and tolerance to new foods was a big struggle for me.
5. How has your health and quality of life improved since going gluten-free?
I competed in that Pro show in May 2011 and took second place to a great competitor. I was pleased and happy to simply stand on the stage given the journey it took to get there.
I think if I were to identify any specific health benefits since being diagnosed with Celiac disease I would have to say that it has forced me to be more gentle with myself, more patient, more aware of what my body needs, and a determination to not let this limit any goals and dreams I have for myself as an athlete.
I also feel good knowing that I am only putting 100% pure and non-toxic foods in my body now. Despite this not really being a choice or option for me…it empowers me to feel stronger and more in control over my disease.
6. Why have you decided to become an NFCA Athlete for Awareness?