DaveThe Voices of Celiac Disease

“It took 10 years after I started experiencing outward symptoms to get diagnosed.”

A photo of Dave smiling.

Describe your life prior to diagnosis:

I’d suffered from terrible heartburn since college, and at age 34, I started to experience extreme bloating and regurgitation several times a week. I saw many doctors, did lots of tests and tried several medications with no answers.

How did you come to know (or suspect) that you have celiac disease?

I changed doctors and was quickly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. While reading about Hashimoto’s online, I ran across an article that discussed the correlation between Hashimoto’s and celiac disease. So I started to research celiac disease and found that many of my symptoms would be explained with a diagnosis. I returned to my doctor and requested a test, and my suspicion was soon confirmed.

How long did it take for you to get diagnosed since your first symptoms and what (if any) challenges did you face along the way?

It took 10 years after I started experiencing outward symptoms. My old family doctor didn’t take me seriously and just wanted to treat me for acid reflux. I don’t blame him for not recognizing my symptoms, but I do blame him for his lack of curiosity.

Do you believe anything could have sped up your diagnosis? If so, please explain:

I should have changed doctors sooner. Since I had a long history with my family doctor I was hesitant to leave him.

Describe your experience with living with celiac disease:

My first year was rough. I became ultra-sensitive to gluten after quitting and now the slightest amount causes me to get sick. Our home kitchen has been dedicated gluten-free for nearly three years now, and that was a total game changer for me. I feel better at 51 than I did at 30.

Today I embrace my diagnosis and have become an expert at reading food labels. I rarely eat out due to the risk of cross-contact, and I have discovered a passion for baking and cooking. I love to take recipes and convert them to gluten- and dairy-free so I can enjoy my favorite foods again safely at home.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to your story?

Just recently I’ve become aware of the emotional impact my dietary restrictions have on me and my family. I am truly thankful for the support and sacrifices they make to keep me safe. I have extreme anxiety eating away from home, and I do not trust others to cook for me in a shared kitchen—I’ve been glutened too many times. I miss spontaneity and eating in social settings and events.

You can keep up with Dave at glutenfree.dave on Instagram.