We have all asked this question many times. There is no real answer, but there are thoughts to ponder. If you ask your doctor or your friends, they will answer with things like – “I bet you had some Irish ancestors” (it does seem to appear more in the Irish population), or “the incidence is just under 1%, so you’re it!”
I prefer to look at the diagnosis completely differently. It is not easy. It is hard, unsociable and sometimes downright depressing. But, I consider myself and my daughter, lucky. We have an autoimmune condition that we will have for life, but unlike other autoimmune conditions, ours can be completely controlled by a diet. If you ask others who suffer from serious autoimmune conditions about their struggles, you’ll likely hear about a series of doctor visits, treatments, costly medications and the inevitable side effects. We are spared most of this. There is no medication, there are no specialist treatments and the side effects of a gluten free diet, are more good than bad.
I am reminded of a customer coming into the bakery late one day, not long before closing. I had finished my work in the kitchen, the other staff had left for the day, and I was working in the shop. An older gentleman came in, looking very upset. He explained that his wife was in the car, and they had just come from a doctor’s appointment. She has been sick for a long time and finally got the diagnosis of celiac disease. He was frustrated and concerned. I said, “that’s great” (maybe not the best response). He looked cross and said, “I guess you didn’t hear me, she has celiac disease and now she has to eat this food.” We went on to have a discussion about what celiac disease was and how a gluten free diet can treat it. I told him, I’d rather have celiac disease than almost anything else her symptoms may have suggested. No pills, no special treatments, no side effects – just treatment from healthy food. She’ll feel better relatively quickly and many of the effects of the disease will go away. I told him she can eat any meat, any fish, any fruit, any vegetable, it just depends how it is prepared. We continued our discussion, as now he was getting excited. I sold him some bread and baked goodies and he left, saying he couldn’t wait to tell his wife how lucky she was. Job Done!
Being celiac, or gluten intolerant, isn’t like winning the lottery, but when you are ravaged with digestive issues, often for years, a diagnosis is a welcome relief. The diagnosis of celiac disease starts a new chapter in your life, but one that is manageable, and one with lots of promise for better days to come.