The Celiac Story: Part IV

celiacgraphicNote: This is the latest in a series of posts about The Kid’s Celiac disease diagnosis. They will all be collected under the Gluten Schmuten category tag.

Everyone had their guesses about what was triggering the diarrhea. The doctors were sticking to their respective bullshit diagnoses of toddler diarrhea. The girls at daycare thought it was the milk. The Wife and I were stumped, but pulled juice from her diet just in case. My mother-in-law, a walking textbook definition of nerves and anxiety, thought she had ebola.

So, when the diagnosis was definitively Celiac’s disease, it gave us some solace. There was something wrong, but it wasn’t life threatening. Dairy was not an issue, nor was the black plague or onchocerciasis. The problem was that we had no idea what we were dealing with.

This is a healthy intestine. Notice the furry texture.
This is a healthy intestine. Notice the furry texture.

What The Wife and I knew about Celiac’s disease could fit on one side of an index card. We’ve since taken the crash course on it, thanks to the variety of credible websites and publications we’ve picked up.

So, for the sake of catching everyone up to speed, here’s what the Celiac Disease Foundation says:

Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.

1 in 133 people in America have it and 5 to 15 percent of newborns will develop it. I’m wondering how we never heard about this in the 1980s or 1990s, when I was in school, but now it seems all the rage. Digressing.

This is the intestine of someone with Celiac's disease. Notice the lack of "fur."
This is the intestine of someone with Celiac’s disease. Notice the lack of “fur.”

Symptoms include: Abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, distention and bloating of the stomach, chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both), steatorrhea, or fatty stools, anemia, or unexplained weight loss with large appetite or weight gain.

It’s a genetically-inherited disease that cannot be predicted through genetic testing. I’m guessing that this is the Paventis fault, as we are a genetic cesspool of diseases, conditions and bad habits.

Apparently, Celiac disease is like that cousin you don’t like (the Paventis have plenty of those). It’s there. One can carry it around, but it can choose to appear or not whenever the hell it pleases. From CDF:

Celiac disease can appear at any time in a person’s life. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth.

The most frustrating part of this, from a parent’s perspective, is that nothing can be done. There is no cure. There is no real treatment other than dietary overhaul. It’s a veritable lifetime of explaining that “No, you can’t have this,” or “Remember, you can’t have any cake at your friend’s party.” It’s the reminder that she’s going to be different and there’s nothing she can do about it.

I suppose there is something good to come from this. She won’t ever have to drink Bud Light.


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