Gareth’s diagnosis story

23 February 2021

Gareth’s diagnosis story

Runner Gareth had no symptoms before a cycling accident led to his diagnosis

Though I knew vaguely what a Coeliac was, having absolutely no symptoms, I ate whatever I wanted. I was quite fit and was of normal weight. I was a long time runner with over 75 marathons under my belt when, though in my early seventies, I started to try cycling on the Velodrome in Newport about 2 years ago. An exercise we had to do, was cycle around, one above the other in a ‘stack’ and change position every lap. As I went into a bend during the slowing down segment, I was too slow, so centrifugal force didn’t keep me up the inclined bit and I slid down banging my leg. This surprisingly broke my femur high up ! Though it was successfully repaired with a plate and dynamic screw, the medical bods needed to find out why a seemingly healthy man’s leg would break so easily. A bone scan showed unbelievably that I had osteoporosis. This was followed by a endoscopy, as Coeliac disease was now suspected. Sure enough that’s what it was. So a change of diet was ordered by the dietician bods.

What I found most challenging about adjusting to a gluten free diet.
The dieticians had supplied me with a wealth of advice and written suggestions as to where and what I should now start eating. Already on a healthy diet ,there was no problem adjusting most things. Bread in loaf form did cause concern and I tried many before the fresh Glutafin Seeded Loaf was decided upon. I should add that we in Wales are lucky in that Gluten free items are supplied through our local Chemist, free of charge. This is up to the monthly allowance that the dieticians set, based on age. Initially, I was allowed ‘biscuits’ but that was later deemed a ‘luxury’ and stopped. Now I get all the bread I need, pasta, cornflakes, pizza bases, flour, crackers and crisp-bread.

Initially, the inability to have a pint of beer in a pub seemed to be a challenge. At home I could buy in Gluten free beer or have a glass of wine. Only a ‘normal’ 14 unit drinker, it meant that a social pint, (just the one !), was not possible, so cider was tried and white wine. Then Covid came along and visits to the pub after training got knocked on the head. Now any alcohol at home comes to the door from supermarket deliveries or specialist suppliers.

Top 3 tips for newly diagnosed coeliac.
1. Listen to the dieticians advice to ensure you get the right nutritional balance in your new diet.
2. Shop around and try a wide variety of GF food, until you find items you enjoy eating.
3. Join ‘Coeliac UK’ for a wealth of information, tips, recipes and stories. They are a charity and want a better diagnosis of coeliac disease and availability of Gluten free food.

Favourite Gluten Free recipe.
Along with many others, I feel we miss out a bit, on some of the puddings and desserts that traditionally contain wheat. So I found a recipe for a Refrigerator cake which I can make, not my wife. Yes, it’s a bit indulgent but great as a treat and no cooking or oven involved. Dark chocolate, gluten free ginger biscuits, dried cranberries, shelled pistachios, butter, golden syrup….did I mention chocolate? It’s moreish.

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