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The story of how Sam was diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Date: Friday 8th May 2015

Sam

Christmas 2013 - 4 months until my 'I Do' moment and after an indulgent festive period I decided to hit the gym and eat healthily (salad in February anyone??) The big day came and, like any bride, I felt amazing. The 3 week honeymoon in America followed, we spoiled ourselves in the culture of big portions and seemingly having bread with every meal, but bizarrely I lost weight!

A few weeks after we came back, I laid on the bed with stomach cramps not wanting to move apart from needing the loo, it was then it struck me I had been feeling like this for 2 weeks. I got an emergency GP appointment, who prescribed me with IBS tablets and told to comeback in a fortnight if no change - I was back 2 weeks later and prescribed different IBS tablets. Back again after a week because by this time my symptoms had worsened, I didn't want to eat because it was painful, I continued to lose weight and felt exhausted. I saw another GP who mentioned gluten intolerance, they tested my bloods for coeliac antibodies (I later discovered coeliac disease should be ruled out before diagnosing IBS) and suggested I cut out gluten to see if I felt different.

A couple of weeks later the results showed I'd tested positive for coeliac disease, my GP referred me to the hospital to confirm via biopsy. At this point I started researching coeliac disease and was pleased with information out there but an important thing I discovered was to continue having gluten until the biopsy. Knowing that when confirmed coeliac a gluten free lifestyle was required - I had a bucket list of things I wanted to eat for the last time. Topping the list was a traditional Christmas Dinner - in August the family got together wearing paper hats and novelty jumpers and I ate my last ‘proper’ stuffing.

The biopsy was taken in late September, thankfully not as bad as I had imagined, results followed a month later confirming coeliac disease. I had tried various items from supermarkets and supplier hampers before I was able to get gluten free items on prescription so I could decide what to have. My biggest transition was being organised around meals; I used to put some toast in at work for breakfast and nip to the cafe for a sandwich for lunch, go to a restaurant for tea. Whereas now I have to plan ahead as I can't rely on there being something to have when out and about. For restaurants in particular I phone ahead to ask if there are suitable meals as it saves the panicked striken face of the waiter when I explain the situation.

After 6 months on a gluten free diet I feel so much better and overall a relatively minor lifestyle change is a small price to pay for good health.

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