SISTER (CELI)ACT: two sisters, one diagnosis, zero gluten

This is the first of three guest posts by my sister Althea. (At least, she thinks it will only be three posts…) Enjoy!

Faithful followers of Based on a Sprue Story may remember me as the benevolent sister who agreed to forgo all glutenous foodstuffs (as well as anything that may have ever come into contact with a glutenous foodstuff) in her own home, out of respect for Molly’s dietary needs (and neuroses). What a thoughtful, altruistic sister, you likely thought. That’s what I thought, too, when we first made plans to get an apartment together.

There must be an Udi’s version of this by now, right?
Photo © Tamara Evans | Flickr

Just days before boarding the trusty old Lucky Star (may she rest in peace), however, I learned that I also have celiac. But there’s a twist. (No, not one of those donut twists, or the twist in your stomach, dear reader, at the mere thought of one of those donut twists—just a twist in the story.)

The twist is, I did not suffer for years from mysterious symptoms before getting this diagnosis. Sure, I had had some mild GI trouble from time to time over the past year or so, but everyone gets constipated once in a while, right? I was probably just eating too fast. Or drinking too much coffee. Not enough coffee? (Do yourself a favor and click on that last link—but only after you’ve finished reading this post.)

Me chopping parsley (a naturally gluten-free food) in preparation for our housewarming party (details to come).

In fact, I bet I would have ignored the issue entirely if I didn’t have such a good little awareness-raiser for a sister. Said sister urged me to get tested for the sprue (which, as my case illustrates, all  immediate relatives of a celiac should do, regardless of symptoms). I asked my school’s health center to do it, but the nurse practitioner there said it wasn’t worth it; “It’s not like you’re running to the bathroom every time you eat a sandwich,” she said. (Well, no, but that’s not really how it works, so… but, okay.)

In the end, I got the blood test when I was home briefly after graduation, and my antibody levels were off the charts. I haven’t had a biopsy yet, but a recent paper concluded that blood test results are strong enough evidence of celiac that a biopsy isn’t necessary.

So, apparently, I have celiac disease just as much as Molly does, which means I need to eliminate gluten from my diet just as completely as she does. Or do I?

In my next post, I’ll delve into the questions that get asked of someone who only sort of has a disease that confounds people enough as it is. Stay tuned!

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11 thoughts on “SISTER (CELI)ACT: two sisters, one diagnosis, zero gluten

  1. I am looking forward to you sharing more of your side of the story.

  2. Wow, what an unexpected twist! Looking forward to parts .2 + 3 (and beyond).

  3. Laurie C says:

    I kind of wish I hadn’t watched that coffee music video. That song’s going to “go through” my head all day now.

  4. […] is post #2 in Althea’s series of guest posts. If you haven’t yet, check out the first post here. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. And not only because celiac disease is linked to mood […]

  5. […] My family and close friends, for example, have gone above and beyond in accommodating my gluten-free diet. My parents bought new cutting boards, bowls, and cooking utensils when I visited, because those things can harbor gluten. A friend brought gluten-free groceries to my “safe” kitchen and cooked for me there. My sister agreed not to eat gluten at home when we moved in together (and then found out she had celiac disease herself—but that’s a different story). […]

  6. […] of guest posts about being diagnosed with celiac disease. If you haven’t already, read the first and second […]

  7. rachelmeeks says:

    Eeeee I know I’m tuning in late but I can’t WAIT to read what comes next!

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