The health and financial costs associated with undiagnosed celiac disease are well documented, but what about the emotional cost? Many people who lived for years with undiagnosed celiac disease know this emotional cost all too well. Here is my story.
My celiac disease symptoms seemed to be triggered by pregnancy and became worse over the next five years. My knees hurt so bad that it was difficult to sit on the floor and play with my daughter. Kneeling for bath time was impossible. Daily headaches and facial pain made attending a toddler playgroup or music class a challenge. Chronic insomnia made my body ache and my knee and head pain worse. Medicines to treat the insomnia left me feeling drowsy, dizzy, and foggy. I was so exhausted that there were days where I was unable to drive my daughter to preschool, and other days she was late because of Mommy being stuck in the bathroom yet again.
On a good day, I could read, spend some time on the computer, and do a little shopping, but those days were not frequent. Fortunately, I was able to be a stay at home mom. Simple daily living tasks were hard work for me. Most evenings, the pain was so severe and I was too fatigued to cook dinner.
My health problems definitely affected my marriage. By the time I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007, we were already in marriage therapy, but it was too late. Our divorce was final earlier this year. I wonder if we would still be married if I had been diagnosed with celiac disease when I first started showing symptoms or even after only a few years. The answer is maybe. Of course, a marriage is complicated and involves many issues. However, I know that we would have both been able to cope more effectively with our problems at the time without the stress of my health.
Yes, there was a negative emotional cost to my celiac disease. However, it led to greater emotional strength as my health improved significantly. Sleeping well and being able to think clearly without pain enables a world of possibilities. I certainly was not an optimist five years ago. Now, my entire outlook has changed. My ex-husband and I are good friends. Today, I am truly living. While undiagnosed with celiac disease, I merely existed.