05 September 2008

A diagnosis, finally

I was suffering from iron deficiency anaemia as long as I can remember. The iron pills I was taking didn’t really help. Of course, nobody believed me. I tried “Floradix Kräuterblut” which is really disgusting. But it helped! So I took it. I was feeling better.
My belly was blown up like a balloon quite often. People were kidding that I looked like being six months pregnant. I was told that this is common for young women with my statue.
When I was in my first year at uni, it got really bad. I was tired all the time. I wasn’t able to climb up the stairs. I was out of breath before I managed to the first level. My iron and haemoglobin levels were so bad that I had to be admitted to the hospital. It turned out that I was having a peptic ulcer thanks to Helicobacter pylori. I was sleeping all the time and was almost too weak to walk. That was the time when I started to have iron infusions. They helped really well but it meant to go and see the doctor every second or third day for around two weeks. As soon as we finished the infusions, my iron levels decreased again. I was told that a lot of women are suffering from low iron levels.
Then I went abroad for a year. I wasn’t taking any kind of iron at that time and felt ok. However, during that time I got something new: aphthous ulcer. It started with one or two but at one point my whole mouth was covered. At least it felt like that. Do you know that feeling? That pain? When it is almost too painful to drink, eat or even talk? I was told that I have simply too much stress.
After I got back to Germany, I moved to Heidelberg where it got really bad. 2007 wasn’t a healthy year for me. It started with the flu. As soon as somebody was sick around me, I caught it. Thanks.
In autumn I got diarrhoea. It took a month to find out that I was suffering from a yeast infection in my intestines. I lost 5 kg in four weeks. In addition to the drugs that I got for treatment I had to cut out a few things from my diet, most importantly wheat and sugar. Looking back it was probably a good training. Although I was allowed to eat rye and all other grains besides wheat I was reading labels and discovering where wheat and sugar are hiding.
After I recovered from the yeast infection, I broke my collarbone. I was hardly able to move my right arm for two weeks, then it got a bit better.
After the next series of iron infusions my iron levels dropped far too fast. I went to a haematologist where they took further blood tests. I wasn’t only lacking iron but folic acid and vitamin B12. More pills to take. In addition, I was told to have a gastroscopy.
I had the gastroscopy in early February this year on what we call “Rosenmontag”. Although I have never really been into carnival it is still not a nice day to be told to change your life. Right after the gastroscopy the doctor told me that I was most probably having celiac disease. However, I had to wait for the histological results. I was browsing the internet that night and was surprised. Most of the described symptoms fit me almost perfectly! When the doctor called the next day I already knew: I have celiac disease.
Still I had to get my antibodies checked. Until then I had to continue a diet containing gluten which gave me time to say good-bye to the food I was used to. It was hard to know that you have that pasta or that beer for the last time. When my antibodies were positive for celiac disease I was prepared. I was ready.
Three days after I cut gluten out of my diet I was feeling better. I’ve been feeling better ever since. I discovered that the way I used to feel wasn’t ok. Now I have energy. I am happy. For the first time in my life my iron levels aren’t dropping. No more aphthous ulcer. And I don’t have stomach ache any more.
Since my diagnosis I have been exploring. I have discovered a whole new world. I’ve started to bake my own bread. I’ve started to cook properly. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I just miss some kind of food. What I miss most at the moment are tortellini and kebab. You can be sure to find those recipes soon on my blog.

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