Testimonial: Celiac Disease Diagnosis Later in Life

Being somewhat new to the Celiac world I can still sympathize with those who are newly diagnosed. My friend Kristy’s dad Ben came to me recently after being diagnosed with Celiac in his seventies. When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I felt so lost.  I did not know anyone with the disease and the only advice I received was from my doctor who told me to do an internet search.  While I have never met with a nutritionist, I have learned so much from others who have shared tips, tricks, brands they like and restaurant suggestions. Living a gluten-free lifestyle is truly a constant learning experience. My friend Kristy and her parents were in town recently and I was really excited for the chance to enjoy a meal with them at the home of our friend Sandy and share our stories and experiences about gluten-free life.

Ben’s story.

Ben experienced extreme weight loss and became violently ill and was hospitalized about a year ago.  Doctors didn’t know what was wrong and finally someone suggested it may be Celiac Disease.  Like many people hard to diagnose, he did end up having Celiac Disease. Ben reached out to me with questions about what to eat.  Ben travels A LOT so his questions were about safe fast food restaurants (of course I said Wendy’s) and what chain restaurants were safe.  I really felt for him because he traveled to some remote locations that didn’t always have easy access to gluten-free foods.  

Ben is the sweetest man.  What is even sweeter is how much his wife Laquita protects him.  Ben has been married to Laquita for 49 years.  Laquita could easily be the first recruit for the “gluten police.”  Laquita is Ben’s biggest advocate.  They keep a mixed kitchen, which means lots of steps have to be taken to avoid cross contamination.  Ben loves southern cooking.   They live in Tennessee and biscuits were a staple in his diet.  Laquita has learned to cook using gluten-free alternatives such as gluten-free Bisquick.

One of the things that is so frustrating about this disease is the fact that we all react to gluten so differently.  In Ben’s case, he  throws up when he gets sick.  When I asked Ben one of the hardest things he has had to do he said it was eating hamburgers with no bun when dining out.  However, he finds comfort in Udi’s bread,  sea food (such as tilapia) and vegetables.

Having Celiac Disease can be a struggle for most, however it is important to see the silver lining.  It is so easy to become negative and feel frustrated.  Ben is a true inspiration.  He is so positive about his diagnosis.  There are pros and cons of being diagnosed later in life in my opinion.  On one hand you can say “I have eaten that before, I know it is good” and not feel like you are missing out.  On the other hand you may regret knowing what you are missing.

What has been the hardest thing for you following your Celiac diagnosis?  How do you find the positive in your diagnosis? Do you know someone diagnosed with Celiac disease later in life?

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