The Good Fight: Convincing a Family Member to Get Tested for Celiac

September 23, 2011 at 11:33 am 1 comment

As anyone affected by celiac disease or gluten sensitivity knows, there are a lot of battles to wage for wellness. From securing a diagnosis to ensuring gluten-free foods are at your disposal, every stage requires some level of strategy and resolve. So, I’m starting a series about the trials this community faces and some of ways we can stand our ground. I’m calling it “The Good Fight,” because these battles can make a real difference in someone’s well-being.

The Good Fight: Convincing a Family Member to Get Tested for Celiac

In health, there’s an epic battle between the “what-if’s” and the “I don’t know’s.” I’m a “what-if.” I read up on health issues, consider my risks, and at the very least, get my annual check-up. I thrive on prevention. My boyfriend, however, has a textbook case of the “I don’t know’s,” and it drives me batty.

“When’s the last time you went to the doctor?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are you going to get a physical this year?”

“Probably not.”

But smack dab in the middle of that spectrum, there’s a whole other category: the “I don’t want to know’s.” These are the people who know their risks, but would rather stay in the dark than find out more.

No one in my family has been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (yet), but I have a sneaking suspicion about one in particular. She has a number of symptoms – most recently, she’s developed a severe case of arthritis in her hands, and her vitamin D level has been consistently low despite taking supplements.

I told her about celiac disease and suggested that she get tested. Here’s how it went down:

Phase 1: Awareness: I explained the basics of celiac disease, its symptoms, and the long-term effects of going undiagnosed. She said she’d “look into it.”

Phase 2: Consideration: After reviewing the symptoms listed on CeliacCentral.org, she admitted that gluten could be her problem. “I guess I need some gluten-free cereal,” she said. No, I explained. It’s not as simple as that. You need to get tested first. Then, if you go gluten-free, it has to be 100% – that includes soy sauce and gravy, too.

Phase 3: Anxiety/Denial: After realizing the lifelong changes a celiac disease diagnosis would require, my family member failed to mention her concerns to a doctor. “I’m probably overreacting. I don’t have all those symptoms,” she said.

“Some people don’t have any symptoms,” I clarified. Now it was time for some tough love. It’s very possible that the test will come back negative, but I couldn’t deal with the guilt if she put it off and got sicker.

Phase 4: Victory! She spoke with her rheumatologist, who agreed that her concerns were warranted and wrote an order for the celiac blood panel.

The next phase, of course, is getting tested. Whether the results or positive or negative, I’m glad she is finally taking action. For me, and for NFCA’s mission, it means one less stone will go unturned.

Take Action Today!

In honor of my victory, I’m sharing a link to NFCA’s Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist. Please join me by sharing it with a family member or friend (or 10 of them!). Check out our whole Celiac Disease section, including some eye-opening information about thyroid and skin issues related to celiac.

I know many of you have fought or are fighting to get your family members tested for celiac. Let’s use this as an opportunity to share our stories, what worked and what hasn’t. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Entry filed under: Cheryl. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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