As I sat down to start telling my story, I soon realized this would be more difficult then I had at first anticipated. Trying to put into words struggle and suffering has been acutely painful and frustrating. I have come to see that this disease, due to brain fog, lack of energy, and migraines has stolen memories from the years that my babies were born and that realization has caused much grief. The apparent knowledge I had of Celiac and the willingness to embrace and accept this diagnosis was a hindrance because I did not know how much I did not know and there was no one around who thought I needed help. Now years into recovery I am still plagued with delusions of grandeur. I often think and always want to do and commit to more then I can handle. I am still in the process of accepting my physical limitations and allowing God to do His work in me as I submit to this weakness. I know that every person is different and Celiac presents in so many different ways and symptoms but for me I still hit a brick wall every four to six weeks. For no apparent reason my joints become inflamed, I get a 2-3 day migraine, and my body needs to sleep for approximately 20 hours. It is, at the least, inconvenient. As I have said before though, I am healing. I have stopped poisoning myself and now I am working on healing, improving my health. I hope that my story will help and encourage others on their journey.
Life has always been busy for me. In the past 15 years I have moved over 15 times, 3 times across country and had a short season of living on the road. During these moves I gave birth to 5 energetic and unique children. I didn’t think to question my exhaustion at first. It is definitely work raising 5 kids and being the wife of a youth Pastor. And the migraines? I have had those since I was 10. They were just a part of life. Just like the chewable Imodium that I carried in my purse for the frequent and unexpected attacks. There didn’t seem to be any connection or consistency and none of the doctors I had seen were concerned. The brain fog was concerning. I struggled to put thoughts together, to find words. It was hard to stay focused and multitask. At one point while at the mall my son, who was not yet 4, took the stroller from my hands, with his 18 month old sister in it, and had pushed her out of the store and down a hallway before I registered what had happened. I knew something had to change but I didn’t know where to start.
For lack of a more specific direction or goal, Tommy and I began to pursue a healthier lifestyle in general. And when I say pursue, I mean we read as many books as we could on the subject and formulated a plan. We joined the YMCA and exercised regularly, we started going to see a chiropractor, stopped using plastic, at more fruits and veggies, and after reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, we took wheat completely out of our diet. The detoxification process was brutal. I felt worse then I ever had while eating wheat but we were warned this would happen, much like a sugar detoxification, and so I pushed through the shakes, the lethargy and painful headaches. After about a week things started getting better…and better…and better. The day Tommy told me that it was like I was a different person was when I knew, I had a problem.
A few years earlier my mom had called me up and told me about Celiac Disease. “I raised you. You have this!” she said. I didn’t believer her then but I was starting to now. In true Peterson style, I did as much research as I could and concluded that it was very likely I had Celiac. I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist and went in for a biopsy. Yes, I went back to eating wheat for two weeks before the procedure to make sure the test was accurate. In all honesty I was a little nervous that I was making things up and that my test would come back negative, this way of life was all I had known and I was not as bad as others were but my tests were very clearly positive for Celiac. Unfortunately, the doctor told me to continue with a gluten free diet but did not offer anymore direction and I didn’t think that I needed any. It has been a very difficult and long process since then. I had no idea that Celiac Disease was autoimmune and that while eating gluten free would stop the horrible damage from continuing, I had no idea how to heal and the struggles that would continue.