Hoping to be of help to all those living gluten free in the United Arab Emirates – نأمل أن نكون عوناً لكل من يعيش حياته خالية من الجلوتين في دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة
My name is Cecilia Valenzuela, I’m 52 years old, I’m from Chile and I have been living in Al-Ain, UAE for the last 21 years.
Well, my story it’s fairly similar to many other Coeliac people.
I was suffering for years, since I was a child, from all sort of ailments. I considered that to be a bit strange, because I’ve always been a healthy person, I mean I eat right, I exercise…..
I remember having terrible stomach pains from a very early age, my mother used to take me to doctors, but I never got a proper diagnosis. Doctors would say there was nothing wrong with me, because I was eating fine, so I learned to live with it somehow. To the point that it didn’t bother me anymore, I was just used to it.
I became a teenager , then a young adult suffering those horrible pains, bloated tummy, gassy, etc etc you name it!!!
I started seeking medical attention again when I was in England and then when I moved here 21 years ago.
It was always the same: Irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, etc etc, so again I just couldn’t be bothered anymore.
I kept having horrible pains, at times I was rushed to Emergency due to severe pain, vomiting and Diarrhea all at the same time!
I had problems in both my pregnancies, but nobody could explain what caused it because everything “seemed to be fine”.
Sometimes I broke into strange rashes and “creepy crawlings” inside my body, I just assumed I must be allergic to something, I went to a dermatologist who said I was allergic to my pets (I am not)!
Eventually in 2003 I had to have Thyroid surgery in which half of it was removed. I had several minors surgeries throughout a big part of my life due to growths in different parts of my body, they just sprouted all of a sudden, mainly inside my mouth. In 2006 when I went for a Thyroid check up here in Al-Ain, the doctor asked me “anything else?”, I just kind of joking said “well, my stomach, but forget about that, I’ve had so many diagnosis and I’m still not well”, he asked me if I ever had an endoscopy, I said no, to which he replied, “well, we’ll do it then”! And voila!!! After a lifetime of suffering I finally had a proper diagnosis!!! Coeliac disease.
I stopped eating gluten immediately and in just one week my life changed for the better!!! No more of that horrible gut pain !!!
I must admit that I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, in the beginning it wasn’t easy, I was never a big junk eater, never had fancy hamburgers or fries. I would have pizza or cake from time to time, but bread was always my weakness. I just loved bread! I used to eat everything with bread!!! No wonder I was sick most of the time.
After being diagnosed, my husband bought me a book about Coeliac disease, to educate myself, because even I didn’t know what it was, and that was like reading about myself, my life story! I had about 80 to 90% per cent of all the symptoms listed in the book, the typical ones like late development in puberty and being very skinny despite being a very good eater! That was actually the reason why my mother had kept taking me to doctors, she was worried at how thin I was although I ate so well, doctors would say as long as I was eating I was fine, nothing to worry about. They even put my tummy pains down to the fact that maybe I was eating too much!!!
Now 6 years after diagnosis I feel great, at times I do get a bit of a bloated feeling. I did get another endoscopy done last year and it showed that my gut still hasn’t healed completely, at time of diagnosis I was told my gut was severely damaged and that it would probably heal in about 8 months to 3 years. Although I make sure I don’t eat gluten, the doctor thinks that I’m still exposed to some degree of gluten somehow, but personally, I must say, I feel great!!!