One out of 133 people are diagnosed with celiac disease. Some common symptoms of celiac in children are bloating, abdominal pains, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, looking pale and many others.
Celiac is a disease that means you have weaker inner organs, such as the small intestine, compared to other people.
I am one of the 155,000 kids from age 10-14 with celiac disease. It all started when I was in first grade, when I started getting headaches, stomach aches and massive leg pains, which are also symptoms of celiac that appear in young children.
My parents started getting worried about me, so they decided to have some blood work done on both me and my sister.
Micaelyn, my sister, came back negative for celiac, but my test results came back positive. This meant that one day of school I would have to go to the hospital and have an operation done. This scared me lots and lots because I was only six years old and didn’t know what the outcome would be like. When my mom told me that I had to go in for an operation, I started to cry, but my mom said that I could get a treat if I was a good girl.
On the day of the operation, I was having trouble relaxing. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors told me that the operation was called an endoscopy. My mom sat in the waiting room, and my dad came into the room with me. The doctors were going to stick a camera down my throat and pull out a piece of my intestines.
Celiac has really changed my life because I can’t eat wheat, barley and rye. However, I can eat plain meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables that don’t contain gluten, so people with celiac disease can freely eat these foods. This makes grocery shopping, eating at restaurants and going to parties difficult.
Things have started to go better for us because many grocery stores have put in natural food sections where people with celiac can buy organic foods and shop for their groceries. The food that people with celiac disease can eat is called gluten-free food. Gluten-free means that it has no wheat, barley or rye.
Stores have started putting labels on their items that say “gluten-free” as a result of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of January 2006. I do my best to stay away from these things, but it is very hard for me to watch my friends and family eat things that I can’t.
If I eat too much gluten, then I have a higher chance of getting cancer of the intestines.
If you are having these symptoms, then you should get tested today because you don’t want it to lead to cancer.
It was a hard thing to learn to watch my diet, and I still struggle with it today, but I won’t let some disease stop me from having an active life.
Margaret Ketchen is a fifth-grader at Schenectady Christian School in Schenectady