Share Your Gluten-Free Story: Meet Lisa!

This is a guest post by Lisa.

My name is Lisa DeZolt and nine years ago, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. When I was a child, I would constantly complain of bad stomach aches, especially after eating. It actually became a joke in the family; they would say it was because I didn’t want to eat.

As I got older into my teenage years, I continued with terrible stomach issues, but doctors could never figure out what was wrong with me. As the years went by, I settled into the fact that I had a “nervous stomach”. In my 30’s after many attempts to become pregnant, my doctor told me I could not have children although all the infertility tests I had showed no real problems. My husband and I adopted an adorable 20 month old boy from Hong Kong, our son Kit, in 1991. During these years of raising our son, I started to feel fatigue like I never experienced before along with migraines, muscle and joint pain, constant hunger pains, and nightmares with trouble sleeping. I also started losing weight no matter how much I ate. In ‘2000’, I underwent a surgery that took months to recoup from and that is when my health spun out of control. I would swing from diarrhea to constipation and back again to diarrhea. I went doctor to doctor trying to get answers to my medical problems. I even had one doctor ask me if I was Anorexic. At this point, I constantly had a swollen abdomen and felt bloated all the time and weighed just 89lbs.

On Christmas Eve of ‘2003’, I was admitted into the hospital because I had lost so much weight and literally felt like I was dying. I spent a week in the hospital on a feeding tube and actually gained some weight, so I was sent home still with no real answers. A couple of weeks after that, back to feeling worse than ever, is when I read an article in ‘Women’s Day’ magazine about a woman who had Celiac Disease; her symptoms almost mirrored mine. I immediately made an appointment with my Gastroenterologist and showed him the article. I had a blood test done and it was determined that I did suffer from Celiac Disease. All the pieces to the puzzle finally came together. The years of stomach pain, bloating, migraines, sleepless nights, nightmares, and even my infertility problems were explained. I am happy to say, I’m feeling much better these days now that I eat strictly gluten free, and I actually weigh over 100lbs now which is an accomplishment for me. Since my diagnosis, my dad, three of my sisters, and several of my nieces and nephews have also been diagnosed with Celiac Disease; so it truly is a gluten-free family affair.

I strongly urge anyone with similar symptoms to mine, get tested for Celiac Disease. It is a simple blood test although sometimes a scope procedure is needed for a true diagnosis. It is my hope by telling my story, that other people will not have to endure years of pain and discomfort like I did before coming gluten free. In closing, I would like to thank my husband for all the years of support, especially in the years leading up to my diagnosis when I was at my worst.

Gluten free for life, Lisa DeZolt

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  1. Wow, what an amazing story. I’m sorry she suffered so much!


  2. Lisa, your story sounds so much like mine. I was always getting yelled at as a kid for being in the bathroom…lol. They all thought it was funny! The only time I felt well as a child was when I woke in the morning, I dreaded eating breakfast, because from that point on in the morning I would feel terrible.

    Thank you so much for thanking your husband, I thank mine frequently for staying with me all those years. He knows where every bathroom is and was always so sweet when we would go out to eat and I would get ill. He would just get a to go container and then start stopping at all the bathrooms between where we ate and our home. What a guy!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Lisa DeZolt says:

      Dear Moe:
      I agree, if I didn’t have such an incrediable husband, I don’t know where I would be…..he believed in me when no one else did. I was even beginning to think it was all in my head! My life turned around for the good after reading the Woman’s Day Magazine article about Celiac Disease. Hopefully many more people will not have to suffer like we have done by getting information through wonderful people like Janelle!
      Sincerely, Lisa

  3. Your story mirrors mine, however, I didn’t have the benefit of the article. I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been hospitalized or visited an ER due to dehydration. After bouncing from specialist to specialist an Endocrinologist figured it out after ordering tests on my first visit. I too was the most sickly child with doctors laughing that I weighed a pound per inch. I was told I was anorexic, it was all in my head, I was a nervous nelly, etc. My Gastroenterologist did not diagnose it. In my adult life there were a lot of clues. Dermatologist said I was allergic to housework, laughed and told me to hire a maid or wear rubber gloves to do everything including ironing. I had to take 2 prenatal vitamins and 3 iron pills daily during my two successful (I know how lucky I am!) pregnancies and my blood levels were still low. My GI doctor did a colonoscopy in my 30′s and told me nothing was wrong then followed up with a lactose intolerance test and said that was my only problem. When I called saying I was still ill, I was told that I was allergic to milk protein. When I called back, I was told that I must be eating something with milk protein. My Gynocologist wanted to do a complete hysterectomy because he couldn’t find anything wrong. I went for a second opinion and that Gynocologist sent me to the Endocrinologist because he couldn’t find anything wrong either and thought maybe there was something wrong with my thyroid. She finally figured it all out. However, I have permanent damage to my intestinal tract, I have the dermatitis, the neuropathy and I am the most sensitive Celiac!
    I too have a very supportive husband who stuck it out through all the years. I can remember eating nothing but saltine crackers and drinking nothing but water all day so that I wouldn’t be sick for an evening out with my husband just to have to stay home because once again I was sick! DUH! At one point my husband even said he thought bread was the problem. It got to the point that I wouldn’t eat anything all day so that I could enjoy an evening out!
    Has anyone ever thought of all the money that was wasted being misdiagnosed? The time wasted on hospitalizations to just turn around and have it happen again because you were misdiagnosed? All the good times you missed out on because you were sick? Or sadly, all the people that have been misdiagnosed there entire life and passed due to complications from ingesting gluten?
    I read an article that stated in Ireland Celiac testing is a part of a child’s routine pediatric check ups. Hats off to them! Let no more children suffer the way I did! It’s a tough life when you’re honestly sick and being made fun of and criticized for being sick, small and underweight!
    I know this sounds like I am bitter, part of me is, but I don’t dwell on it. I am happy to finally know how to keep myself healthy. That is all that matters! I am finally in control of my health!

    • Lisa DeZolt says:

      Dear Sue:

      Yah, I know what you are saying, I try not to be bitter, but I missed out on so much from always being sick; at this point I am just so thankful to know that it wasn’t in my head like I was told so many times. I also had heard that they do testing on children overseas on their 5th birthday. I am a preschool teacher and I suggested to a parent of a child in my class that she try her child on a gluten free diet because this poor little girl in my class reminded me so much of me at her age, and guess what all her symptoms went away. Although, the mom still lets her eat gluten now and then and she comes in to class complaining of stomach issues. I don’t know if you have heard, but they are in the works of trying to develop a pill you could take to stop all the terrible symptoms and to stop the damage of the intestines, but I’m sure that will be years down the road. :( It is very interesting to read other people’s stories…they always sound the same except for different symptoms here and there. I’m so glad to be able to talk to people who understand all that we go through with this crummy disease. Stay well and most of all stay gluten-free! :)

  4. Wow, such a testament as to why Celiac awareness is so important!

    • Lisa DeZolt says:

      Dear Michelle:
      I agree with you how important it is for people to become aware of Celiac’s. When I was diagnosed over 8 year ago now, they told me 1 in 3000 people in America had it, but now they say 1 in 133 people have it. That is really interesting to think that so many people are suffering and have no idea why because this illness mimmics so many other diseases. Anyway, thanks for your comment!

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