Eight years ago my life changed. I had spent many hours listening to doctors tell me that my symptoms were this or that, that they needed to check my gall bladder and they needed to check my blood work — oh the “vampires” checked so much of my blood. So I can tell you this: none of those things made my life any better.

It started with swelling. Anytime I would eat, I will begin to swell. At first, I thought I was just gaining weight and that my clothes didn’t fit right. Then I started feeling tired and dizzy after eating. My symptoms weren’t always consistent. My life began to revolve around my gut and the consequences of my misery. My poor family and, good lord, was I exhausted from the struggle. I began to dread eating. It was no longer enjoyable, just a way to survive and, even then, it was horrible. The symptoms began within minutes of eating and I was literally in hell.

Years and years of fighting these symptoms and being miserable after eating, I worked hard to keep looking for a solution. Well, when I could. I had kids and I had work and a husband and life was difficult enough. The very last thing I needed was to be sick and fighting my insides.

I was on year four of the fight when my husband left the military and we began our civilian life. He convinced me to give our local doctor’s office a try. It was the beginning of a dance where I went in for an appointment and went over my symptoms, then the doctor tried some blood work and tried to solve the puzzle.

I went to work and while there one day after eating, I begin to swell in the gut area so rapidly and strongly that my belt felt like it was cutting me in half. I called in an appointment and drove to the doctor’s office, expecting him to find nothing.

Except this visit was different, in came my doctor — who I swear looked at my paperwork and couldn’t erase the frustrated look on his face— before he looked at me and smiled a welcome. Then he introduced his shadow. Often you will notice that established doctors will allow new doctors or specialists-in-training observe patient visits.

Considering the fact that the military often had four or five such doctors-in-training in every visit, it didn’t bother me at all. I laid on the table and in frustration, I tossed my belt on the floor in tears and told the doctor that I was absolutely done. I couldn’t even make it through the day without being physically sick.

My poor doctor was tired of me. I am guessing, of course, but I really can only imagine how he felt seeing me so often yet not being able to pinpoint the source of my grief. He was really a good doctor; he took his time and went through all the symptoms really patiently. We were banging our head on the wall when the shadow spoke up... literally, the sit-and-see-but-watch doctor-in-training spoke up... I don’t know who was more shocked the doctor, myself or the shadow.

He was visibly excited and that sweet little doctor-in-training (who didn’t even look old enough to shave) changed my entire world. He asked if I’d been tested for celiac. My doctor looked puzzled and waited for the doc-in-training to expound upon the subject. And then it was there, a possibility that he hadn’t explored yet as eight years ago, celiac disease wasn’t something that was ringing a lot of bells. With the possibility of something new in his mind, my doctor referred me to a specialist. And before I knew it, I was going to sleep so that specialist could look for evidence of celiac in my innards (sorry, that’s a graphic procedure but yeah, it was necessary). I woke up as my husband and the doctor were carrying on a conversation. I tested positive for celiac disease and my whole life was going to change, but for the better, eventually. I, of course, had to change my diet and go gluten-free. It’s not a fad. It’s a life saver.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.