Bonnie Pampinella wrote:
In August of 2010 I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The news was delivered to me in the unusual form of a late night phone call to my home from my PCP actually yelling into the phone “Bonnie, I know what it is!” Up until that point, I could have sworn that the man thought I was a hypochondriac. For three years prior to that call, I visited him and countless other doctors that I was referred to for my constant migraines, acid reflux, lethargy, brain fog, extreme weight loss, then hair loss, which brought anxiety and so on. Looking back, I never fully disclosed or really focused on how sick I was with actual gastrointestinal issues and vomiting. I honestly thought that both were just side effects of my migraines and the medications I was prescribed to try to control them. All I knew was something was not right and luckily I had been determined to find out why.
Most people receiving a call with any diagnosis I assume are initially saddened, frightened, or even angry. I didn’t even know what celiac disease was at the time, but I was relieved. I finally had validation that I really wasn’t feeling well and that it wasn’t all in my head. My doctor discussed the results of my bloodwork and how without a doubt, this was it. My test for celiac was off the charts; he assured me that 100% it was celiac disease and that after I had a biopsy, adhering to a gluten free diet was all I needed.
I followed all instructions, met my new gastroenterologist, followed by more tests, an endoscopy and biopsy. Within 1 months time the diagnosis was official and I was no longer relieved. The sadness kicked in. Actual sadness over food. I planned my last hoorah with gluten for that Labor Day weekend. I ate and drank the last of everything that I thought I would miss and broke up with gluten permanently and never looked back.
Almost 9 years later, I have never felt better. It took a while for my body to start to heal and repair from the damage, but then I actually started to feel better. Me and gluten are still not seeing each other aside from the occasional and unintentional contamination. I can honestly say that I’ve never consciously cheated since our breakup. I’ve done my best to maintain a completely gluten free lifestyle which includes not just food but also my cosmetics, makeup, toiletries, beverages, and anything that can potentially be ingested and so on.
This March 17, I will be running the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon with Team Celiac. When I received the invite from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center to participate on the team, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I typically don’t run in the winter but because their efforts are so important, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to run with the team and help raise awareness for this disease. I am just as determined today as I was 9 years ago. These activities, combined with successful treatment, patient advocacy, research and education have enabled the Celiac Disease Center to greatly impact the rate of diagnosis and awareness. I couldn’t be more proud to run for them. Your support of me and Team Celiac will ultimately help improve the lives of so many people suffering from celiac disease and eventually, a cure for those with the disease as well as prevention of the disease in the future. My goal is to make sure that someone else quietly suffering, doesn’t have to wait three years for an answer. Thank you so much for your generosity in supporting a cause that is so close to my heart (and my tummy)!