Finding a doctor who understands Celiac Disease
My exposure to Celiac Disease as a medical student was seeing pictures of youngsters who had mal-absorption – who might have had pot bellies from complications. And I didn’t at all think about it as having a person like me who went through more than six decades seemingly pretty healthy having this. So it can be very subtle and I think we have to get that message out. Now of course this is a disorder that that I – you know – that I’ve known about because I’m an endocrinologist, so I see a lot of osteoporosis. And I’m always trying to find a cause. So I’m always looking for Celiac Disease. And – for the most part they’ve been negative. But I was the first positive.
I guess it’s somewhat like smoking. You may not have any symptoms right away but there are changes in the lungs that develop over 10, 15, 20 years that can lead to cancer. So that I see it the same way. It wouldn’t hurt me right away to stick to wheat products, etc. and enjoy those things – they taste really good – but I think the injuries are well known to occur in a slow fashion. So – as I said – bone disease, osteoporosis, and then alterations of the immune system – so there is a higher incidence of tumors of the gastrointestinal tract which I would like to try and avoid, lymphoma – these are very unusual but can be associated long, prolonged injury to the intestines.
So I think – I took it upon myself to certainly try to avoid that. This also gets into the area of, for example diabetes. Patients with diabetes can feel quite good, the sugar’s going to be high, but we know that over the long term this isn’t good in terms of possible complications so I think these disorders are very similar in terms of what can happen to someone who doesn’t follow the instructions of the doctor.
I think physicians really don’t know really much about this disorder. And I think there’s a tendency to certainly send them to a person who knows, but I don’t think it’s thought about very often. Be persistent. And ask for the blood test. You don’t need a biopsy. * I think the screening test would be a blood test. It’s very simple.
I'm George Lawrence, and I'm living my life with Celiac Disease.
* A biopsy is the second step in the diagnostic process following a positive blood test for Celiac Disease.