Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Celiac sprue is a disease that many doctors miss

Before World War II, our graduate courses in physical education included concern for people who were not well. We were trained to recognize and report health problems to the school nurse or family. We considered that to be the "education" part of physical education.

When the professor introduced celiac sprue, no one had heard of that malady. When she explained, it I wrote in my class notes: "Celiac sprue; donít get that!" I saved that 1940 flash of wisdom, just in case.

Decades later I did get that! Itís a genetic disease. I might have had it for the years when my doctor said, "Itís probably an allergy to dairy products." Wow, what a blow that was! I love milk, and we made ice cream a lot, summer or winter.

I helped in our dairy as a kid; Dad milked cows and delivered the final product to customers all over Columbia. Mom was the "office help," and my brother and I were students in the university, helping on weekends.

When "my doctor" said to leave out milk, I did that for two years. In that time he had "boned up" a lot. European countries were reporting many problems with "celiac sprue."

My doctor advised, "Try leaving off wheat, oats, barley, rye and millet." He said that European countries were having problems with some of those grains. Now, well into the new century, celiac sprue is so well known itís often called just "sprue" or "CS." Sometimes itís accompanied by dermatitis herpeteformis. DH. is rare because it affects only men, women and children who already have celiac sprue! I have them both!

The dictionary tells what celiac is: "Celiac sprue is caused by malfunction of the digestive system and is characterized by faulty absorption of food in the intestines, resulting in diarrhea and malnutrition."

The first things to avoid are wheat, barley, rye and millet. Oats were proved harmless by impressive experiments from Ireland.

Wheat and rye were the only ones I used - I thought! Not so. I had to eliminate almost all canned goods and my Rice Krispy Treats, which required marshmallows. Imagine soft, fluffy, tasty marshmallows being harmful! Most are, for celiacs.

Youíll find celiacs standing in the grocery aisles, reading the fine print because there are changes in ingredients of your favorite foods all of the time. Fortunately, there are government requirements about labels these days.

Celiac will change your life. I thought I might end up eating only birdseed! But with careful management, you can live with this disease. Youíll probably lose weight as I did - almost 20 pounds of it.

If you have celiac, e-mail me. I will send you information about a celiac group that is forming in this area.

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