When it comes to coeliac disease the first challenge is being taken seriously, according to recently diagnosed student Leah Amy. For her, this struggle started long before she was even aware of what was making her ill.
“I was unwell for weeks with stomach cramps and the doctor would tell me that it was all in my head. They didn’t believe me when I said my symptoms were very real.”
She had previously been treated for food poisoning but was told that she should be over that by now and the symptoms were nothing more than health anxiety at this point. It took a lot of pushing before the doctors finally agreed to take a blood test.
But whilst waiting for the results, Leah was in so much pain that she was admitted to A&E for further tests and observation.
On the May 14, 2021 a week into her hospital stay, the test results came back, and she was told that she had coeliac disease.
“Part of me felt oddly relieved, I finally knew why I was unwell, but I also knew this would be life changing.”
The struggle for Leah, however, did not end with her diagnosis, she has story after story of times where a lack of understanding surrounding the condition has impacted her life negatively.
“I’ve had cafés tell me that their food is gluten free, only to find out later that they had used the same utensils for food containing gluten on my food which made me ill again” but it is not just eating out that is problematic.
“For the past month the gluten free freezer at Morrison’s has been broken down which leaves me struggling to get food that I can eat, and the staff all tell me they don’t know when it will be fixed.”
Leah wants more people in catering and retail to have a better awareness surrounding coeliac disease because of the responsibility that they hold over people with conditions such as hers.
Information and support on coeliac disease can be found at https://www.coeliac.org.uk/home/