An Olympian left undiagnosed with celiac disease for years.
As an eight-time world champion, and Olympic gold and silver medalist, my athletic journey was supported by some of Canada’s best medical and nutrition experts. Despite this expertise, a diagnosis for Celiac Disease was not easy. I went undiagnosed for years, suffering unexplained symptoms just like many undiagnosed Canadians.
Since I was young, I suffered from digestive problems. These symptoms continued into my teen years. When I was well into my speed skating career, my symptoms continued but the team doctor chalked my issues up to stress and anxiety. It simply became ‘my normal’.
— Christine Nesbitt
But when I was about 27 years old, my symptoms had become progressively worse. I realized this was no longer ‘normal’. As an athlete, I had always struggled with low iron, extreme fatigue, but my other teammates on the same regime were not experiencing it.
The tipping point for me was my daily, extreme bloating. In the morning, I would wake up feeling and looking like myself, but by the day’s end, I was extremely uncomfortable in my own skin, with my stomach engorged from terrible bloating.
After a number of tests, including an allergy test, my coach pushed for me to get a blood test for Celiac Disease. The team doctor did tests and reassured me that, ‘No it won’t be Celiac Disease. It’s okay.’ But soon after I got a panicked phone call from him saying, ‘Stop eating gluten!’ A follow-up biopsy confirmed it was indeed Celiac Disease.
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