This I Believe

Diane - Carmichael, California
Entered on January 13, 2008

I believe in the healing power of shared information.

Once upon a time twenty years ago, my bones hurt, I was short of breath after walking short distances, and I was tired all the time. After several doctors’ appointments and some very expensive tests, I was told that my symptoms were the result of depression.

When asked, I’d admitted to feeling down, because my symptoms prevented me from living the life I wanted. I explained to the doctors: feeling sad was the result of my symptoms, not the cause. But they didn’t agree. So I decided I’d need to learn all there was to know about depression. I wanted to get well.

In those pre-internet days, I went to the Carmichael Public Library. As I pulled several tomes on depression down from the high shelves, a slender red-yellow-and-black paperback several shelves below them caught my eye. The Gluten-Free Diet Book, it said.

My children required gluten-free food, so I checked out the book, hoping that after I read all the depression tomes, I’d figure out how to get my energy back and once again be able to do more for my family than feed them rice crackers.

And in that book I found my symptoms: tiredness, weakness, and bone pain. Different symptoms than what my children had experienced, but due to the same cause, malabsorption of nutrients from celiac sprue.

The cure also was the same. On a gluten-free diet, I regained my strength and my energy. The pain in my bones – from osteomalacia, or bone softening – went away. My depression did, too.

Nobody knows everything. Nobody can. But I’m thankful for the healing power of shared information.

I’m thankful for the physician friend who later told me that doctors then considered “bone pain” to be an imagined symptom. I’m thankful for the Carmichael librarian, herself a celiac, who bought The Gluten-Free Diet book for the library. I’m thankful that its authors, Peter Rawcliffe and Ruth Rolph, listed adult symptoms. These two decades later, I’m thankful that the medical community now recognizes that celiac sprue affects one person in 130. I’m thankful that food manufacturers create 100% gluten-free products. I’m thankful for the internet, this radio station and others who help information to be easily shared. I’m thankful to God for helping me find a small book that made a big difference in my life.

And since I believe in the healing power of shared information, my hope is that there’s a listener out there who can benefit from hearing my story.