For years, my 10-year-old son Drew struggled with chronic stomach pain, asthma, a dairy allergy (or so we thought) and recurring problems with croup and pneumonia along with random skin rashes. Years of testing and countless doctors and hospital visits and we thought we were just dealing with the asthma and that it was the root cause of all his problems.
Little did we know that all these symptoms he was having was because of the underlying issue: celiac disease.
The week we found out was during his Christmas break. He was completely exhausted, falling asleep in the middle of the day during random activities, low-grade fevers on and off, extreme stomach pain and bloating, very pale and weak. As a mom you know something isn’t right, but you have been down this road many times and you have been told everything under the sun and no one really thinks anything is wrong with your child. We were so thankful that day that our doctor could see how ill he really was, and at 9 years old he was down to 54 lbs.
Today, he is thriving thanks to Dr. (Kevin) Watson and Dietitian Catherine Willis at Akron Children’s Gastroenterology. They have been phenomenal! Without their help as far as diet changes and answering questions I don’t know where we would be today. Drew has gained a healthy 20 lbs. in the year and a half since going gluten free.
He enjoys cooking and preparing his foods along with helping others live a gluten-free and clean-eating lifestyle. He has a special interest in health and fitness for athletes. He currently travels with the Rebels Baseball team and hopes to inspire other kids with celiac to push through their struggles with food and maintain a healthy active lifestyle so they can still be a part of athletics and activities that they enjoy. His moto is be “Celiac Strong.”
We currently run the Tuscarawas County Gluten Free on Facebook and look forward to helping people in our community with food and allergy challenges that they face through bi-monthly meeting, recipe sharing and spreading awareness.
Learn more about celiac disease in this Q&A with Dr. Reinaldo Garcia.
In this Children’s Channel video, Lindsay Bailey, MS, RD/LD, a clinical dietitian at Akron Children’s Hospital, discusses ways to enjoy safe and nutritious gluten-free eating.