In October 2007 I had a blood test to screen for Coeliac's antibodies as part of a raft of tests to try to determine why I had suffered an acute, spasmodic, epigastric pain. I joked with the doctor who ordered the test as I was slightly overweight - certainly not malnourished looking.
The serum screen came back positive and I was referred to a surgeon for diagnostic tests. In January 2008 I had a gastroscopy and biopsies were taken. A large, invasive duodenal ulcer was seen and I was commenced on medication and told that I should eat a gluten free diet effective immediately. The ulcer was my immediate concern, rather than the possibility of Coeliac's disease. It was chronic and ripe to perforate. Worryingly it was backing onto my pancreatic artery and my understanding from the surgeon was that it could have been fatal if it had perforated through it.
I had been led to believe that the biopsies were diagnostic and that I would receive a definitive answer regarding Coeliac's disease. When I attended outpatients to receive my results I was told that I would have further biopsies taken in 4 - 6 weeks and they would compare the two results.
One week ago I had the further biopsies and have to wait another three weeks for the results. However, following the procedure the surgeon gave me the pleasing news that the ulcer had healed and that my gut lining looked healthier. He said he felt 98% certain that I have Coeliac's disease, so I am still eating a gluten free diet.
I have, however, pointed out that I need a definite diagnosis. If I was still in the UK it would be much easier to manage my Coeliac's disease. Living in Cyprus, with no real understanding of the Greek language, it is much more difficult.
For this reason I decided to write a blog. To help me piece together what it means to have Coeliac's disease in Cyprus, and to help others who may be faced with this diagnosis and not know where to turn for help and information.