I went skiing this week for the first time since my diagnosis of celiac disease and the beginning of my gluten-free diet more than eight years ago. I used to be an avid skier, starting as a kid on family trips, then in my college days and after with friends. The last time I skied, though I enjoyed it, I was also suffering.
My feet and legs were cramping inside my ski boots, and if you’ve ever worn ski boots you know how stiff they are, so there was really nothing I could do about the cramps but grin and bear it (I cried, however). In addition to the cramping, I was having a difficult time seeing on the slopes. After skiing a bit, I would have to stop because my vision was obscured by white spots in front of my eyes. I would have to wait until I could see again before continuing down the mountain. Being in altitude, I had a hard time catching my breath as many people do, but the lack of air felt like it went deep, and it took a while to recover each time I stopped. All of these difficulties were caused by the anemia I suffered as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease.
That I stopped skiing for many years had nothing to do with these health problems — it’s just that I had kids, and time flew by. But this week I was back at it, and after so many years away from the sport that I loved, several things were clear:
- I no longer suffer from foot and leg cramps while skiing!
- I can see! No more white spots, no more loss of vision. More oxygen to my brain!
- My recovery was much better — I could ski a hard run, and when I stopped I could catch my breath more easily and quickly.
- Ski equipment is so much better! Except for ski boots, which are still uncomfortable (but not as bad without the cramps).
I am older, and not as bold, but I feel good. I see more skiing in my future!
If you suspect you might be suffering from anemia or celiac disease, ask your doctor to get tested. And remember, even if you test negative for celiac disease, you could still have a gluten problem.