Do you remember when The View first did a profile on celiac disease? If you do, then you probably remember (with horror) the fabulous comic Susie Essman, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, saying “I don’t know if I have it [celiac disease], but I know I’m gluten intolerant.” Okay, maybe that’s not so bad, but then she continued to say “Well, my mother has celiac.” Fast forward to minute 1, second 35, of the video, then minute 2, second 40, to see for yourself.
I suspect that everyone with celiac disease watching The View at those moments released a collective “arghhhhhhh.”
Susie knew that a) gluten bothers her and b) her mom has celiac disease. All signs point to the fact that she should get tested. With celiac specialist Dr. Peter Green on national television hinting that she should, I would be surprised if she didn’t get tested eventually.
But we’re not just talking about Susie – people with this attitude abound. We hear from dozens of people every year that have relatives that refuse to get tested for celiac disease – despite the fact that they have a family member with it, or even sometimes despite the fact they themselves have symptoms of celiac disease. And not all of us have the opportunity to have Dr. Green show up to family functions and convince our look-the-other-way family members to get tested.
I’m no psychologist, so I don’t know why people do what they do, but I suspect if testing were easier (no two-month wait to see the doctor) and less invasive (no blood draws or endoscopies), people might be more likely to get tested.
Prometheus Labs has a new saliva-based genetic test for celiac disease called MyCeliacID that may fit the bill. For $329 you can order the test, and the company will send you a special vial to store your spit. This isn’t some slick mouth swab, like we were expecting. You literally must drool into the test tube, mix it with some stabilizing solution, seal it, toss it into a prepaid mailing envelope and send it back. Seven days later, you can access your results online. Quick, painless, and only a little bit icky.
The test itself checks DNA for genetic patterns that are associated with the presence of celiac disease. Positive results, however, don’t automatically equal a celiac diagnosis. They simply mean that there’s a chance of the subject developing celiac disease. Because of the fickle, unpredictable and largely mysterious nature of autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, even genetic makeup can’t definitively forecast the presence of illness. But hopefully, those who test positive will get the kick in the pants they need to see the doctor.
So what do you think? Do you think people who are otherwise doctor-phobic might take the test, if it’s presented as a simple “all you have to do is drool” type of chore?
Do you have any tips to share when handling relatives like Susie?