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Celiac Disease

Celiac Diagnosis Changes Boy’s Life

He was the child who fell into strange trances and broke bones like twigs. But today Eamon Murphy is a thriving teenager.

Eamon Murphy started out life as an elfin, silent toddler. At 3½ years of age, he began to fall into short trances without warning, his blue eyes unfocused and his mouth moving as if deep in conversation with someone unseen. When his mom called out to him, he wouldn’t respond.

Then all of a sudden, he’d snap out of it, as if nothing had happened.

As eerie as they were, these fugues were only the latest of a long list of symptoms that doctors could not explain. Eamon’s parents, Bob and Lisa Murphy, had first taken the boy to the pediatrician when he failed to meet infant developmental milestones, such as tracking movement with his eyes and sitting up. It would only get more worrisome.

When he began to eat solids, Eamon’s habit was to stuff his mouth so full of food, he’d spit much of it out unchewed. Then there were the accidents that twice left him a tiny figure swathed in white: a full plaster leg cast at 18 months after his two big brothers bumped against him in the kitchen, and a sling for a broken arm and cracked collarbone about a year later, when his sister pushed him down in the front yard.

“It was like every time Eamon fell, something would happen,” Lisa Murphy says. “It wasn’t like with our other kids.”

In the early going, the pediatrician assured the parents that the problems were because their son was an adored if passive fourth child, who just went with the flow as the rest of the family cared for him. Eventually, he’d catch up. So the parents waited, anxiously watching for signs of improvement.

Only there weren’t any. When Eamon still wasn’t speaking at the age of 2, he was declared “speech and language delayed.” That’s when Lisa Murphy demurred.

“You know, I have this weird condition called celiac disease,” she told the pediatrician. “Could it be that?”

She had been diagnosed four years before Eamon was born, while pregnant with her third child. It had been a long ordeal before the homemaker found out why she was always exhausted, why her hair was falling out and why she doubled over in pain when she ate something as small as a cookie.

Next Page: The Diagnosis



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