Robert is a long-time favourite on The Breeze radio station. He and his son Sam have coeliac disease. He was diagnosed after experiencing chronic bloating and an upset stomach.
"I always put being ‘slight of build’ down to a fast metabolism. My constant tiredness I attributed to my years in breakfast radio. I could not have been more wrong.
Early 2010, after experiencing chronic bloating and upset stomach, I was persuaded by my wife Carmel to see the doctor. A blood test followed, with my GP concluding there was so little iron in my system it was a wonder I was still functioning.
I then had an endoscopy, and I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. I had never before heard of coeliac disease. As the disease is genetic, my children were tested as a precautionary measure and Sam, my son, was diagnosed at that time.
At first, I found a gluten free diet to be very challenging. There was much “Googling” and label reading, and there was much frustration with my new regime.
However, several months down the track I started to notice positive changes—weight gain, more energy—in fact I was feeling happier. It was suddenly like my failed batteries had been replaced.
I truly did not know I was unwell until the diagnosis. I now have to exercise to keep the weight off! My body is finally absorbing the proper nutrients from my food.
Four years down the track, I no longer feel uncomfortable letting people know about my diet. It’s part of me, and it makes me a far healthier and happier person. Just this year I had a further endoscopy – and my intestine has completely healed.
The other day, I found a photo taken of me in 2006 – I was gaunt, I was tired looking – I appeared unwell. The diagnosis was the best thing that could have happened – if only I’d found out earlier."