76er Jason Smith's Fiancée Lives With Frustrating Illness

By Karen Araiza
|  Friday, Apr 10, 2009  |  Updated 3:02 PM EDT
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76er Jason Smith's Fiancée Lives With Frustrating Illness

NBC10

Jason and Ashley on the hunt for gluten-free foods. It's not always easy. "I'll drive an hour for gluten-free cookies," Ashley says.

When he's on the court, 76ers forward Jason Smith is in control. And in the supermarket, fiancée Ashley Prothe is the one charging ahead.

Ashley, 22, lives with Celiac disease. She's picky about what goes in their grocery cart, because otherwise, she just might end up in the hospital again.

"I would get sick about every three months and get put back into the emergency room because my pain was so bad I would curl back into the fetal position," Ashley says.

"There were a few times when i was really scared," Jason says. "When she would go to the hospital, that would send a shiver down my spine. But in the long run, I knew that she would be okay and we would figure it out together."

Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition that makes it impossible to stomach anything with gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. So things like bread, pizza, pasta, cereal, even lip balm and some medications are off limits.

"It's a struggle," Ashley admits.

Celiac symptoms are often confusing to doctors and many people who have it go undiagnosed and untreated.

Typical complaints include:

  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss

The only treatment is to completely avoid gluten. Ashley and Jason load up on foods like fruits, vegetables, plain meats and fish.

As diligent as she is about avoiding anything with gluten, sometimes she accidentally eats it. They both know when that happens.

"I have a change in my mood and fatigue, yes! And I have migraines," Ashley says.

"It's hard when she is not feeling well, but when she eats the right things, she's a bundle of joy," Jason laughs.

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