Today is “H” day! I’m so very excited to introduce you to my new friend, Heidi Kelly. I recently met her at the Gluten-Free and Allergen-Free Expo two weekends ago. It was so great to meet her in person and we really hit it off! Heidi has an awesome website, Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom, and is very popular in the gluten-free community.
One of the things Heidi and I have in common is how much we love Dr. Vikki Petersen, Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center in Sunnyvale, CA and best selling author of “The Gluten Effect” which I will be giving away two copies of real soon on my Facebook fan page. I would like to share a little bit of Heidi’s story and then show a video that Dr. Vikki Petersen posted recently on You Tube about Heidi and her family after they went to see her.
Hey there, my name is Heidi and I am the quirky personality behind Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom, a personal blog about my journey to raise a happy and healthy gluten-free family.
I began my blog in June of 2009, a year after I finally decided to embrace my new path in life, being gluten-free. I wish I could say that how I arrived here was a result of greater nutritional awareness, but that could not be further from the truth.
After giving birth to my first son in 2003, my OB/GYN decided to test me for diabetes due to a sore on my leg that would not heal. The diabetes test came back negative but my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level was extremely high. Further testing revealed Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, both autoimmune thyroid conditions. After undergoing radioactive iodine ablation to “kill” my thyroid gland, I spent the following ten months pursuing unsuccessful thyroid hormone replacement therapy with Levoxyl (T4 hormone) and Cytomel (T3 hormone). During those 10 months, my TSH levels began to soar, eventually reaching a high of more than 150 (the normal range is from 0.4 to 4.5), despite taking high levels of medication.
During this time, it felt as though the life were being sucked right out of me. I was extremely lethargic, gaining weight at an unnatural rate of 2—4 pounds a week (ultimately putting on approximately 80 pounds), and I fell into a deep depression. I was prescribed a series of antidepressants, none of which did any good. Life was borderline unbearable, especially while caring for a toddler.
In April of 2005, after being at his wits’ end as to why I was not absorbing my thyroid hormone, my brilliant endocrinologist thought to test me for celiac disease and the anti-gliadin IgA* blood test came back positive. Within 4 months of going on the gluten-free diet, my TSH levels dropped from the 150’s to 5.52 (you can read more of my thyroid story here).
*The tTG blood test was not originally run and my Dr. did not initially recommend doing the intestinal biopsy to confirm the findings of the anti-gliadin antibody blood test because there was an urgency to get control of my TSH levels. I’ve since had positive test results for the tTG blood test, plus 2 positive intestinal biopsies as well as a positive skin biopsy for dermatitis herpetiformis.
I wish I could say that everything changed for the better after that fateful spring day in 2005, but it took a long time to get to where I am today, loving my gluten-free life. My initial diagnosis did not come to me as a relief like it does for many people who suffer the “classic” GI symptoms of celiac disease, rather, it was just another tally mark on my already long list of medical “oddities” that seemed to have just been my lot in life, beginning the day I was born. Here are just a few of my atypical celiac symptoms over the years: eczema, impetigo, psoriasis, chronic sinusitis, ADD, depression, behavioral “issues,” anxiety, canker sores, muscle spasms and cluster headaches.
After spending the first 3 years after my diagnosis fumbling around in a state of confusion, denial(yes, I am a recovered “gluten-cheater”) and depression, I received a major wake up call the day my oldest son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, at the age of 5 (you can read more of his story here). It was in that moment that I decided to stand up, quit feeling sorry for myself and take back my life for the sake of my son. The death of my beloved uncle to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a few months prior to Sam’s diagnosis was a painful reminder of what could be in my future if I didn’t begin taking my gluten-free diet seriously.
Little did I know then, but I was about to embark on the most beautiful, frustrating, mind-boggling, eye-opening, belly-laugh & tear-inducing…journey of a lifetime!