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Here is Priscilla’s story of how she advocated for her health and infertility. She also writes a blog A Gluten-Free Vegan Mom Who Knows that you should take a look at. If you like her story be sure to leave a comment below to help her win the $250 AMEX card!
My dear friend recommended that I join Circle Bloom’s contest. Nevertheless, after 8+ years and after her last IVF, her and her husband are left childless. Greg and I too had discovered multiple fertility issues after we were unsuccessful when trying to conceive (a common symptom of celiac disease). However, when I recently watched a video “Dr Wangen on Gluten Intolerance,” I was pleased with what he had to say. Dr Wangen expresses his pleasure with the fertility doctors who recommend that their patients go gluten-free regardless of their other symptoms or lack of celiac testing. Dr Wangen states that if your symptoms disappear on a gluten-free diet (fertility being one of over 300 symptoms), that is all the proof needed and that in no way should we listen to doctors who pressure us to eat a gluten diet for a prolonged period of time so that celiac testing can be conducted (many experts are discrediting the ‘gold standard’ diagnostic testing for celiac disease). Dr Wangen’s admiration with the gluten-free recommendations of fertility doctors reaps of his pleasure and satisfaction regarding the increasing number of doctors who are finally becoming aware of this destructive whole-body autoimmune disease.
Here’s my story…
“People with celiac disease have a twofold greater chance to develop a malignancy than the general population. The malignancies that occur at an increased rate include esophageal carcinoma, small intestine adenocarcinoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and melanoma. A gluten-free diet appears to reduce these malignancies to that of the general population after five years of compliance–with the exception of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” (Dr. Peter Green, Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic).
This, along with other studies I’ve read, has not only caused me to live the healthiest lifestyle possible but has also caused me to want to share my research, my compiled gluten-free lists, and my overall life with others.
In December of 2004, my sister Michelle was diagnosed with celiac disease after many years of suffering from debilitating fatigue among a cornucopia of other symptoms. I first learned of celiac disease when Michelle was diagnosed.
There were times after Michelle’s diagnosis where I felt extreme sadness when reading studies that stated that a person diagnosed with celiac disease later in life has a life expectancy of 60 years. Also, if a celiac has a mere twelve gluten exposures a year, his/her rate of fatality increase by 600%. Michelle is my best friend and I want her to have the longest, healthiest life possible and thinking of a potential early fatality caused by celiac disease was unimaginable and heart wrenching to say the least.
Nevertheless, during the four years after Michelle’s diagnosis, she kept insisting that I get tested. Finally after much convincing, I asked my doctor to test my anti-bodies and the results came back negative. A second antibody test a year later also came back negative. I did not have celiac disease, but I also did not know what was causing my decade-long laundry list of symptoms.
After giving birth to two premature babies (Ainsley was born at 33 weeks and Sydney was born at 36 weeks–I had 4 to 6 contractions every hour and went into active labor with Sydney 5 times from 19 wks until my water broke at 36 wks) and after being told by my orthopedic surgeon that I couldn’t exercise for at least a year because my bones were bruising and bleeding from the slightest impact and/or resistance, I finally found a doctor that looked at my complete medical history and treated my symptoms, not just my blood work. However, that doctor told me what I did not want to hear: “I think this is all a dotted line pointing to celiac disease.” After further testing, he was right.
However, unlike Michelle, I didn’t have to completely change my lifestyle alone. Michelle’s doctor told her when she was diagnosed to avoid gluten and that the internet contained all the information that she needed to know as he sent her on her way. When I had to go gluten free, Michelle came over to my house and helped me research and contact every manufacturer while we sorted my pantry and my refrigerator into two categories: gluten and gluten free.
Nevertheless, I was extremely lucky to have had Michelle’s enormous help when going through such a daunting task. I am forever grateful for having her help when going gluten free as I could not imagine having to go through that lifestyle transformation alone. Thus, my passion sprang from my gratitude as I began my mission of making living a gluten-free lifestyle easier for everyone else who happened to come into my life whether through a friend or through my blog. I have always believed in ‘paying it forward,’ and I am now continuously paying it forward through sharing my knowledge as well as my research with others.
However, when I went gluten free, I didn’t stop there. I decided at that time to eat a high-raw diet while drinking fresh unpasteurized juice daily. As for becoming a vegan, in November of 2006, when discovering Ainsley’s casein allergy when she was a mere three weeks old, I went from being a pescetarian to being a vegan so that I could continue nursing her. That is when my vegan lifestyle began.
When faced with my new life-long gluten-free lifestyle, I chose to include a high-raw, plant-based diet because I wanted to extend my life as long as possible. I want to beat all of the current statistics that come attached to the celiac label. When I received my celiac results, my girls were 11 months old and 25 months old. Reversing the damage done to my body while improving my overall health became my primary focus from that moment on.
The desire to live the healthiest life possible increased tenfold once my girls and husband were also diagnosed. Throughout the eleven months after my diagnosis, both of my daughters as well as my husband tested positive one-by-one for celiac disease. My husband was the last to be tested and was the one who completed our celiac foursome.
Nevertheless, throughout the last three years, my efforts of creating a healthy lifestyle for me as well as for my family has proven successful. I have been reversing my osteopenia with diet alone and my malabsorption issues have become a thing of the past, and my routine blood work is nearly flawless. As for my girls, they could not be healthier or happier.
Throughout our gluten-free vegan/vegetarian journey, many people have asked for advice and/or guidance with their own diets. Not necessarily because they want or need to go gluten free, but because they too want to live a healthier lifestyle while incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets. From my experience, more of my friends have inquired and begun juicing after seeing me gain my healthy (orange) glow during these past three years as I always have my freshly juiced fruits and vegetables in hand.
Friends as well as strangers have approached me and asked for advice after witnessing my girls asking for fruit, almonds or veggies with hummus when they wanted or needed a snack. My girls get more reactions from others due to their healthy eating habits than they get from being on a highly restricted gluten-free diet.
Overall, celiac disease has been a blessing in our household as it helped push us to strive for optimum health. Life at our house is much more simplistic. We have begun making our own organic cleaning products, we do our own organic gardening, we buy gently used toys, books and more, but most of all, we continuously discuss our healthier choices moment-by-moment as our lifestyle continues to evolve. Our lives as four celiacs has proven to be cleaner, safer, healthier as well as more sustainable for both us as well as for our planet.
I am a former English teacher, now homeschooling, blogging mom, who lives in South Jersey with my husband and two beautiful daughters, all four of us are gluten free.