Sometimes we can hear about another person’s diagnosis and think that because their symtpoms are not ours that you could not possible have the same disease.

I have multiple allergies to different foods and chemicals.  If I eat them I experience stroke symptoms, numbness, tingling, agitation, foggy brain, inability to speak properly….plus many more.  In the past year and a half that I have been off of gluten there have been a few times that I have accidentally had it.  My only outward symptom was a tummy ache.  It is not the outside of me that produces symptoms from gluten.  I have autoimmune disease because of gluten that has shut down my thyroid and effected how my body functions.  If I had not been diagnosed correctly this could directly have affected the number of years I am alive on this earth.

My daughter blacked out , had headaches and chest pains because of her allergies.  It is not only gluten that affects her.  Her symptoms and reactions are totally different from mine. Our allergies are very similar though.

My sister has a story all her own.  Her story, symptoms and road to health will be different that ours too.  She is on the beginning road to health.  I wanted to share her story because I want to show that three people with gluten allergies have three different stories….all with different symptoms.

Here is my sister’s story……

I have always been pretty lean. I remember about 5th grade getting headaches quite regularly in school. I’d go to the office and was given aspirin. Looking back I have always attributed those headaches to needing more snacks in my day and having a high metabolism. My childhood was filled with playing hard outdoors from morning until bedtime, if I could help it. I was always on the go and active. This physical activity didn’t slow down after high school, but stress was added to it, physical and emotional stress for sure. I had transferred to a new college in a new town with poor public transportation. I was depending on my feet and my bike to get to campus and work. I was working so hard. Pride and stubbornness kept me independently striving full-time school and work for a long time. My body showed it; I was 115 lbs on a 5’9″ frame, the lowest weight my adult body has experienced. Finally I decided to ask for financial help so I could just finish school. Then much of the physical and emotional burden was lifted. After college, my first job was working as a live-in “house mom” for high schoolers. This form of social work and the hours required for the job beat the exhaustion I experienced in college by a long shot. I believe these stressful times are worth noting because I believe stress can trigger surprising results in our bodies.

During my adult work career, I couldn’t get higher than about 125 lbs. I didn’t worry, but it was annoying. After the birth of our first child, I “bounced” back immediately in weight. Yet, I was hoping the pregnancy would help me hold onto weight like many woman experience. Around this time, my co-worker shared that she too has a hard time gaining weight. She is a short, lean, petite woman. We were both 4th grade teachers and quite a funny, skinny pair. She soon after took her concern to a nutritionist and began adjusting and increasing her diet. I have always been a “good eater,” good portions and plenty of snacks, but I began too being more thoughtful about eating more and more healthy fats at this point. This was the first time I had ever known someone who shared this frustration, and to this day, she is still the only one I know personally.

Throughout the growing years of our first and second children, I stayed energetic and active taking care of the daily needs, but after our third child, I felt like I hit a wall for the first time. I was really tired. I also was having nauseating headaches weekly, if not more often. I figured the babies were just wearing me out. Sleep is rocky during these times. It can be trying on the body.

A couple months after our youngest turned one, my sister called me with a revelation that my inability to gain and maintain weight could be based upon a gluten allergy.  She had heard that some people with gluten sensitivity lose all their extra fat and nutrients through their waste.

Trusting that the testing would confirm that “this is just the body I’ve been given” or lead me to an important change, the appointment was made. One surprising result during this first visit with the doctor was having my metabolism checked and finding out I do not have a high metabolism…in fact, I am below average! Really!? That got me really interested in starting the testing process. Several weeks later, my test came back positive for gluten intolerance. As my doctor put it based on this first test, as long as I’m eating gluten, I am wasting money on food because my body is NOT able to absorb the nutrients. FATS, vitamins, minerals are not being retained but are pretty much flushed straight through. Sadly, my body has been in a state of malnutrition.

I don’t understand all of this. Has this been affecting my body since I was a child? Did the stress on my body during my early 20s trigger this reaction. I am understanding that gluten issues are hereditary. My sister has issues. My mom hasn’t been tested but has osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is tied to gluten. Although my children haven’t been tested yet, I understand that they should be treated as if they are gluten intolerant, too.

For nearly five months now, I have been off gluten. My energy has greatly improved. I have only had a couple headaches, but I can usually tie it right back to what I had eaten that included a form of gluten or was likely contaminated. It has actually been a lot easier to do than I thought. I just remember how I used to feel and remember what I want for my health, and I’m not interested. I will proceed with testing so I can determine what my body still lacks in nutrition and how I can use food and supplements to recover my insides to a thriving state. I am hopeful that my body will start to plump up. What means more to me than anything is having a body that is healthy, strong, and able to enjoy this life with my loved ones.