My name is Becky and I currently live near Brookings, South Dakota, USA. I'm originally from Florida, but moved to South Dakota in 2006. You're probably wondering why we'd move from Florida to South Dakota? Well, we got tired of the rising crime in Florida, the hurricanes, the snakes and gators, the bugs, giant frogs, and most of all, the horrible, sweltering heat. I am married, and have wonderful feline children who are all rescue cats who now live the life of kings!
I have owned my full-time, worldwide web development business since 2002. I also get sub-contracted by other web development and/or design agencies to code sites for them. I develop small and large websites; but, I specialize in complex database-driven websites and the writing of web-based software. I'm a programmer at heart. My US-based company, Designs by CM, has a strong presence in the UK, Australia and Canada.
My Path to a Gluten Free Lifestyle
I am a 100% southern gal. In Florida, we lived in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, and about 2003 or 2004, I decided to try the Atkins Diet. I enjoyed it and felt really good after I got used to it. In June 2006, we moved to Sioux Falls, SD and were near all the fast food joints, and, let's just say ... I hit them hard ... I gained about 40 pounds!
In August 2007, something began to happen. My hips began to hurt, to the point that I could hardly go up and down flights of stairs and mysterious skin rashes started to appear in various places on my body ... scary ones! They were scaly, itchy patches, round and blistery with little itchy bumps.
For the next year or two, I went to this doctor and that doctor with no answers. All blood work was always normal. By 2009, my skin had gotten a LOT worse on my forearms. To me, it looked like alien crop landing circles on my forearms! ha! I ended up getting a skin biopsy and it did not show anything and was classified as Perivascular Dermatitis. Disappointed yet again, I continued the use of topical steroids trying to get the rashes under control.
I now had a strong suspicion that all my problems were from eating the fast foods and every food since leaving Florida. It would make sense that it was gluten, as I was on the low carb diet in Florida for years and did not have a problem until moving to South Dakota, when I started eating all the fast foods. And, during all these mysterious skin problems, I noticed that I was beginning to have some serious digestion issues. Back to the doctors I went again. I had multiple blood tests done for active Gluten reactions, all of which were negative. However, I always had an extremely low BUN/Creatinine level, and sometimes a higher than normal RBC. Also, during my many blood tests, a discovery of Anti-Cardiolipin Antibodies were found.
In 2010, I found Enterolab.com. I decided that I must have alien blood because my blood work, no matter what test was performed, would never show anything wrong! I knew, that someone as sick as I was, had to have something wrong. So, I bought the DNA Gene Testing kit from Enterolab in December 2010. About 2-3 weeks later, I got the results. I had 2 genes for Gluten Intolerance ... which meant my symptoms would be much more severe! FINALLY! I had something to go on!
But, wait a minute ... now I was more confused! Being a programmer, and having a scientific mind, I could NOT convince myself (nor the little man that sits on my shoulders) that even though I was found to be double positive for gluten intolerance, that it was "actively" happening to me now. So, most of the time, I kept eating gluten.
Towards the end of 2011, I'm guessing, that because of my continued eating of gluten, I had to go to an urgent care facility to try and get help! My guts had stopped digesting food and anything I ate, just seamed to sit there in my stomach and would not digest, and it hurt pretty bad. I almost stopped urinating, I was extremely weak, I was losing 5 pounds per week, I had extreme constipation, nauseated, abdominal pain, my skin was raging, dizzy, headaches, couldn't sleep, foggy-headed, choking sensation, could not eat, metallic taste in my mouth, etc. I really did feel that death was imminent; it was no longer funny, but VERY scary! The urgent care facility sent me away, saying I was too complicated, and to go and see the doctor the next day! The next day, the doctor scheduled me for an Upper Endoscopy, but it would be 3 weeks before I could get it done!!!! I knew I had to do something or literally die.
Only knowing, at that time, that I had a DNA test to use as evidence to my problem, I decided to STOP all gluten immediately ... or I was going to die. So, I made myself broths and such, and kept trying to get as many calories in me as I could. I drank sodas so I could furnish my body with plenty of glucose. Within a week I felt much better. Within 3 weeks, I was feeling like a football player again!
My symptoms during the years of sickness were:
- Headaches and true Migraines
- Extreme Upper Abdominal Swelling
- Low Grade Fevers all the time
- Mouth Ulcers and Blood Blisters
- Choking Sensation
- Missed and/or Sporadic Menstrual Periods
- Bouts of extreme Diarrhea and Constipation
- Bowel Movements of multiple colors, even white once!
- Extremely stinky bowel movements and gas ... extremely
- Extreme GERD (Acid Reflux Disease)
- Caved in Fingernails
- Extreme Thirst
- Increased Hay Fever Intensity (a box of tissues weekly)
- Swell up in my upper abdomen and literally could not breathe
- Inability to Digest
- Nerve Damage to Thighs and parts of my Back
- Hair Loss
- Extreme Weight Loss (lost about 70 pounds)
- Dizzy Spells
- Extreme Exhaustion Spells
- Rash on Face and Forearms and Calves of my Legs
- Shortness of Breath
And, Here Comes the BIG Whammy
In January 2012, because I kept having problems that didn't seem to be completely solved by eating gluten free, I went back to Enterolab.com and purchased the Stool Test. The results of that test were positive for gluten as well, which was just further confirmation. However, I was still having some pretty severe problems.
Towards the end of May 2012, my husband and I decided to lay wood flooring in our home. After a couple days of my doing that intense physical activity, I started having some pretty bad pain in my lower abdomen near my Uterus. I decided that it did not feel right at all, and had my husband take me to the ER. After many tests, they did a Vaginal Ultrasound and found a large mass in my female area that they called a large Fibroid Tumor.
So, got scheduled to have a full Hysterectomy. On June 20, 2012, they opened me up to give me a Hysterectomy and found that I was eat up with Cancer!!!!!!!!!!!! Cancer just boiled out everywhere! They merely closed me back up and told my husband that I didn't have very long to live ... 2-3 weeks maybe. It was a sad time. Imagine how I felt waking up from surgery and them telling me that they closed me back up and I was full of Cancer! First thing I remember doing is saying ... Xanax please! bahahahahaaaa!!! I'm NOT a pill taker nor a hypochondriac nor any kind of medicine taker. I avoided medicine like the plague. So, for me to ask for drugs, that was a big deal. I needed something to help me absorb the news I'd just been told ... that I was about to die! I had STAGE 4 OVARIAN CANCER!
I got out of that hospital, which is just a small, local hospital, on a Thursday, and on Monday, I went to the big hospital in Sioux Falls to see a Gynecological Oncologist who admitted me within 10 minutes and sent me through the "express lane." There was nurses and doctors all over me! I didn't have any time to rest or even think. I was in one test and out the other. The cancer tumor was so big, my Uterus was in my chest!!! The next couple days, the Doc continued to try to stabilize me for the upcoming Cancer debulking surgery he planned. I was not stable ... had blood clots all over me. He put in a direct line in my vein, put in an IVC filter (to keep blood clots from going to my lungs), etc. That Thursday, I had cancer debulking surgery in which he removed everything inside me that I did not need to live ... Uterus, Ovaries, Cervix, Appendix, part of my Colon, part of my Small Intestines, lining of my abdomen, etc. My intestines were so bad, that Doc had to put me in a permanent Colostmy, which soon became a blessing in disguise.
Chemotherapy should not be given within 6 weeks of surgery. But, I didn't have time to wait ... it was do it or die. So, within 3 weeks of my major surgery, my Doc started me on Chemo. I was in and out of the hospital the entire summer because of complications from Chemo and the Cancer. My chemo port got infected and I spent around 10 days in hospital in ICU literally dying from Sepsis. My white blood count kept bottoming out, I needed bags of blood (every few days), I needed daily infusions of Potassium and Magnesium, my Sodium levels kept dropping low enough to cause a heart attack, I lost the ability to walk and had to be bed-panned and toted everywhere, I had a Stroke, I had blood clots all over me and in my lungs, my lung filled with blood, had to get my abdomen drained several times, my abdomen stayed full of Cancer Ascetes and I had to get drained ever so often, had to get drains put into my abdomen to drain the abscesses and infection, my surgery scar blew open and Cancer tumors and infection fell out and this required a Wound Vac (a vacuum cleaner installed in my abdomen to suck out all the puss and infection) to be placed (another major surgery) and I had to wear it for 6-8 months and it had to be changed every other day (excruciating pain), etc. I had LOTS of complications, and was near death many, many times. I had 4 total rounds of chemotherapy which consisted of 3-week intervals ... and it seems I never had a normal 3-week session as I was always in and out of the hospital near death. It was a VERY, VERY hard time and I think all this trauma gave me a form of PTSD as it was a couple years afterwards before I could sleep soundly.
I have been Cancer Free ever since November 2012. God healed me and the scars and Colostomy are what I consider "battle wounds." I was a true miracle survivor my Doc said. I should've died a few times. God is wonderful! The summer of 2012 I will never forget as it was a nightmare! But I survived thanks to God, and the BEST Cancer Doc in the world, and all my Doc's helpers, and I am beyond grateful that I'm still here for my husband and my kitties.
After my immune system came back, and I was eating again, my digestion issues not only came back, but came back with a vengeance! I absolutely cannot eat gluten and suffer terribly if I do.
Celica Disease is not a "food allergy." Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks itself when gluten is eaten; it's not a food allergy. However, true food allergies can cause digestion issues as well. The early part of 2017, I got blood tests done for food allergies, as I was still having digestion issues even after stopping gluten. Found out I'm allergic to Nuts and am now Lactose Intolerant. I had a reaction to Nuts, once, by using some coffee creamer that was made in the same facility as nuts.
November 2017, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease. This disease also requires adherence from eating gluten. So, gluten is a thing of the past for me ... forever.
And, that's my story.
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