Hi! My name is Heather Anne! I'm happily married to a wonderful man, Marc. We have two dogs, Jaden and Sophie, both adopted pit bulls that we fostered (and obviously failed, since we ended up adopting them ourselves)! We are currently trying to conceive, having had 2 miscarriages and one stillbirth at 23 weeks.
My medical history is absolutely nuts, as I'm sure you are used to! When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with GERD and IBS (I think I was 16). I was a gymnast, competing internationally, but my weight was always on the high side (for a gymnast, that is). I had been put onto a crazy diet when I was 15 (after my 2nd Nationals). When I went back to eating normally, I couldn't keep anything down. It just came right back up! My doctor said that it was from "forced anorexia" and I should be back to normal after a few months. And I was. Besides getting sick with any bug that was going around (including a stint with Mono in college that made me withdraw for a semester), I was always tired. During graduate school I developed severe anxiety. I always tended to over-reaction and I was somewhat unstable. They diagnosed me with "ultra rapid cycling bipolar", mainly because they had nothing to diagnose me with when I was up and down 3 or 4 times a day (usually after I ate, but that was only apparent much later). I was put on lithium, which did nothing, and sent on my way again.
After graduating, I started teaching. I would go to work in the morning, come home, eat dinner, and go to bed by 5 PM. I'd wake up the next day and do the same thing! Unfortunately, this was my life. I started talking to my now-husband online when I was 30. We had been friends in college years before, but had lost touch. That was the first time I'd had any energy to do anything. We dated six months, were engaged 6 months, and got married in March 2010!
In April 2010, my problems began in earnest! I had horrible fatigue (couldn't get out of bed), terrible headaches, and gastrointestinal issues that were very unpleasant for someone newly married! My husband made me go to the doctor. After 3 visits in two weeks, with them finding nothing, she told my husband that it was all in my head (because of my previous bipolar diagnosis). She told him that it was my way of getting his attention. He was so angry that he (after chewing her out) made them do any and all tests they would do on someone that has fatigue. My b12 came back at 48 and she immediately started me on daily b12 shots, then weekly, and then monthly. She also sent me to a gastroenterologist to test for Celiac disease (first time I'd heard of it).
The GE did a COLONOSCOPY (yes, I know that it was the wrong test, but I didn't at the time) and diagnosed me with IBS. He said there was nothing else wrong. So I went to a rheumatologist, who also said that there was nothing wrong. I ended up at a neurologist for my neuropathy. He diagnosed me with pernicious anemia (my b12 kept going down within 12 days of taking the monthly shot). He asked me to go on a gluten-free diet because I seemed to have the symptoms of Celiac. I did and it was AMAZING!
After a short period, I had more energy than ever before! I was like a new person! It was great! After a few months, I had no more GI problems. I was on a strict gluten-free diet. If I would accidentally consume something that was cross-contaminated, I would have a severe response within 30 minutes. I would start to have tummy troubles, become very irritable, and I would get so confused that I would ask my husband to repeat himself five or six times! The brain fog was intense. Every time we could trace it back to gluten!
After 2 months on a gluten free diet, I had to have my gallbladder removed! That made a huge difference too!
After 6 months on a gluten free diet, I got pregnant. And ingested gluten at 4 weeks. And miscarried at 5 weeks. My doctor said that it had nothing to do with the miscarriage.
The very next cycle I got pregnant again! I was so careful! I was in so much pain throughout the early part of the pregnancy. And at 10 weeks, I started getting morning sickness (not before). At 12 weeks, they diagnosed me with hyperemesis. I couldn't keep anything down. I was having growth u/s and weigh-ins every week to make sure that Nate and I were healthy. The 18-wk scan showed a perfectly healthy baby boy, growing normally. We had concern about spina bifida (the reason for the scan) because of a congenital birth defect in my husband's side of the family. No spina bifida. Perfect heart, great growth! Continued having scans weekly. On a Friday, my scan was perfectly normal with him growing. That following Monday, no heart beat. I'd felt him moving like crazy all weekend. They immediately admitted me to the hospital and induced labor. I gave birth to my Nathaniel 3 days later (with no oral medications because the hospital had nothing that was gluten-free, and no IVs or epidurals because I was opposed to that). He had a cord defect at the belly button attachment. It was very thin for about 1 inch. They said it was from him turning in one direction when he was very tiny and it was very rare - it'd never happen again!
After making sure that my vitamin and mineral levels were normal and running a bunch of other tests, they deemed me fine. They said we could try again immediately. My cycle started back right away and I got pregnant on my 3rd post-natal cycle. I accidentally ingested gluten at 3 weeks and miscarried at 5 weeks again. They did tons of tests and still found nothing wrong!
During this last miscarriage, I started to get weird GI symptoms again. This time it was 3 days of constipation, followed by diarrhea for 3 days, then more constipation, etc. I had a cyst rupture (the corpus luteum cyst supporting the pregnancy) and it let lots of fluid into my pelvic floor. They said that was causing my severe chest and side pain. But no - fluid reabsorbed but severe indigestion, chest pain, and pain in my left side under the rib cage remained. I ended up in the ER twice. The second time was because of the vomiting - if I drank anything, including water, it would come up within 2 minutes. My GP sent me immediately to the ER. All they did was a CT scan and sent me to a GE the next day.
The GE was wonderful. He set me up with an endoscopy for that afternoon. The results were 'consistent with Celiac disease'. This was November 2011! When I told him that the first GE I saw over a year ago did a colonoscopy to detect the Celiac, both he and his nurse laughed so hard I thought they were going to wet themselves! I felt very comfortable. Hopefully, we'll get some real help now!
We are going to wait a bit before we try again to get pregnant. I am so scared of getting pregnant and losing another baby, but we are so eager to have children!
All of this has taught me A LOT, but especially that I LOVE TO COOK!
I LOVE cooking and have had such a great time over the last year adapting recipes and creating recipes that are gluten-free and delicious! I'm still having trouble finding good gluten-free products, but it's getting easier! I can only imagine if I was diagnosed 10 or 20 years ago. It would have been near to impossible! I don't bake (although my mother-in-law seems to think I should, since she keeps buying me gluten-free flours and such).