As a child, I never suffered from stomach issues. Apart from some mild bloating, I experienced 2 to 3 stomach aches per year (at most). Nothing about my physical condition screamed Celiac Disease. I did suffer from migraines. I was, also, diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2003. Nothing, still, pointed to a gluten intolerance.
In 2005, I married. Shortly thereafter, my husband and I set out to start a family. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going as planned. After 2 miscarriages, I was completely devastated and confused. To find refuge from my stress, I turned to gardening. It was during this time that I experienced a chance encounter with a woman named Linda. In this random meeting (or not-so-random?), Linda shared some life-changing information.
Linda, too, had multiple miscarriages. In her medical work-ups nothing suggested the root cause for her inability to hold a child. In her 40s, Linda decided to go on a strict gluten-free diet. After 6 months of being gluten-free, Linda conceived her only child. She urged me to immediately get tested for celiac disease. She warned me not to put it off. Was this a sign from the universe?
After a second miscarriage it is standard for fertility doctors to conduct a series of tests (genetic and chromosomal) to assess cause. When I probed my fertility doctor to test me for celiac disease, she assured me that she had never heard of a correlation between celiac and infertility. After learning this, I was hesitant to insist that she tack on the test for celiac disease anyways. My husband, however, was adamant about adding it to the blood work. So, it was added. The results came back. All blood work was fine, except for one result. I was positive for celiac disease.
I was in shock. I didn’t really know what the results meant. I immediately went to an gastroenterologist for more details. After a stomach biopsy, it was confirmed that I definitely had celiac disease. The doctor said that I must go on a gluten-free diet the next day. Knowing that my future was now sans gluten, I decided to have a gluten going away party. That night, I pigged out on chocolate chip cookie dough and a pizza pie.
The morning after, I woke up with a pretty bad stomach ache (no surprise). I also arose with a fresh perspective and a healthier outlook on life. I took my diet extremely seriously, with the ultimate goal of getting pregnant. It worked. After 6 months of living on a strict gluten-free diet, I was able to get pregnant and stay pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and delivered twin girls. The downside, however, was that I still had celiac disease, and still had to keep a strict diet. I realized quickly just how sensitive I really was after my first incident of cross-contamination. The consequence of cross-contamination for me is an immediate gluten attack due to my heightened sensitivity, resulting in violent vomiting 10 minutes (almost to the dot) of me ingesting gluten.
Despite my vigilance and discipline, unintentional cross-contamination continued to occur in my own kitchen, especially when visitors, friends and family members came over to eat. Unfortunately, I couldn’t always monitor my kitchen and gluten-free foods. To minimize cross-contamination risks, I found it incredibly helpful to label all of my gluten-free items using a sharpie. After lots of labeling, an idea surfaced – a gluten-free labeling company!
My idea for glutenfreelabels.com first emerged after I wrote all over a bottle of alcohol “Kelly’s bottle,” so others would not drink it at a party. I was a bit embarrassed. It’s not because I’m anti-sharing or a heavy drinker. I just wanted guests to know that I was unable to drink anything other than my gluten-free bottle of coconut Ciroc. Like everyone else, I wanted to enjoy the festivities. As I started thinking about this labeling idea, I also began considering the idea of gluten-free tags to attach to items such as strainers, trays, and utensils. I immediately set out to act on this idea to provide others and myself an effective and simple labeling method to protect against cross-contamination.
I intend for glutenfreelabels.com to help people, like myself, who cannot eat gluten. The selection of gluten-free labels and the gluten-free tag will provide added protection to your kitchens and gluten-free foods. Cross-contamination risks will be lessened and others’ awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerances will be enhanced. I want to bring you a more vibrant life – a life where you don’t have to constantly fret over the safety of your food, well-being, and an impending gluten attack. I want you to be able to enjoy food, festivities and optimize your health.
I am so grateful for the series of random events that initiated that one extra test and led to my diagnosis. Though my diet and life changed drastically, my diagnosis was power. Awareness of my disease empowered me to create a healthier, happier life. After I stopped eating gluten, I learned to find foods that would support my body and health. Sure, a journey without gluten has presented many challenges. Yet, the journey has also been one of positive transformation, enormous healing, and many blessings.
I’m happy to share that after assuming a gluten-free diet my husband and I have been able to have three beautiful children in total. In 2012, we welcomed a baby boy into our family without the help of fertility specialists.
It is my hope that this story and the creation of glutenfreelabels.com will help to support you on your own gluten free journey.