Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Daughter Began My Gluten Journey

Today is my daughter’s 16th birthday. You may wonder the appropriateness of bringing that up on a gluten blog but it actually is completely germane. You see it is because of her that gluten sensitivity got on my radar in the first place. I had two children prior to my daughter and they were both quite healthy. I breastfed all three children so it was with some concern that I viewed my third child’s weight and overall health. She was “skinny” as compared to my previous “chubby” babies, tended towards rashes and liked to projectile vomit. Yes it was definitely that last trait which got my attention. It’s one thing reading about projectile vomiting and quite another thing witnessing it!

So like any good mother and doctor, I tried to discover what was bothering my daughter. Simultaneously I was trying to help my mother who had never enjoyed good health and was almost 70 when my daughter was born. Coincidentally I discovered they were both sensitive to gluten about the same time. And, much to my own dismay, I realized I was the sole genetic link between them!

And while my response of - “Why Me?” - was very similar to many who are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, it soon became a blessing as all three of us started to exhibit excellent health.

My mother is now 85 and says that she’s enjoyed the past 15 years much more than the first 70 due to her improved health and vitality. She is spry, healthy and takes no medications (exclusive of bio-identical hormones).

My daughter fortunately never knew the poor health that both my mother and I suffered from and I am very happy about that.

Earlier today I had a conversation with a patient whom I haven’t seen in many years. She suffered from many digestive problems when she originally came to see us and we diagnosed her with gluten sensitivity. She definitely noticed an improvement being off gluten but never really stuck with it. She would “limit” consumption but that was as good as it got. She called to tell me that she was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It was so frustrating to realize that the odds of that autoimmune disease being prevented by a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet all those years ago were great. We discussed, once again, the importance of being completely gluten-free but unfortunately I don’t think she is yet ready to hear it.

It is so wonderful to have the opportunity to help patients each day at the clinic. But I want to do so much more. I want all the millions of people who are being affected by gluten to know it before they suffer any longer.

I am convinced that what we know to be true about gluten and its ability to ruin people’s health will be common knowledge within the decade. But in the meantime we can only continue to communicate about it – a message I hope that our book does well. Speaking of which, The Gluten Effect is finally about to go to print. Getting this book completed has felt like a fourth child - very exciting and a lot of work! January is the expected release and I’ll fill you all in on the specifics as they’re available to me.

So the takeaway from this message is this: Don’t rule gluten out as a causative factor in your health problems or those of the ones you love. Take a lab test but better yet change your diet. Go gluten-free for several weeks and see how you feel. If you have questions write me; I truly want to help!

To you good health!

Dr Vikki Petersen


Doctors Excuses said...

well congrats on your daughter's birthday.

Eric said...

This comment was sent to us from Cara. Read what she had to say.

Dear Dr. Petersen,

I was just introduced to your blog today! I look forward to catching up and reading the rest of it.

And mark my words, within the decade gluten sensitivity WILL be known, understood and the idea of waiting for a positive intestinal biopsy before diagnosing it will be considered malpractice.

I was thrown into the world of gluten sensitivity in the year 2000... and it was fighting an uphill battle... that is for sure. I still have one daughter who refuses the diet because she chose to listen to the gastroenterologist rather than me. When she first presented with seizures, I asked the neurologist two things. Could it be related to autoimmune disease? Could it be related to vitamin deficiency? These were the two substantive things in my personal medical history at this point. And I was just learning about gluten sensitivity... due to my youngest childs poor health.

I began The Gluten File many years ago as I learned more and more about gluten sensitivity...and hoped to spread the word to other patients being led astray by their doctors. Here is my story as I tell it there~

It still feel a great sense of relief and validation when I learn of those in the medical profesion who understand and believe in gluten sensitivity!

Thank you!


Eric said...

This comment was sent to us from Karen

Hello -

I am very impressed with the glutendoctorsblogspot - thank you! Also cannot WAIT to read The Gluten Effect! I post often on a forum called Braintalk in the Gluten Sensitivity/Celiac area (as Zonulin), and help out with our Mid-Wiillamette Valley Gluten Intolerance Group here in Salem, Oregon.

My son also had projectile vomiting (and projectile diarrhea) as a baby. The week after he was born, he began having "colic" (boy is that a bogus, catch-all "diagnosis"), which continued until he was THREE, with multiple trips to the ER when he became dehydrated. No doctor ever asked what I was eating (I nursed him), no lab tests ever done other than ruling out deadly things such as cancer. "Must be some kind of virus," we were always told. When he was 9, he began to feel constantly nauseated, with vomiting and diarrhea. An already slim 65 pounds, he lost 7 pounds in one month. We spent the next 2 years seeing 22 different doctors, culminating in a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. We found little things here and there - H. pylori, lack of acetylcholine, IgA Deficiency, elevated lead and mercury, low immunoglobulin panel (whacked immune system), serum reaction to 25 foods using the ELISA test, 69 on the Antigliadin IgG antibody test (normal range 0 - 20), Enterolab testing showed malabsorption (high fat in stools) and gene for gluten sensitivity (HLA DQ1 - not DQ2 or DQ8, the "celiac" gene markers). No doctor recommended a GF diet, but after doing the research myself, we went GF in our house. Ted is now (at 14) still thin, but feeling great (no nausea, no diarrhea). He also eats 99% organic fruits and vegetables, organic chicken and beef, and can tolerate dairy/casein. Doctors do not GET it - we only see alternative doctors, who are able (in Oregon) to order the lab tests I request. Ted's immunoglobulin panel continues to be abnormally low, the H. pylori has not returned...

I have become somewhat of a mental health advocate, testifying before our legislature about the eagerness of psychs and MDs to put children on dangerous psych meds instead of running any lab tests first. While we waited 4 MONTHS to see a pediatric gastroenterologist at Oregon Health Sciences University (!), the pediatrician recommended a little visit to a psychologist "to cover all the bases." While I was out of the room, she gave my 9-year-old 57-pound child a 112-question test for "aggressive, delinquent youth," asking him questions about his drug use, sex life, etc. !!!! And then had the audacity to recommend a psych med, since she "diagnosed" him with "Specific Phobia" because he carried a bowl around to catch his frequent vomit (adding insult to injury). My opinion of the medical community is not good!

Thank you for trying to educate every gastroenterologist in this country. It will be difficult, because the cure (a GF diet) does not involve pharmaceutical drugs.

Karen Cormac-Jones in Salem, Oregon