About Kelly LeDonni, Founder of GlutenFreeLabels.com
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 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 gluten sensitivity 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 Endocrinologist 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 8 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 healthy I was and how a minuscule crumb of gluten could cause my first incident of cross contamination. The consequence of cross contamination 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, family members and my daughter’s home care nurses ate in my kitchen. My daughters were 30 week preemies and unfortunately one of my daughters caught Spinal Meningitis at the hospital through a PICC line. She was on a ventilator and breathing tube for over a month and the breathing tube ultimately scarred her throat. A tracheotomy was recommended until her throat could heal and reconstruction airway surgery could be performed. So, after 4 1/2 months in the NICU, we returned home with 24/7 nursing.
I couldn’t always monitor my kitchen and gluten free foods. The nurses were extremely careful but they were also using our utensils and their glutenous Mac n Cheese sometimes overflowed in our microwave. To minimize cross contamination risks, I found it incredibly helpful to label all of my gluten free items using a sharpie. However, sharpie markers run and masking tape doesn’t always stay on containers. I found myself smelling my gluten free foods to ensure they were safe. After lots of labeling fears, an idea surfaced – a gluten free labeling company!
I intend for glutenfreelabels.com to help people, like myself, who cannot eat gluten. The selection of dishwasher safe labels, oven-safe tags and toothpick flags should help provide added protection to your kitchens and gluten free foods. Cross contamination risks will be lessened and others’ awareness of Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance 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. I am also thrilled to say that although our home care nurses became like family, they are no longer needed in our home. My daughter is now a healthy and trach free! It is my hope that this story and the creation of glutenfreelabels.com will help to support you on your own gluten free journey.
P.S. Should you wish to share with me your gluten free story, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.