I was speaking with my cousin-by-marriage about my new website when she began telling me the most harrowing story of her experience with wheat and gluten and how she wound up in a wheelchair, and I thought, I have to share her story with others!
Shelly is a proud, hardworking mother of two beautiful daughters. Her eldest, Lauren Rose, is a senior in college at Western Michigan University, and her youngest, Alexis Mackenzie, is planning on going into Holistic Medicine (so that she can work on finding a cure for ADD and ADHD). In addition, she has three furry family members: a Giant Schnauzer named Ryker, and two kitties, Dubby and Mya.
Shelly is a very busy woman and currently wears two hats in business. First, as an Executive Director and partner in her own franchise, Nuskin (an anti-aging and wellness company), and second, as a Campaign Manager for Hibu, a leader in digital services and a premier partner of Google. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, reading, painting abstract art, decorating, and crocheting (a pastime she learned from her beloved grandmother).
Yet her health issues were compromising all of that.
Would you tell us what happened to you and why you wound up in a wheelchair?
Seven and a half years ago I began feeling very ill. My skin tone looked very sickly, like that of a dying person. It was yellow, my eyes were yellow and sunken in, and my skin had a strange texture. I had lost a lot of weight, which you wouldn’t think would happen since I was eating a whole lot of processed and fast foods. Due to my job I was on the road a lot. That was the kind of food that was the most convenient for me. I had zero energy, yet I couldn’t sleep. I was a walking zombie. I was having pain in my abdominal area. My doctor checked me for cysts, did a Pap smear, ultra sound, and blood work to test for cancer, but found nothing.
Sometimes I was so weak I could barely walk. They tested me for all kinds of things (so many I can’t even recall). I felt as if I were dying. One afternoon while at work I collapsed. I had been experiencing severe pain in my neck and spine. When my legs went out from underneath me I knew it was bad. I couldn’t stand back up. I was rushed to the E.R.
When I got to the hospital I started shaking uncontrollably. I was told that I might have West Nile virus. They did a CAT Scan and some blood tests and ruled that out. I was admitted into the neurological unit of the hospital for several weeks, where I was tested like a lab rat. I had neurologists from all over come in to evaluate my condition, as I couldn’t walk, and I had an uncontrollable tremor – like a person with Parkinson’s. The first doctor told me that he believed I had ALS, which I knew was a death sentence. It was terrifying being told that. They ran tests and thankfully he was incorrect. In fact, I underwent a battery of tests. During an MRI they found a lesion on the frontal lobe of my brain. I was told I most likely had MS, as that is characteristic of that condition. To be sure of that diagnosis they needed to do a spinal tap. Again, thankfully, that test was negative. Yet while they couldn’t diagnose me with M.S., they were still leaning that way. Basically, they were waiting for either the lesion in my brain to change location, shape or size, before they could treat me for the disease.
Meanwhile, I continued to search out other doctors. I wanted a definitive answer. There were several more neurologists before I was released and I returned home in a wheelchair. I was told I might never walk again. I refused to accept that!! So the search for my cure continued. I started seeing D.O.’s vs. M.D.’s because I knew they tended to see things differently. But they began suggesting some if this could be stress related, or all in my head, and that I should seek therapy. I was so frustrated. I knew that wasn’t the problem, and that there was more to it. So I went to a well renowned teaching hospital here in Michigan (U of M) to see the professor of Neurology. I was finally diagnosed with Essential Tremors.
Can you tell us a little something about Essential Tremors?
It is a genetic disease. I was born with it. It lies dormant and usually comes out in mid 30′s (I was 35), and typically in women. Sometimes it never surfaces, but I was told it most likely did because of poor diet and stress and that if I changed to a gluten free diet, it might go dormant again. I was treated with tremor medications but the medications made me none functional, as in tired all the time. So I decided to go 100% gluten free. I was able to get off the tremor medication, and boom, I was healed.
How long was it after you cut wheat and gluten out of your diet that you began to notice a difference?
I was able to walk about 6 months after I went gluten free.
That is an incredible turnaround! Being told you might never walk again only to find yourself healed. Why did you begin including wheat and gluten in your diet again? Did the symptoms return? How are you feeling today?
After a year I got lazy and retuned to eating wheat and gluten. I have been fine as far as the Essential Tremors go, but I have had migraines, no energy, and stomach pains. I also notice I bloat so badly everywhere (face, hands, feet, stomach) after I eat.
Is that why your doctor is again recommending you stop eating wheat and gluten?
Years ago I was diagnosed with A.D.D. I’ve been taking medication for it, but I recently went off of it. I didn’t like the way it altered my moods. I felt foggy, forgetful, and unable to concentrate, which was why I was diagnosed with having A.D.D. in the first place!
Yet since I’ve stopped the medication, I have found that I am still in a fogged state, forgetful and feeling confused half the time. I’m also very tired. So a few weeks ago my new doctor said it sounded like gluten and that I should remove it from my diet and see what happens. But I have been traveling a lot for work, so I hadn’t done it yet. Then, when I got back home and saw your website I made the decision to go 100% gluten free for good.
I want to take my life back!!!