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Dr. Vikki Petersen Video about My Family

If you have been reading my blog for long, then you are aware that I recently flew my family to California to see Dr. Vikki Petersen and the amazing team at HealthNOW Medical Center.

I gave Dr. Vikki permission to share our story in one of her wonderful educational videos because I think our story is just one example of the many different ways that gluten can cause so many different serious health issues, some obvious and some not.

In just our little family of four, I have biopsy-proven celiac disease, my oldest son has latent celiac disease (positive blood test, negative biopsy) and two of us have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  The interesting thing is that my oldest son and I had much more “subtle” symptoms than did my husband and youngest son (who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity), each who had the more “classical” gastrointestinal symptoms.  If you are interested, you can read more of my oldest son’s story about conflicting test results here.  I wrote about my youngest son’s non-celiac gluten sensitivity diagnosis here.

This is a very important point that I want to get across because when my own parents requested the celiac panel from their doctors (after my diagnosis), each were met with this question from their respective physicians: “Do you have diarrhea?”

When their replies were no, each of the two separate doctors said, “Then you cannot have celiac disease.”

I am here to tell you that that could not be further from the truth.  Due to my lack of gastrointestinal issues, I lived nearly 30 years with undiagnosed celiac disease, everyday ingesting a poison that was ravaging me both internally and externally.

As my mom often says, “I was born with eczema.”  I began suffering from severe environmental allergies and chronic sinusitis at the age of 6 (I finally had sinus surgery this past February).

I have had ADD since I was a young child and I also suffered from many behavioral issues and bouts of depression from an early age.

I was diagnosed with my first autoimmune disease, psoriasis, at the age of 16.  After spending a year in light therapy, I went into spontaneous remission and have not had a recurrence in the past 21 years.

My second autoimmune disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, began to surface when I was 14 but I would not be officially diagnosed (via a skin biopsy) until I was 34.

My third and fourth autoimmune diseases, Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, appeared after giving birth to my oldest son at the age of 30.

My fifth autoimmune disease, celiac, was diagnosed after I spent the 10 months following my radioactive iodine treatment (for Graves’ disease) not absorbing my thyroid medication.  I will be sharing more of my celiac diagnosis story later this month for National Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

I often wonder how different things would be, had my childhood dermatologist only tested me for DH instead of dismissing the rash on my knees as a reaction to my grass allergy!!

The winner of Dr. Vikki Petersen’s book, The Gluten Effect and the 2010 Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum DVD is…

#8, Kate Guidish!

Congratulations Kate, I will email you for your shipping information! 😀

If you didn’t win this giveaway, don’t worry because Dr. Vikki has given me FOUR more copies of her book and DVD to giveaway later this month!


  1. Vikki is awesome! I've been to HealthNOW Medical Center and was seen by her husband, Dr. Richard Petersen. The whole center is amazing! They never give up on anyone until they get to the root of their problem. It was great of you to allow her to share your story. You both do so much for the GF community! You both rock!

    • Yes, Dr. Vikki is AWESOME, and so is Dr. Rick (I see him too) and the entire HealthNOW team. Without a doubt, my experience with them has been the best medical experience I've ever had (and trust me, I've had quite a bit, LOL!), I would do it over again in a heartbeat. 😀

      I definitely share Dr. Vikki's passion in gluten-free awareness so it was a no-brainer to give her permission to share our story, my family runs the gamut in gluten intolerance so I personally understand the full spectrum and want to help in anyway I can.


  2. anne bean says

    I cannot believe how similar my story is to yours- I am 47 and am finally seeing a specialist for celiacs after having my thyroid removed, a disc replaced in my neck due to nerve pain, diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease and psoriatic arthritis. Only now that i have been vomiting nightly and unable to keep down any foods with gluten has it finally dawned on us what has likely been the real problem- gluten intolerance. I have had rash that flares on my elbows and back and do NOT think it is psoriasis. Now that I cannot keep down any foods with gluten we feel sure this is really my problem. What I needed was a more insightful doctor- although I have been seeing some of the "best". So- I am going to be firm in asking for the biopsy, then making sure both my boys are thoroughly screened so they don't have to go through this if they have it. I have lost 10 lbs in the last two weeks.

    • Hi Anne,

      I would definitely suspect gluten as a culprit and I'm so glad you are getting in to see a specialist to check for celiac disease. I would also recommend seeing a dermatologist to get a skin biopsy for dermatitis herpetiformis. While DH is the skin manifestation of celiac disease, the intestinal damage can be more patchy and slower to progress than in someone with "just" celiac disease, I really think this is why I went undiagnosed for so long, it took many years before my intestines were damaged enough to start causing other problems and hence uncovering my underlying celiac.

      We definitely need to be assertive in asking our physicians what we want them to test us for and here is the current list of blood tests to ask for:

      *Total IgA Antibody Level
      *DGP-IgG (Diamidated Gliadin Peptide – IgG)
      *tTG (tissue TransGlutaminase) – IgA
      *DPG-IgA (Diamidated Gliadin Peptide – IgA)
      *EMA (Endomesial Antibodies) – IgA

      I would also ask the doctor to add on:

      *Anti gliadin antibody – IgG
      *Anti gliadin antibody – IgA

      If all the tests come back negative or inconclusive, I would still recommend going on a strict gluten-free diet for at least 30 days to see if you feel better, the blood tests are not perfect (nor is the intestinal biopsy) and many times the best test is trying the diet to see if that helps, and if it does, stick with it. 😀


  3. This is really great for people who don't feel better immediately and think they must be doing something wrong.

    I love watching Dr. Petersen talking about you – her passion in her work and the drive to make you healthy really shows.

    • Hi AndreAnna!

      Dr. Vikki is quite special in that regard, she genuinely cares about helping others (as does the entire HealthNOW team). What impressed me the most, is how much they hold your hand through the whole process. I live in a different state and have weekly phone appointments with Dr. Vikki's husband, Dr. Rick, the service by no means stops after leaving the clinic! 😀

      Are you done moving?


  4. Great post, Heidi. It's never just one thing. There are so many variables and individual differences when it comes to gluten intolerance. I also have DH and my daughter sounds a bit like you with all the sinus and skin issues. It takes a multi-pronged approach to heal and thrive. I've always said this trend towards stocking up on GF products is the wrong way to go. It's about figuring out the multiple issues and focusing on healing. Not searching for the next GF donut. It's a puzzle and you figure out the various pieces and try to put the whole thing together. Each puzzle is different.



    • Hi Melissa!

      You are absolutely correct, it is one giant puzzle! Unfortunately, most MDs are only telling their new celiac patients to go GF and take a Lactaid while their villi heal and they are not informing their patients of the strong likelihood that there are other underlying health issues, as well as a leaky gut (and the removal of gluten is usually not enough to fully heal the gut). Not to mention that many GIs still don't recognize that celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are two different things (my own GI is one of them).

      My hope is that by sharing our story, more people will realize that it is not as "simple" as just going gluten-free (and definitely not eating a bunch of GF donuts!), we need concentrated nutrition and to avoid the many other substances that damage the gut (NSAIDS, antibiotics, steroids, excessive alcohol consumption, etc.) so we can heal, feel great and go LIVE our lives to the fullest! 😀


  5. P.S. Dr. Vikki is awesome! And so are you!



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