Hey y’all, we are Brooke & Bri! Brooke is Gluten Intolerant. Bri has Celiac Disease & is sensitive to dairy, eggs, casein & soy. So a little bit about us. We are sisters! You couldn’t tell huh? We are two years apart & have been mistaken for twins pretty much all our lives. We actually have older brothers who are twins & our moms a twin so you could say we are twins just born two years apart. We grew up in a small town right next to Reno, Nevada called Sparks. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s ok, not many have. it’s actually about 45 minutes away from Lake Tahoe. So that’s in our opinion, our little town’s claim to fame. Well unless you count the “Biggest Little City in the World” title, which let’s face it, doesn’t compare to one of the most beautiful places on earth. We have so many memories there; definitely one of our favorite places in the world. We have the best family EVER & were raised by the greatest parents-end of story. Seriously, if there was an award for the best parents that ever lived, it would be hanging on their wall. We have six kids in our family & the eight of us are super tight. We have a dog & he’s just one of the kids so really there are seven kids. His name is Strider (yes we are avid Lord of the Rings fans) & he’s been the sweetest companion to all of us for 12 years!
Anyway back to us…. We haven’t always been as close as we are. Being two years apart you can’t get away from a little banter. Luckily with an amazing mom we learned to work through our differences & it’s made us closer than ever. Although we have many similarities we have our own interests & lead different lives.
We’ve learned a lot and want to share what we’ve learned with all of you! Become a member of Gluten Free Anonymous (free!) for daily discoveries & tips on how to live a gluten free life in a gluten filled world.
Hi! I am 24 years old. I graduated high school in 2007. I didn’t really care too much for high school. I enjoyed singing & dancing in our showcase choir. Bri & I got to be in that for a year together & those are treasured memories. I had the privilege of going to high school with four of my siblings. I was a freshman while my twin bro’s were seniors & my other older brother was a junior. Then when I was a senior, Bri was a freshman. We’ve been inseparable ever since! I always hung out with my brothers friends until Bri entered high school. We kinda ditched our other friends & it was just us.
Once I graduated I decided I wanted to get my Cosmetologist License. I did a few friends hair for prom & I cut my little sisters hair with my mom’s help. I always felt like I had a knack for hair and makeup. So February of 2008 I went up to good ol’ Rexburg Idaho where my bros were going to school. Had to go somewhere near them ; ) They were attending BYUI & I went to The Hair Academy/Paul Mitchell. I feel the need to mention it was the coldest winter in 50 years. Yeah, like -20, something I certainly was not used to. My parents came up about two weeks after my brothers & I moved up & the weekend they left I got a huge fever. The glands in the back of my neck & under my jaw were super swollen & I was extremely weak & nauseous. I stayed home from school for a couple days & luckily my boyfriend at the time came up to visit me because… He was my ride home! I went to the doctor & tested positive for Mononucleosis. Yeah. Great start to living out on my own huh? Well for the next three months my parents nursed me back to health. I relapsed a few times & I believe my body hasn’t been “normal” since. I went back up to school in May or June & I just had to take it super easy in order to not get sick. I got the Epstein Barr Virus so I struggle with fatigue. I graduated, passed my boards, & received my license June of 2009.
I moved back home for three months & I was off to Provo Utah where my other brother was going to school. I worked a bit, dated a ton, had a super fun time & met the man of my dreams at the end of 2010. We were married July 16, 2011 for time & all eternity in the Reno Nevada LDS Temple. Colby has a few years left in school so we live in Utah. On Pi Day, March 14, 2013 at exactly 1:59 pm (Pi= 3.14159) we had our perfect baby boy Kaden. & we’ve never been happier. He brings so much joy into our lives! He’s the first grand-baby on both sides & gets spoiled to death by all his aunts, uncles, & grandparents. We are one lucky family!
I’m guessing my gluten problems all started shortly after recovering from Mono, while I was in Rexburg. But it didn’t get to the point where I noticed something was wrong until Colby & I were dating. We didn’t know it was as severe as it was either. Bri & I were living together & working full time. There were times when we would sleep 14-18 hours a day. We were so tired all the time. I remember talking to my mom & asking if I could get tested to see if my Epstein Barr Virus was active again. Our skin was breaking out like we were in high school again too. We both completed Accutane treatments in high school so it was a little frustrating to have breakouts again. We wondered if it was our diet so we started eating healthier. Like eating more fresh fruits & veggies, more cooking, less eating out, etc. I started waking up in the middle of the night & feeling so nauseous I wanted to die. I would lie on the bathroom floor for a few hours & finally throw up. This went on about once a month for 6 months. We had no idea why. We tried figuring out what I ate but every time this would happen we couldn’t find a pattern in what I ate the previous day. Once I threw up I was super weak & exhausted but it didn’t leave any lasting effects such as a fever. I usually had to stay home from work or church because it wiped me out. Bri & I also started losing tons of weight & my hair was having severe issues. It was the driest it had ever been & I hardly ever had to wash it. My head itched like I had lice & my hair was extremely brittle.
So when I went home, I saw a doctor & at the time I only told him about the throw up episodes. I didn’t know the rest was related. He had me take a saliva test. I thought that he was testing my hormones for an imbalance. Well I went on my lovely honeymoon and, I know I didn’t have the worst honeymoon out there, but…. Let’s just say I tell Colby all the time that we deserve to go on another one. We went to Carlsbad CA, such a quaint town! It is so cute with absolutely gorgeous beaches! The food was fabulous & as we remember it, FULL of gluten. Seriously that’s ALL we ate. One night Colby woke up to me in the bathroom throwing up. Yup, he thought he married a bulimic. Good thing I have the most amazing husband ever & he ran to get me crackers, pretzels, & Campbell’s soup to make me feel better! HA!
The thing is, the saddest part about this whole thing to me is that I was poisoning myself with deep fried fish topped with barley filled vinegar, or eating soup with gluten thickeners, or even throwing it all up on what was supposed to be the best week of my life. I had ZERO energy. We would walk down to the beach & it felt like I was trying to get a beached whale back in the ocean all by myself. We’d walk around the town at night & I felt like I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages. I could hardly enjoy California because I was too exhausted to walk! Fatigue is my worst nightmare. My biggest fear. It’s the monster under the bed.
Aside from this, our honeymoon was wonderful : )
We got back to Utah & started our life together. What fun times! About a month & a half into our marriage I got the dreaded phone call from my mom. I still remember where I was. We were at Nordstrom on the second floor when my mom called me & she had a bit of a serious & sad tone. She told me the results were in from my saliva test & it was sad. My number was borderline Celiac & the doctor told my mom that I should get off gluten immediately. Bam! I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. I only had a faint idea of what this was because our old bishop was diagnosed while I was home recuperating from Mono. I just remember thinking, “If I couldn’t have my bread, my favorite food in the world, I would DIE.” I think a little part of me did die; my innocent ability to enjoy any & every type of food in whatever quantity I wanted. It destroyed my innocence like a child being forced to grow up too early. My whole world was completely ripped from under me.
I looked at Colby & said, “oh my gosh,” & ran in the dressing room. Colby had no idea what was going on, he thought someone died. I sat there & cried on the phone to my mom. I thought she was given the wrong test results. Maybe they switched mine up with Bri’s, she’s the one that’s always had the health issues & was tested over & over to no avail. My mom confirmed that she had the right test & I was gluten intolerant. I told Colby & the first thing he said was, “Well, you couldn’t have married into a better family for that.” His grandma & cousins have Celiac disease & ALL his family are extremely accommodating & educated.
I didn’t eat my pretzels on the way home, that’s for sure. We went home & gutted our freshly gluten stocked pantry. & that was that.
I think the thing that newly diagnosed people need to be told is, as hard as it is to hear the results, it’s MUCH harder the next few months. Every day you learn more & more about gluten, you realize more & more of what you can’t have. It’s extremely discouraging- something that people who don’t have allergies or intolerance’s really doesn’t understand. When they find out you can’t eat gluten, they always say, “I would just cheat,” or “I would rather die.” I want to say two things to them. 1. No, you wouldn’t cheat. Once you get gluten completely out of your system, you start to feel so much better, cheating isn’t worth it. It’s not worth it to be sick. 2. Do you think that makes me feel any better?! Seriously when people say they would rather die, it feels like salt is being rubbed in a wound that throbs every time you think about food. Some people really don’t understand what we have to live with every day.
As time went on, I did my best to avoid gluten. I was accidentally glutened a few times. Let’s just say the famous BYU Creamery Ice Cream is NOT gluten free. I’ll tell you that story later. I always hate it when I have been eating something & then find out it’s not gluten free. I feel like I was poisoning myself without realizing it.
I did cheat a couple times. I’m human ok?! It’s really hard when your work brings in free pizza & your starving & it sounds so much better than cold sacked lunch & you haven’t had pizza in months because you didn’t even know places offered gluten free pizza.. So yeah, I ate a FULL piece! & I paid for it later!
I slowly started feeling better after eliminating gluten completely. I did have to eliminate dairy, eggs, and sugar for a little while too. But I wasn’t as tired anymore!! I started to think that cheating was so not worth it. & that’s the beauty of it all. You start to feel like a new you. A you that you didn’t even know still existed, & for some people, a you that EVER existed. You want to feel that good all the time & you start looking at gluten as the enemy, not the treasure that you will never have.
What you have to understand is that you have an autoimmune disease. You most likely will not have the immune system or gastrointestinal track a normal person has. You will have gastrointestinal problems even when you don’t eat gluten. I’ll take that over feeling the way I did when I didn’t know I was gluten intolerant. But I promise those who are just getting started, it gets better. It does. You have an answer to why you have all these health problems & now you know how to fix it. You can feel better again.
I’ve learned a lot since being diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Become a member of Gluten Free Anonymous to receive our newsletter and post updates!
Hi! I’m Bri and I was born a spazz. Growing up I hung with the guys, mowed the lawn, and played flag football instead of cheer leading. You better believe I was the only girl on the team and I was our team’s secret weapon. I hated school. Most of my teachers were bullies and the school system is messed up. It helped a little having my dad as the HR director though, not that he liked to play that card.. but I sure did. By the time I graduated I had been to three different high schools. I went to a community college for my senior year and graduated with college credits in 2010.
The summer I graduated, I moved to Provo Utah to be with my sis. We lived together for a little over a year before she ditched me for some boy that stole her heart. Too bad he was a really good guy and I liked him enough to introduce the two. Then history was made. I lived with my three older brothers for about a year after that and it was a difficult time for me due to health reasons. It’s a good thing I had my sweet brothers to take care of me! I took a year to gain residence for instate tuition. I worked at a lovely soup, salad, and sandwich joint called Zupa’s. After trying my hand in food, I decided to move on to serving. I applied to Tucanos, a Brazilian grill where I got hired on the spot! I learned a great deal about military. You know…. Sergeant drill masters and where everything you did right was wrong and everything you did wrong was REALLY wrong. If you were lucky you got to be chewed out in front of the whole staff like I did one time. Did I mention I had only been employed for a week and the secret shopper noted it took me longer than 30 seconds to greet them on an exceptionally busy Friday night? Yeah. I picked up another job at a chiropractic office so I was working both jobs for a while. I quit both so I could start summer school. I was able to become a Utah resident and I’ve been doing school ever since. I started working as a waitress at the best sushi restaurant in town- The Happy Sumo. I absolutely love my job! My managers are the bomb and they actually know how to be your friend and boss at the same time. What a concept right? I haven’t had that in my past jobs, so I’m loving it!
One Christmas while we were watching home video’s (I was about 5 years old in it) and I came up to my mom and said, “Mommy, my tummy hurts. It was a little reminder of how young I had been when my “tummy problems” started. When I was as young as four years old, I remember eating food and having to lie down immediately. Sometimes I would be able to finish the food before getting sick, other times, I would take two bites and suddenly feel ill. School was always a challenge for me because I never felt well on good days and I missed school completely on bad days. So I seemed to always fall behind in my studies.
My biggest and worst symptom was extreme nausea. That’s when I turned into a lab rat. My mom started taking me to doctors, who had absolutely no clue what was wrong, when I was in middle school because my “tummy problems” didn’t go away. In fact they just intensified. The blood tests kept coming out fine so they started running more invasive tests. I feel like I was given every test known to man and was tested for anything the doctors could think of…. except gluten intolerance!
When I was in elementary school this rude nurse had me take a stool test. She wasn’t the kindest person, to work with a timid elementary schooler who had a hard time saying how many times she had a bowel movement in a day. I was in fourth grade. It was a little embarrassing to talk about AND when you’re that young, you don’t really count how many times you go the bathroom. She looked at me and said, “it’s not a hard question, how many times do you poop a day?” But the stool test wasn’t as bad as the liquid test. They had me take this gross, nasty, thick liquid that they put Hershey’s chocolate in it to make it taste better for kids. They took a light to my stomach and checked for something? I’ll tell you one thing I remember-they didn’t find anything.
I had to write in several food diaries too. It was horrible. I wasn’t successful at it. I was a kid! I ate a lot. ‘hard to keep track at that age. So that didn’t really work. They did numerous blood tests throughout all of my testing. I was tested for Celiac at one point but it came out fine. I was also having a really tough time breathing so I was tested for asthma because it ran in the family but that came out negative. Turns out I just had stress and anxiety due to all my sickness taking its toll on me.
Finally, in high school, they did an endoscopy. That’s where they stick a camera down your throat and take samples of your stomach tissue. I actually remember waking up during the procedure trying desperately to get the cords out of my throat. It scarred me for life. After everything came back negative, they wanted to remove my gall bladder. That’s where doctors go when they don’t know what else to do. My mom pulled the plug and we stopped the doctor visits and man I’m SO grateful she did!
I can sum up my high school experience in one word. Horrible!. High school is very interesting for someone who has a disease and doesn’t know it. In high school, I had an early morning church class which I was failing because of absences. A once-a-week evening class was implemented to try to accommodate my illness and help me pass my class. Memories of my childhood are laced with countless hours spent lying helplessly on the bathroom floor, waiting for the pain to pass. The memories remain fresh as I continue the ‘bathroom sleepovers’ through college. Sometimes thirty minutes was all it took to feel better and sometimes I spent most of the night on the cool bathroom floor. This was my morning routine: Shower, lay down on the bathroom floor, blow dry my hair, lay on the bathroom floor, makeup, bathroom floor, and so on. For some reason the bathroom floor was the best place to feel comfort. There’s something about the cool tile that makes me feel so much better. I have to lay on my right side or else I’ll throw up. After a lifetime of this, you nail down the perfect position.
Brooke took her saliva test in July & found out she was gluten intolerant in September. She was determined to convince me I had it too. She connected all of the symptoms with what I had all growing up. I could NOT believe it. She couldn’t be more wrong in my opinion. There was no way I would be so limited in my food. I’m the foodie in the family. It’s my happy place. Until it was proved, I wouldn’t believe it.
As time went on I almost started believing it because the facts were staring at me in the face. My mom scheduled the test & the date was set. I was going home the following weekend & my friend & I decided to do one last hurrah & go to Red Lobster. I had about 3 rolls & we ordered a big plate of everything breaded & a few fried items. We even ordered the molten chocolate chip cookie. I couldn’t even talk on the way home I was so sick. I almost made my friend pull over so I could throw up but, fortunately, I made it home to my cool bathroom floor. I then spent the rest of that weekend night on the bathroom floor for hours & hours. I remember I couldn’t get up for at least three hours. It was as if my body was trying to hint at something….
Even though I hadn’t taken the test yet, because of that experience, I started to read into it a little more. I started trying my best to weed out the obvious gluten (I had no idea what I would actually have to eliminate). I didn’t really notice a difference anyway. I drove home to NV to take the test. Worst drive home EVER. I seriously only ate lunch meat. We stopped at Taco Bell on the way & here’s an example of how bitter & defensive I was: I stepped up to the counter to order my food & I asked if they offered anything gluten free. The representative looked confused & said, “Huh?” I rephrased the question & he asked, “like cheese?” I said, “Umm no…. Cheese is DAIRY, gluten is WHEAT.” I stormed out, got in the car, & cried.
A couple weeks later the test results were in. I had had a super bad day. Well more like week. Ok more like month.. But we won’t get into that. My mom called me & told me that she got the results back & we set up a time to go over them together. So I was in my room sitting on my bed talking to her & my mom broke the news to me that not only was I triple Brooke’s number but that I also had an allergy to Dairy, Nuts, & Soy. My sweet brothers that they are knew that I was having a bad day but didn’t know why. They brought me my favorite treat, tart frozen yogurt with TONS of gluten filled cheese cake bites. They came into my room while I was bawling to my mom on the phone. I put the frozen yogurt on my desk & watched it melt. With tears streaming down my face, I took the yogurt & spoon & started eating it, knowing this would be the last time my yummy cheesecake bites would pass through my lips.
It’s taken TWO YEARS for me to start feeling consistently better. After feeling good for more than two months now, I feel like the last 19 years of my life wasn’t really me. Just half of me. It’s made me realize how much control it had over my life. You go through so many ups & downs, it’s so exhausting. One minute you’re great & happy & the next you eat something & you would go down & be sick. These sorts of things can commonly be regarded as symptoms of other diseases or disorders but often turn out to be Celiac disease.
The road to recovery is long & hard but oh so worth it. I had to go off pretty much everything: gluten, soy, dairy, sugar, casein & eggs for a long long time. But I can honestly say I haven’t felt this good my whole life. Unfortunately with this lifestyle that I live, I know that it will continue to have its ups & downs but feeling this good makes every day worth fighting for!
Being diagnosed with celiac disease was one of the toughest adjustments I’ve ever had to make. Subscribe to our newsletter or post updates to be part of the team!
We hope this blog will help you avoid going through some of the research & guess work we had to go through. It has helped us tremendously to have each other so we would hope if anything you can take from this website a friend who is battling this WITH you. Thanks for stopping by!