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LeeAnn's Story: Discovering Your Best Self, Free From Acid Reflux

LeeAnn of Avon is one busy mom, taking care of a family of five including three active children. She loves being on the go, volunteering at school, and staying on top of the activities and schedules for her kids. She also serves as PTO president, a role that can best be described as equal parts cheerleader, organizer and problem-solver.

But when she started experiencing symptoms like a burning sensation in her chest, trouble sleeping and feeling like she had a lump in her throat, LeeAnn found a problem she couldn't quite solve. For a while, she dealt with her symptoms on her own and tried taking over-the-counter medications to find relief. LeeAnn also tried modifying her diet to figure out what was triggering her symptoms. "I had my suspicions, like drinking too much pop," she said. "I was going crazy trying to figure out what was going on and causing the problems. Nothing seemed to be helping."

LeeAnn's Story

LeeAnn's Aha! Moment

A new symptom had emerged for LeeAnn. She had started having horrible pain on her tongue. "It felt like I had constantly been scalded with hot coffee," she said. Then one day, while eating pizza with her family, LeeAnn had a terrifying experience. The pain in her chest and throat was so bad, it felt like she couldn't swallow or even talk. At that point she knew things had gotten totally out of control.

Based on a friend's recommendation, LeeAnn made an appointment with Dr. Mike Hartley of Westside Gastroenterology Associates in Danville. After spending time with LeeAnn, listening to all of her concerns, learning her medical history and completing a physical exam, Dr. Hartley recommended an endoscopy procedure with biopsy at Hendricks Regional Health. The procedure was followed by lab tests to get a better understanding of LeeAnn's health.

Her Unexpected Results

LeeAnn's Story

The results were surprising. Findings suggested she has acid reflux, but also showed she has Celiac Sprue, also called Celiac disease. People with this digestive and autoimmune condition are unable to eat foods with gluten, a form of protein found in a lot of commonly eaten grains. Celiac disease can damage the intestines, and make it hard for the body to absorb nutrients. Sure enough, LeeAnn was also deficient in iron.

LeeAnn and her husband, Dave, were both surprised by the diagnosis. Her symptoms didn't seem to completely fit with Celiac disease, and nobody in her family had ever been diagnosed with it. But with these answers came the opportunity for Dr. Hartley to create a treatment plan and get LeeAnn back to feeling healthy and well once again.

Creating a Treatment Plan

The first line of LeeAnn's treatment included a prescription medication regimen and supplements for her iron deficiency. With the help of Dr. Hartley, she also began following a gluten-free diet. After following this plan for a few months, she was able to successfully come off of her medications and has remained symptom-free.

"I couldn't have ever imagined I would be completely free of my symptoms," LeeAnn said. "Looking back I wish I hadn't waited until I was completely miserable to get help. I never would have tried any of this on my own. Only with Dr. Hartley's help have I been able to figure this all out."

Gluten AND Symptom-Free, and Loving Life

LeeAnn's Story

These days, LeeAnn is taking her gluten-free life in stride. She thinks a lot more about nutrition, and creating healthier meals for her family: "Sure, eating gluten-free can be a challenge, but it does help me make healthier choices. I think about the foods I am preparing for my family a lot more. We eat a lot more fruits and veggies."

This self-proclaimed baker with a sweet tooth has even found a way to still bake the occasional treat. "There are so many great gluten-free recipes out there. I even finally found a great pie crust without gluten!"

Now, LeeAnn can concentrate on time with her family, instead of constantly thinking about her symptoms and what she should or shouldn't eat. "I can just be present in the moment. I know what I can eat, and I make the healthy, right choice and just move on." Dr. Hartley continues to watch over LeeAnn's care. Every six months, they touch base to ensure both her acid reflux and Celiac-related symptoms remain in check.