To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Monica Gast. I am a fourty-five year old woman. I have four children who are all in their 20's now. I am married to a wonderful man named William. (His nickname is Radar.)
I ran into your your website by accident, I was doing some research on Primary Intestinal Lymphangiectasia. Because in July 2010 I started having a major episode with my PIL.
When I was born the doctors had to drain out lymphatic fluid from my abdomen, because I had so much fluid in my belly. I believe I was told about 10 to 16 ounces that was drained from my stomach. I was underweight. I was just extremely ill. Doctor's told my parents that they didn't think I was going to live long. My parents even had our priest come and give me my last rights at a day old, because they feared that I wasn't going survive. I needed to be in an incubator for over a month. No types of formulas agreed with my system. Doctor's didn't know what to do for me.
When I was two years old my parents to me to Shriner's Hospital in Chicago, because of my symtoms where so out of control. Some of my symtoms were: very under weight, swollen extended belly, diahrrea, nausea, vomiting, immunity problems, and developmentally behind in mobility (I didn't walk till I was 3 years old). Needless to say, doctor's at Shriner's Hospital in Chicago didn't know what to do for me. It was the year of 1967 and lymphangiectasia was a realtively new disease, that was discovered in 1961. That meant doctor's didn't have the information of PIL at this time.
In 1972 my parents took my to Children's Hospital in Chigaco, because our primary phyician referred me. This is when I was diagnosed with Primary Intestinal Lymphangiectasia. I was seven years old. Doctor's explained to my parents that I was actually born with the condition PIL and malabsorption syndrom. At that time, there was nothing doctors did for PIL, except the Low Fat High Protein diet. This is also the time when my left foot and leg started to hold more lymphatic fluid and swell uncontrolably. I also had a growth that looked like a wart on the side of my right foot that popped open and was leaking. Come to find out, with tests that were done, it was actually a lymph vessel leaking lymphtic fuild. Within a couple of weeks the lymph vessel healed on it's own and closed up. Doctor's were not sure if it would close on it's own or not.
With every day, month, and year that passed my lymphangiectasia symtoms continued. I continued to get more lymph vessels growing out of my foot. Especially my big toe on my right foot. The only thing I was to do is to put lambs wool in-between my toes to help cushion and prevent break down of the skin so I wouldn't leak the lymphatic fluid.
In 1979 I was then referred to Riley's Children Hospital in Indianapolis Indiana, to have some more extensive tests for my PIL and malasorbtion sydrom. I was 14 years old. This is when my parents and I were told about the middle chain triglycerides oil. As for any other type of treatment for PIL, they didn't have any other to offer. Only the high protein low fat diet with the MCT oil. My developmental in phyical aspects was still behind. Most girls at the age of 9-14 were developing breasts and have had their first menstral cycle by this time. I didn't have any breasts until I was 16 and this is also when I had my first menstral cycle.
I remember being the odd girl out, growing up. I was always the thinnest girl with all my friends. I just always felt different because I had health problems, and nobody else I knew had health problems like I did. Emotionally you just don't fit in, because you know your body is different. I felt alone, even though I had parents that were always there for me.
My parents tried to treat me as a normal kid, even though I had my health problems. I am truly grateful for everything they given me. They loved me with all of their hearts. My parents were wonderful. I know at times they went through hell... All the trips in and out of the hospital they had to indure with me, while raising 4 other children, but never leaving my side.
I remember how hard it was to keep to the diet growing up, because I had four sisters who could eat what ever they wanted. There wasn't to much to choose from with low fat's. Especially when it came to desserts, etc....
When I graduated from high school in 1983, I was 5 foot 7 1/2 inches tall, at a big 90 pounds. I had problems with my right foot and leg swelling to the point it felt as though if you took a pin to pop it, it would pop like a balloon. My right foot was also considerably smaller than my left foot. I would have to say my right foot was 2 sizes smaller than the left foot. I also had the extended belly, because the lymph fluid would settle into my tummy area.
After graduating high school I moved on my own right away, and I made the decision not to stick to the low fat high protein diet. You know at that age you think you know it all, at least that is how I was.
At 19 I was pregnant with my first child. My pregnacy was not typical, I had to have home nurse care because my body was not giving my son enough nurtrients when I was pregnant. I had to have home IVs and etc. I only gained 5 lbs. with I was pregnant with my son William. When William was born on November 19, 1985 he weighed 5 lbs. 5 oz., so all the weight I actually gained was all baby.
I am not going to go into details of each of my pregnancies, but I know that each time I had gotten pregnant my lymphangiectasia became worse.
Financially I couldn't afford to cook different meals for my family and then something for myself, so I ate what was made for the entire family. I know this in turn has made my PIL uncontrollable now.
In May 2001 my husband and I went on a golf outing and I had broken my right Tibial Plateau Fracture of the leg, from jumping out of a going golf cart. My leg seemed to be healing fine, according to my orthopedic doctor.
But, on July 12, 2001 I had woken up in the middle of the night with tremendous pain in my right foot and leg. I also had the symtoms of discolored (purple) toes, and the feeling of my foot and leg being cold. I went to my local emergancy room when this happened and they did tests on my veins to see if I had a blood clot, but it showed that I did not have one. To make a long story shor the ER doctor sent me home, and a couple of days later I had to have my right leg amputated due to a blood clot that formed in the artery. (Not the vein.) Because of the ER doctor not listening to me as his patient, I nearly lost my life. Things had gotten so bad that I had to be put on a ventilator and they were talking about a heart transplant.
God must have other plans with me because I survived. I pray to him on a daily basis and thank him for the life he had given me!
To continue, In January of 2002 my body gave in to all that had happened to me with the amputation and my instestinal lymphangiectasia, I became so sick that I was hospitalized for over a month. This time I decided to go to Northwestern Hopital in Chicago, Illinois. I wanted to go to a hospital that would dig into my medical history and find out what was going on with me. The Doctor's at NWH were more than I expected. I was grateful for them. They found out I had another problem with my health besides my PIL. They found out I have a condition called antiphospholipid antibody syndrom besides my PIL. This causes my blood to clot, and because I had an injury from the leg getting broken, it formed a clot in my artery causing the muscle and tissue to die. Therefore, the imputation of the right leg above the knee had to take place.
It took me 2 1/2 years for my body to recover from everything. In 2005 I was well enough to start living my life as God had intended each of us as individuals. I went to college to get a degree in computer information systems. I graduated college in the Spring of 2008.
I missed so much when I was so ill. My children had to grow up faster then most. They in turn had to take care of me, instead of me taking care of them. My husband tried to play mom and dad, even though he is only the stepdad... He didn't have to stay with me... But he chose to... And my parents they have always been a rock when it came to me being ill, always there for me and totally loving in every way... What can I say my Family has been the best, and without them I don't think I would have been as strong as I am!
This past July I started having major problems with my PIL and have been seeing doctors from NWH. Of course because I am an adult finding doctors that have dealt with PIL is about zero. So, they have been starting from scratch with me. I am totally their guinea pig.
I have been having problems with my bowels, nausea, vomiting, swelling in my left leg and foot, along with swelling in my hands now, fatigue, an extended swollen belly (stomach). (I look like I'm Pregnant!) The list seems to be never ending. The newest symtom I am having, on each side of my ribs towards the center of my chest I have puffy lumps that are soft and mushy like the lymphtic fluid settled in these specified spots. Dr. Olinger is my GI specialist I am going to now. He had to do the colonoscopy and the endoscopy just recently which showed the PIL and malabsorption syndrom, as it did when I was a child. The next step is to start my low fat high protein diet, but the dietition at NWH won't be available until December 21, 2010.
That is why I am doing research over the internet. That is what has brought me to your site. I am trying to find people with the same condition so that I can become familiar with all the information as I possible.
So, I am asking you to please give me any information about PIL and malabsorption syndrom as possilble? And if possible to give me some names and emails of other patients that were diagnosed with disease?
I applaud you for all your hard work putting this website together! There isn't enough information out there for us who are debilitated
with the condition.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Sincerely and With Love,