Coming to Grips with Celiac Disease
As many of you may know, I spend most of my time on this blog trying to maintain an upbeat and positive environment. I love sharing things that I love and putting a spin on the less lovely things that makes you and I smile instead of crying about them. This means that some things about my life are hard for me to share here. But I am finally at a place with my health where I feel ready to talk about it honestly in this space.
I was recently (finally) diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This follows 12+ years of anemia, nutritional deficiencies, nausea, occasional depression, extreme heartburn, and the development of a few auto-immune diseases that I will now have for life.
I have really mixed emotions about my diagnosis. I am SO relieved to have an answer. You can't fight a monster that you can't see and I am more than capable of taking care of myself in a way that will satisfy both the Celiac and my life. I am thrilled that it's not something worse. I am excited to learn how to bake in a way that I can digest. I can't WAIT to see what my life is like with a body that is absorbing nutrients and functioning like everyone else's. Also, I have already been gluten-free for more than a year, so although things are much more complicated for someone with Celiac, I know a lot about what I can and can't eat. Jay and I already have a list of restaurants that will cater to me.
On the other hand, I have so much anger towards the medical system for not catching this sooner.
Dinner parties are my new nightmare. I already know that cravings aren't going to be what brings me down. It's going to be my inability to hurts someone's feelings by explaining that I can't eat the dinner/dessert they made. Eating out has been difficult in the past (Celiac can cause temporary lactose intolerance and other allergy symptoms), but now it's next-to-impossible. I used to meet people like myself and roll my eyes and think "They can bring their OWN dinner if they are going to be all picky." but now I see how impossible and defeating it is to be that person, especially if you have no control over what you can and can't eat. A few people in my life have made great efforts to let me know that they will still try to feed me, which brings me almost to tears every time.
A person with Celiac can have no cross-contamination with wheat, barley, or rye. Outside of my own kitchen, I need to have my own butter dish, my own toaster. I can no longer buy flours in bulk in case of contamination with nearby wheat flours. I need to buy specifically uncontaminated oats, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, BBQ sauce, etc. That's obviously fine in our kitchen, but how can I expect other people to replace that many ingredients in their kitchens just to feed me for one evening?
Despite all the challenges, my strongest feeling is that of relief. My friends and family have been so encouraging, taking time to ask me specific questions and understand what is going on in my body. They are already learning to adapt, and support me, and that gives me the best feelings. It's amazing to have people around you who are willing to go the extra mile to make sure you are healthy and happy. Jay has been awesome, essentially agreeing to also live gluten-free at home (with the exception of his breakfast cereal) so that I can stop worrying about kitchen contamination in our own house. My mom and sister are already figuring out how to adapt the comfort food recipes I have loved my whole life into gluten-free versions. All three brides who's weddings I am attending this summer have already contacted their caterers to make sure that gluten-free meals will be available for me.
I love people. Thanks so much for all of your support. It means everything to me.