I was diagnosed on October 31, 2016. It was Halloween and a Monday. A day I was prepared to gorge on all sorts of junk; a day I was not prepared to change every thing. Sitting in the chair listening to my doctor that morning I knew that my life was about to be different. Different because I would have to meal prep (something I have always scoffed at), I would have to cook (something I never do), and I could never, ever eat another Oreo cookie again. Insert sad face emoji here.
I have been sick for eight years. Eight years. Only my closest friends knew that I was sick all day. Every single day. You just learn to roll with it. Want to know my symptoms – Google Celiac Disease. I am a textbook case. Since being diagnosed I have researched, reached out, and then researched some more in hopes to make sense of this tiny protein we call gluten and all that it entails. Celiac disease isn’t an allergy or an intolerance. It is an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks itself at the slightest trace of gluten. I even had to get rid of my Mac lipstick. Here are 12 things I’ve discovered since being diagnosed:
- It’s all I think about and talk about. Sorry. Seriously. Every detail of my day needs to be planned out. Food has to be prepped and ready. My ten vitamins have to be packed. I can’t just take off somewhere without knowing what I will have to eat. Did I mention I also have Diabetes? (A symptom of Celiac) Yeah. Not eating a meal isn’t an option. I have to eat, and I have to eat things not containing gluten.
- Cross Contamination is real. We have all new pots and pans. The toaster is gone. My peanut butter and butter is labeled “Daisy Only”. Even if my friends want to be sweet and make me something Gluten Free – please don’t. I can’t eat out of your pans. You know how pans get scratched? Gluten hides down inside of those scratches, and the tiniest bit of that protein could make me extremely sick. Sounds crazy, but it is very true. Gluten is pure poison to a person with Celiac.
- Just because it says Gluten Free doesn’t mean it is. It hides in all sorts of places. In all sorts of ingredients. I have to read every single label. I have a list a mile long saved on my phone of words that I check. I am not just looking for the word gluten. It is much easier just to eat clean, unprocessed food. Dairy, meat, fruits & veggies. Plus, if I can’t have a Great American Cookie, I sure don’t want a gluten free cookie. Pass.
- You Feel like a Weirdo. It is a lot to explain. To everyone. If you dare eat out you have to call ahead and check for safety. Do you use a separate counter for gluten free needs? Do you use separate knives when preparing gluten free meals? Will you change your gloves before you prepare my food? You feel like a new age hipster, but you’re not. You just don’t want to ever be that sick again.
- I can eat rice and potatoes. Score.
- My Whole House is Gluten Free. Frank and I decided it would just be easier. If we would have gone the other route we would have to have separate pans, separate sponges, even separate strainers for my food vs. theirs. This whole thing is already stressful enough. My family eats gluten while they are out and about. They even have cookies in the cupboards here. We just do not cook with gluten. At all.
- I have not taken a nap in almost two months, which means I am no longer lethargic. Celiac disease makes your body unable to absorb nutrients (if you are consuming gluten). I thought I was just a working mom with kids. We are all tired. I didn’t know that all of my vitamin levels were just non-existent.
- My husband and kids have my back. They don’t want me to be sick anymore either. Often times they are asking if something contains gluten or telling people that I can’t have it before I even have a chance. It’s actually pretty sweet.
- I have not been sick since November 3rd. Three days after cutting gluten from my diet. I never knew how bad I felt until I didn’t feel bad anymore.
- Celiac is not cancer. What do I mean? Ok, I can’t eat a lot of stuff. I can’t graze on food at get togethers or parties anymore, but I don’t have cancer. What I have can be managed by me planning ahead and by me eating healthy foods. By me not being lazy. For this I am thankful.
- It’s me. Not my kids. I can not imagine having to helicopter a severe food allergy or the whole cross contamination thing with one of my kids. My heart goes out to any parent that has to diligently protect their children in this way every single day. I am paranoid enough thinking about myself getting cross contaminated.
- I have not felt this good in a long, long time. My diagnosis has truly been the best thing that has happened to me.
Why am I blogging about this? Because I hope it helps someone else. I was sick for so long. If I would have talked about it, if I would have known, then maybe I could have gotten help sooner. Spreading awareness is key.