I had always know that there was an issue with me, that I wasn’t normal. I started suffering from stomach issue inside my mother’s womb. I know I shouldn’t be able to remember that, but the pain was so intense that I could never forget it. By the time I was 8, my intestines had decided to crawl from my body from the abuse that I had put them through. My brain was so foggy that I could barely function in school. Of course no one could really understand why I was going through, and hey it was the ‘80’s so nobody really knew what could be causing it, so I was told to drink pickle juice and only eat bananas and raw meat…
All right, if you can’t tell that isn’t real, you’ve been reading too many gluten free blogs. Really. They all seem to start the same way, with the story heading to diagnosis and then go into sharing recipes. Usually there’s some sort of family story. So here’s the deal, I don’t really want to be that kind of blog. You aren’t going to be reading this if you want to learn about what to cook or how to cook gluten free. I’m not going to discuss making your own flour mixes or the joys of baking your own bread. Here the truth of it, unless you don’t work and are some sort of stay at home mom, you don’t really have time for this. Being gluten free takes time, that’s why the Italians give people with celiac time off of work to make their food. They understand.
So here the deal, when I got diagnosed I wanted one thing, one single thing, a person who would look at all of the bullshit and really tell it like it is. There’s too much bad information out there, it’s just the truth. For every good piece of information that you can find, there will be 4 Mommy-Bloggers spreading the gluten-free equivalent of non-GMO food/anti-vaccer movements. Usually it sounds something like that paragraph above, kind of wack-a-doo and really only designed to scare you. I wanted to know what the science said. I wanted to know what could be proven or not and know what the next steps were. I didn’t want to read that I can never eat oats again and there will never be a safe food that I find on a shelf or in a restaurant. It’s just not true. And those mommy bloggers with their half-truths scared the snot out of me in my first few months. Heck, I’m still paranoid, but I think that might just be part of my personality.
So here’s the truth. The whole truth.
A year ago today, I went in for an endoscopy.
I started suffering from stomach issues when I was 13 years old, just a freshman in high school, and I was told it was just stress. I was given ranitidine and omeprazole and tums. I was told to take iron pills and it would get better for a time. Then I would have issues again when I got stressed out. I would have stomach pain and gas and would be miserable for days. I tried a lot of things over the next 22 years to make it better, eating ginger, stop drinking coffee and alcohol, diet changes, exercise, eating iron rich food, really whatever I could come across that might help. And then things came to a head. I was 30 when it started to get really bad, keeping me up at night, stomach cramps that caused my whole body to shake, nausea that lasted days, and frequent dizzy spells. Honestly, if you are reading this, you know exactly what I’m describing, because you’ve had then too. And then, I started to get regular pain in the upper right corner of my stomach, right under my ribs. The rest, I could deal with, it was just par for the course, but that pain had be concerned. I thought, it’s my gall bladder. I can feel these things move through my body, it’s got to be gallstones. So I go to the doctor and they order an ultra sound and I sit on the order for a while.
I work in healthcare, and I have in some form of my life for about 15 years. I’ve been a caregiver. I’ve been to working for a hospital system for nearly 5 years. We say, in the medical field, that our co-workers make the worst patients. So me putting off the ultrasound was just par for the course. Then I went and they found…nothing…everything looked okay. It was off to the Gastroenterologist for me… Off I go to another doctor, more questions and more tests. The endoscopy. I joked with the doctor that I was getting the ultimate selfie, taken from the inside.
By the time I was waking up in the recovery room, eating the graham crackers and drinking juice, the doctor was coming in and saying that there was bunting in my duodenum, and that might be a sign of celiac…this was the day before Valentines day. We were going to the beach that weekend with my husband’s family. We drove, with me still recovering from the anesthesia and discussing what this might mean. There was lots of google and discussions and then we didn’t think about it for a few days. There was also a sick cat and family things and the rest of life.
It was another month before I went to get the blood test. So it was another month before we started eating gluten free and another month before I started to feel better. And like anyone who participates in modern medicine, I consulted with Dr. Google during that month. Dr. Google is a fear monger who listens to every crazy person out there with a keyboard an idea, much like Dr. Oz. And Dr. Google doesn’t tend to vet his information much. I will totally admit, before I got back into the doctor I was fully paranoid that I was never going to be able to eat food again, needing to exist only on organic soy milk that I hand squeezed and air.
You see what I was saying before. It’s kind of crazy out there, and how do you know what is truthful and what is wackadoo. The truth is, you don’t, not without a lot of research. What I really want to do is just help you cut through the crap. I want to give you some honest feedback, honest advice, and do the thing that we need the thing that we need to do the most, laugh at ourselves. It’s stressful and confusing and frustrating. Best way to deal with that is laughter! It’s what I really wanted when I was first starting out. I mean none of us chose the gluten free life, the gluten free life choose us. We just need to roll with our homies.
It wasn’t all laughter. I honestly had a few mornings where I just cried. Well that was before the diagnosis. Anyone who has been glutened knows that you’re more emotional during those days. I’m going to blame it on the gluten. I blame a lot on the gluten. It makes a great scape goat. Family gathering you don’t really want to go to, well they won’t know how to deal with my gluten needs. Don’t want to feed the cats tonight, well their food has gluten in it. Seahawks don’t make it to the superbowl, well I don’t know anything about football so it must be gluten. Donald Trump is running for president and people seem to think that he makes sense, they must be eating gluten!
See it works for anything!
So, I’m going to make you three promises. One, not give you any of that unfounded bullshit. If I tell you anything, I will back it up with science. Two, I’m going to make you laugh. You have gotten the whole of my “inspirational” story, that’s all you’re going to get. No more. Three, starting on March 14th (one year since I started eating gluten free), I’m going to give you one piece of advice that I learned from loving gluten free. Yup, 52 pieces of totally absurd real advice from someone who lived it and laughed at herself the whole most of the time.