Hello ladies and gentlemen. My name is Anna and I have Celiac’s disease.
I haven’t had this disease all my life, and had many glorious years of eating whatever and whenever I wanted. About three years ago, I started noticing some odd things going on…*digestively*.
My tell-tale signs: I was gassy (to the extreme), bloated, tired ALL the time, crabby, irritable, had (ahem) diarrhea, and I felt downright off. But what really struck me as a problem was the hiccups. I was getting hiccups 5-6 times a DAY, for no apparent reason. I became a pro at all of the hiccup-eliminating tricks (hang upside down, while drinking out of a cup water with a butter knife pressed against my nose). But I just knew that something was wrong with my normal bodily functions.
So, in true Type A fashion, I started Googling/Web-MD-ing my symptoms. I narrowed it down to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Celiac’s disease (which I had never heard of). I took all of my research to my university health center and asked for a test. My lovely RN obliged, but also wanted a stool sample (yuck). So I had a vial of blood taken and sent for testing, and skipped home with my paper bag filled with that intimidating plastic cup.
Well, after reading the instructions for the stool sample, I decided that I was far too delicate and lady-like to do anything of the sort. So, I sat around and waited for the test results to come through. Somehow, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t just a coincidence that every time I ate a Subway sandwich, it ended up in the toilet an hour later.
I got the call while I was in class, and anxiously checked my voicemail. It was confirmed. I had Celiac’s disease. The RN said something about gliadin A and B, but all that was going through my head was, “Alright, well now what?”
The RN had warned me that the only “cure” for Celiac’s was a lifelong gluten free diet. LIFELONG.
And so began my gluten free journey.
For about a week, I pretty much only ate fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t sure what had gluten, what didn’t, what might have it, or where on earth I could get gluten free food on a college campus. I was used to late night pizza, sandwiches, and bagels for breakfast. I knew how to eat healthy, I thought I knew a lot about nutrition, but I was clueless. Since I was also a vegetarian at the time (I’ve since added fish/shellfish to my diet), it was an extra challenge.
But over time, I slowly adapted my diet and found a way to live with this nagging disease. I found the few stores in Michigan that carried gluten free items, and read up on what to avoid in the supermarket.
I haven’t intentionally consumed gluten since my diagnosis, but I am still coming to terms with the fact I will never again eat gluten.
I can’t say that I’ve embraced my disease. I still complain internally nearly every day that I have to think so hard about everything I put into my body. Because, let’s face it, it’s not easy!
Gluten, in all of its varied forms, is delicious. It’s what makes bagels stick to the top of your mouth, it’s what makes croissants indent like pillows under your grip, and it’s what creates those adorable little butter jaccuzis on a cut English muffin.
That said, there are some aspects of living with Celiac’s disease that I actually love. I’ve become exceedingly conscious of what I’m eating, down to each and every ingredient. Therefore, I’m less likely to eat something with Red Dye #4. I also have been forced to seek out restaurants, stores, and foods that I would not have normally tried.
But mostly, a lot of the time, it’s kind of the pits.
There are probably a lot of people out there living with Celiac’s who are in this limbo land. Which is the purpose for this blog. Simplicity, humor, and realism.
I’m aiming for a tonal mix of Jennsylvania, Gluten Free Goddess, Gretchen Rubin, and a dash of Chelsea Handler under the topical umbrella of everything that is gluten-free. While I thoroughly enjoy reading the beautifully written Gluten Free Girl & Goddess, and have benefited from many of their recipes and reviews – they are to me what Martha Stewart is to Guy Fieri. I can’t seem to find the fun (or money) to buy 9 different kinds of gluten-free flour. My kitchen is about 4 ft by 10 ft. I don’t own ramikens, a rolling pin, or even a blender.
I plan on doing a bit of griping, a little cooking, a lot of eating out, and sharing the tips I’ve learned on incorporating Celiac’s into my life, not the other way around.