Today is the 3 year anniversary of my first accidental glutening. Weird thing to commemorate, but it was a turning and learning point for me. I was diagnosed on November 2nd 2010 which is also my best friends birthday. "Happy Birthday and btw I have Celiac disease." My doctor wasn't the most in depth with his diagnosis either; he told me to go to Trader Joe's and talk to them, they could help me figure out what I can and cannot eat. When I got home from work (Yes I made this learning discovery while at work) my dad had found two things to show me life would be ok, chicken nuggets and frozen mac and cheese. Life would go on, there is gluten free mac and cheese!!! We had a learning curve with the gluten free chicken nuggets, they were more like little gluten rocks when they came out of the microwave. Whoops! That night we went to Trader Joe's stared at them blankly and kept going, "Do they sell this in normal stores? How do I spell this disease? Is this like a disease you catch?" I was clueless what Celiac disease was. I remember I had some of the worst bread EVER.
As Friday came my father mentioned Don's Doc had a great stuffed Salmon that was amazing, and since I detest salmon he thought this would be a good way to make me like it. I was still living off what we got at Trader Joe's 3 days earlier, my plan for the night was to plop myself down at Border's books (yes back in the day of Borders Books) and read and figure out what the heck this Celiac disease was.
He called me at work and said that though the girl he talked to assured him that the salmon did not have bread crumbs when he got the meal home it did have bread crumbs... What to do, should he scrap them off? Should he call and see if they could make me a new meal? Not knowing better and not wanting to make a whole extra production out of it, I said to scrap the crumbs off, what harm could be done once they were removed. So Wrong! I got home from work late and my family had gone out for the night, I warmed my meal and sat down to eat. Within the first several bite I knew something was wrong. I had cramps and pain and my stomach felt like it was being ripped out. I noted to myself, can't remove bread crumbs, well crap.
I forced my self to go to Borders and try and pick out a book or two to bring home so I could learn something. I found the best descriptive book yet - Celiac Disease for Dummies. I always liked the "Dummy" books in college, why stop now! I sat down with several books in a nice corner chair curled up in stomach kicking pain wanting to die trying to read. I learned very little that night, but I got my 1 book and wrote down titles of other ones that sounded interesting. Turned out it made a great Christmas wish list for my family and friends. I'm not sure I ever received so many books for Christmas ever before.
I started to learn little by little. I spent several days going to the grocery store flipping cans to read labels, flipping bottles of salad dressing, yogurt containers, cheese labels, trying to find gluten free beer, who knew they made such a thing. It was definitely a learning experience. But that one accidental glutening is what really turned it around for me. I felt the different I felt what it was like to not be in pain, and have that pain brought back. There was no cheating. There was no sneaking gluten, it wasn't worth it.
About 2 weeks after that point I sat at my desk at work blinded by the sunlight outside. Having a throbbing headache from the sound of myself typing... I felt like my head was in a vice. I'd never had such a bad headache before in my life. I finally whispered to my boss, because talking at a normal level felt like someone was shouting in my ear; that I had to go home. I was experiencing a migraine I'd never had before. I was told later it was a detox effect on my body. I was finally clear of the gluten and my body was reacting. I was glad, from that point forward, only minor gluten contamination issues have been in my body.
When people say Celiac disease is hard to handle, it is, its socially ostracizing at times. It takes patience and learning, and really understanding people to help you adjust. You have to be open to learn and change your lifestyle. But really, when taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. It's not a disease you can spread, it's not a disease that require expensive treatments and expensive medication. The doctor isn't putting a time on how long you will live after being diagnosed, and you don't have to have extensive surgeries. You just have to manage your health and watch what you eat. I know it's hard at times. don't get me wrong, I cry some days still when it's hard, but I think of friends who have lost loved ones to Cancer, who have Cystic Fibrosis, Kidney problems, Liver disease, Tumors, or MS. This is something we can control on our own.