Part 1: My story
I happen to have Celiac disease. I’m just a girl, living in a gluten free world.
Who are you? I’m assuming you just found out you can’t eat gluten either…
Terror may be your first emotional response; I know that it was mine. How will I possibly go on without bread and cupcakes? I am (or was) a self-proclaimed “Carboholic”. My mom called me the “Carbo Queen.” If I can survive in a gluten free world, trust me, you can too.
Here is my story along with some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to survive this weird new life.
For about 4 years I had stomach problems. And when I say problems, I mean my daily life was majorly affected. I apologize for any TMI, but if you’re allergic to gluten, I’m sure you have all been there.
I was having diarrhea 1-2 times a week. And this wasn’t just the standard “I gotta go, okay I’ll go, okay I’m all better now,” kind of diarrhea. It was an extremely painful, multiple trips to the bathroom, hot sweats, vision going black, kind of diarrhea. Highly embarrassing when you have to pretend to “have to pee” an abnormal amount to explain your frequent bathroom trips.
And not only diarrhea, but stomach cramps. All the time. These frequent episodes led me to having anxiety related to leaving the house. Anytime a vacation was coming up, a day to the beach was planned, heck, even dinner with friends; I was terrified it would happen again and I would ultimately end up making myself feel sick. It really impacted my life in a negative way.
After about a year of this, I went to the doctor. I got diagnosed with what so many of us Celiacs are misdiagnosed with: IBS. I was told I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and was prescribed medication to take 3 times a day. I was on this medication for 3 years. 3 YEARS! Yes, it helped, but by no means was it gone.
Around the 4th year of problems I was fed up. I was still having issues and they were getting worse again. I asked my doctor for help. She threw out at me, “I think you have Celiac disease, get some lab work done.” My thought process: 1. Absolutely not, I would die if I had Celiac. 2. Why are you just testing me for this NOW?
So I went in and got lab work done. Results are in: I have Celiac disease. #Mindblown. A mix of emotions rushed through me, terror to start. All I’ve ever known is carbs. Did I mention I worked at a cupcake shop for 3 years during these problems? I LOVE cupcakes and all things pastry. My true passion is baking and sugar. My dream is to own a bakery.
How will I ever adjust to this? Another emotion was anger. I lived with this pain for this long and it all could have been determined by a simple test? Then came acceptance and that was that; I had Celiac Disease.
Right around the time I started having problems I met a girl who was allergic to gluten. I didn’t even know what that meant, and then when I learned, I thought it was terrible. Turns out though, I am too, and as terrible as it appears I promise you that you will survive.
It just takes some adjustments, some commitment and some eagerness to be healthy. Once I cut out gluten my life changed drastically. And I mean drastically. You never realize how sick you are until you know what healthy feels like again.
Do I never ever have stomach aches? No, of course not. Normal people get stomach aches and there’s always the chance of accidental gluten consumption. But I am so much healthier now that cutting out gluten was the best decision I ever made, despite having to give up most of my favorites things (or find awesome substitutes.)
Oh, and I also don’t eat red meat. Except bacon. I have an exception for bacon. I mean, c’mon people, it’s bacon! Although, I am trying to re-introduce red meat back in my diet. I’m also sensitive to dairy. So if you think your diet is now restricted, try throwing in no red meat/sort of lactose intolerant to the mix. I’ve adjusted, you can too.
Also, a disclaimer about me: I have Celiac disease but thankfully, I’m not quite as severe as some people. I occasionally have an issue with cross contamination, but luckily for the most part, I am able to eat in restaurants that do produce gluten containing products (as long as none of it gets into my food).
So anyways, like I’ve already said, you can do it. You really, really can. And it won’t be as bad as you foresee it. Read part 2 to learn how best to survive your new-found disease.
What’s your story? I’d love to hear it.