May 29, 2015

Celiac Disease, Life Adjustments, and Baby Bird Offerings

A few months ago I landed in the emergency room as a result of some reflux or gurd issues.  Unpleasant.  The doctor suggested that I schedule an endoscopy in order to investigate.  We suspected that the procedure would show that I had a condition that my brother has called EOE.  No big deal.  Prilosec a day.  Problem solved.  I was still groggy when the doctor sat on the edge of my bed and explained that he discovered that I had celiac disease. Everything felt fuzzy.  Could I have misunderstood?  After he left, I flipped through the paperwork he provided with my floppy, sleepy hands.  I squinted and tried to focus.  Turns out I was in no condition to grasp the impact of the disease let alone disprove the doctor's findings. 

I knew that celic meant no gluten.  Silly ass celiac.  It's only been a week since my diagnosis, but I have learned so much.  Most importantly . . .  I've discovered that I love gluten.  I feel like having t-shirts made.  'Nothing beats wheat!' 'Eat wheat - I would if I could!'  Also, gluten, as fate would have it, is in everything.  Or at least anything that matters.  Cake, cookies, bread, cereal.  Food for sweetening life, celebrating special occasions, or sharing with friends.  Food with taste. 

Lifestyle adjustments include refraining from popping a bite of dinner into my mouth as I prepare forbidden plates of pasta for the kids.  A true challenge when serving dinner hungry.  I anticipate other inconveniences as my new eating habits take shape.  Oodles of time dedicated to visiting specialized grocery stores is hard to fathom when spare minutes are tough to come by in our busy life.  Our dinner hour typically involves lots of running in different directions, so I can't imagine how I will prepare main stream meals for the family while I dream up restricted variations from my personal gluten free menu. 

Life has been too busy to update my routine to incorporate these changes this week.  As a result I've been dealing with hunger.  Regularly.  Being hungry alters my typically delightful disposition.  Apparently depression, mood swings, and anxiety are a few of the symptoms of celiac disease.  I admit to being in a fairly bad mood for 10 years, but I always attributed my ill temper to being an outnumbered mother whose husband works long hours.  Ironically, my grumpy state is expected to improve now that gluten has been removed from my diet.  I have my doubts.  It seems more likely that my mood will plummet along with my blood sugar.  Seriously, deny me of dessert and expect my mood to improve?  I've heard that there are alternatives and delicious bakeries dedicated solely to the gluten free dessert market.  The samples I've encountered thus far have reminded me of the plastic foods restaurants use to imitate the real thing on their dessert cart displays. Thankfully, I can still handle dairy, so I've coped with dry GF cake by burying it in ice cream (not a cookies and cream variety, of course).

Unfortunately, I am not blessed with will power when it comes to yummy food.  Munching between meals and snacking on cookies or cereal from time to time ultimately led to my dedication to working out.  I love eating.  I don't love working out, but I ramped up my exercise routine a few years ago so that I could enjoy all food freely.  PCD (pre-celiac-disease) I poured myself a bowl of my favorite cereal whenever I needed a healthy snack between meals or after dinner.  I found crunching a tasty bowl of Quaker Oat Squares limited my temptation to finish off a half eaten package of cookies. Because my quick go-to replacement for Oat Squares has yet to be discovered, when hunger hits I can frequently be found wandering the kitchen aimlessly.  I try to avoid eye contact with my treasured Oat Squares box.  Knowing my addiction to my favorite cereal, Fozzy offered me these unique yet comforting words, 'Don't worry Friend, if you are on your death bed I will baby bird you.'  I knew instantly what she meant.  And to think, I worried my sense of humor had died along with my gluten eating days?  Fozzy has basically vowed to regurgitate Oat Squares for me if I am unable to chew my own food.  So if someday my gluten free condition is secondary to a different issue that threatens my life, Fozzy has assured me that she will rush in and provide me with a final taste of my delicious Oat Squares.  Another t-shirt popped to mind.  An image of two birds.  'My friend would baby bird me, would yours?'

Gluten free food products are much more common now than they were years ago.  My friend, who was diagnosed with celiac disease 20 years ago, assures me things are easier now than they were back in the day.  Recently there have been new products developed and entire grocery stores dedicated to gluten free diets.  While I am grateful for the introduction of new gluten free food options, I assume the increase in gluten free is directly related to the increase in people choosing to avoid wheat, barley, and rye. There are multitudes of people who now choose to eat gluten free.  Key word here:  choose.  I don't get it.  When I hear people remark that they choose to eat gluten free because it makes them feel better, I inform them that eating an entire fluffy, beautifully frosted sheet cake would make me feel better.  But without a medical diagnosis, I wouldn't choose to limit my diet to gluten free food.  I would choose to eat.  Anything. 

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