The past two weeks have been extremely hard for me. I’ve been really wanting to talk about them while simultaneously wanting to crawl in a hole and hide.
I found out that I have Celiac Disease. If you’re like a lot of people, you may be asking, “What’s that?” For a great, thorough definition of it, click here. The short definition is, my body can’t process gluten correctly and when I eat it, it’s damaging my small intestine.
I’ve known something was wrong for quite some time. I went and saw a new gastroenterologist last July and he did bloodwork that pointed towards Celiac. He ordered a colonoscopy and endoscopy but due to insurance issues and a multitude of crazy one-offs, we had to reschedule the procedures multiple times. I finally had them two weeks ago and it confirmed that I did, indeed, have Celiac Disease.
Since then, I’ve been feeling a multitude of emotions: anger, sadness, and disbelief mixed with a little bit of relief to have an answer for the pain and discomfort that I’ve been feeling for so long now.
But the anger and sadness has been a little overwhelming. We already have to read so many labels. We already have to avoid so many foods. My daughter, Asa’s allergies mean that we already have to avoid peanut, milk, egg, and multiple tree nuts. Adding gluten to this long list just seems overwhelming. So many recipes that we have perfected now have to be changed all over again.
I’m angry at the additional cost this will add to our grocery bill. For example, gluten free bagels come with 2 less bagels in the package and cost literally $3.00 more… It’s insane! Our bill is already so high from the dairy-free milks and creamers, egg-less noodles, and special almond butter we have to order to make sure it’s not cross-contaminated. Now it’s going to go up even higher? Why is this happening to us?
Then there’s the sadness over the foods I will miss. It may sound trivial, but let’s be real… food is a part of our culture. We base so much of our life around food. I was joking that I don’t even feel like a true St. Louisian anymore because I can’t have Imo’s pizza, toasted ravioli, or gooey butter cake anymore. Who even am I? Not to mention that I can’t even drown my sorrows in my normal comfort foods because they are no longer things I can eat! It’s just depressing.
I am well aware of all of the amazing foods that exist that are gluten free now and I’ve already tried a lot of them! I am working my way through the stages of grief and will get to acceptance. I know that there are worse things in life than having Celiac Disease. But I also know that right now I need to feel my feelings, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to do so.
Changing your food habits is HARD. All of you in the food allergies community know this first hand. Altering recipes, finding new brands, researching companies online, looking up restaurant menus ahead of time, checking labels in the grocery store… all of it can be extremely stressful. But just know what there are others out here fighting the same fight with you. This community has been wonderful for me. And you’ve helped me navigate through my daughter’s allergies for 3 years. Now I hope you’ll help me navigate through my own food journey too!