Taking the T3s to help with pain and the Gravol to help with the nausea from the T3s and the coffee to try to stay awake on the Gravol to make it through the day.
I know I’ve talked before about how tough dating can be when you have chronic illness, as well as strict dietary restrictions such as being gluten free. This is true, and it’s exceedingly difficult to explain to people the importance of the diet and the nature of the consequences if it isn’t followed to a T. Having said this, I struggled through the dating scene for a while, meeting various guys that I either just plain didn’t like, as well as guys that seemed decent, until the Celiac conversation came up that is.
The thing about this disease that eventually helped me find the man I know I’m meant to have a future with (who can say how long, I’m not psychic after all) is that it showed me who was really IN this with me. I met a guy on a popular dating app and we went on a date (at a restaurant of my choosing so I knew the food would be safe of course). Now, we talked and hit it off and I believe my CD came up on this very first night. He seemed confused, like most guys I’d tried to explain it to, but also appeared open to my needs as well as respectful which was a huge thing for me! As the weeks went on, all the restaurants we frequented he made sure to check that they had gf options before we ate there. Then, when it came time for me to meet his family, he had shopped and read up and prepared me a gluten free, celiac safe meal! Those of you with celiac disease and experience cooking gluten free will appreciate how impressive this really was- I certainly did!
As the months went on, I would occasionally become glutened accidentally from restaurants that claimed to be gluten free etc (you know the deal) and this was when I worried.. Of course the symptoms aren’t always pretty and definitely not fun, but what did he do? He spent lazy days and even lazier nights in with me while I was too sick to go out. He did laps to and from the microwave, heating and reheating my hot bag, gave back rubs and dispensed pain meds at various intervals… sound chivalrous yet? Well wait for this, he held my hair back while I threw up in the sink….multiple times. Winning moment for me? Far from it. Winning moment for him? Yes, because he truly did win my heart no matter how cliche that might sound.
I guess the moral of this story is that my illness helped me see early on that he truly does care, that he has a protective and comforting side and that he really will go to lengths to make sure I’m healthy, safe and happy. He may not understand the extent of my pain, but he’s learning, trying to prevent it and there for me when it can’t be prevented. With a life long illness, we look for qualities like this in people we want to be with, because the illness will always be a part of the relationship, whether we like it or not. Having someone who can deal with it while helping me deal with it is huge and something I think can be rare and know for a fact, is hard to find.
He cooks me gluten free meals daily and checks the menus of places we go to eat. He comforts me when I’m sick and relishes in the rare days I’m actually feeling good. He’s stuck by me through this, and I have a pretty good feeling that he’ll stick by me through whatever has yet to come. And this, is how I think that my Celiac Disease has somehow helped me find my one.
Yes, I know that rhymed, but it seemed kind of fitting, right? No? Oh well, I tried.
Common knowledge says that you can usually tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse, however if someone were to successfully empty all pockets, baggies and hidden compartments of my purse, they would think I was a pharmacist running some sketchy side business. As a woman with various medical conditions- Celiac Disease, Asthma and Hypermobility syndrome (to name a few), when I am actually able to leave the house, I do so with literally everything I might need.
Unluckily for me, the other day while unloading all my stuff from my car, coffee, keys, bags and sunglasses in hand, I dropped my purse, spilling its contents out all on the driveway. I’m sure the neighbors didn’t appreciate the language that came with this hassle as I dove to collect the pill bottles that were now rolling towards the street. This moment was when it really hit me- how much I rely on meds to get me through my daily life, and how terrible the contents of my purse must look to passersby who know nothing of my conditions and daily pain levels. We’ve all seen those television shows where the housewife pops 2 Adavan while sighing as the kids rush in after school… thoughts? “What a pill popper!” well folks, some of us have to be and trust me, it isn’t fun. Between the asthma inhalers, NSAIDS, antihistamines and various other prescriptions, my purse holds my life and health inside. Oh, and I forgot to mention my trusty TENS machine that I use when the other pills don’t seem to help with the pain.
My life, whether it’s work or play, requires constant monitoring and preparation to make sure that I always have what I need on hand. It’s hard enough holding down a job and social life with chronic illness, could you imagine forgetting the purse that holds all of your medications at home? I don’t have to imagine because I’ve done it, and trust me my friend, it’s terrible. So yes, my purse resembles a mini pharmacy and yes, there’s definitely more pills than cash or makeup in there, but that’s the life of a spoonie. My purse, my pharmacy and the way I keep my life on track.
Ever spent $60 on a bowl of pasta? No? Must not have been gluten free then…
It was time to accept that her life would never be the same, and everyone who got close would be impacted by her health
I think sometimes people are just too hard on themselves. Why is the world so stressed these days? Because we schedule too closely, eat too quickly, text too often, and as a result, stress ourselves to oblivion. Does this make any logical sense whatsoever? No. Do we continue this sickening pattern every single day regardless? Yes.
It really makes you think. For me, I think about it a lot and it ironically makes me more stressed but that is probably because I don’t do it properly. I try to ignore my phone, but am always waiting for a call. I try to slow down, but then guilt myself about doing “nothing”. In the end what does this really get me? I think in the end I will have developed an ulcer and become a total wreck that struggles to even leave bed because I’m so crippled by stress. If you think about it this way, you’re making yourself stressed about doing nothing or more accurately “taking it easy” (well-deserved of course) to then an inevitable future demise where you will then be unable to do anything but “take it easy”. Then where will that leave you? The answer is even more stressed because you won’t have any choice but to feel guilty about not taking it easier sooner and now being forced to take it easy when you should be busy liking your work (or trying anyway), loving family life (hopefully you don’t have to try hard for this one) and being so hypnotically caught up in this wonderful thing called life that you have no time left at all for stress.
I know it’s all easier said than done. Obviously…As I’m currently sitting here beside a pile of readings that haven’t been done, feeling guilty that instead of tending to them I’m here on my computer writing, but writing is my passion, it’s what I love to do and I have to learn to feel less guilty for allowing myself that time. Do I feel guilty that I have all this work piling up as we speak? Yes. Do I know I’ll have trouble getting to sleep tonight because of worrying about having enough time tomorrow? Duh. But do I believe that that will be my reality forever? Not at all. Or at least, I really hope not. Thing is, we’re all pretty deep into the technology now and it feels like there’s no going back at this point. Since you’re reading this blog I’m going to assume that we’re all fairly tech-savvy or maybe a better term would be tech-somewhat-capable people and most of us turn to our devices for just about everything. You do realize that there’s this thing called the library that has real books about Celiac Disease and all that jazz, right? Just kidding, those books are dirty and other people have touched them and us blog-appreciating people don’t need none of those germs now do we? Too cool for school over here! But seriously, we all just need to put thought into what we’re doing and how we do it. I won’t use the term “mindful” because I know that is frowned upon in the world-wide community (more or less of course) but we really do need to be thoughtful (is that a better word?) of how we plan our days and what they really consist of. Let me ask you this: When you’re lying on your death bed however many years from now, will you wish you had spent more time at the office or at lunch with that friend that you pretty much hate but go out with because she’s “really not that bad” or you’re “not really in a position to be losing any friends at the moment” you “really don’t need the drama”? Chances are you’re going to regret not spending enough time with the people who truly enrich your life and who made you feel at peace under all the stress. You may even miss your alone time. True extroverts probably won’t understand that one but for people who enjoy the solitary way of life, I got you.
Moral of the story is that there is so much hope, even under all the stress, we just need to allow ourselves the time to find it. We need time to accept that we can’t do everything at once (we shouldn’t have to by the way!) and that life is about so much more than scheduling. Our health is depending on it and our bodies need us to listen and understand that.
How is this related to Celiac Disease, you ask? Truth is, it relates quite strongly actually. Yes, I may have gotten carried away with analogies but hey, you’re still reading to this point right? Caught ya. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder and although everyone can experience their symptoms differently, many people (myself included) find fatigue to be a huge problem. On top of my busy days and the stress, I feel even more stressed because I’m so fatigued and take even more time completing tasks than most people. Thing is, I know that I don’t HAVE to feel this way but I am ALLOWING myself to feel this way. People who suffer from fatigue, pain, whatever lovely symptoms you may have from celiac disease (or any illness for that matter) need to put less pressure on themselves. We all need to remember that yes it may sound cliché but, we ARE only human. Sorry to tell you folks, but it’s true. We aren’t some crazy robots designed to work 3000 hours a day. If you’re anything like me you have trouble accepting that and yes, you have to be tough to have an illness like Celiac Disease, but let’s settle for tough shall we? No need for “robotic” to become a desirable personality trait now.
I know they say practice what you preach and yes, I try. No, I’m not perfect or even remotely good at it yet but I figure that at least understanding the theory of it is a good start right? Who knows, I mean, you wouldn’t want your doctors or engineers to have that kind of philosophy but I admit to being a work in progress. A hard working person with celiac disease that forces me to work just that much harder. So from now on I will attempt to master not only the theory, but the method as well. Maybe someday I will be one of those zen people for whom nothing phases them and they just walk around like cool cucumbers all chill and shit. Wishful thinking, that will never be me, but I can only try my best. I hope some of you will try it with me. Remember, Celiac disease can be hard on our bodies and minds, we don’t need stress added to the equation only making it that much harder.
Living with Celiac disease can be tricky, especially when you share living spaces with others who don’t have to eat gluten-free…especially the kitchen. The following is a list of ways that you can avoid contamination when sharing the kitchen with fellow gluten-lovers. Yes, some of these may seem obvious, but there’s surprisingly lots of people who don’t bother and then can’t figure out why their symptoms are so persistent.
- Toast Temptation– Maybe this one has occurred to you but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother with it. If you’re sharing a toaster to toast your gluten free bread, bagels and other goodies…..don’t. You’re already making the effort to prepare your own food at home so don’t be set back by all the crumbs of gluten lurking in the bottom. Just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. (That may be a good motto for other situations but not here) Ditch that toast you just made and head to the nearest department store to pick yourself up a shiny new toaster. Yes, I AM giving you permission to spend money in a department store (maybe I’m the only one who loves department stores though…awkward)
- Better Butter– You use the knife to rub butter on your bread and then go back for more so why wouldn’t somebody else? I have become the butter ninja in my house… impressive, I know. Always call first dibs and scoop yourself some butter to be kept in an air-tight container just for you throughout the week. Hint: I always take way too much but since going gluten-free I eat way less bread than before so take only a little at first to avoid it going bad before consumption. You could always buy your own butter stick of course but we can’t ALL be that fancy…big spender.
- Fixing Fixings– Okay, same with the butter people. Just because we might not see crumbs, we all live with at least one shameless double-dipper. You have a few options. Either be the first to all of your favourite condiments and scoop into separate containers for future use, or buy separate condiments all together. DON’T FORGET TO LABEL. My cupboards scream “possession issues” with everything labeled “GF-keep out” but it’s a matter of health here and I can’t be worried that someone’s been dipping in my jam jar. Another option is picking up lids (from any grocery store or Walmart) and attach them to all your shared condiments, so that you can squirt them (jams, peanut butter, mayonnaise) instead of spreading it!
- Oven Lovin’– One product that I am constantly running out of since beginning life gluten-free is foil. Ahh, magical life-saving foil. Place whatever you’re cooking on a piece of foil and there you go (I like to fold mine so it’s stronger and doesn’t tear). This is great for heating up pizza, bruschetta or anything that you don’t want to put on a tray. I also find that trays are really hard to clean and thus, more likely to have remaining gluten, even after a wash. Save yourself and just use foil, or at least line your trays with foil just in case.
- Dishes for Days– This one is a tricky one because unfortunately, we can’t see tiny gluten particles but that doesn’t make them too small to make us sick. When washing dishes, make sure you’re using hot water and a rough cloth for scrubbing. I’m lazy so I usually just use the dishwasher, best. invention. EVER. But remember that it’s best to keep a separate wash cloth for your dishes to avoid scrubbing gluten particles onto the plates you will be eating on.
- Storing Safely– I may be repeating myself but this is probably the tip I use the most. Clear yourself a shelf in your kitchen designated to gluten-free foods, and ONLY these foods. I’m talking crackers, brownies, pancake mix, and any other goodies you’ve gotten your hands on. This keeps them out of sight therefore less temptation for others who don’t actually need to eat it. Am I the only one or is everyone always saying they feel bad that you’re gluten-free and then end up stealing your food to eat? I keep it tucked away to avoid being mixed up with other foods or contaminated and on top of that I LABEL it. Write “Gluten-free” on everything, even shared items like mustard to ensure that others remember to keep it as contamination-free as possible.
“After I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I said yes to food, with great enthusiasm. . . . I vowed to taste everything I could eat, rather than focusing on what I could not”.
– Shauna James Ahern
Dating can be tricky at the best of times, trying to impress the other person while not seeming too eager to impress but also not so nonchalant that you seem uninterested. Hey, it’s a hard life as a single person these days, but there’s just some things that I’ve noticed (and hated) when being out with someone since my Celiac diagnosis.
- Never and I mean NEVER skip dinner because I “can’t eat anything”
If you decided to ask me out thinking that I’d be a cheap date from lack of meal purchasing then I am terribly sorry to disappoint. I do hope you realize that as a fully functioning human being capable of putting up with your uncomfortable first date awkwardness, I do, in fact, need occasional nourishment. No, I won’t be the best company at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, but this amazing tool called Google can most likely point you in the right direction of somewhere that has food I will be able to eat. Oh and by the way, saying you’ll drop me off “before dinner time” wouldn’t be on the top of my list of most romantic gestures.
2. No, being around people eating gluten doesn’t make me sad
So, I’ve finally convinced you that dinner out is a good idea because I do, contrary to popular belief, require food. Please do not try to order what I’m having just because it’s gluten free…. I BEG YOU. Just because you’re eating a meal that contains gluten doesn’t mean I’m sitting there staring longingly at your plate. If only I could eat that bread stick like everybody else and feel like I’m dying for the next 2 weeks! Please just order your meal and let me enjoy mine, we are there for each other’s company after all, right? I guess unless you really were here for a cheap date… sorry buddy.
3. Don’t say you can’t kiss me because you ate gluten and then do it anyway.
Yes, it’s awfully sweet of you for seeming so considerate of my health by saying you don’t want to get me sick from contamination but then you go ahead and do it anyway…Really? Because now I’m just thinking you’re an asshole. Of course I’m not going to let you go the rest of the night without kissing me but do you really HAVE to say it out loud? At least if you shut up about it I can pretend it didn’t occur to you and you can pretend you’re not making me sick to my stomach for what will feel like an eternity and we can go on our merry way. Think of it as a “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” kind of arrangement.
Anyone have any others? I’d love to hear all the strange/crazy and of course wonderful things that you may have encountered on a date, these are just some of the ones that come to mind.