Try not to get too excited.
But it is Celiac’s Awareness Month.
Which, mostly, for me, means ALDI fills up with gluten-free deliciousness and I stock up. Although the stock only lasts me four months or so. And then I have to wait for May to roll back around again.
This year, ALDI has a gluten-free cheesecake sampler box.
The words you are looking for are SWIMSUIT READY.
In 2010, I gave birth to our much-prayed-for miracle baby girl. We delighted in her. Every single day with her was a gift. My pregnancy had been mostly uneventful. The only odd thing were my frequent weak spells. Especially during the first and third trimester. A general weakness would hit me out of nowhere. Many days, I would lie down on the couch in my boss’ office to try and regain my footing. During our maternity photo session, we had to leave quickly to avoid passing out in the middle of the street.
Pumpkin was tiny when she was born. Even though she was completely full-term, 40 weeks on the dot, she still came in a smidge under six pounds. Her blood sugar levels were dangerously low too. Two points away from heading to the pediatric ICU. We ended up staying in the hospital with her an extra day while the nurses and doctors fed her formula to help. Thankfully, the formula worked and we were able to take a healthy, although small, baby girl home.
After she was born, something about my body was off. I spent more nights than not in agonizing stomach pain. I changed my diet and did my best to figure out how to cope. By the time our daughter was six months old, I was down to eating roasted chicken, rice, and Slim Fast bars.
In October, my daughter gave us a stomach virus she picked up at school. Good times. My daughter and husband recovered within a relatively short amount of time.
I did not.
Once I got the stomach bug, I had the stomach bug. I got down to 116 pounds. And while that might seem amazing, I was sick. Hollow, even. I felt like I was melting away.
My doctor sent me to a gastroenterologist. Sweet, gentle, man, took him about five minutes to diagnose me with Celiac’s Disease. A blood test followed by a biopsy of my small intestine confirmed the diagnosis.
I have now lived gluten-free for almost seven years. Mostly, it’s easy.
And not because I buy just a ton of gluten-free products. Cheesecake sampler box besides.
It’s easy because the people in my life have made it easy.
When I got the call from the doctor’s office with the blood test results, I called my husband right away. “Well, looks like I’ve got Celiac’s.” He said, “It’s fine. We got this.”
And for those first few months of learning and exploring and figuring this whole thing out, my husband led the way. He researched foods and restaurants and apps and books to help. He became my champion while I was simultaneously mourning buttermilk biscuits and celebrating evenings without pain.
My parents bought me recipe books and searched for blogs to read. My friends let me pick the restaurant and bring my own food to get-togethers.
My people rallied.
After my diagnosis, my weakness during pregnancy, my daughter’s low birth weight, and her low blood sugar made absolute sense. My body was really trying to feed two people. But my undiagnosed Celiac’s prevented my body from absorbing nutrients from food. We were just hanging on.
I had been incorrectly diagnosed with IBS in college. So there were some issues we were aware of but for the most part, I had figured out how to manage what I thought was IBS. However, plenty of Celiac’s patients are undiagnosed because they can be asymptomatic. Their body will start having symptoms following a physical trauma. Like surgery or an illness or pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy is physically traumatic.
And then some people are undiagnosed because they assume their symptoms are not that big of a deal. Like unexplained weak spells. We just deal with it and move on.
But the change has begun and people are beginning to see symptoms and sensitivities differently.
Special diets have become common place now. Friends came over for Easter lunch this year. One needed low-sugar, low-carb for his diabetes and one has a peanut allergy. We only had eight people, y’all. Gluten-free, low-sugar, low-carb, peanut-free.
We live in a world slowly waking up to this idea of food as medicine.
The treatment of my auto-immune disease is incredibly simple. I just don’t eat gluten. No pills, no shots, no creams, not even doctors. My medicine is what I eat. Or, rather, what I don’t eat.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Both to have a supportive tribe and to be able to change their diet only to end their suffering.
If you have someone in your life with dietary needs (or restrictions), be a part of their cure. The internet is full of useful information. As is your local library and Barnes and Noble.
Be the person who says, We got this.
(By the way, that raspberry cheesecake was FAB.U.LOUS.)