I have been wrestling with the idea of not ever being diagnosed for most of the nearly seven years that I have been gluten free. I have put it off, dreaded it, been unwilling to do so. But the last couple of years, and this past year especially, I have been in pain more than I have not. I am to the point that I cannot know if I am getting gluten accidentally through cross-contamination, or if something else is going on. So I went to my doctor early this week and talked to him about what is going on. He took several blood tests, including one to check for celiac, so he can see where I am starting, and I am challenging gluten. My first was a sandwich with wheat bread, which I had for lunch when I got back from his office. I was surprised (should I be?) to discover that it was awful. Too gummy. Too heavy. Too much to eat. It seemed like it just sat in my stomach all day. I didn’t eat dinner and still wasn’t hungry the next morning. My understanding is that I need to eat the equivalent of 2 slices of wheat bread a day for at least a month, and some doctors say 4 to 6 slices-worth is better, for the best chance of an accurate blood test. It will be tricky to eat that much, and I want to be sure to eat wheat, rye, and barley.
So far, I haven’t been in terrible pain, but there has been a constant nagging pain, nonetheless. I don’t know how this is going to go. Perhaps, if I am only intolerant, and not celiac, as I have thought, I have been off long enough that I can tolerate gluten now. Even if that is true, I would like to remain mostly gluten free, but I won’t have to worry about cross-contamination. Perhaps it will turn out that I do have celiac. I have suspected that, and I also believe that it is what plagued my father from his mid-fifties until his death. He was always in pain, always felt sick, didn’t want to eat, and never had any relief. The doctors tried everything, but nothing gave helped. He died before the gluten issue became well-known enough in this country to be considered.
One of the trickiest part of this challenge is to overcome my aversion to even touching gluten. That might seem extreme, and it no doubt is, but the pain that I have had over the years is behind that paranoia. I was pouring some glutenful cereal this morning and some missed the bowl. I cringed as I picked it up and then laughed at myself. Your going to eat this, silly girl.
One of the nice things about this challenge is I can revisit some foods that I have missed. I expect I won’t care for some of them anymore—taste buds, kindly, change over time—but that remains to be seen. There is one particular coffee shop in our town that makes amazing crepes (so I have been told, and my eyes believe it), and I will be having one of those before I get my results back.
What I am not doing is bringing glutendeath flour into my kitchen. If I do have celiac, I am not interested in completely wiping down every surface of my kitchen and dining room again. Flour. goes. everywhere. But my husband has taken to mixing things outside and cooking them in gluten-tainted pans, so we will be doing that.
*Note to friends: I am posting this to hopefully keep you from freaking out if you see me eat gluten over the next few weeks. Thanks for the use of the photo, Vicki. :)