i am not a celiac. nope.
i apologize if you've found your way to this blog hoping to learn from the wise words of the diagnosed. i have not officially been diagnosed. and while you may not find any wise words here either, i do share something in common with the person that would find this blog and stick around long enough to read this far. i am a very intolerant person. perhaps intolerable? i guess that's for others to decide. but one thing is for sure and it's that my body does not appreciate or welcome the myriad of grains and additives that most celiacs must avoid. perhaps i discovered my affliction before it had a chance to develop into something more. perhaps this is what i've got and it's all it will be. while so many things seem up in the air, these are a few things i am sure of:
1. i was a colicky baby;
2. i have lost many a grandparent and great-grandparent from digestive cancers that may very well have been a result of this life-long intolerance;
3. i suffered from chronic, daily, dulling headaches which started once i hit my teens;
4. i became lactose intolerant;
5. i would take 2 bites of something and not be able to eat for the rest of the day and became allergic to anything within view; and
6. my doctor couldn't do anything about it except send me a condescending GI specialist who kept asking me if my issues were caused by boys.
boys?! can boy troubles make you lactose intolerant? sure, maybe a loss of appetite and lack of sleep could be related to the relationship woes. but what about this rash on my swollen lips from eating that apple? did the opposite sex cast a spell on me and cause that too? c'mon buddy. there's something else going on here. see ya.
i hated my parents and loved them all at the same time when they moved the family to london, england, away from our nice home with our nice yard with the great big climbing rock in good ol' new jersey. okay, so for most that's a major upgrade. and at the time (the summer after my senior year in high school) it seemed like a great adventure that i wanted no part of because that was supposed to be the last few warm months for backyard parties and beach (shore) bonfires before leaving my very best friends forever and heading off to college. i fought to stay and i lost. i packed. i cried. i got rashes from fruit. i moved.
scene opens with my mother and me in the health section of a bookstore in london. enter dr. (professor) brostoff's book about food allergies and intolerances. the elimination diet. and my mother's happy surprise that this brostoff guy worked in london. oh joy of joys. another doctor.
she read the book. then i read the book. i cut out every last food that caused a reaction, might have caused a reaction, and just looked at the me wrong way. i kept a food journal and i cut out wheat. those next 2 weeks were full of withdrawal and sweaty sleepless nights, cravings and wretched mood swings that i'm sure made me wretched to deal with. but there was a calm after the storm, and those headaches that hovered like a rain cloud were gone. my head was lighter on my shoulders and i could think without getting tied up in knots. that heaviness and fatigue began to dissipate.
this is when i saw dr. brostoff. i got the chance to tell the man in person that his book had changed my life. but, at this point i was still suffering from other random food allergies and he treated me for those with kinesthetic tests and saline/allergen drops under the tongue that i gave to myself every day. (the kinesthetic test for these allergies was awesome and crazy and i can go into that at another time.)
as the months went on i could eat and be hungry for the next meal. for a year i rotated potentially and previously offended fruits and veggies and after time those annoying rashes left and never came back. after 6 months i put my lactade in the cupboard and left it there for good. this new diet was magic.
the reason i say that i am not a celiac is because i have had blood tests that show that i react to gluten but not to the severity that a celiac would. so, i have to be strict with my diet but i can bake "normal" cookies for friends and not react to having wheat flour in the apartment and not be too concerned about cross-contamination with flour dust getting into the air. i'm lucky. i know this. but i also work hard to keep myself healthy.
this whole experience has changed my outlook on the world. finding what i can eat influenced my life in profound ways, and i truly believe that we can heal all sorts of problems by figuring out this magical mix of foods that work. my whole view has changed and i've never been happier, and i've never been healthier. well...
one thing that i love and hate to do is go out to dinner. i love a friday night out at a new restaurant with my boyfriend just sipping some nicely chilled wine and eating something delicious. i hate a friday night trying to find something off the menu to order, afraid to tell the waitor that i have an "allergy" because of all the hullaballoo that results as the chef leaves the kitchen to talk to me in fear that i'll collapse on the dining room floor and then find myself legal representation. i find it absolutely awkward to be treated like i'm different and then have a scene made about the ordeal. i just want to order a salad and a meal and enjoy some good conversation. ever try to use one of those "my food allergy explained" cards that you hand to the person taking your order? they look at you like you've just announced that you're a carnivore and would like to order that woman's child that is seated behind you. mmm.
so, this brings me to chicago. i got here in october and while i haven't had much chance to really check out the dining world that this city has to offer, i plan on making my rounds. and i plan on using this blog to write about any of the "chosen" spots that offer a GF menu or are especially and easily accommodating. if you've found your way to this blog and have some places you've already discovered, share them! the more choices we have the more fabulous meals we'll all be able to enjoy.
so that's it for now.