Posted in Celiac "Fun" Facts, Newly-Diagnosed

3 Years and Counting…

Today marks the anniversary of one of the longest-running relationships I have to my name: Katie and Celiac. Yes, on this date back in 2011, I watched hours of Gilmore Girls in a waiting room with the Saint in a Sundress before they wheeled me in for the procedure that would finally yield an answer to my mystery symptoms. I still remember waking up from my anesthesia-induced nap with a scratchy throat, some high-definition photos of my poor eroded intestines, and a new lease on life. Granted, the official confirmation didn’t come until a few days later when I fielded the phone call from my doctor en route to see the final installment of the Harry Potter series. I’ll be honest, it remains one of the more surreal evenings of my life: seated in a sold-out movie theater, surrounded by kids (and some adults too) dressed in their finest wizarding garb, watching the end of an era in fictional entertainment while my brain tried to process the end of an era in my own life too.

Well, here we are three years later and my life has certainly gone on. And fittingly, we learned this week the same can be said for Harry and the gang. (Those of you who are not diehard Potter fans/Pottermore subscribers like myself, you may have missed this) Harry is going gray and I now have a litany of additional food restrictions but regardless, life goes on.

So why celebrate the anniversary of a not-so-happy occasion?? Well, aside from my obsession with calendars, I truly believe in commemorating such milestones because it’s not so much the actual day which you’re celebrating, but rather all the time and growth that has taken place during the time that has since passed. Consider work, relationship, or even wedding anniversaries: is it really that one day back when it all started that you’re celebrating? I sure hope not. All you did that one day was put on a nice suit or expensive dress, drive somewhere new, and then start a new job/meet a new person/pledge your life to someone/whatever the case may be. Yes it was a day which was slightly out of the ordinary and yes it was one which could forever change the trajectory of your life. However, if the next morning you went back to your old routine and didn’t change a single thing moving forward, well then is that “landmark” day really still worth celebrating?? No, in my mind the point of an anniversary is to acknowledge the journey between a given point and where you are, and that means all the changes, adventures, mountains, and valleys you confronted along the way. Hence in my book, anniversaries, friend-iversaries, Baltimore-iversaries, and yes, even Celiac-iversaries, are worth celebrating.

My 1st Celiac-iversary: Gluten-free cake and cider 🙂

So, on that note, how does one celebrate a Celiac-iversary?? Well, this year for me it means white rice. And lots of it. As luck would have it, some specks of cheese snuck into my otherwise Katie-safe salad yesterday (I won’t call out the establishment because I’ve never had a problem with them before…and it’s my own fault for not inspecting it before I bit in) and though I only had a few bites before noticing, the damage was done and my stomach and I are not on the best of terms. So, white rice it is. Second, I figure why not celebrate with a list of interesting facts about Celiac…some of my own choosing and some in response to the questions which I am most frequently fielding from others.

1) Yes, I was born with Celiac. Well, sort of. I get this question in a variety of forms all the time. (“Wait, this just happened to you one day?”, “Could you ever eat gluten?”, “Have you ever eaten a piece of bread?”) The answer is a confusing one. As far as research has shown, those with Celiac have the gene from birth. For whatever reason, the gene is activated at some point in a person’s lifetime, while it remains dormant for others who have the gene. So, in short, yes I was born with it but I lived in blissful ignorance until 3 years ago…well really 4 because the year leading up to that was not blissful, more like mysterious confusion. And as for the traumatic event which triggered it in my case? I still blame the dogbite incident of 2010. Though I’ll never know for sure, I think the fact that my symptoms started just 2 weeks after that fateful day is too questionable to chalk up to coincidence. And that, my friends, is also why I am not, and most likely never will be, a dog person.

    2) Celiac is most common among Caucasian women of European descent. Yep, that’s true.This very pale 100% Irish girl fits the bill entirely. I do still love my heritage though. Nothing like a cup of Barry’s tea, a fiddle tune on the violin, and a new patch of freckles despite the frequent application of SPF 75 sunscreen. And at least it also explains my unnatural obsession with all things potato 🙂

      3) I need to move to Italy. Like for real. I was fortunate enough to go to Rome at Christmastime in 2012 (and see Pope Benedict in his final weeks before stepping down!) and let me tell you, it was a dream come true. For many reasons of course, but a major one was that in every restaurant all I had to say was “senza glutine” or “un celiaco” and everyone knew what it meant, what I could eat, and how to keep me safe. And, hold your breath, it gets even better! Every Italian is tested for Celiac before his or her 6th birthday, every Italian over the age of 10 with a Celiac diagnosis receives a stipend each month (worth roughly 140 Euro) to cover the excess cost of their gluten-free food AND they even get additional “sick” time at most jobs to allow for gluten-free food preparation!! I was floored. Don’t believe it, it’s all here.So who is with me?? Italia, here we come 🙂

      Amazing gluten-free dish in Vatican City!
       4) There is a mouse with Celiac Disease. And what’s worse? They gave it to him. There’s a reason I called this list interesting facts and not fun facts. It feels wrong to describe a mouse inflicted with Celiac as a fun fact. Researchers at the University of Chicago Center for Celiac Research designed a study which involved inflicting a mouse (well, I’m guessing it’s many mice) with Celiac so that testing can be done to develop a treatment. They claim by 2026 it will happen. I’m not holding my breath…

      I’d never have pictures
      like this if it weren’t
      for celiac hahaha
      5) I don’t hate Celiac. I know, shocking right? I’ve actually spent more time thinking about this than I care to admit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t love it either. However, I think there is just a little too much hate in the world to add any more. Plus, would my hatred toward it do anything to change it or eradicate it? Nope. So I say hating it would just let it win. Not to mention, whether I like it or not, it certainly did change the trajectory of my life. It’s made it more challenging to be sure, but it’s also opened my eyes to a world of knowledge, support, and love which I would have never experienced otherwise. It has become such an all-encompassing part of my life that I can’t really imagine my life without it anymore. Sometimes I really do wonder what I could be doing with all that excess brainspace which is now occupied by gluten-related knowledge, recipes, doctor appointment reminders, etc. Or what I could be accomplishing in the hours I spend cooking and baking from scratch, driving between 3 different grocery stores, and researching new establishments and updates on the internet. Maybe I could have cracked the code on the Beale ciphers and be rich by now. Alas, the world will never know…

        Yes, I’d say in the 3 years since Celiac and I have been acquainted, we’ve learned to co-exist pretty well. I mean aside from the fact that it occasionally derails my plans (like this weekend for example). It’s been a crazy 3 years for sure and I have no doubt there’s more craziness, tears, and frustration ahead but for today, I choose to focus on how far I’ve come and how I’ve managed to find joy, laughter, and fulfillment in spite of my pesky life companion 🙂
        If I had never joined Team Gluten-Free,
        my life would be drastically different:
        I mean, I never would have discovered Sweet Freedom.
        3 years down, forever to go…going strong 🙂

        2 thoughts on “3 Years and Counting…

        1. Love, love, love! Definitely one of your best posts yet. You continue to amaze me with your wit, humor, and positivity. Enjoy your rice and feel better soon!


        2. Happy anniversary? (I don't think I've ever written that with a question mark before!) It is *so* unfortunate that celiac disease is most common in white women, a group also highly likely to take on fad diets. That's a huge PR problem.


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