Monday, December 14, 2009

Being Normal

I used to be normal, in a general sense only, of course, but still, normal. I’d go grab a bite at McDonald’s with some friends as we let our kids run around like a miniature Mongolian horde. I’d sit, relaxing, and watch TV with the family at night. I’d go on errands and end up spending the entire day out, feeling relaxed and with nothing to focus on but what was next on the list.

And now that’s gone. Don't get me wrong. Nothing tragic has happened. I haven’t lost my job, my limbs, or my family. All I’ve lost, it seems, is my ability to eat what I want without my body deciding that ‘today is a good day to die.’

I always knew I was a bit of a drama queen, I just never realized my body was, too.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in July of this year, and the moment that test came back positive, I thought things were looking up. At last, a reason behind the aches and pains and depression and constant colds and flus and...well, you get the idea. I had assumed that would be the end of things - go gluten free, and life will immediately improve - that's the hype, yeah?

But for me, on the second day of my gluten free diet, I felt like death warmed over. Nauseated, stomach pains, light headed and dizzy, aching all over like I had a fever. Turns out, I have food allergies, too. And a few gazillion sensitivities and intolerances, to least for right now.

My body feels the need to gripe about years of gluten, obviously. It's slowly calming down from its tantrum, though. I still can't eat much - less than 10 foods, at this point - but the reactions are less severe. So now, I'm in 'figuring out what the heck to do' mode. New foods, new recipes, new stores, and definitely new ways of getting through my days.

I feel overwhelmed, even as my body is starting to recover. I've never been much of a cook, and now I get to try and jump in feet first to the world of cooking or I'll be stuck subsisting on cardboard and water. There's been a host of mistakes: humorous ones, frustrating ones, devastating ones that used up the last of my patience...or the last of a food I could eat.

But there are good things, too.

- From January to June, I gained 40 pounds. From July to now, I've lost 45.

- My father had been diagnosed with Celiac Sprue a few years back, and since I tested positive as well, we tested the whole family. My daughter and my brother both tested positive for the disease. My son has a lot of the warning signs, including other food allergies. So now, these three people I love are going to have healthier lives because of this discovery

- Because of our food diaries and awareness, we're starting to find more food allergies and issues that my children have, as well. Now they'll be even healthier than just going gluten-free.

- Because my kids don't want to be eating cardboard and water any more than I do, they have had to get much more active in choosing foods and creating recipes. It gives me hope that by the time they are old enough to be on their own, they'll both be good cooks so they'll never be in the position that I am.

Yeah, my position: I'm a lazy non-foodie who is now stuck pretending that I am neither lazy nor food-challenged. I'm trying to live up to this challenge, but I think it's gonna be a while before I truly manage it. But I'm happy to share what I've learned along the way. Maybe it can help someone else in this same position.

And if not, at least my drama queen body will feel like it got to express itself.

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