Thursday, September 23, 2010

You don't own me

So.  This post is a long time in coming, but I'm ready people.  I'm ready.

I found out about 9 months ago that I have Celiac's disease.  After some awesome tests that I won't go into detail on, I was hoping for lactose intolerance or something less formidable, but no such luck.  Incidentally, I found out on New Years Eve, RIGHT BEFORE we enjoyed a HUGE pasta dinner with our good friends.  Lovely!  I decided to enjoy one last delicious meal before changing my entire eating habits for the rest of my life.  You gotta live a little!

For anyone who doesn't know about Celiac's, it means I can't eat gluten.  It's not an allergy - not an intolerance.  It destroys my intestines, which then means that I don't get any nutrients from my food.  The only way to be "well" is to never eat anything with gluten in it.  Sounds easy enough, except gluten is in EVERYTHING! 

At first, I was disappointed.  I was sad.  No more cake???  Oreos?  Stroganoff?  Think of anything super-delicious that you love -- it probably has gut-rot (well, for me anyhow) in it.  Wah!  I could talk forever about all the feelings and emotions I went through, but really, what good does it do now?  I had to visit a gastroenterologist, where I had a minor breakdown because I was the only person in the waiting room under the age of 65.  I remember thinking, "I don't belong here."  This is the kind of thing that happens to other people but never me.  I won't lie.  It sucked.  But when I went in to see the doctor, he said not what I necessarily expected, but exactly what this neurotic girl needed.  He told me that this disease was not a death sentence, it was not going to ruin my life unless I let it.  It is all about perspective and how you want to live.  Some people take such dramatic approaches to this "life" and in turn, aren't able to enjoy themselves.  I didn't want to be that way.  I wanted to be healthy, but more than that, I didn't want to drag my family and friends down with a constant downer approach to my digestive habits.

So, starting out slowly, I just eliminated a lot.  My husband was AWESOME with a capital A.  He never complained.  He was okay when I dropped several staple recipes that I could no longer eat.  He tried all the mooshy brown rice noodles and weird snacks.  My family just adjusted with me while I figured the cooking thing out.  It's definitely been a process, and having a baby does not make it any easier on the experimenting front.  Wyatt is at that awesome age where if you're in the kitchen doing anything at all, he just has to stand next to you, pulling on your pants (or your hairy legs, whichever) and screaming at the top of his lungs, "DEEZ?  DEEZ!"  That means "please" in case you were wondering.  Sometimes I think about chucking whatever food or drink I might be preparing/chopping/pouring at his face and seeing what he does...but I don't.  I mean, what kind of mother would that make me?  Anyhow, I digress.

Today, September 23, 2010 is a big day for me.  It is the beginning of the rest of my life.  You see, I have the world's MOST AMAZING FRIENDS.  You might think you have the best friends ever, but you don't.  I do.  There isn't enough space on the entire blogospere to describe why they are amazing and all that they have done for me.  The moment they found out about my life-change, they were all online looking up information and recipes and anything they could get their hands on.  They would see anything labeled Gluten-Free at the grocery/Starbucks/you name it, and they would buy it for me.  We have had get-togethers, sometimes for their kids' birthday parties, and they have made me MY own cake.  One of them even made a little green bean casserole dish for me on Easter, made with gluten free soup. Seriously.  Don't worry!  I'm crying just typing this right now!  They look out for me, even though it means extra work on their part.  This is, perhaps, one of the hardest things for me.  They all say it makes them happy to take care of me in this way, but I keep thinking, "but this is forever."  It is hard to know that because you have this problem, you will be accepting the gifts and givings of your friends and family forever. People who love you will look out for you, even when you are not asking them to. 

Back to what I was saying...  They and a few others bought me cookbooks.  So many.  These cookbooks don't just have the gluten-free recipes in them I need, they offer so much information about basics of cooking and baking gluten-free.  So for 9 months I have poured over them, marking pages and putting them back.  I wasn't ready.  My baby was still too needy and I didn't have the time to try new things.  But today.  Today!  My children were in good moods, everyone had had lunch and had full bellies, and I did it. 

I MADE PUMPKIN BREAD.  And I can eat it!!!  And people...YUM.  You wouldn't know it wasn't made with death flour.


Perhaps this doesn't sound like the biggest accomplishment to anyone else, but to me, it is a new start.  I have always loved baking and come from a family with the most incredible passed-on recipes.  Silly as it may seem, it has always been a part of my identity.  It feels so good to have this part of me back. 

Has anyone actually read all this? 

To my friends and family and all those (because there are many,  many others who have given me cookbooks, web links, etc.) who have helped me this year, THANK YOU.  You have no idea what you have done for me.  I wouldn't have had the confidence I needed to move forward.  And back to something my doctor said..."You're going to make mistakes, and that is okay.  You live.  You learn.  It's not gonna kill you." 

My perspective is this:  I want to be as healthy as I can so I can live a long and happy life.  I will not let this disease overcome my joy of living or my joy of being in the kitchen.  My kids will still come home from school to fresh cookies, whether I can eat them or not.  What matters is I am here to enjoy life with them and I am happy!  YOU DON'T OWN ME, CELIACS!

14 comments:

Tibbslove said...

Steph! I had no idea! I'm encouraged by your excitement and totally wish I could try your pumpkin bread. Eat up, lady! Many hugs to you...and to your intestines (figuratively, of course).
- Beth

Brazenlilly said...

Don't worry! I'm crying too. Your response to this completely life-altering situation has been such a blessing, a lesson and an inspiration. I know that it is probably a daily decision to not feel sorry for yourself and to stay positive.

I'm SO HAPPY that you have a way to make your breads and start baking again. I can't wait to eat your pumpkin bread!

So proud of you, friend.

Rory said...

Oh my goodness gracious I am a mess over here. I just wanna stand up and cheer-- Way to go girl! You just blessed me on so many levels with this post. I am so excited for you to get a bit of yourself BACK!:) Love and hugs...can't wait for some recipe blogging by you!

Annie Schilperoort Photography said...

I love you Steph!! You are SO awesome! I was wondering how this huge change had been for you. Praying and hoping with each day it continues to get more and more doable and easy for you. XOXOXOXO

Anonymous said...

Steph - you are an inspiration!! Really. I admire the way you faced this head on and decided you would not let it get the best of you. I know it's been difficult for you, but YAY for you! Lots of Love from Aunt Delynn

Mrs. D said...

Will be praying for the lifestyle change! Erica (steven's sister) is gluten-free because she linked it to eczema. Also.. if you are in the mood for chocolate cake..gluten free of course! I have a friend out here that made some from garbanzo beans and it was delish! Glad you have such a huge support system!

Anonymous said...

You just get more and more amazing, Steph, and I'm very proud of you...
I love all your wonderful friends, and how they have supported and encouraged you...you realize that you're that kind of friend, too?! God has provided, and you all have nurtured, a powerful network there, and I think it's fairly certain that you're going to impact more than just each other!!
Anyway, send me your pumpkin bread recipe and we'll have it when you're here!! love from your impressed, grateful Mom :-)

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Scrappin' Diva said...

Steph! Yay - good for you. Something so life changing as celiacs is a hard adjustment and I'm proud of you and the journey you've been on! As someone who has another friend with celiacs I can confirm what your friends have told you - it's an honor to provide for you. Just as you like to take care of others they want to return the favor. If you ever want to talk with someone else young and on this path, let me know and I'll put you in touch with my friend. Best of luck and lots of hugs as you continue down your new path!

Rory said...

Hey Steph, this is an unrelated comment, but I don't have your email so i figured this the best way to get a hold of you.:) I think I'm gonna set my blog to private this week. I know it makes it kind of a pain for folks to log in and all, but if you did want to still stay in touch that way I would love it!:) You can email me at woosterweester@aol.com and I can send you the invite. Hope we get to see each other again in real life!!:)
Rory

Nina said...

This mom feels so blessed that you are my daughters dear friend. I have so often heard your name in something you have so sweetly done for them. I praise God for this sisterhood! Also... I'm having a praise and worship time over this answer to prayer with Celiac's . I see that pumpkin bread and celebrate that moment with you . Love you sweetheart !!

butters said...

Steph... look at all these responses... girlfriend... you are so loved. Your pumpkin bread was amazing, as are you. I'm so blessed to be one of your "besties". You ARE that friend who does so many wonderful things for others, you just don't always see it. I'm encouraged by such a heartfelt post on something I know has been life altering for you. You Rock lady. Love ya.

Devin said...

I'm sorry to hear about that Steph, knowing how much you like baking and cooking. Your cookies are still a legend around here. But I'm not surprised to see your positive attitude about it. The thing I was thinking the most as I was reading your blog was, "well, at least she can still have the steak fries at Red Robin." Next time we go, you can have as many extras of mine as you want.... :)

Devin

Danielle Brown said...

Oh Steph... I can only imagine what this has been like for you. And, I feel blessed that I don't. I think we (okay, I) forget the blessings we do have sometimes when we are faced w/life's, and God's, challenges. I admire your attitude, and your writing, and your friends' love for you, and your bread dang it! :)
I'm happy that you are, and have been, finding the silver lining in this - I know it must be SO hard. Today, today you are my hero...
HUGS to you and know I'm here if you ever need to vent, bake, or just whatever!
-D