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!