Finding out I had celiac suddenly came as a relief. No more questions or searching, this was the answer. I knew at this point I had no place to go but UP. It was just a matter of adjusting to a plethora of life changes.
The phone call came after I had anxiously left half a dozen inquiries at the doctor’s office when I didn’t hear back at the specified time. I am sure by the fifth call they were ready to strangle me with a phone cord. But finally it came:
The declaration was simple and to the point: “You have celiac disease.”
Just like that, the memories clicked into place like well-positioned Tetris pieces. The time after my half marathon in Las Vegas where I was doubled over in pain from a celebratory donut. The all-nighter of pain after a couple handfuls of triscuits. The million and one stomachaches from a simple source that was in practically EVERYTHING I consumed. My entire life I was a huge supporter of a high fiber diet, it was a life staple, especially since I had been a vegetarian for over ten years. I was a shameless wheat junkie!
It was a relief to know, and to finally have a definitive answer. I needed to schedule an endoscopy immediately for what celiacs like to call the “gold star” of celiac diagnosis, like it was some kind of merit badge. While the blood tests more or less confirmed what we needed to know, the endoscopy was the final step. She started telling me all I needed to know about how to have a gluten-free lifestyle, and it was a lot of overwhelming information at once.
I suddenly had so much to learn: cabinets and pantries to clear, kitchen appliances to replace (my well-used panini press was the hardest to part with), tricky cross contamination lessons to learn (and don’t worry, they came on their own without too much trouble), labels to read with a magnifying glass, and a MILLION terms for gluten-laden products to memorize (I needed a cheat sheet: barley malt, spelt, triticale, dextrin) in the process. I felt completely overwhelmed, and knew not a single person who had celiac, so I also felt slightly alienated.
My world became a lot smaller. A scenario from my old life used to be defined by “Where do you feel like eating tonight?” and suddenly it became “Where CAN I eat?” Left and right doors were closing.
Not only did I have a lot of ropes to climb, but I had a marathons on my plate. How would I manage my marathon training while going through gluten withdrawal and throwing myself the massive pity parties to mourn the loss of…EVERYTHING I loved in my life? I could sing an entire ballad to the tune of “My Favorite Things” just on my love of funnel cake alone! In a way I felt damned, but at the same time: furiously determined.
I had so much to learn, and I wasn’t about to just roll over in bed, pull the covers over my head and let it take over. I had to act. This wasn’t a 12-Step Program to gradually learn the ropes and wean my way into it. It was time to go cold turkey on gluten, and deal with the withdrawal to come.