I used to roll my eyes walking down the gluten-free aisle at the stupid-expensive grocery store that only the Lululemon wearing ladies shop at – that is until my child, my baby, was diagnosed with Celiac disease.
I call him my baby because he has an angelic quality to him. Ever since he was an actual baby he’s had the chubby cheeks and tummy of a cherub angel, but he’s 6 years old now and he was at the time of his diagnosis. So for six whole years I shrugged off his bloated belly as an adorable feature that I was in no hurry for him to outgrow, all the while he was suffering. I know Celiac disease is completely manageable by following a gluten-free diet, and God knows how blessed I KNOW I am to have otherwise healthy children but man, this shit is hard! We’re only two months into diagnosis and tensions are high in my home!
First of all, the transition from gluttonous to gluten-free eating is not going so well. (Yes I know the two words are unrelated.) I suppose any logical person would say just throw all things gluten away, or donate them but I’m not logical, I’m emotional and thrifty! I just can’t bring myself to throw away a perfectly good Costco-sized box of Kodiak pancake and waffle mix. I mean not only is the stuff delicious, it’s good for us… well, all but one of us. On the other hand I can’t let my other two kids down a dozen donuts for breakfast while he watches. But is it really fair to deprive my other kids of donuts, waffles, cake and hot dogs? In my house those are pretty rare as it is. They usually mark a special occasion; birthdays are for Donuts-with-Dad, pool days beg for hot dogs and burgers and everybody knows something wonderful is being celebrated when someone brings a cake!
My husband, bless his heart I see it in his eyes, the question whether this is really a legitimate disease and if it’s really “necessary to make him live in a gluten-free bubble?” He did actually ask that. And yes, It is necessary! He went through the same thing when my oldest was being evaluated for dyslexia. I know he’ll come around, I just pray it’s sooner than later.
It’s cliche to say hindsight is 20/20, but it’s such a fitting statement right now. Looking back I can see all the ways that the disease was taking pieces of my little boy away from me, from his siblings, friends, and even from himself. Since cutting gluten out of his diet he doesn’t rush home to jump in bed for a rest anymore. He joins his brother outside to play. He not only cleans the food right off his plate but he’s asking for seconds now! He’s actually both physically AND mentally quicker and most notably; he doesn’t complain about headaches once a day and cry at bedtime because his tummy hurts. I’m ashamed to say I actually started to think his complaints were excuses to prolong the bedtime routine, or habitual phrases he used to just to have something to say.
I know the changes will get easier and soon this will all feel normal for my son and for the rest of my family. There are so many websites dedicated to gluten-free shopping and cooking and if any of you have favorites, please share! Like many of you, writing is a sort of therapy for me but sharing personal topics like this is the reason I chose to blog what I write. Some conditions still carry with them a stigma, unfortunately most autoimmune diseases, like Celiac disease, are at the top of that list. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe it’s because people think they’re lifestyle diseases caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. The truth is that the research and research funds for autoimmune diseases are so minimal that very little is known about what causes them and what secondary diseases are caused by leaving them untreated. I’m no medical professional but if you recognize any of the symptoms I mentioned in yourself or your child, you might consider requesting a blood test. For more information on Celiac disease click on the highlighted link.