Day 27: “A problem you have had”
I guess I’ll take this challenge as an opportunity to be more specific about my Celiac Disease than I probably have been until this point. You may have heard of being gluten-free, or started noticing more gluten free products becoming available. When I’m at a restaurant, in the interest of simplicity and speed, I usually say I have a gluten allergy, but it’s not exactly an allergy.
Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease, like lupus. Basically, whenever I eat gluten, my body attacks itself and that keeps me from being able to absorb nutrients and causes various symptoms. It can effect my entire body in different ways. For years, I had migraines, intense fatigue, joint pain, severe forgetfulness, and a very weak immune system. My body couldn’t break food down correctly and I would often throw up violently from eating seemingly innocuous foods. My stomach was in intense pain every moment of every day, and eventually I ended up on a cane because my skin was manifesting symptoms in very strange ways.
And that is the simple way of putting it. The only way, at all, for me to avoid feeling like that again is to never ever eat gluten in my life. There are no medications that can help and on average it takes five years for Americans to be diagnosed with this disease, which is pretty much what happened to me. My major symptoms started my last year in Los Angeles when all of a sudden I gained a bunch of weight and started having stomach pain all the time. So I did what any frustrated young woman would do. I cut off all my hair and just felt terrible all the time.
I know people have noticed how many more gluten free products there are available now because I hear people complaining about it, as if me being able to live as a fully formed human impedes their life. But I know, its just so annoying when you see new products or menu items at stores and restaurants you go to. Unfortunately, as usual, there are people who notice Celiacs tend to lose weight when they go gluten free, and they try to treat it like a diet fad. Those people will fade, but nothing short of a major overhaul of the medical industry will change the fact that I need those options to survive.