I was diagnosed on October 22, 2009. I’d been to the doctor a couple days earlier for my regular check-up, and asked to have a blood test for Celiac done as I have a family history of the disease.
“Are you having any symptoms?” my doctor asked me.
I told her I wasn’t, but said I’d like the test done anyway, as I was already in the office and I’d been putting it off for a couple of years.
“Well, if you’re not having any symptoms, there’s really no need to test you,” she said.
My doctor wasn’t too with Celiac, and had to look up the identification number for the blood test, and what the disease was while she was at it, but I insisted, and good thing, too – two days later she called to tell me the test had come back positive. She recommended that I make an appointment with the office’s nutritionist so that I could learn more about the gluten-free diet. I declined because I already knew an expert – my dad, who was diagnosed in 2007.
I don’t want to sugarcoat for the sake of this blog – learning to be GF was really hard. It kind of went in phases for me – the first week, I stopped eating obvious sources of gluten but didn’t pay any attention to cross contamination. I think of it as my “gluten detox,” because of the withdrawal-like symptoms: headaches, fatigue.
After that was the long process of learning to avoid hidden gluten. I’d say this lasted about six months. I got accidental gluten once or twice a week at first, then once or twice a month. I rarely ate anything I didn’t make myself, or if it didn’t come out of a package labeled “gluten-free.”
Not long after that I met Joel. While he learned about secret code names for gluten and avoiding cross contamination, I learned that I could safely eat in restaurants and how to share my kitchen with a glutenvore without freaking out (okay, okay, without freaking out too much).
I’d say I’m at a stage now where gluten-freedom is second nature. I don’t think about it as a special diet, I feel confident that I’ll be able to eat safely outside of my own kitchen, and I don’t even remember how long it’s been since the last time I got glutened!
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell my newly-diagnosed self “stop worrying! You’re going to get this all figured out.”