A Recent Experience
For the first time ever, my husband and I left our kids home alone overnight. Two nights to be exact. We escaped to the beach where we shared a huge house with seven other couples. We had a great time with our friends, and friends they truly are. They understand celiac disease. Many of them knew me when I was diagnosed and saw how weak and thin I was. These are not people who say, “Oh come on, a little bit can’t hurt you.” And yet, I got glutened. As understanding as they are, as kind as they were to prepare gluten-free food, they are simply not used to being as careful as I have to be to avoid contamination.
I’m pretty sure it happened during dinner Friday night. I took a dessert for that meal which consisted of fixings for soft tacos. I made a taco salad. The meat was prepared with individual spices, and the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and chips were all gluten free. I served myself first before the flour tortillas were opened. I was quite confident that all was fine. Maybe it was, but at some point I ingested gluten.
Saturday morning I was riding in the car with my husband. We were headed into town to pick up a few groceries. Suddenly, my stomach felt upset and I grew tired. Very tired. That’s always my signal that I’ve gotten glutened. My husband picked up one thing then headed back to the house. I dragged myself up to my bed where I slept for four hours and dreamed that I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake. My digestive symptoms weren’t too bad, thankfully, but I felt in a fog the rest of the day. I prepared the main course that night, but still had to be careful because wheat bread and pasta were being served. As you can imagine, I was extremely cautious, and everything seemed to go okay with that meal.
Going back a few months, I remember when we were asked to join this group at the beach. My first response was, “No. It will be too hard to eat.” But who wants their social life to be controlled by celiac disease? I didn’t, so we decided to go. A few days before the trip I got really nervous. “How will I manage with so many people sharing one kitchen?” Then I told myself, “Just be careful, and it will be fine.”
I was careful. It wasn’t fine. It’s not anyone’s fault. My friends did all I could ask them to do. When I was feeling well, I greatly enjoyed the time with my husband and friends, but always hanging in the back of my mind was the thought that I had to be careful. I had to avoid any contamination.
The question is, if I’m given the opportunity to do something like that again, will I do it? I’ll have to weigh the benefits versus the risk and that nagging concern. Looking back on that weekend, was the enjoyment and refreshment worth the worry and the auto immune reaction? Was it worth the intestinal damage that inevitably took place inside my body?
I asked my husband what he thought. He said we should do it again, but not in the same way. If it was worth it to me, I would need to prepare my meals ahead of time and take a microwave or other countertop oven for reheating. I think I could live with that. It’s not the same as sharing the same meal with my friends, but it beats not being with them at all.
What Do You Think?
Food is a huge part of so many social activities. It is inevitable that having celiac disease will affect one’s social life. For many people, that’s the hardest part of dealing with the disease. How does it affect you? How do you handle social situations? With the holidays approaching, your experience might help someone.