I have debated writing this post for a couple of months.
I don't like feeling like Debbie Downer or Complaining Carol or Feel-Sorry-For-Me Phoebe or Wendy Whiner.
BUT this blog is supposed to be about our life and I DON'T feel sorry for me, so, hopefully, I can convey this fact of my life (our lives, I guess) without coming off all pouty and pitiful.
You may remember this post where I mentioned something about recently acquiring (is that the right way to say that? as if I inherited or earned something great) a nut allergy. I tend to NOT schedule doctor's appointments for myself in a timely manner, but something about a sudden and possible deadly reaction to nuts out of nowhere got my attention. Josh travels enough that I felt it would be irresponsible as a mom to take chances when I am home alone with the kids. I got in to see the allergist quickly and she was amazing and thorough and asked some great questions that helped piece together this puzzle. Turns out the chronic stomach aches and nausea I had been experiencing (and self-medicating) were food related. My tests came back positive for nut allergies and although I don't have celiac disease (so glad), I do have a gluten intolerance.
Do you know what gluten is?
Josh says he doesn't know the technical definition, but he thinks that basically it's what makes food taste good. It's in everything. I'm serious . . . it's in EV-ER-Y-THING. Toothpaste, make-up, shampoo, deodorant, cereal, soup, bread . . .
And if it doesn't have gluten in it, guess what it does have?
For about 2 weeks, it felt like all I ate was bananas, chex cereal, and Stonyfield Yogurt. But amazingly, I actually felt incredible. Better than I had in years. I thought that I was just feeling rundown and tired because of my season of life and I am so thankful to know that there is something I can do to feel good now. I am learning to really listen to my body and weed through what I can tolerate and recognizing when something I ate didn't work for me (casin-free cheese is good, eggs and chicken kill my stomach and give me killer headaches). Obviously, I can eat more than bananas and diet coke, but I don't stray too far from it without regretting it. Fresh fruits and vegetables prepared by me are always good, as well as steamed rice, legumes and peas (like black eyed, purple hull and butter beans). I tried eating the toppings off of pizza, but since they were baked with the crust, I had a reaction. The good news is, the gluten won't kill me, I get a rotten headache and feel really sick to my stomach--basically carsick and kind-of tired and light headed. You've heard the phrase "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels," I would amend that to say, "Nothing tastes so good that it's worth feeling that bad!"
Occasionally, when I am picking up donuts for the kids or pass Old Mill, I long for some gluten-filled yumminess, but 99% of the time, it's no big deal. It's been a learning experience and, come on, it's just food. I don't have cancer or a debilitating disease, I just don't have as many options when it comes to food choices. This gratefulness is genuine because during this allergy testing process, I found a bump/lump under my arm. My allergist suggested I go to my PCP because I had a couple of these lumpy bumps in other places, too. He felt like it was too close to the breast not to have it checked, so I went on to have a mammogram and ultrasound of the lump. That was the loooooongest 2 hours of my life, but when I left with it diagnosed as a non-inflammatory cyst, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and perspective. Cutting out gluten is not that big of a deal.
If you see me at the grocery store intently flipping through my phone, I may be looking up an ingredient or a brand. I'm still learning. And sometimes it is overwhelming, but, here is where I hope to be helpful because I have had a few helpers make this transition easier for me:
1) You can eat great food that is gluten free. In fact, it is almost trendy to be g-free, so more and more companies are, at the very least, labeling things better, and in a lot of cases, making these things taste better too.
2) Dempsey's Bakery in Little Rock has some amazing, fresh bread and bakery type options. They are pricey, but if you go in the store, there are samples to help you decide what you like and the staff is so, so, so helpful. (And their iced shortbread cookie is just as good as Community Bakery's iced sugar.)
3) Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book, The G-Free Diet is a good one for women because it talks about the beauty and skin products as well as the food aspect.
4) And while yes, occasionally, I hit up Whole Foods or Dempseys, I am still able to buy 95% of what I eat and shower with at Kroger or Target. (And the left-over 5% is just sweets and extras.)
Honestly, I think what has been the hardest part of this process for me is I feel weak and silly. I am SUPER careful about eating nuts because, YIKES, I don't want to try out my Epi-pen, but I am learning after several mishaps and rashes and tongue swellings that I really can't even touch them. And the gluten . . . I felt like I should hike my pants up and get some pocket protectors. My body makes me feel nerdy and wimpy, but I am learning to get over it. (I'm not totally there yet. I made Josh promise not to mention it when we were with his family over Christmas because the thought of the explanations and attention made me uncomfortable.) I feel stupid when I have to turn something gluteny down, but I am learning that it's not worth feeling lousy or needing to take an abundance of advil and zofran to survive the rest of the day.
So, there ya go. Wanh-wah. Tomorrow I will tell you a knock-knock joke or some Sascha stories. Something funny and light.
1 day ago