Despite my potentially misleading title, this post is not in regards to our awkward high school years (although that, too, does get better).
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much bolder my decision making has gotten just over the last year. A friend and I have started an a cappella group on campus last quarter (already with nearly 10 auditioned members!), I volunteered my time with the school radio station, I have started a couple new blogs, I am moving somewhere brand new this summer (more news on this coming soon), and in general, I have just felt more liberated. Through all of this, I have realized that the chronic illness that is Celiac Disease has gone straight to the back of my mind. It’s not like I have forgotten about it or compromised my gluten free diet. Rather, I have reached a point where I am so comfortable within this new lifestyle that it is completely second nature.
Brand new a cappella group!
Some friends and I.
On that note, this post is a reminder to you- whoever you are -that while having Celiac Disease can really suck sometimes, it will soon become the only way of life you know, making it so much easier to get through.
In due time you will…
–Not feel heartbroken seeing your friends eating a donut or birthday cake. In fact, you will be almost immune to it within a couple of months. Your knowledge of the damage that exact type of food has done your body in the past will always be in your subconscious, making your indifference to the stuff stronger and stronger in time. *This is not proven science, but I think it’s legit, so just hear me out.
–Start to prefer gluten free foods. Okay, so, it’s not like you really have a choice. But as your memory of glutenous foods drifts away, you will not only start to accept gluten free breads, cakes, and cookies as being decent, but they will become the new norm. Heck, there are some gluten free brands that gluten eating people prefer.
–Not feel as awkward explaining your situation. Explaining any medical disorder can be a bit like pulling teeth but explaining intestinal problems? That can get REAL awkward real fast. After a few painful explanations you will reach a point where you’ve perfected your little monologue and can do it at any time, to anyone. Mine goes something like: “Basically gluten cuts off all the nutrients I need to operate so I’m essentially in a wide awake coma/trap of death for several days”. If people want to know more, they’ll ask specifics.
–Be able to go with friends on a spontaneous night out. You’ll know all the nearby restaurants that can feed you, you will have a “safe drink” to order at the bar, and guess what- you won’t be tired by 10 pm because your gluten free diet will give you more energy than a small child after drinking a venti mocha frappaccino.
–Navigate the grocery store like a pro. Really. You’ll be in and out in like 20 minutes. I know it seems impossible in the beginning but especially if you go to the same grocery store often, you will know exactly where to find those gluten free corn tortillas you really like and you can hassle the store manager the second they leave the shelves. Soon, you’ll be downright excited to shop just to see what new gluten free foods are in your store.
–You won’t even feel like anything is wrong with you. Which is quite accurate, really. If you are staying gluten free, there isn’t anything wrong with you at all. You are doing this not by preference but because you have to- this could be seen as a negative thing but in reality, it’s what we humans do. We just do. We work with what we’ve got and pretty soon, we won’t even know otherwise. People who are born with disorders do not intrinsically know that they have a disorder until someone tells us we do. Remain careful of avoiding gluten but don’t think that it defines you as a person or has any ability to take value away from your livelihood. Focus on all the problems you have miraculously been able to solve for yourself simply by changing out a few minor things in your past life.