I was totally excited this morning to get up and ready because it was finally wedding dress shopping day with my sister-in-law! I showered and started to get ready. As I was putting my makeup on, my legs started burning. I dismissed it, not thinking too much of it. By the time I dried my hair my legs, arms and torso were COVERED in a red, blotchy, burning, itchy rash. It only took a minute for me to remember that I had just put a brand new lotion on when I got out of the shower. I dashed to bathroom to check the label - sure enough, it had gluten in it.
DAMNITTOHELL!!! I absolutely freaked out. People without Celiac Disease can never understand the horror of a Celiac accidentally getting into gluten. It's like a near-death experience for me but instead of my life flashing before my eyes, my future does. All I could think about was laying in bed writhing in excruciating pain for weeks. For the brain fog that would prevent me from being able to perform even the simplest tasks like going to the grocery store or choosing a channel on TV. The doubling over in stomach cramping, pain and diarrhea that could last weeks, even months. The migraines. I flashed forward to the weddings I have booked and began hyperventilating thinking I CAN'T BE GLUTENED, I CAN'T!!! I was so mad at myself. I usually check every label vigilantly, this one slipped through the cracks somehow.
Gluten reactions are REALLY intense and they can last a very long time - for me they have lasted anywhere between one week at minimum and three months for the longest one I've had. Three months is unbearable. That's like slice-your-wrists kind of miserable. That's lose-your-lifestyle-cause-you-can't-work-and-pay-your-bills-miserable. It's beyond terrifying for me. I lose all sense of reason and rationality and the first thing I want to do is jump off of a cliff. Luckily my husband doesn't allow me to do that and even more luckily, I haven't been glutened in a year and a half. This is because I am VIGILANT in checking every label and I only eat food I prepare myself - I never eat out or at anybody's house.
I immediately jumped in the shower and scrubbed myself three times with the most wicked soap I could find. I also rinsed out my eyes, nose, mouth and re-washed my hair and face. Ugh. I was crying my eyes out so hard. It was a truly emotional experience. It sucked.
I think I'm okay. I am so thankful for the rash that alerted me to the problem before I could do something stupid like eat lunch with that lotion all over my hands. That would have gotten me sick for sure. The rash was a blessing and this was the wake up call I guess I needed to keep myself on my toes. But damnit if I didn't feel INCREDIBLY sorry for myself all day. I bawled my eyes out asking my roommate Fink "Why me, why do I have to have this awful disease?" He told me that it's because I am strong enough to handle it. I try to remain incredibly upbeat and positive about it all, if for no other reason than I refuse to live my life pissed off. But today I allowed myself to wallow in my misery because honestly, I'm freaking sick of being so hyper-aware of every damn thing around me. I am so TIRED of it. Just for one day I'd like to eat what I want, do what I want, not worry about what I touch or breathe. This, however, is not an option for me.
This was a good day for this to happen though because I had a cool experience later on. Wedding dress shopping with my SIL, her future SIL, and her best friend, I realized that ALL FOUR of us are gluten free. The whole group! It was the first time in awhile I didn't feel like an outcast. Two of us have Celiac Disease, one is very gluten intolerant and the other quit eating gluten for health and diet reasons (and has lost a bunch of weight and feels great by the way). After our dress excursion, I suggested we drop by Pushkin's Bakery, Sacramento's new and entirely gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan bakery.
Talk about coming full circle! PUSHKINS IS AWESOME! The owners are so incredibly nice. and the food is beyond amazing. If you can'g have gluten and you ever feel left out, you really need to go eat there. You will not feel an ounce of sadness! I wolfed down a chocolate crinkle cookie and with every single bite I told myself how lucky I am because if it weren't for this disease I would not be so aware of my own health, what I put into my body, and what I need to do to really take care of myself. My priorities have changed in major ways. And that's okay. My friendships have changed, even my career had to change. It's all okay. And it's totally and completely okay to indulge in some major goodness in the form of a soft, chewy cookie. Pushkin's has found great success in a very short time and they deserve every bit of it.
My day started out crappy but it ended up just fine. I still feel emotional and have a headache from crying my eyes out. But I have some yummy cookies and met some great people today. And spending the afternoon with a random group of girls that all happen to have the same dietary restrictions as me was pretty cool. I have a great husband and a safe home and I am healthy. More and more people are realizing they have this thing and as more awareness spreads, I truly believe life will get easier for us.
Thursday I have a meeting with a local pizza company that is opening a new location and offering gluten free crusts and sandwiches. They want to know exactly what they need to do to ensure that their food and practices are safe. Kudos to them, these are exactly the type of people we need to celebrate and support!!!
I can't wait to go to bed because I really need to sleep of this borderline migraine. But tomorrow I will wake up and go right back to the way I USUALLY handle this Celiac stuff - it will be a small blip on the radar of my life, I will be positive, think only of the benefits of it and do my best to help others and spread awareness so that one day we may all be able to live a normal life.
Be well and healthy!