Almost two years ago, after my system went haywire, I felt I had no choice but to embrace a gluten free lifestyle. I lived gluten free for nearly two years, learning how to find foods that where as normal tasting as possible. Enjoying food as I do I refused to accept that the foods I would be eating should now taste like cardboard.
It is sad when you bring something home only to take one bite and throw it away. This is because the contents within have little substance and even less flavor. In my quest for normal I have found many things that taste “normal”. It is always nice when you shell out the money for something and find you can not only eat the product but actually enjoy it as well.
So given the fact that I not only embraced this lifestyle, and have never once cheated along the way, imagine my reaction when upon moving to the state of Virginia, and having my very first appointment with a gastroenterologist, he told me he wanted me to eat foods with gluten for the next two weeks. To be totally honest with you, my first reaction was fear. This man just did not know what he was asking. He had not seen how my body had turned on me, had not experienced the pain and humiliation that comes when a person’s insides reject the body that incases it.
I tried to explain that it was not a pretty sight. That I had gotten to a point where I could not move without pain, bloating and yes, I will say it here, uncontrollable flatulence. I am telling all who dare read this that there are some sounds that should NOT come from a ladies body and two years ago there was nothing lady like about what was escaping from me. I had visited several doctors, one of which told me to eat more fiber. When I assured her I was eating plenty of fiber she simply told me to eat less fiber. I was like,” seriously, you went to medical school for this”?
So here is this young, very young actually, doctor advising that I throw caution to the wind, literally, and jump off of the gluten free band wagon. I almost asked him for a zanax to help me get past the anxiety attack I felt ready to have. He stated his case, letting me know that since I have not always had issues with gluten that my sudden onset of symptoms could be anything from irritable bowel to colon cancer to celiac disease but that I would never truly know unless I was tested. The problem is, the test would not be accurate unless I had been eating gluten for at least two weeks.
After further discussion it was decided it was best to know once and for all so in two weeks I am scheduled to go in and have two procedures, a upper GI and a colonoscopy. My doctor did tell me to look on the bright side, that I would have had to have the test in two years anyway and once it is over I should not have to have another one for ten years. Yea, that makes it so much easier.
After the initial period of fear my next thought pattern went to what was I going to eat, which did not take long to decide. My first gluten filled delight was a McDonald’s fish sandwich. I used to love McDonalds fish and it was something I had been recently craving. I ordered, took my tray over and sat there just staring at the box feeling anxious and naughty at the same time. I looked at the box feeling a bit apprehensive when there in tiny lettering were the words “dive right in”. Surely that was a sign, besides, it was doctor’s orders right? I took a bite, half expecting the gluten police to come running or at least for everyone in the room to look at me as if I had just robbed the place but nothing happened. No, I mean really nothing happened. There was no pain, no cramping and no huge explosion. I kept waiting for the repercussions to that delicious fish sandwich and there were none.
The next morning my husband and I went out to pick up a coffee and he bought me a doughnut. Not any doughnut mind you but the king of all doughnuts. A beautiful glazed Krispy Kreme. It was wonderful but I had forgotten how utterly sweet it was. To be honest with you, while I enjoyed every bite I feel that that is one thing I could live without because while I enjoyed eating it, I did find that I had some issues with it. I was tired and my joints hurt afterward. I am not sure if it was the gluten or the sugar, but I will take that one off of my list.
The next order of business was pizza. I have been craving a “real” pizza ever since I went gluten free. I have found a gluten-free crust I really enjoy, from the company Against the Grain, but as good as it is, it is still not a substitute for “real” pizza. Our kids who were visiting at the time voted for Little Cesar’s. I used to love their pizza, but once again found myself disappointed that it was not as good as I had remembered. When I was finished I was bloated and still craving that “real” pizza taste. I did however really enjoy the crazy bread. When all was said and done I did find that I was extremely bloated but still, no explosions.
Monday, while on yet another trip to Home Depot to get something for the house, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that almost made me scream with joy. Chick-Fil-A! I love, love LOVE their chicken sandwiches. It was not time to eat so my husband promised to take me there the next day for lunch. He did and I am happy to say I was not in any way disappointed. It was just as yummy as I remembered it. I did forgo my normal wheat bun as I did not want to push the gluten issue but still, the sandwich was cooked to perfection and the memory makes me want to go back yet again.
I still have some time before my test and, as the reality of the situation hits me, I keep thinking of something that I have missed that I add to my list of ever growing things to eat. I must buy a box of stove top stuffing as that was one thing I was never able to replace. I also have this strong desire for some oversized onion rings dipped in ketchup and, at some point; I will need to eat a hostess Sno Ball cake.
I don’t know if this is a full reprieve or if I am merely on a temporary furlough but I guess time will tell. While thankfully I have not experienced any intense explosions I am experiencing bloating and weight gain. While the bloating is surely a bi-product of the increase in gluten it is unknown if the weight increase is a bi-product of the increase in gluten or from trying to cram two years of denial into my two weeks of parole.
The thing that causes me the most concern, even above and beyond having the test on February 10th, is if after I go through these two weeks of eating gluten whether or not I will actually be able to have the test. I can only have the procedure if I have someone to drive me home and it is not guaranteed that I will. Don has to check into his new command on February 7th and we are not sure when they will fly him out to meet his ship. If they delay his departure then everything should be fine but if they decide to send him right away, I may have been doing all of this for naught. I can only hope that things will go as planned and I will have that mandatory ride home. For now I will continue to follow doctor’s orders and eat the many things I have missed. Tonight’s menu, a perfectly cooked, golden brown grilled cheese sandwich and piping hot tomato soup with crispy crackers. Sometimes it is those little things in life that we really look forward to.