As the new year begins and another one slips away, I do not have a recipe to share (I have been cooking my brains out for two weeks and just need a break),
I'd rather share some JOY . . ..
Looking back, every year since our initial diagnosis with celiac disease has been a better year -
adjusting more easily,
moving forward with life instead of battling undiagnosed symptoms.
Looking forward, knowing that there will be challenges but that every year will be better . . ..
Yes, celiac disease is and can be very hard, but today lets focus on the good of celiac disease,
on one of the
The Silver Linings … in Celiac Disease
On a quiet afternoon or evening when we have a few hours between soccer games and guitar lessons, you can often find my daughter and me in the kitchen, the TV turned on to the Food Network, hammering out the ingredients for our latest and greatest gluten free, casein free food concoction. No matter what our mood when we start, at the end of it we both fall blissfully (yet somewhat exhausted from all the finger licking) onto the stools at the kitchen counter to sample our latest endeavor.
Of course the end result is almost always a reward in and of itself. Like the Better than the Original Gluten Free Casein Free Samoas. But we have had a few flops as well, such as the tomato soup that tasted more like thick and hearty pasta sauce. In fact, we ended up using it as pasta sauce.
Even more than the food, it’s the time we spend together doing something we both love that is the greatest reward. This is when my daughter shares her feelings about her friends, her dream of visiting Venice, her struggles with how hard it is to eat gluten free when her friends are eating birthday cake, or even worse, Krispy Kreme donuts. But this is also when she learns how long to sauté onions or whip up a gluten free treat that will please any picky eaters. Skills that will last a lifetime. Skills she will need for a lifetime. And this is the silver lining in celiac disease.
We all know the common thread of the story of diagnosing celiac disease. My oldest daughter, Alex, entered the world on Leap Day 1996, an almost ten pound thriving baby with a full head of beautiful hair. Then the signs began to appear – the colicky baby, the projectile vomiting in the ER one Thanksgiving, the pot belly stomach. By third grade she was addicted to Pepto Bismal and often suffered from flu-like symptoms. The doctor’s answer each time - "it’s just the flu." Then finally that unforgettable visit to the doctor’s office where you are determined not to leave until you have an answer.
The answer of course was celiac disease. The relief in knowing that it was treatable by diet, but oh what a diet! The day we found out that Alex had celiac disease, my husband and I darted straight to Whole Foods. We spent five hours strolling the aisles, spent hundreds of dollars and rushed home to prepare a smorgasbord of gluten free childhood delights we were sure our family would love - namely cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, and cookies. Sadly, the meal ended with all of us in tears. I mean we were literally all crying – we could not imagine eating this food for the rest of our lives.
And yet, only a week after the entire family went gluten free, I began feeling better than I’d ever felt in my life!! What was going on? Of course, I soon realized that not only did my daughter have celiac disease, but I did as well. Not to mention a dairy allergy.
Then my child changed into someone we had not known before. One of the first changes I noticed was the color of Alex's skin. She had always been so pale. Yet in the middle of the rainy season in Seattle, my daughter had a tan! Where had this come from? Then the shock at realizing it was because she was healing. Not long after came the spontaneous dancing, the little skip across the family room for no apparent reason. Finally bigger changes, five inches of growth in a year!
Two years later, the changes required to live gluten free (and I mean LIVE) have all been made. Our life seems normal again, at least our version of normal. While celiac disease causes a lasting life adjustment, living gluten free will not prevent you from living the life you choose, unless you let it. My family has chosen not to live to eat, but we eat so that we can LIVE. You can eat out, you can travel, you can visit friends and family for meals, you can do anything you want, because there’s always a way.
There have been many, many silver linings in dealing with celiac disease. What a blessing that the running, laughing, exploring, fun-loving, beautiful soul of my child, for so long hidden beneath the illness, has emerged and thrived. The growing closeness of our entire family as we regularly gather around the table for family meals. What a blessing that I feel better than I have my entire life. The healthier lifestyle that we all live (we have not had fast food in almost three years). And, one of the greatest blessings of all, the bond that my daughter and I have sealed in the kitchen.
My daughter says she wants to grow up and study cooking in Paris and be a chef. She is only eleven so there are many years for her life dreams to change. But one thing is certain – I know she will never forget the hours we spend in the kitchen, flour flying, creating our latest and greatest gluten free meals.