My alarm went off like any other morning and I dragged myself out of bed, clawing at my phone as I nearly tripped over my garbage. I punched at the little tiny stop button for the alarm in frustration, and threw my phone on the bed in disgust when I finally got it to turn off. I rummaged through the pile of unfolded clothes on my chair for my work uniform, struggling through my barely awake brain fog. Once I had finally shoved my legs and arms into the proper holes I stumbled down the stairs into the kitchen to make my breakfast. As I moved about the kitchen, trying to work around my father who has no awareness to other people’s morning plights when watching his tv shows, I began to notice a dull ache grow in my cerebral cortex. I tried to ignore it and powered through the rest of my morning routine despite the onset sluggishness that comes with a migraine.
Once I was in my car, I turned on my favorite music hoping to distract myself for the next 35 minutes. By the time I arrived at work I was feeling a little better, my spirits lifted by such great titles as Middle Fingers and Shape of You. I chugged water as I walked in, acid reflux suddenly rearing its ugly head. I chalked it up to my breakfast not sitting right with me. Work began as normal except for the announcement that I would be training someone that day. Even though at that point I had only been at the job for like 3-4 weeks. We opened and had a small flow of people at first but it quickly picked up and got busier than an average Saturday afternoon.
My brain barely even registered the sudden change. All I knew was the minute we had a slow moment I was rushing to the bathroom. I won’t get descriptive but it was bad and the minute I left the bathroom, my whole body felt like it was going to shut down. Suddenly I was sweating and my headache had come back full force. I wanted to throw up but couldn’t, my body ached and the room felt like it was swaying. There was a moment where my vision went black and I thought I might pass out. I tried to power through, but I couldn’t my body screamed and rebelled and I had no choice but to ask to leave early. Thankfully my manager seemed to tell that there was definitely something wrong with me and she let me leave.
The ride home was torture. A small part of me believes that if I had waited any longer to go home I may not have been able to drive home. When I arrived, I immediately grabbed some water and took, let’s just say some strong pain medication and grabbed a bucket. I collapsed into bed but before I could drift into a restless sleep I threw up, thankfully for the only time that day.
I didn’t get out of bed again until late into the evening and all I did was get some water and then climb back into bed, not getting up again until the next morning.
Now to some this just sounds like a bad stomach bug but it wasn’t. It was much worse, I had been glutened and the following week became a mental disaster as I beat myself up for somehow letting it happen. I thought of every possible thing I had eaten the day before trying to figure out what it could have possibly been. My initial deduction was fries I had eaten while out with my family Friday night. I had not checked to make sure they used a dedicated fryer and so I swore to never eat fried food anywhere again. But after a week or two had passed and doing more research, I realized that if that was the case then my getting sick had been caused simply from a contaminated food and not from something with gluten in it. I had never had a reaction of that magnitude from contaminated food. I also realized that for me personally getting sick from being glutened usually takes at least two days. It became clear at that point where it probably happened and if I had realized sooner I probably would have contacted the restaurant it happened at.
It was a very eye opening experience for me. I have only gotten that sick one other time, while I was living in Grand Rapids and working at a Subway. That experience was way worse however, I spent most of my time in bed doubled over in excruciating pain. I think the only reason that didn’t happen this time was because of the pain medication my father gave me. Ever since being diagnosed with Celiac disease I have dealt with a lot inner struggles. I’ve wondered if I really have it, if I was misdiagnosed, because I would read others stories and mine was not similar to their’s. I would question how severely I need to adhere to a gluten free diet, how strict was to strict, how lax was to lax. I struggle with being upfront and honest about these questions because there’s already so much criticism pointed at those who are gluten free, I worried about being taken seriously. But I realized I had to stop comparing my stories to other people. Celiac disease is so new and its symptoms so vast, how could I possibly compare my self to others suffering from it.
This experience has helped push me to start worrying less about other people and more about my health. My disease is real and the consequences to my disease are real. When I posted about getting sick on facebook, I had friends who suggested maybe it was the flu, it was going around. And while I know they meant nothing bad with those words, it still hurt and angered me. If you knew someone who suffered from a disease would you undermine their opinion on their own symptoms and tell them it was something else. I still have a lot to learn about how my body reacts to gluten, how long my body takes to respond, and sometimes how it responds but it doesn’t change the fact that I have it and I have the decision of doctors to prove it.
Since that Saturday I have chosen to start trying to take a more strict outlook on my life choices when it comes to my Celiac. It’s time for me to take this more seriously and to force the people in my life to take it seriously as well. While I know my Celiac disease is not as serious as others, mine was diagnosed earlier and I did not have as much damage as the average person with Celiac, it’s still serious and if not properly maintained could get worse. I hope to start sharing some of the things I do to change my lifestyle, so I hope you’re ready to join me on this new journey.