If you are just joining the story, this is the second half to The Journey of a Celiac.
I left off at Christmas. I had finally started to feel like I was coming to terms with having Celiac Disease. I understood that this had been a life-changing diagnosis, and what had been horrific in the beginning was slowly starting to just be...normal. We had sunk into the routines, and they didn't seem so bad most of the time.
I remember the first time I found a gluten free cracker. Ben saw it on a stand at the commissary and bought three bags of them, just in case. (Good thing too, because the store carrying them was just a one-time-thing.)
I actually cried when I perfected a pizza recipe that didn't taste like cardboard.
I was learning to cook with quinoa, brown rice, and other grains that weren't so hard on my system.
And then, around Christmas, I started not feeling well again. We searched EVERYTHING for gluten. I replaced all my makeup, shampoo, and lotion with gluten free versions (which were NOT easy to find from Japan!) That helped a little, but there was still something.
We eventually narrowed it down to our dog groomer, who had given Seamus an oatmeal bath at his last grooming appointment. He licks everything. He would lick himself, and then lick my blanket, the couch, etc. Any time I touched any of those things, I was getting sick. So we had to (very apologetically) ask the groomer to not bathe him before cutting his hair.
That helped for a while, but there was still something. We realized that with Seamus having contaminated everything with his shampoo, it was possible he was the one who was still making me sick. We researched people with Celiac and the possibility of his dog food affecting me. I thought it was silly, but there were hundreds of blog posts about pet owners getting sick, and feeling better after switching over to gluten free dog food. Yep, you heard me, gluten free dog food. Seamus is now the trendiest dog in Misawa, having gone gluten free. But I noticed the change immediately.
And yet, there was still something. Occasionally I'd still get a panic attack, or an unexplained migraine. I'd have the constant stomach pain that was similar to my days before discovering I had Celiac Disease. What now?!?!?!
So we talked about it. Ben and I realized that there was a possibility I had another food allergy.
I've heard of this happening, but I thought I was somehow exempt. (How selfish and unaware we humans are, thinking these things don't apply to us...) A person is diagnosed with Celiac and they cut out all gluten. They feel better for a few months, and then all of a sudden, they don't anymore. While this certainly doesn't happen to every Celiac, it's a pretty common tale.
It felt like beginning all over again. Eliminating everything. Slowly working foods back in to see if they made me sick. Every time I ate anything, it felt like a game of Russian Roulette, waiting to see if this was what was going to make me ill.
Luckily, we started at the right place. A friend of mine had told me months ago that when she had finally started feeling better, she got sick again and realized she was allergic to corn. I sort of discounted this (not discounting her experience, but discounting that it would happen to me, too) because corn allergies are pretty rare.
So of course, that's what it is. After eliminating all grains, I started back with corn. Some Corn Chex with breakfast, some tortilla chips with lunch, homemade cornbread with dinner. And it all came crashing down on me Friday afternoon.
Corn is in everything. Corn is America's most-planted, most-used crop. And most gluten free foods contain it.
And this is where I begin feeling helpless.(And where I have a temper tantrum like one of my students...I do always say that you are what you teach...) With all the restrictions I've already made, all the things I've cut out of my life, now I have to add corn to the mix (or more accurately, take it out). It feels like I've taken one small, timid step forward and five giant steps back.
It feels like starting over again. AGAIN.