Waiting Gluten Freely

I am waiting to hear what I hope will be good news from the research tech: “Congratulations! You’re labs show your guts likely are still being chewed up because you have high levels of all the celiac antibodies in your blood. You can advance to the next step in the study!”

Woo hoo!! I mean, really, who looks forward to getting the call that your blood tests show you qualify to join an exclusive group of people with a currently incurable autoimmune disease in testing the first possible treatment for said disease? Um, well, me, I do. Call me crazy. My mother always did.

I’ve been thinking about what the doctor said yesterday. No, not about me being too old to bear children. I’m thinking about what she said about having never had any “direct contact” with someone with celiac disease before now. “I’ve only read about it in my medical textbooks, which tell you about the clinical symptoms and lack of treatments except the gluten free diet, but I’ve never talked to real people who have it until now. It’s a really painful, difficult disease, isn’t it?”

Why yes, yes it it, doctor. Going gluten free means turning your entire world upside down, then inside out, and then rotating it another 65 degrees before baking. In my case, it meant dumping all of my pots and pans, prep utensils, and things like the waffle maker, pasta colander, baking pans, mixing bowls, stand mixer, and oven mitts because there is no way to ensure that after years of making standard food full of wheat, rye, barley and oats, they are 100% free of even trace amounts of paste or flour. That gummy stuff sticks in crevices and in the faint abrasions on the cooking surface. Haven’t you yanked out the old stand mixer and found some bit of cookie batter still stuck to the side of the mixer head or in the part where the beater’s tines are connected? I’ll admit I’m not the most patient and conscientious cleaner of my cooking equipment. I’ll give up after five minutes with the scouring pad and say, “Well, it’ll burn off when I pre-heat it next time.” So maybe not everyone has this problem. But even the dishwasher isn’t the most reliable at getting that last bit of gravy goo stuck where the handle meets the pot. 

Oh, speaking of the dishwasher, I had to get a new one of those, too. Haven’t you seen how left-over food particles bathe in the tiny pools of rinse water at the bottom of the tub?   Besides, it was ancient and I deserved a brand spankin’ new one to make me feel better for having such a lousy disease.

It turned out that I had to get an entirely new kitchen, too. I had begun peeling awful wallpaper off the walls–it was a badly faded pink and blue country print with tiny heart-shaped flowers so popular in 1988 when the house was built. We all deserve to consciously uncouple from the 80s, even people like me guilty of committing horrible fashion crimes with the United Colors of Benetton and Bradlees. That paper had to go and the walls had to be restored and painted cheery red and white.

Halfway through the project I was diagnosed with celiac disease and then discovered the wallpaper paste contained, you guessed it, wheat paste!

So I paid a kitchen remodeling firm a lot of money to finish the strip job and then refinish and paint the walls  and while I was at it, refinish the cabinets, replace the floor with this awesome vinyl plank product that looks like wood but isn’t  (and is eco-friendly with no off-gassing), put in new countertops and new lighting and a new sink with a new faucet, all to compliment my new gluten-free appliances (admit it, even your oven has some crusty remnants of last Easter, or maybe Thanksgiving, petrifying on the inside). 

But I digress. The entire gluten free lifestyle is expensive and challenging. I have to have gluten free food in a gluten free kitchen cooked by gluten free pots and pans and served on gluten free plates on a gluten free table. I only can use gluten free shampoo–check your shampoo. Does it say wheat germ oil? Oats or avena sativa, which is the botanical name for oats? How about s-amino peptide complex or phytosphingosine extract or hydroxypropyltrimonium or my favorite, stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl? All contain gluten and God knows whatever else. I think they invented those names to give their little kid a hard time making words on the fridge with magnetic letters. 

I haven’t even gotten to gluten that hides in food, the stuff that gets into potato chips because they’re made on the same production line as wheat tortilla chips. Who-knows-what is on the production line of Crest’s Act mouthwash that makes the company tell inquiring customers with celiac disease that while the mouthwash does not contain gluten ingredients, it may come in contact with gluten during production and therefore is not safe for people with celiac disease. Maybe someone’s stirring the concoction with their hands after applying Jergens lotion. I don’t know. But they do say the Total Care toothpaste is gluten free. Go figure. Brush, but don’t rinse.

Thank goodness seven of the eight varieties of Chex cereal are gluten free and less expensive than the $5 a box Envirokids Gorilla Munch that also is gluten free and made with non-GMOs so I mix them in the bowl to make the munch wallet crunch a little less painful.

Having some cereal now with naturally gluten free blueberries and Silk Almond Milk while waiting to hear what the results say. If you like Chex too, have a gluten free bowl for me. Oh, and enjoy that $5 burger. Thanks to the two buck upchuck, I mean upcharge, for the gluten free bun, mine’s $7. Good thing I don’t like beef anyway.