Ah, books. Magical portals all, they give us insight into unknown minds and experiences; they increase our empathy. It’s beautiful. But we also need books whose characters we can relate to and identify with. Books with characters like us.
Where does this leave kiddies (and kiddies at heart) who have celiac disease? Unfortunately, 97 percent of real people with celiac disease go undiagnosed, and the same appears to be the case for book characters—in fact, the rate of diagnosis is even lower. Although 1 in 133 of your Peter Rabbits and Alices in Wonderland may suffer from celiac disease, you’d never know it from skimming your library catalog. And Googling “celiac disease novel” only brings up “Novel perspectives in celiac disease therapy.”
Does this mean there are no celiac characters, though? No! We just need to get out our microscopes. The gluten-wracked protagonists of our dreams are there if only we look deep enough into the bowels of literature.
My favorite is Moaning Myrtle. True, JKR never said she had it, and it’s a little late for a biopsy; being a ghost, she probably hasn’t eaten gluten in years. But, really? Anyone who spends as much time crying in the bathroom as Myrtle does probably has celiac disease.
|“Myrtle gave a tragic sob, rose up in the air, turned over, and dived headfirst into the toilet, splashing water all over them and vanishing from sight.”
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
You see? Even in death, she can’t escape the toilet.
If it’s not celiac, then it’s colitis, or IBS, or Crohn’s. Details! As they say, we must have heightened suspicion that celiac is present. So, welcome to the club, Myrtle. In truth, I wish we had a little less in common, but I’ll take what I can get.
P.S. Am I missing anyone? Are there actually book (or movie) characters with known celiac disease? I will happily apply my celiac lens to whatever I please, but I would love to know if the “real deal” already exists.