Tag Archives: antibodies

Dear gluten (it’s me again),

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Almost a year. And I’ve been thinking. That letter I wrote . . . maybe it was a bit hasty. Oh, I’m not taking anything back. I still hate you. I walk by cafes where you sit and avert my eyes; I see you on the subway and change cars; I tell my friends I won’t show if you do.

In truth, all that avoiding you has taken a toll on my social life. But mostly, things have been better. I smile wider, I laugh louder, and I can’t recall the last time I pulled a Myrtle. But I can’t say I’ve been quite as happy as I’d hoped. I thought you were the only thing holding me back—now I fear there’s more.

Still, everyone says I’m better off: my friends, my sister (once your pal, she too has given you up), and even my doctors, not that my love life is any of their business. Certainly, my parents have been happy enough to see you replaced at family gatherings.

Replaced? Yes, I admit, there have been a few new sweethearts. The Whipped Pastry brownies, the King Arthur Flour vanilla cakes, the flourless peanut butter cookies, the Everybody Eats baguettes, the Food Should Taste Good and PopChips . . . It’s been a whirlwind. You may call it promiscuous, but I prefer “keeping busy.” And, by the way: not to brag, but they’ve been good. Almost as good as . . .

Do you know, gluten, that you cause me physical pain to this day? I dropped all that tissue transglutaminase on your doorstep, but instead of a whole new life I found a donut-hole in my heart. You haunt me; you obsess me.

Kindly do not misunderstand. I don’t want you back (several systems in my body wouldn’t stand for it). But here we are, in the thick of the holiday season, and you’re cropping up at all the parties, grinning in that rye old way of yours, trying to get a rise out of me. I hope this isn’t too bold—I can be honest with you, right? We’ve known each other a long time—but just the smell of you makes my mouth water.

I started 2013 with no resolutions, dear gluten, but by the end of January, you’d given me one: stay away—far away—from you. And I’ve been good. I’ve stuck to my guns. It hasn’t even been so hard: it’s in my DNA to hate you.

Still, you and I both know your very purpose is to form bonds, and Stockholmy though it may be, I feel your pull. I’ve scanned too many appealing pictures of you online, eyed you regretfully from across too many crowded rooms. I think I’ve gotten away, then snap! I’m back in the cereal aisle making doe eyes at the Cheerios. Something about you is . . . elastic.

So I wonder if, maybe, I should let you back in. Just a little. A taste. How’s this: At one of those parties, we can both get a little tipsy, and one thing can lead to another, and then for many days to come I can thoroughly regret it as my friends berate me for my lack of will, and I lie in bed, clutch my stomach, and cry for what shall never be. You’re happy, I’m unhappy, and we both get a nice little reminder of my 2014 resolution. Good, right?

I guess what I’m asking is, gluten, what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Because I’ve got a sloppy midnight kiss with your name all over it. All you have to do is show up dressed as a cake pop.

Yours wafflingly,
Molly

P.S. Gotcha, sucker.

Dear reader: If you’re looking for more that’s-kinda-weirdness about love and gluten, try this song, about 48 seconds in. And if you liked my letter, please share. You, I truly do ❤.

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Good news, bad attitude

Guess what.

My test results came back!

I had been anticipating them with the same bated-breath anxiety that has preceded every report card or grade posting in my life (like I said, total Ravenclaw). When the email appeared in my oft-refreshed inbox, here’s what I found:

My tTG antibodies, which in January were hovering at some nebulous above-100 level, are down to 4. Single digits, baby! With the “negative” range defined as 1 to 3, that makes me practically normal.

My vitamin levels, which we all know I was having some trouble getting up, are now normal to HIGH, thanks no doubt to the multivitamin I’ve been dutifully taking (increasing my risk of cancer with every milligram, if the New York Times is to be believed). The one exception is the still somewhat low vitamin D, which is hard to believe considering how much sun I get. I mean, look at this healthy glow:

Photo on 6-27-13 at 8.51 PM

My WBC is just barely low and my RDW is just barely high, which according to Google indicates anemia, or maybe AIDS, or, most likely, nothing.

Everything else? Normal, normal, normal. Normal!

This is good news. It means my body is backing off. It means I’m doing this gluten-free thing right. It probably means, as my sister reminded me, that the Arrowhead Mills popcorn was perfectly safe. Phew!

With the active siege nearing an end, I suppose it also means that my little sprue city has begun to recover. Somewhere deep inside me, villi are getting to their feet, stretching out, feasting on now-overabundant nutrients. At peace at last, my body will, I suppose, turn its attention to patching wounds and rebuilding infrastructure and, from there, to business as usual. The battle is won.

But, like any good pessimist, I’m not satisfied. Eating away at the sense of victory is the fact that I still feel about the same.

If you’ll permit me to return to the report card metaphor: It’s a bit like getting an A in a class without feeling that you actually learned anything. There’s a sense that the instructor missed something, that the serviceable papers you wrote and the multiple-choice bubbles you filled in merely concealed the depths of your ignorance. That if the grader were just a bit more perceptive you’d have failed.

Thus, the picking through the results for abnormalities; thus, the restless Googling of unfamiliar abbreviations; thus, the overwhelming urge to diagnose myself with latent adult-onset type 1 diabetes or Sjögren’s Syndrome or acute hypochondria. Like any objective, abstract metric, the test results are unconvincing in the face of my subjective but oh-so-concrete feeling of being unwell.

I’ll see my doctor in a couple weeks to discuss the results, and if the visit is anything like the last one, she’ll tell me not to worry, that this takes time, that a handful of months—however long they’ve seemed, however many blog posts you’ve crammed into them—are brief in the scope of celiac recovery.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know, for those of you with celiac experience: which went first, the symptoms or the antibodies? 

And, for everyone: how do you think I should celebrate?

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