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Sprue Stories: The Christmas Edition

You may have figured this out by now, but I love Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Some of the most wonderful bits, in my opinion, are the songs, movies, and stories that go along with it. (You know, scary ghost stories and tales of the glories?)

So, I thought I’d share some with you. You’ve read the fairy tales; you’ve seen the Disney remakes; today, it’s time for the Christmas Edition, with a side of good cheer. Enjoy.

Note: I guest-posted a handful of these at Taste Guru’s blog today. If you’re incoming from there, you’ll want to skip straight to A Christmas Carol, with Gluten.

Santa with sleigh and reindeer

The Other Reindeer

You know Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, Rudolph, and maybe even Olive, the other reindeer. But do you recall Ceecee, the celiac reindeer? Of course you don’t; no one does. Ceecee used to laugh and call Rudolph names just like everyone else, but then something in that North Pole air activated her celiac genes. Soon, she was breaking antlers like a much older deer, spending sleigh practice in the bathroom, and struggling with sinus infections that gave her a scarlet schnoz to rival Rudy’s.

Since celiac was dramatically underdiagnosed in Santa’s Village, Ceecee never learned what was wrong—everyone told her it was probably just holiday stress. Boy, did she ever feel bad when Rudolph got to guide Santa’s sleigh, and she got cut out of even the footnotes of reindeer history.

The moral: If celiac disease has to happen to someone, it might as well be to a bully.

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Not So Jolly and Happy

Frosty the Snowman was a jolly, happy soul, until his latent gluten sensitivity manifested itself with symptoms of depression and anxiety. After that, all he did was sit in a nearby walk-in freezer, eat frozen pizzas, and complain that he was going to melt any day now. So much for laughing and playing just the same as you and me. Mind you, as a snowman, he ought not to have had a digestive system in the first place, much less a malfunctioning one, but there you go: he really was as alive as he could be.

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What the Grinch Really Stole

The Grinch, as you’re likely aware, hated Christmas. So much, in fact, that he tried to stop it from coming. But Dr. Seuss, as doctors often do, got a few parts of the story wrong: it wasn’t a heart, but a gut problem. The Grinch had suffered through years of gluten cross-contamination at the table of those daft little Whos, and this year, he was ready to end it.

So, he stole into Whoville and packed up all the gluten in every house, except for a crumb that was even too small for a mouse (though not, of course, too small to make him sick, had he eaten it). Okay, yes, he did get a bit carried away and nabbed a wreath or two as well. And he did pitch it off a cliff with a maniacal glint in his eye. But then he stayed up all night preparing a totally gluten-free feast—right down to the marinade on the roast beast!

By the time the Whos were rolling out of bed, the Grinch was rolling back into town, tooting his horn and distributing quinoa cookies right and left. Little Cindy Lou Who (whose stunted growth and persistent insomnia suggest she might’ve been diagnosed with celiac herself if Dr. Who hadn’t been so busy holding hands and singing nonsense with the rest of the town) beamed, and they all marveled that, even without gluten, Christmas Day was still in their grasp.

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Almost Twelve Days of Celiac

On the first day of celiac, my doctor gave to me…a positive endoscopy.
On the second day of celiac, my doctor gave to me…uhhh. Man, we really need to work on our follow-up care.

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Underneath the Mistletoe Last Night

No one suffers from fad diets as much as Santa Claus. Maintaining that jelly-bowl belly isn’t easy, you know, and he doesn’t ask for much: just cookies and milk, and a carrot or two for his steeds. But first the low-fat craze brought him soggy applesauce cookies; then the low-carb people started leaving him no cookies, just milk; then the vegans got into the game and started setting out cups of hemp milk (with more applesauce cookies). Now the gluten- and grain-free crowd gifts him lumpy cookielike substances that disintegrate into his beard as soon as he takes a bite. Poor guy.

Still, when I saw Santa kissing my gluten-sensitive mommy, I hoped he had indeed gotten only gluten-free goodies at all the hundreds of thousands of houses he’d visited before ours. Otherwise, I knew that Mommy, weak Mommy, would be waking up on Christmas feeling considerably less than nice.

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Wise Career Moves

It’s a good thing Hermey became a dentist when he did, because Ceecee the reindeer was just the first in a long train of undiagnosed celiac animals and elves, none of whom could understand why they suddenly had so many cavities. Hermey was there for the fillings and root canals, and eventually, Mrs. Claus went back to school, became a gastroenterologist, and diagnosed them all. Now, if only something could be done about Santa’s awful insurance policies.

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A Christmas Carol, with Gluten

Old Scrooge was a rotter, but he had an excuse: he felt lousy. One gloomy Christmas Eve, the ghost of his old partner Marley appeared (not a figment of Scrooge’s imagination conjured by indigestion, though you could see why he’d think so). “You’re forging a chain of symptoms that will destroy your life and your afterlife,” Marley warned.

The culprit, as you might guess, was gluten. Since Scrooge was sunk in denial, Marley ushered in some backup.

scrooge2

“I am the Gluten of Christmas Past,” said the first apparition, showing Scrooge a nightmarescape of himself on Christmases gone by: running to the toilet, lying in bed with a cool towel on his forehead, and snapping, “What right have you to be merry? What reason have you?”

The Gluten of Christmas Present came next, showing cheery scenes of Christmas dinners with nary a speck of flour, even in the pudding. The last home belonged to Scrooge’s clerk Bob, whose tiny and mysteriously ill son Tim had found considerable relief from a gluten- and caseine-free diet (though his parents could ill afford to pay the premium for such foods).

Christmas Future drove in the final nail (door, coffin, whichever you prefer): Scrooge’s tombstone. “Lymphoma,” the ghost confirmed, gloomily. “Entirely preventable.”

Scrooge awoke ready to change his ways. He called out the window to a passing boy, “What food is gluten-free?”

“Why, turkey, sir!” the boy called back.

The matter decided, Scrooge sent the boy off for a prize bird for his clerk, dumped the remnants of his (questionable) gruel in the fire, and went gluten-free immediately (because, New Year’s resolutions? Bah, humbug). Weeks into his reformed diet, Scrooge’s rage issues dissipated, and he lived charitably and gluten-free all the rest of his days.

*

Let me know your favorite Christmas stories in the comments. After that, have a happy, healthy, cross-contamination-free holiday. See you next year.

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Gluten-Free Astrology: Leo (July 23 — August 22)

I’ve decided, after some deliberation, to skip Gluten-Free Leo. You’re full enough of yourselves as it is, and I’ve got better things to do. See ya next month for Virgo!

…Of course, I’m just kidding. You guys are great; no one could ever skip over you! You’re so fun! So lovable! So good looking! I just love to stroke that enormous ego—I mean, magnificent mane—of yours, my little lions. You’re even cuter when you purr.

Photo ©  Julie Egeland | Flickr

Photo © Julie Egeland | Flickr

Now that I’ve got your attention—and yes, flattery is the only foolproof way to gain the regal ear of a GF Leo—here’s what the constellations have to say about those glorious gluten-hating guts.

As a GF Leo, you have a big personality. You are magnetic, gregarious, bombastic, and extraordinarily charming—when you’re not making a huge pain of yourself with your equally extraordinary demands on the time and attention of everyone around you. Such demands strike you at least as reasonable, because you consider yourself the monarch of your own gluten-free kingdom (which, unlike in the Disney version, consists of all that the light touches and everything that’s left over).

As such, you don’t so much appreciate having your gluten-free needs met as expect it, regardless of venue, language barrier, amount (or absence) of advance notice, type of cuisine, and Yelp reviews. I mean, maybe they’ve glutened a peon or two, but they wouldn’t dare cross-contaminate your gluten-free sandwich, right? And, um, while they’re at it, would it kill them to refill your glass a little more often? You must have finished your Bard’s a full sixty seconds ago.

Photo © Luke Fritz | Flickr

Photo © Luke Fritz | Flickr

I don’t mean to be hard on you—I wouldn’t want to risk it, in fact. Like your Cancer horological neighbors, you’re pretty sensitive (to gluten and perceived slights alike)—but unlike the crab, you don’t hide your hurt away. Instead, your leonine pride, when crossed, erupts into a roaring, indignant wrath—although with appropriate groveling it dissipates quickly. (Upon accidental gluten consumption, GF Leos often display signs of the infamous “celiac rage,” which resolves itself most efficiently when a tender slave—uh, family member or friend—is there by their side to pet the pain away.)

GF Leo is associated with the back, the spine, and (naturally) the heart, so you may struggle with back pain or perhaps even scoliosis, which is thought by at least some researchers to be associated with celiac disease. Celiac disease has also been associated with greater risk of heart disease, although another study has found celiac disease to be linked with lower risk of heart disease. Rather like astrology, it’s all far too ambiguous and conflicting for you to care, even if you are affected by it.

GF Leos are much more concerned with the big picture and with taking control of it, whatever it may be. Though you aren’t exactly the type to work hard—you’re more into the playing part—you do love to lead and (I must admit) are often well suited to it. I hope that you use your interpersonal powers for good: GF Leos belong in politics pushing gluten-free labeling legislation through the maze of red tape, or at the head of the General Mills boardroom table figuring out how to make Cheerios gluten-free. Barring that, at the very least you should be getting out into your community and getting local business owners excited to provide gluten-free goods. Or maybe taking your GF agenda to the big screen or the stage, where your creativity and exuberance fit in perfectly. Much like your fellow famous GF Leos below, you live for the spotlight.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton—you know all about him from my Presidents Day post. Yes, he’s (mostly) gluten-free; yes, he’s a Leo (born August 19th); and YES, he’s charming. Just ask M…okay, okay, I suppose he’s done his time for that one.

Madonna

Madonna, born August 16th, 1958, is one of those GF celebs for whom the stars truly do seem perfect aligned. I mean, of course Madonna is a Leo. And of course Madonna has experimented with eating gluten-free (and had a joint gluten-free birthday party with her son, then turning ten). Did you ever doubt it?

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte, born August 15th, 1769, was not a GF Leo. He liked bread baskets, fried foods, pastries, and pasta. When it came to food, he was more inclined to efficiency than anything so frivolous as texture or taste. (In all fairness, he did keep himself pretty busy with typical Leo pursuits.)However, you may be intrigued to know that scientists (tired of attempting to solve living people’s health problems) determined in 2007 that Napoleon died of gastric cancer, possibly triggered by Helicobacter pylori infection. Given that H pylori does not seem to be more prevalent in people with celiac disease than anyone else, and that gastric cancer is one of very few cancers that celiac disease doesn’t seem to be associated with, all of this means, for our purposes, absolutely nothing. That said, if Napoleon were living today with longterm unexplained pain such as he must have experienced with an advanced case of stomach cancer, he’d almost certainly be trying a gluten-free diet, don’t you think?

I know you want to keep hearing all about YOU, but that’s all for now, folks.

As always, the “information,” such as it is, in this post has been largely ripped off from The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, which is in fact the only astrology book you’ll ever need (need here being a relative term).

See also: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer

Some of my closest friends are Leos, which means that every little joke I’ve made at their expense here is okay…right? If you’re a Leo whose pride this post has either hurt or soothed, let me know in the comments. And tell me what gluten-free passion projects you’ll be heading up this month, too.

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I’m drinking coffee again. But why?

You were all super supportive when I announced I was giving up coffee. Thank you.

Buoyed by that support, I made it all the way from May 12th to June 23rd: 6 weeks total. I was coffee-free for my birthday; my sister’s graduation; my move from my former apartment to my June sublet; many, many, many workdays; a few weekend nights later than I thought would be possible without caffeine…

And then I caved. One tiny espresso one day, a small midafternoon iced coffee the next, a large midafternoon iced coffee the next, and now here I am, up to two large iceds a day.

Up to here, I am not. Yet. Photo © Josh Greenstein | Flickr

Up to here, I am not. Yet.
Photo © Josh Greenstein | Flickr

Since you’ve been by my side since the start of this grave undertaking, I felt I owed you an explanation for my failure to continue. So here goes.


Why I’m back on coffee:

1. Because each cup is worth an hour of sleep.

2. Because it’s gluten-free.

a. And I’ve sacrificed enough.

3. Because it’s too hot not to drink iced coffee.

4. Because it’s good for the brain*.

a. And the heart.

i. And the liver.

A. And the gallbladder.

5. Because it prevents diabetes.

a. And cancer.

i. And depression.

A. And cavities.

6. And I can use all the help I can get.

7. Because I have a desk job, where not only is it okay if I get up to pee every 25 minutes, but it’s actually a welcome stretch break.

8. Because it’s cheap.

a. Except when I buy it from Birch.

i. And in that case it’s worth every penny.

9. Because it smells good.

a. And tastes good.

i. And makes me look good (black coffee—so cool).

10. Because espresso cups are adorable.

11. Because it’s referenced in my OkCupid profile, which I’m too lazy to change.

a. Because the reference makes coffee sound like such an integral part of my life that it’s awkward to explain I’m actually not drinking it right now.

i. Because coffee is an integral part of my life.

12. Because, turns out, coffee isn’t bad for (my) digestion.

13. Because it makes me think faster.

a. And type faster.

i. And speak faster.

A. And, potentially, live longer.

14. Because it’s better than aspirin.

15. Because I’m not drinking alcohol right now either, and meeting people for a cup of water was getting old.

16. Because the experiment also got old.

17. Because cross-reactivity is bogus.

18. Because it’s a valid form of self-care.

19. Because everyone else is doing it.

20. Because it (sort of) supports the livelihood of one hundred million people worldwide.

21. Because I don’t have to drink so much to feel effects anymore.

22. Because I reassured myself I could live without it.

23. Because I missed it anyway.

24. Because I wanna.

25. Because I can.


Why I’m not back on Diet Coke:

Come on.


Thanks again for your support! Anyone else give up (or take back) anything good lately?

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