Tag Archives: celiac

Emily Glutenin

I’m gliadin! Who are you?
Are you — a gluten protein — too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! she’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be gluten-free!
To crumble — go stale — sog —
And be discussed — the livelong day —
On everybody’s blog.


A little analysis:

1) I hope that Emily was not gluten-intolerant, because she was really into bread. I mean really.

2) The more accepted last line of the first stanza is apparently “Don’t tell! they’d advertise—you know!” This actually makes more sense with the rest of the poem and with what we know of Emily Dickinson’s personality. That we cling to the banish line just goes to show how froglike we are.

3) Agoraphobia is not simply a fear of public places (in which case everyone with celiac disease would probably have it—at least, public places where food is served). It’s a particular kind of panic disorder, and it’s not one of the almost 300 symptoms and conditions associated with celiac disease. However, it develops on average around age 25, so there’s still time for me.

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Sprue Histories: The Presidents Edition

There’s an interesting practice known as baptism by proxy, in which the Church of Latter-Day Saints claims historical figures for the Mormon faith by baptizing living stand-ins. I find this impulse perfectly understandable, albeit morbid and somewhat disrespectful. We all want to believe that the people we admire are sorta, kinda, just like us—and if they’re already dead, who’s to stop us from claiming them for ourselves?

In honor of Presidents Day, I thought I’d perform a little biopsy by proxy, a related practice popular among certain sects of Latter-Day Celiacs. Check it out:

[John F.] Kennedy’s Irish heritage, long duration of gastrointestinal complaints (since childhood), diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome and migraine, presence of severe osteoporosis, and the development of Addison’s disease all lead to a presumptive diagnosis of celiac disease. (Peter H. R. Green, MD)

Although it’s hard to believe that such a prominent figure could’ve managed to go undiagnosed, Dr. Green suggests that steroids might have suppressed Kennedy’s intestinal inflammation and contributed to a misdiagnosis. Good enough for me, Pete! It’s official, JFK was one of us. If he were alive today, I’m sure he’d be right there with his fellow Bostonians trying out the new GF muffins at Dunkin Donuts. It’s humbling, honestly—sure, it took a billion years for the doctors to figure me out, but they never got it right for him, and he was the president of the United States.

Okay, so, that article was news to me, but it’s a few years old, so maybe it wasn’t new to you. To add some real value to this post, I’ve taken the liberty of bringing a few other heads of our state into the celiac fold. As it turns out, the Oval Office attracts a gluten-fearing bunch. Here’s some presidential advice and support for you:

“Nothing short of gluten-independence, it appears to me, can possibly do. A peace on other terms would, if I may be allowed the expression, be a peace of war.”—George Washington
“Baking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”—Thomas Jefferson
“If we falter and destroy ourselves, it will be because we lost our gluten-freedoms.”—Abraham Lincoln
“The world must be made safe for the gluten-free.”—Woodrow Wilson
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Wait, and gluten. That stuff is in everything.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt
“History does not long entrust the care of gluten-freedom to the weak or the timid.”—Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Gluten is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.”—Ronald Reagan
“I misunderestimated gluten.”—George W. Bush
“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?”—Barack Obama(By the way, Mr. President, if you make it with Udi’s, then yes. you. can.)
  This one’s too easy. Bill Clinton actually does avoid gluten. For real.

Happy President’s Day. Enjoy your day off, and maybe a nice slice of coconut-flour cake in honor of Washington’s birthday. What do you think—is Dr. Green’s case convincing? And which will come first, a female president or a celiac-diagnosed president?

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Villi or von’t I feel better today?

I probably von’t, though I really can’t say.

shrugging md

One of my favorite things to hate about celiac is how slow-going recovery is. A lot of studies, like this one, check in with people after 6 months on the gluten-free diet (GFD), and (most) people feel (mostly) better by then (though most studies don’t say how people felt in between). Jules Dowler Shepard suggests 3 to 6 months for “younger people” and up to 2 years for “older adults.”

I know, I know, healthy intestines, like Rome, aren’t built in a day. But it’s a bit of a bummer that people without diagnoses are going gluten-free left and right and claiming miraculous, instantaneous improvements to their quality of life, while I’m chugging along clutching my GFD prescription and hoping I’m doing it right.

Back in the spring, I tried the ole GFD for about six weeks and observed no real difference. Did I do some stuff wrong? Yup. Did I do most stuff right? Yup. I assumed I didn’t have celiac but figured I’d go back on gluten and get tested anyway. Blood test, biopsy, and oh hey, I do have it. Awesome. This time around, I’m correcting my errors, and I’m trying the no-oats (even “pure”) and no-lactose thing. I cut out drinking, too, just in case it helps—though this has left my friends most displeased. Coffee…oh God, I just, can’t. Yet.

By the way: A lot of research is done on why people don’t adhere to the GFD. Personally, I think an online database of average length of GFD prior to various symptoms improving would be helpful. Like, type your symptom here to find that X percent of people with anemia see resolution after X months, and X percent of people with depression see resolution after X months. Knowing you’ve still got Y weeks or months left to go until you hit the average resolution date would help fortify you, and knowing you’ve already passed the average could prompt you to go to your doctor to discuss the possibility of other complications. I could get back so many hours of my life devoted to Google searching if I had such a reference.

In the meantime, I’ve settled on July 29th, precisely six months from diagnosis, as the magical date upon which I anticipate all of my symptoms will fade away like brain fog off a windshield, or disappear in a puff of hydrogen sulfide. Until then…

Knowing what ails me is making me happy,
But other than that I feel utterly crappy.

Hope you and yours are feeling vell as ve head into the veekend (a long one, for us Americans). One last assignment for this veek: If you have celiac, how long did it take you to feel better? Did you have to throw in any “add-ons” to your gluten-free diet?

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Because nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like a flowchart

Today’s post was going to be an OkCupid profile for gluten, since, as you may recall, we broke up last weekend. Unfortunately, gluten’s not ready to move on, still hanging around trying to wheedle his way back into my good graces—refusing to pick up his tTG collection, sending me flours. I’ve told him and told him, but he’s a sticky little protein composite. Maybe by next Valentine’s he’ll have cleared out for good.

In the meantime, to keep my resolve strong, I thought I’d remind myself of my other options. The world is just full of prospective dates, after all. And sure, needing to date someone who maintains a strict GF diet (or at least waits four hours, eats something else that’s gluten-free, then brushes his teeth before kissing me, just to be safe) narrows the pool to something more like a rivulet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have options. I just have to find someone who likes me. Simple. Oh, and he has to meet a standard or two, but that’s reasonable enough, right?

flowchart begin

Click to start down the warped and twisted way to my little celiac heart.

The fact that I spend my off-work hours making things like this—rather than, oh, I don’t know, dating—may be a minor contributor to my being single this Valentine’s Day. But anyone I ever date will have to like me as I am, flowcharts and all. Plus be funny. And well-read. And employed. I also realized I finished the chart without ever adding vegetarian. Factor that in somewhere between cute and Boggle. Me, picky?

So, enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my family, my friends, my new blogosphere buds, and yes, even you, gliadin and glutenin. As for you, avenin? Jury’s still out.

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