I own this.
It comes with me everywhere I go.
With almost 200 posts written on this personal blog, it is a topic I have not yet shared. And the reason I have avoided the topic is simple.
Because I haven’t owned it.
Even though it has been with me for the last seven years.
Until one month ago, that is.
This post is not about the Epi Pen; that has only been necessary to carry for the last month. And, even with the medical need, I didn’t own that I needed the pen until this week; I finally started carrying it everywhere I go.
No, this post is not about the pen; it is about gluten. It is about knowing for the last seven years that I have a gluten intolerance and have not taken it seriously until now. I considered myself semi-gluten-free. My most common response when asked about the intolerance:
“I don’t have Celiac. I can cheat without having too serious of a reaction. It’s okay if I eat_____(fill in the blank)”
Some reactions were more serious than others, but I would suffer through for the sake of a great meal or baked treat. Being told by doctors I tested negative for Celiac disease even though I present a long list of Celiac symptoms when I eat gluten was the one thing I clung to as my excuse for continuing to eat something that made me sick.
A month ago everything changed. I had avoided cheating for over four weeks when I decided to take one bite of a biscuit I made for my kids. Soon after I was scratching and my skin felt hot to the touch. I had hives over my entire body and it was getting worse quickly.
After 24 hours on Benedryl around the clock, it was even more severe. Four unsuccessful days of Benedryl led to Prednisone, which took three days to see an improvement and a week to feel normal again. After years of presenting Celiac symptoms, I now also had a severe allergic reaction.
The first time eating in a restaurant after the reaction, I inquired about gluten in a dish. The waiter asked if I had a gluten intolerance. Instead of telling him it isn’t that serious, I can cheat, and other nonsense, I hesitated for a moment, looked at him, and stated, “Yes, I do.”
I wasn’t admitting it to the waiter; I was finally admitting it to myself.
I own this.
I carry it everywhere I go now.
And the pen comes with me too.