The morning I headed off to get married I went to the doctor first. The weeks leading up to the wedding I had been getting regularly sick. I won’t go into detail – I’ll just say it was stomach cramps and spending quality time with the toilet. Somewhere along the way, there was suspicion that I might be coeliac. Coeliac disease, by my technical definition, means your body can’t absorb gluten (a by-product of wheat, barley, rye and many generally enjoyable foods). If you do eat gluten you can get digestive issues, weight loss, cancer, and death. So you know, it’s not great.
Anyway there had been suggestions that I might be coeliac (technically known as being glutarded) because every second person in my extended family is a glutard, even my adopted sister and some of the uncles and aunties who have married in have the disease. I had always maintained that if I was a glutard, I didn’t want to know, because well, it precludes you from eating so many tasty foods. I would have preferred go to an early grave eating a beer-battered, Krispy Kreme donut than have to spend my life eating bread that has the same consistency as the Great Wall of China.
But when it was getting close to wedding and I was getting sick once a week or more, I realised maybe I should get checked. Plus I thought leaving a widow behind because I love the taste of gluten may be a bit selfish.
So I went to the doctor that morning to find out if I was in fact a glutard. She informed me that yes, the test results were positive. I am a glutard and I’ve been one for a while.
This was difficult, just before I got married my life was thrown into chaos. No more cream-buns, ever. I’m surprised Emily even chose to marry such a diseased man.
There are so many things I can’t eat now. I didn’t have a high gluten diet before, but it turns out they sneak gluten into everything, it’s not just in bread and pasta. Potato wedges, pad see ewe, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, everything worth eating at Maccas (if you can call anything there worth eating), beer, soy sauce and most things enjoyable to eat contain gluten.
Plus now I have to ask when I go to food establishments if they have gluten-free food and I feel like an idiot. I assume they’ll think I’ve just chosen the “gluten-intolerant” lifestyle – which apparently may not be a thing anyway – rather than that I have a genuine life threatening and sloppy-poop generating disease. As a result, I often don’t ask, I just try and figure out what is gluten-free on my own, but then Emily pipes up and asks for me because she takes my safety more seriously, so now, not only do I look like a guy riding the GF bandwagon, I look like the guy whose wife has shoved him on the GF bandwagon perhaps without his enthusiastic consent.
I’m not that guy, Emily is not that wife, I just want to live, just not always at the expense of my image. I’m very conscious of how I come across to people in the hospitality industry.
All that said, now three weeks in, my digestion has never been better, I’m putting on weight, I’m discovering new and less interesting foods to eat and I’m learning how to talk to people who work in Thai restaurants about dietary requirements. I’m growing as a person. I’m learning to own my disability. I’m hoping to get a special disabled parking permit soon.
Sometimes, I feel like I’d be happy to risk a bit of diarrhoea and cancer for some hot wedges and a cold beer. But when I do, I just remind myself that one day, I’ll become a motivational speaker and my ability to cope with my terrible illness will be an inspiration to many.
I’m not just a glutard, I’m also a hero. Let my courage inspire you.