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Hooray! Our third book made it to the publisher! This book is perfect for a “newbie” to the gluten-free lifestyle, but has useful information for those who have been living gluten-free for some time.

We cover the various emotions that can be experienced once you switch to a gluten-free lifestyle – relief, fear, panic, denial, self-pity, anger and acceptance to name a few. These emotions are normal and you may experience them more than once – I know I have during the past 2 years of gluten-free living.

We talk about brain fog and bodily functions. Yes, bodily functions. I have learned, from personal experience, if you have Celiac disease you need to be able to discuss “bodily functions” with others. It can be such a big part of the Celiac lifestyle!

We discuss the challenges faced by different age groups – infants, children, teenagers and adults. Each age level has their own unique set of challenges with the gluten-free lifestyle.

Also covered in this book is the 504 Plan for school-aged children and the steps you need to take to start a 504 Plan with your child’s school.

Our book has a retail price of $18.95, but you can order our book – at a discounted introductory price of $15.00 – at https://www.createspace.com/3700105 with delivery expected between Dec 22 and New Years (sorry, holiday shipping is slower than normal).

We are also offering a bundle package of our new book, along with our two previous books for the low price of $35.00 if ordered through our website. This is a great deal – $51.00 in books for $35.00!

“Don’t Feed Me – Gluten-free, dairy-free Cooking” (regular $16.95)

“I Can’t Eat Your Treats – a kid’s guide to gluten-free, casein-free eating” (regular $14.95)

To order the bundle package, visit our website order page at:

I am generally very healthy and haven’t had to see a doctor for a very long time. I’ve had my checkups and mamograms, but haven’t needed a prescription. Until today. The last prescription I had was a few years ago – “pre-Gluten-free”. I’ve researched gluten-free prescriptions for our website (www.onthewingsofhope.com), and for my grandchildren. I have a long list of prescription brand names and manufacturers. But I’ve never had to walk down the long, long road of actually obtaining a gluten-free prescription. Until today. I discovered it was a long, long, frustrating walk down that road.

It actually began last Saturday with shampoo. I washed my hair with a new shampoo in the morning and accidentally got shampoo in my right eye. I will admit, it’s my own fault. My own fault for not being careful and letting the shampoo drip in my eye. I immediately rinsed it out and thought nothing of it. It stung a little, but hey – it’s soap. Soap in the eye always stings. By the afternoon, my eye was a little itchy. Again, I thought nothing of it. It’s fall and allergens are in the air; I stay up too late and tired eyes get itchy; I had eye makeup on and must have gotten some in my eye. (Yes, it’s gluten-free make-up from Avon – by the way, did you know Avon carries over 600+ gluten-free products? That fact is why I am now a distributor for Avon. You can check out their products at http://onthewingsofhope.avonrepresentative.com/. I would be happy to send you a list of their gluten-free products.)

When I woke up on Sunday morning, my eyelid was a little swollen and itchy. Within an hour after getting up, I started to experience the symptoms I get from cross-contamination. Severe diarrhea, terrible abdominal cramps, migraine, nausea and brain fog. Since I manage to be cross-contaminated about once a month (because even after 4 Celiac grandchildren and being gluten-free myself for over a year and a half I still mess up), I try not to give in to the symptoms. I’m getting pretty good at appearing fine when what I really want to do is crawl under the covers for about 48 hours. I refuse to let gluten get the best of me. I followed my Sunday schedule, picked up three of my grandchildren and we drove the 90 miles to visit my mother in the nursing home. After our visit I dropped my grandchildren off at their home and drove the 55 miles back home. I worked at home until the evening. By this time, most of the symptoms had lessened (not gone, but livable), so I assumed it was a very small gluten contamination. I hadn’t been able to determine the source of the gluten, yet, because I assumed it had to be food. I’m very sensitive to gluten and even eating a gluten-free product that has been manufactured in the same facility as wheat can make me very sick for 2-3 days. When I first start experiencing symptoms, I always take 2 slipper elm bark (to slow down the diarrhea and calm the abdominal cramps) and 2 acidophilus (to balance the internal flora and calm my stomach). My eye was very irritated and itchy by Sunday evening, and seemed to be getting worse. I had been mentally backtracking everything I had eaten since Friday. I can usually pin down what I’ve eaten that has made me sick. I knew all my food had been safe, so I started going over all the other products I had used in the past 2 days. When I realized I had used a new shampoo (without reading the ingredients first), the light came on. Bling! I read the ingredients on the new shampoo and found “hydrolyzed wheat protein”! Well, DUH! That explained the eye irritation and a day of gluten symptoms.

“They” say gluten can’t be absorbed thru the skin, but it can certainly enter the body through the eyes. If I get gluten on my skin (makeup, hair spray, lotion or a food product with gluten in it) I don’t get the intestinal symptoms, but I do get itching and blisters wherever the gluten has touched my skin. Unfortunately, the eyes aren’t sealed and gluten CAN enter your system through your eyes.

Needless to say, on Monday my eye was still very irritated, red, crusty and so itchy I wanted to rub it like crazy. It was probably a good thing it was too sore to touch, or I may have been tempted to do just that. However, when I awoke this morning, my eye was swollen totally shut. It looked like I had run into someone’s fist. It felt like it, too. It was painful just to touch my finger to my eyelid. Obviously, it was time to see a doctor. The diagnosis was Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) caused by gluten. I had my list of gluten-free brand names with me and the Dr. prescribed antibiotic eye drops.

This is where the “fun” began. When I went to pick up my prescription, I checked it to be sure it was the brand name, not a generic. Nope – the pharmacy automatically fills prescriptions with the generic form. I explained that my swollen eye was caused by gluten in my eye, which is the reason I needed to have the brand name, gluten-free medication. The pharmacy told me they didn’t carry the brand name – just the generic form. When I asked the pharmacist if the generic was gluten-free, he didn’t know, but offered to call the manufacturer to be sure. . He tried to call the manufacturer a couple of times, but kept getting put on hold and then being disconnected, so gave up (they were very busy in there today). He told me he could transfer my prescription to another pharmacy, if I could find one who carried the brand name. So, of course, I thanked him and visited two other pharmacies – to no avail. It seems everyone carries the generic form (and no one could tell me if it was gluten-free or not) but no one carried the brand name. I went back to the original pharmacy and asked for the name of the manufacturer, their phone number and the correct name of the generic antibiotic drops. So far, I had spent over two hours trying to get my prescription filled! I went home and called the manufacturer – and got put on hold and disconnected, redialed and was put on hold again for 15 minutes. When I finally reached a person, she was able to verify that the generic form is indeed gluten-free. Wonderful!

I called the original pharmacy and told them that the generic form is gluten-free and would be over to pick up my original prescription. That should be the end of this story, right? Nope – this was not a good day. I picked up my prescription, thanked the pharmacist for his help and went home. I opened the bag with my prescription and read the usage instruction. The first words that I read were “Instill 4 drops in the ear(s) four times daily for 10 days.”  IN THE EAR??? Under the precautions, it stated in large, bold letters “DO NOT GET THIS MEDICINE IN YOUR EYES”. Aw, geez. I get ear drops for an eye infection.

Of course, I then had to call the doctor’s office (it takes 10 minutes of various recordings to get to a real person.) I explained what happened (plus the fact that I just paid a $10 co-pay for a medication I can’t use.) The nurse puts me on hold to talk to the doctor . . . . . . . . 15 minutes later she comes back on the line and tells me he “oh, just called in the wrong prescription, but now he’ll call the right one. But you might want to wait a little while to pick it up because the doctor’s office is closing and they’re going to finish closing before they phone in your prescription.” Great – 3 hours later and I still don’t have my prescription. I called the very nice pharmacist and explained that I had received ear drops instead of eye drops and that the doctor would be phoning in a new prescription. I also asked him about the $10 co-pay on a medication that I can’t use – and that the pharmacy can’t take back because I left the store with it and they can’t verify the safety of it, even tho I haven’t opened it and the seal is still intact. As I said, this is a very nice pharmacist and they agreed to waive the co-pay on the new prescription even tho it was the doctors screw-up and we all know I won’t be successful in getting the $10 out of the doctor or his office. Like I said, a very nice pharmacist. I told him I would wait about an hour before I came to pick it up – to allow the doctor’s office time to close and actually phone in my prescription.

Guess what??? About an hour later, the pharmacist calls me and informs me – they don’t have the brand name OR the generic of the eye drops in the store! AAAAGGGGHHHH! They can transfer my prescription to another pharmacy, if I can find one that carries it . . . . . is this sounding familiar?? OR they can order it and it will be available tomorrow. I told him I’ll take door number 2 and stop in after work tomorrow to pick it up. I’ve had this fat, swollen itchy eye for 4 days now – what’s one more day? I’m just too tired 4 hours later to run around and call around trying to find someone who has the prescription in stock!

I really hope the medication works. I’d hate to go through all this just to end up having to go back to the doctor again. And believe me – I’m going to work very hard at staying healthy from here on out. And be much more vigilant about reading ingredients on EVERYTHING before using it!

The upper Midwest has a new, wonderful Celiac Center! The Celiac Center of Minnesota is located in Bloomington, MN. They opened their doors last October, and served over 250 people at their Grand Opening Cookout. There is a definite need for organizations like the Celiac Center!

The Center is a great place for newly diagnosed Celiac families and individuals who choose a gluten-free lifestyle. They offer a 30-minute orientation class on Mondays at 6:00 pm. This class is free and open to the public. It will provide you with a basic overview of your new lifestyle and arm you with the tools you need to make sound choices in the grocery store and in your kitchen.

They also offer a wonderful learning and teaching program for children – the Gluten Detectives. This class is offered at 6:30 pm on the first Monday of each month. The hour long class is filled with educational and support activities geared towards children, to help them understand their new gluten-free lifestyle. Each child receives an official Gluten Detective I.D card at their first class! Gluten Detectives – from age 3 -17 – learn about their gluten-free lifestyle, how to read ingredient lists, what foods are safe for them to eat, etc. They are taught how to take control of the foods they eat and what is safe for them.

I wish I had been able to write this blog about a month ago, because this week, the Gluten Detectives are joining each other for three days of Gluten-Free Camp. This camp isn’t just a camp where they play and have fun and just happen to eat gluten-free foods. At THIS camp, the children “Investigate, Advocate and Celebrate” their gluten-free lifestyle. Camp includes games, activities and cooking classes all centered around learning to be gluten-free. There will be guest speakers, gluten-free cooking classes and team building activities. I am so impressed with this camp because they will be teaching the childrenn how to be responsible for their gluten-free lifestyle. Be sure to mark you calendars to be included in next year’s Gluten Free Camp!  To find out more about the Gluten Detectives, visit their website at http://www.celiaccenterofminnesota.org/The_Gluten_Detectives.html.

This is a wonderful resouce for those who need to, or choose to, follow a gluten-free lifestyle. You can also find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Celiac-Center-of-Minnesota/193652217338260. Their Facebook page provides tons of information about Celiac disease, local eateries that offer gluten-free choices, information on their up-coming classes – check it out! You don’t need to live in Minnesota to access their information.

I’ve written about the importance of having family members tested for Celiac disease, if at least one family member has Celiac disease. However . . . I only mentioned blood tests. I would like to remind everyone that the Celiac blood tests are only 30% – 40% accurate. A case in point – my granddaughter Morgan (who is 13) and my grandson Carter (who is 10).

My 4 year old granddaughter, Aivah, was diagnosed with Celiac disease and a casein allergy 2-1/2 years ago. I was diagnosed in May of 2010. I also have a sister who has Celiac disease. Because of the number of Celiacs in the family, and knowing that not everyone has the digestive issues or DH (dermatitis herpetiformis), my daughter had her remaining 6 children tested for Celiac disease. She had the Celiac panel run on all 6 children. The Celiac panel measures your immune system’s response to the gluten in the food you eat. The blood tests consist of :

tTG-IgA or tissue transglutaminase-IgA
AGA-IgG or Antigliadin IgG
AGA-IgA or Antigliadin IGA
Total IGA

The anti-gliadin IgG and IgA are the “anti-gluten” antibodies. Ig stands for “immunoglobulin” or  “antibody”. The anti-endomysial IgA and anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA are specific to diagnosing Celiac disease. The tissue transglutaminase IgA antibody is often abbreviated as “tTG”. Each antibody test varies widely in its sensitivity and for predicting whether Celiac disease is present.

However . . . these blood tests are only 30% – 40% accurate. Morgan’s and Carter’s numbers were BELOW the normal range with the first blood test. Morgan was to have a second blood test 2 days later. She stuffed herself with gluten until the next test. (She was not a healthy puppy! She said the “overdose” of gluten products gave her nausea, diarrhea, headache & brain fog.) The results of her second blood test rose up to the normal range. So, her blood tests would suggest she DIDN’T have Celiac disease – she was in the “normal” range.. Carter did NOT change his eating habits before his second blood test. The results of his second test were the same as the first – below normal. So, just because the “numbers” aren’t high, doesn’t mean you don’t have Celiac disease.

The kids have a wonderful doctor who is knowledgable about Celiac disease and knows the blood tests are not accurate. She agreed with my daughter that the kids should follow a strict gluten elimination diet for 2 weeks. An elimination diet for gluten consists of eliminating ALL gluten for two weeks. No sneaking, no cheating, read all the ingredients, know what other names gluten is called on ingredient lists – this includes food, soaps, toothpaste, shampoos & personal care products. At the end of two weeks, you eat a food that contains gluten and see what the reaction is. If there is a definite reaction (diarrhea, headache, rash, brain fog, etc.) your body is telling you the blood tests were wrong. You do have Celiac disease.

Morgan didn’t need to eat gluten at the end of two weeks. She was cross-contaminated by a friend of hers towards the end of the first week. She shared her water bottle with a friend who was eating a sandwich on wheat bread. The friend left enough gluten on the opening of the bottle to contaminate Morgan. Morgan suffered the above symptoms for two days. Morgan’s symptoms before her elimination diet weren’t severe. At least we didn’t think they were. She had felt lousy for so many years, it was just “normal” to her and she didn’t complain. Many of her symptoms were “explained” by puberty – rashes, mood swings, brain fog. It wasn’t until she was gluten-free for two weeks that she finally realized she had been sick for a long time, and now knew what it felt like to feel healthy!

Carter didn’t have drastic symptoms, either. He never had the digestive problems of diarrhea or constipation. We didn’t think he had brain fog. He did have mood swings and occassional frustration, but hey – he’s 10 and lives in a family with 10 children in the house. My daugher noticed some improvement in his behavior during the two weeks, but was questioning whether or not he had an issue with gluten. Once the two week elimination diet was up, Carter ate a sandwich on wheat bread. Within 2 hours he was nauseated and pale, developed a belly-ache and the “Celiac headache” and had definite brain fog for a day and a half. He did NOT have any intestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation. Not everyone does, which is one reason it can be hard to diagnose Celiac disease. Everyone thinks you have to have intestinal issues.

Their doctor agreed that the elimination diet is 100% accurate. Both children have been diagnosed with Celiac disease. Thankfully, neither of them seem to have an issue with dairy. Their little sister has a Casein allergy and I’m lactose intolerant. Had my daughter only taken the results of the blood tests, both children would still be eating gluten. And still getting sick. It might have taken years to diagnose them. It might have done considerable damage before they received a diagnosis. I was 57 when I was diagnosed.

Blood tests are not the only medical tests that can be performed. Enterolab performs stool test samples. I have spoken to numerous doctors who use Enterolab to test their patients for Celiac disease and have been told the stool sample tests are 80% – 90% accurate. There are saliva tests and blood tests for the Celiac genetic markers. There is also the duodenal biopsy – this used to be the “gold standard” in Celiac testing. The problem with the biopsy is, if there is no damage to the small intestine in the spots they take the biopsy from, the test will show negative results. Or, there may not be any damage to the small intestine, especially with children. Personally, I feel the easiest, least expensive test is the elimination diet. If you don’t have issues with gluten, going without it for 2 weeks won’t hurt you. Two weeks is not enough to eliminate all the gluten from your system, nor will your body recover from the gluten you have eaten – in two weeks. It can take up to 6 months for your digestive system to recover – each time you eat gluten. However, two weeks with no gluten is long enough to find out if you have any reaction when you DO eat gluten.

If you have one family member with Celiac disease, I urge you to try a gluten-free diet for two weeks.

Whether I accidentally eat gluten or “just” get cross-contaminated, the one side effect that I I really, really don’t like is the brain fog. When your thought process works fine – for all of 5 minutes – and then you can’t remember what you were doing? I can be having a normal conversation and will lose my train of thought right in the middle of a sentence. Or when  . . . . . doggone brain fog! Um, let’s see – where was I going with this? Oh yes – words disappear from my head. In the middle of a conversation, I’ll forget what a common word is – like “bird”. It’s like I can look inside my head, and know where the word is, but everytime I try to look at that spot, instead of seeing the word, I see an empty hole. Eventually, the word reappears but by then I’ve forgotten why I needed that word. My brain isn’t like this all the time on gluten. It comes and goes. I can be “normal” for hours, and then the fog rolls in for 20 – 30 minutes and I have to dig my way out of it again.

I decided to discuss brain fog because, well, I’m trying to find my way out of it at the moment. This blog may take a little longer than normal to write, tonight. This is the 4th time in two weeks that I’ve been cross-contaminated. I’m really getting tired of it. I’m remembering how I felt all the time, before I went gluten-free. Back then, I thought THIS was normal – it’s how I felt everyday. That was back before I was able to discuss the dreaded “bodily functions” with other people. In public. Since that time, I’ve discovered if you have Celiac disease, you HAVE to learn to discuss bodily functions – like diarrhea, constipation, nausea, belching, burping, gas, abdominal cramping and vomiting. And not be queasy about discussing it. It doesn’t bother me to talk about bodily functions, anymore. I have a harder time discussing the brain fog. Everyone has bodily functions, some more often than others. They can relate to them. However, brain fog isn’t a common occurance, that I know of. Another Celiac will be able to relate to brain fog – but the “general public” can’t. I’m always worried that when I try to explain what brain fog is, people will just assume I’m trying to find an excuse for memory loss, or they might worry I have the start of Alzheimers.

I know that I only get brain fog when I’ve had gluten. I know it will only last 2 days (off and on) when I’ve been cross-contaminated with a slight amount of gluten. I know it will last 4 – 5 days when I’ve actually eaten something with gluten in it. I also know that the brain fog isn’t the only side-effect I get with gluten. After over a year of living gluten-free, I know by my symptoms if I’ve “just” been cross-contaminated, or if I actually ate gluten by the severity of the symptoms. I know this is different for everyone, but I thougth I would share my experiences with you in case you hadn’t thought things through minute by minute, like I tend to do.

With a slight gluten contamination (eating a chip that has been manufactured in the same plant or on the same lines as gluten items) the first thing I notice is I hold my breath. When I hold my breath, my abdomen doesn’t hurt as much. But I notice that I’m holding my breath before I notice that my abdomen hurts. It’s more of a “tightening” in my upper abdomen, rather than an actual abdominal cramp, to begin with. About an hour or two after I notice I’ve started holding my breath, the abdominal cramps begin. Then slight nausea. Then a headache – not a migraine, just a headache on the right side of my head. Not enough that I want to grab for the Advil. It sort of comes and goes, but it isn’t the intense pounding that makes me hold perfectly still. A few hours later and I know the gas pains will be upon me. There are times I could swear I was in labor all over again, if I didn’t know better. With labor, at least you get a sweet little baby at the end of it. With gluten contamination, all you get are gas pains that snap you in half, or take your breath away until they make their way through. At the end of all of this, of course, is the diarrhea. This will last 36 – 48 hours and I know it will be gone.

However, when I get a larger dose of cross-contamination or actually eat something with gluten IN it (as opposed to ON it) it’s an entirely different story. That also starts with holding my breath to avoid the abdominal pain. At this point, I don’t know if it slight contamination or actual gluten. Within 2 hours, however, I will definitely know. Instead of an abdominal “tightening” it’s full speed ahead right into severe abdominal cramps. Someone is inside me, grabbing handfuls of intestine, twisting and trying to rip it out. Diarrhea doesn’t take its time, either. Slam, bam, let’s not leave the house because I’ll be back in the bathroom in 5 0r 10  minutes. Certainly not long enough to go anywhere. The one-sided headache slams right into migraine. Pound, pound, pound, pound! If my head were to explode, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would probably hurt less than the migraine! Of course, I have nausea. The thought of food just makes it worse. And then nausea slides right into vomiting. (I really, really hate to throw up! I will do just about anything to avoid throwing up!) These severe symptoms will last a minimum of 4 days, and then slowly fade away. I will say, I’m getting much better at pretending I’m ok when I’m not. People tend to get nervous around someone who seems to be sick all the time. I’m not sure if they think they can catch what I have or if they think I’m a hypochondriac. I guess it doesn’t really matter.

It doesn’t matter if I know I’ll be through the symptoms in 2 days or in 4-5 days – my “treatment” is the same. At the first sign of breath-holding, I take two Acidophilus. This is a probiotic that helps to “balance the internal flora”. I love to use that phrase – it drives my grandkids crazy! They’ve learned not to ask what “flora” is – because they know I’ll go right into lecture mode and explain it to them in detail. I wait to see if the diarrhea will start (it always does, but each time I give myself the false hope that maybe THIS time I won’t get it.) As soon as that starts, I take two slippery elm bark. This is the inner bark that has been scraped from the outer bark of the Slippery Elm. It has been used by Native Americans for many medicinal purposes. It soothes the digestive tract and is a demulcent substance. (Demulcent – A demulcent (derived from the Latin demulcere, “caress”) is an agent that forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane – Wikipedia). It will not turn diarrhea into constipation. It just “slows things down” and puts it all back to a “normal” consistency. (I could discuss this in more detail, because I’m not squeamish about discussing bodily functions any longer but some of you might be, so I kept it short. 🙂  )

Then comes either the candied ginger or gingersnaps (gluten-free made with real ginger.) Ginger settles the stomach and helps to treat the diarrhea. Candied ginger has a “bite” to it, which I happen to like. My grandkids don’t. They prefer gingersnaps for stomach problems – hey, you get to eat cookies when you’re sick – what’s not to like about that? If I’m out of ginger or gingersnaps, I’ve found that the Altoids peppermints help. Natural peppermint also helps to settle an upset stomach and soothes the intestinal tract, and Altoids uses real peppermint oil in their candies. After this, I just wait it out. There isn’t much else you can do but let the gluten work its way through your system and hope it’s a fast trip this time.

Well, I wrote the blog and it only took me two hours. I find that if my thought process gets lost in the fog, I step away from what I was doing for 5 – 10 minutes and ignore it, when I go back I remember what I was thinking of. If you have similar symptoms or symptoms that I don’t have, leave a comment. Sometimes we think everyone reacts the same way we do – or we think no one else has the same reactions, and we’re in this alone. I know neither one is right, but it’s nice to know there are other people out there who go through the same things you do.  I’m going to go . . . . um, do something. I wonder what it was? Oh well, I’ll figure it out.

I felt like a ship, today.  A ship on a trip. Ha! That’s funny. Well, at least it was at the time, cuz it was a rhyme. Ha! Again, that’s funny. It’s probably really not funny to anyone but me, but that’s how my brain is working today. A little off-kilter. I’m not normally this off-kilter. I normally have a thought process that has a beginning, a middle and an end point. Today, there are holes in the middle and I’m not sure I can find my way to the end.

Anyway, I felt more like a boat, than a ship. A little, tiny boat. In a really big storm. The winds of cross-contamination battered me all day.Throwing me from side to side on the waves of nausea. Thunder rolled and pounded in my head. Inside the ship (ok, it’s a boat) the crew of villi battled out a mutiny, knives of pain slicing into the tender tissue. The battle raged all day, my determination to “appear normal” losing out to exhaustion, forcing my eyes to close against my will. The explosions of gas that rolled through the underbelly kept me conscious. Then the brain fog rolled in and obliterated most of the thought process.

Yes – I was “glutenized” today. Cross-contamination. Not even full-blown gluten (Thank goodness!) I know I’ve written about cross-contamination numerous times in the past and you may be thinking, “Oh gee, not again. We all know to be careful of cross-contaimination.” Yes, many of us know about the dangers of cross-contamination and how easy it is to be “glutenized” without being aware of it at the time. Many of us know to keep gluten and gluten-free foods separate. Many of us know to wash off counters and cutting boards after using them for gluten foods. Many of us know to wash our hands after touching gluten foods, before touching gluten-free foods. Many of us know all the “do’s” and “don’t’s” that make up living a gluten-free lifestyle. But many of us occassionally make mistakes. Small, seemingly insignificant mistakes. And these little, bitty, tiny errors in judgement create a REALLY BIG CONSEQUENCE!  I’m normally very diligent about where the gluten is. I have a shared house – gluten items and gluten-free items. I’m the only Celiac in the house and don’t feel it’s fair to make the other person in my house eat gluten-free when it isn’t necessary for her health. I’m gluten-free, as are the three cats. My granddaughter is the only one who CAN eat gluten without any health issues.

As I was saying (I tend to get off the subject and foget where I was going with this brain fog.) I cross-contaminated myself today. Or maybe it was late last night. Aha! I just figured it out! I’ve been going over and over everything I touched in the past 24 hours. Couldn’t figure out what I did. I contaminated myself last week when I packed my granddaughter her lunch. I put wheat crackers in a plastic bag and forgot to wash my hands after touching the crackers. Within 4 hours I was that “ship on a trip”! (Haha – it’s still funny to me.) So, you’d think I would learn, wouldn’t you? Nope – last night I made her a cheese & salsa quessdilla on flour tortillas. THAT’S what got me! I handled the flour (yes, wheat flour) tortillas and I don’t remember washing my hands. I do, however, remember eating a couple of mini gluten-free chocolate mayonnaise chocolate chip cupcakess after I made her snack. Which means I contaminated my cupcakes with the gluten that was still on my fingers from handling the wheat tortillas.

Doggone it! I could kick myself when I figure these things out! I’ve been gluten-free for over a year and my 4 year old granddaughter has been gluten-free for 2-1/2 years, so it’s not like I don’t have experience with gluten and cross-contamination. But I get busy and forget to put the thought of gluten in the front of my brain rather than in the basement. With the lights off. And the door closed. Darn it!

I was at work (my day job) when the trip on my ship started. I am normally prepared – I keep acidophilus and slippery elm bark in a pill container in my purse for those “just in case” moments. Acidophilus is a probiotic that helps to “balance your internal flora” (it drives my grandkids crazy when I use that phrase!) and helps to aid in digestion. Slippery elm bark is a natural, no known side effects anti-diarrhea treatment. It doesn’t constipate you (we don’t need that problem after severe diarrhea), it just slows things down. (I learned quite awhile ago, if you have Celiac disease you can’t be squeamish about discussing bodily functions.) There wasn’t any gingerale in the pop machine – Schwepp’s uses real ginger which helps to calm an upset stomach and digestive system. My candied ginger was at home, so no help there. Ginger snaps also help (the ones made with real ginger) but, of course, I didn’t have any of those handy either. Be sure you only eat the gluten-free ginger snaps!  I forgot I had a tin of Altoids (Curiously Strong Mints) in my purse until I was on my way home! They use real oil of peppermint, which is also good for calming the digestive system. So . . . I plugged away at work, watching the clock, waiting until I could go home and really feel rotten, staying where no one would see me. I ate two of the mints on my way home, and now, two hours later, I’m feeling a little better. The mints ease the shooting pains I get in my abdomen. Mint is a wonderful thing!

The possibility of cross-contamiation is an issue I have with many restaurants and bakeries that now offer “gluten-free items”. The food may be prepared with no gluten ingredients, but where and how was it prepared? Are the cooks and servers (and the owners) aware of cross-contamination? Do they know how small of a particle of gluten can make someone sick for days? Do they understand the dangers of cross-contamination? If someone who has many years of experience can make a mistake, try to do too many things at once and contaminate herself – how easy is it for a server, who is unfamiliar with Celiac disease, to handle a wheat hamburger bun and then pick up my gluten-free fruit with the same hands? How do I know the cook didn’t cut a wheat sandwich on the counter and then place my gluten-free food in the same spot? Or didn’t use the same knife to cut my food? I don’t. This is why I choose not to eat in restaurants. Yes, I’m letting fear control my choice to eat out. But it’s not just fear in control. It’s the knowledge of – and firsthand experience with – the results of cross-contamination that are also in control. As enjoyable as it is to eat out, it is SO not enjoyable to suffer the consequences of someone else’s mistake. I know if my food gets cross-contaminated by the smallest particle of gluten, I will be sick for 2 – 3 days. I know I will become that “ship on a trip” and it’s not a vacation trip!

So, anyway, I’m going to stop rambling and go finish my trip. In my ship. While the rain continues to drip. I gotta get a grip. The cat scratched my hip. My gingerale looks good – I’ll take a sip. And stay in my chair so I don’t trip. Okay, okay, don’t give me any lip.  🙂

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