On gluten-free (or, all I want is a fluffy bagel)…

The worst part about having migraines, is waiting for the next one to strike. In high school I got frequent migraines until I figured out that the trigger was harsh smells. For the last few months, I was waiting for the worst part. Without smelling something that is usually a trigger (like Axe cologne or patchouli) I would get a terrible migraine. When I get a migraine, I see a halo, go blind in my right eye, and then proceed to have terrible pain in the front part of my brain for four to ten hours. After my migraine hits, I find a dark room and try to sleep it off.

I only have so many sick days from work, so I decided to see my doctor to get some help. In addition to doing some other testing and giving me some migraine medicine, my doctor told me, “I think you might have celiac disease. You should try cutting out gluten.” I love bread, so I wasn’t thrilled with this diagnosis. But when you’re live your life terrified of getting another migraine, you’ll try anything.

When you have celiac disease, your body attacks any gluten that you eat. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barely. When you have celiac disease and consume something like bread or beer, your body’s immune system attacks your small intestine. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet.

I’m in week two of not eating any gluten.

Week one, Del and I went to the store and just bought nuts, fruits and vegetables. “This isn’t a big deal,” I thought to myself.

Week two, reality started to sink in. I would describe the week as ‘pitiful.’ And the apex of pity struck during today’s trip to the grocery store.

This morning before church I went to the grocery store alone and was trying to find ‘fun’ foods I could eat. The moment I walked through the doors I was hit with a feeling I can only describe as self-pity. That feeling didn’t get any better as I wandered through the aisles. I would pick up a package, see if it said ‘gluten free’ and then would have to put it down when I saw ‘wheat.’

Cereal? Nope. Fluffy bagels? Nope. Pasta? Nope. ALL I WANT TO EAT IS A FLUFFY BAGEL.

When I recognized the self-pity hitting my brain, I immediately felt guilty. I’m not the first person in the world to have a restrictive diet. I know a few people that have celiac disease, and most of them have dealt with the restrictive diet for decades. I’m able to afford food, so I should feel grateful that I have food that I can eat. There are gazillion types of food in the world, and I am able to eat more foods than I cannot eat. Regardless of all of those things, I still felt weirdly sad. It didn’t help when I got to the check-out, and the guy in front of me bought a pack of delicious, fluffy bagels. He better eat ALL of them!

Leaving the store, I started whimper crying as I drove home. The mix of self-pity and guilt over feeling self-pity got the best of me. By the time I got home and started unpacking my groceries I was crying.

In spite of my self-pity/guilt, I drove to church. When I walked through the doors of the sanctuary I noticed tables full of communion elements (wine and bread) in the back.

Seeing the communion materials in the back made me feel strangely pissed off. If a person doesn’t take communion, I know they aren’t any less of a Jesus follower. But still, I really wanted to be able to partake in the ceremony with my church. The entire service I sat in dread waiting for that moment where my pastor says, “Now, go do communion folks!” I imagined that I’d have to sit at my chair and loathe in self-pity as the people I love got to enjoy one of my favorite church activities. I then thought of all of the other people I have known throughout my life that haven’t been able to partake in communion – but wanted to. My heart sank. How had I never thought of these people? Sorry people! I was a selfish jerk.

Thankfully, something wonderful happened. My pastor announced we were doing communion, and then he said, “And there’s a gluten free option at the back table.” My heart jumped. While other people were slowly meandering to the bread and wine, I was walking like a mad woman to the gluten free option.

I got to the table, saw the gluten free crackers and wine, and felt a strange sense of relief. I don’t remember gluten free options when I was growing up. I saw the cracker, dunked it in wine, and slowly ate it. In my entire life, I’ve never felt so grateful to be able to be a part of communion.

I haven’t had any gluten for two weeks. My body has never felt so good. I have a history of stomach problems, but haven’t had any issues since I began my new diet. Most importantly, I haven’t had any migraines for two weeks. Thanks you Jesus.

If you open your eyes to The Lord, you will see Him everywhere. I’ve seen Jesus in people, in nature, and in the kind acts of others. But today, I got to see Jesus in a gluten free cracker at the back of church. The body and blood of Jesus has never tasted so good.