On how you can help me with celiac disease…

A few months ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

To be honest, I don’t enjoy talking about it. I bring it up in my blog more than I do in person. I have a hard time asking for help, so talking about a medical issue in person feels like a lot.

In the last weeks, a few of my friends have asked me what they could do to be helpful.

On top of that, this week Ted Cruz announced that if elected president he would ensure all military meals were not gluten free. Ted Cruz is a family man, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he made his comments out of ignorance and not malice. Nonetheless, to me, his comments showed that there is a serious need for more awareness on celiac disease.

In light of these events, I have spent a few days thinking about it. Here are four things you can do for me if you’d like to be help.

1) Read up on celiac disease. Short definition: celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. If people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body attacks itself. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can read more:

This is a simple read on celiac disease

This is a quick read as well

And if you’re looking for entertaining, this blogger is fun

2) Understand

With celiac disease, 20 parts per million in what you consume is enough to cause a reaction.

This is what 20 PPM looks like:

 You notice how you can’t see it? I can’t always see it either, and that is the problem.

How do you get cross contamination?

If you’ve cooked with wheat in your kitchen, it could be on your spoons, pans, toaster, mixer, etc. I have had to throw out a lot cooking supplies.

If you have gluten free crackers, but then you place them next to something that isn’t gluten free – the gluten free crackers are now contaminated. For example, I was once at a party where there were gluten free cookies. However, they were placed on top of other cookies that were not gluten free. Because those two different cookies were touching, I could no longer eat them.

If I am coming to a party at your house, I do not expect you will provide food for me. However, if you want to have an option for me, please buy pre-packaged food and put it in a corner away from all of the other food.

3) Please don’t be offended if I don’t eat your food.

I am flattered that people want to bring me food. Thank you for thinking of me.

However, if you’ve just read that part on cross-contamination, you probably don’t have a kitchen equipped to cook for me. When I don’t eat your food, I am not trying to be rude – I’m trying to make sure I don’t get sick.

Instead of food you’ve made, I’d love gifts cards or pre-packaged food.

If you live around Jackson, there is only place I haven’t gotten sick: Qdoba. I love Qdoba.

If you aren’t sure what food to get, you can look for this little sticker. Or, I can eat just about any fruits or veggies.

 4) Pray for me.

I’ve been getting sick from gluten about once every other week. When I am sick, it causes problems for about three days. It is exhausting.

Please, just pray. Pray that I figure out what works. Pray that people learn more about the disease.

To my husband on Valentine’s Day…

When you say your marriage vows, there are a few things you promise:

For better or for worse

For richer or for poorer

In sickness and in health

I always imagined the last one was for when you or your spouse got cancer, right? You or your spouse gets really ill some disease when you’re in your sixties, and the healthy spouse takes care of the one with cancer or whatever.

The love of my husband helped me learn (again) that I was wrong about that assumption.

I have mentioned this before, but my family is very independent. Growing up, I cannot recall calling many neighbors, family or paid professionals for help. If the water heater was broken, we fixed it. If the roof needed to be redone, we did it ourselves.

While that has lead me to be very good at taking care of myself, it has also lead to me not calling out for help when I should.

The last year has felt like one big cluster fuck of sickness. A few months of depression and anxiety. A few months of neck and back issues. And now – celiac disease, which is for the rest of our lives.

In the last two weeks, I’ve gotten sick twice from accidentally eating gluten. Two weeks ago I accidentally had almonds processed with wheat, and it took me down for two days. Then, today, I ate something with a small bit of gluten and I got a migraine.

When I get sick, the first thing I want to do is run away from everyone. I want to curl up in my bed and make sure I am not a burden.

But marriage vows don’t work like that. My husband doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes I feel ridiculous for having so many health issues. Through it all, Del has been there. When I was sick two weeks ago, I laid in bed while Del camped out next to me. When I got sick today, Del stayed next to me until I woke up.

Without Del, I’m sure that my family and friends would have helped me through being ill. But honestly, having a husband who takes care of me when I’m sick has been one of the best blessings of my life.

When I was a little girl, I use to think that being married meant you just got to be happy all the time.

Now that I’m older, I think marriage is really about echoing the love of Christ into your marriage in all that you do.

If I were sick and Christ lived on earth, what would He do? Well, hopefully He’d just heal me. But short of that, I think He would do exactly what my husband is doing. He would let me rest until I got better, but while I am down He would never leave my side.

Don’t get me wrong, taking care of a sick spouse is not easy. Some days Del is tired, and some days he is frustrated. But more than anything, he is kind and patient.

For some people, Valentine’s Day is about chocolate and roses. I don’t think there is anything wrong with those gifts. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate?

But this year, our Valentine’s Day was my husband showing me that he lives out our marriage vows every single day. I’ll take that over chocolate and roses any day of the year.