We’d been told not to make any dietary changes until we knew for sure, so I’m not sure why I thought I was ready.
I thought it would go like this…
“Mr. and Mrs. Rath, it looks like your daughter has celiac disease. We’ll have the lab results in a few days. You should start thinking about going gluten free.”
So, while we ate one of her favorite gluten filled meals for dinner that night, we happily talked about what that meant.
Yeah, that’s not what happened. (You knew that, right?)
It went more like this…
“Your daughter has celiac disease. There is visible evidence and we’ll have the lab results to confirm in a few days. You need to go gluten free today.”
Today. As in immediately.
I scrounged together something she could eat for lunch, and then it became very real.
We went grocery shopping.
For two hours.
Yes, two hours—because the aisles we perused with interest a week ago now looked intimidating and overwhelming. The shelves towered over me making me feel very small and unequipped. We went armed with an abbreviated list of ingredients to stay away from, but I soon learned just how short and abbreviated that list was.
We read labels.
And then we read more labels.
At some point, I bought a Pepsi to get her (and me) through the second hour. Don’t judge. The nurse had given her some earlier, so it was the one label I didn’t need to scrutinize. And she was a happy camper because I let her have pop in the middle of the day, and it wasn’t a special occasion.
Well, unless you celebrate the first day of the rest of your gluten free life, then it’s special.
We weren’t celebrating.
But…we weren’t in despair either.
I don’t remember everything we bought in that maiden gluten free shopping trip, but I know she ate dinner that night…and every night since then.
We also learned a lesson in that first shopping experience—everything has to be checked, regardless if it’s in the gluten free section.
And even if it says Gluten Free.
We learned this with a small container of chocolate ice cream…from the gluten free freezer section…with the words Gluten Free on the front.
But a day later, we read this on the back: This product has been processed on equipment that also processes nuts, wheat, eggs, soy and milk.
By then, I’d learned that most Breyer’s ice cream flavors are gluten free. And for that I celebrated because my favorite ice cream was safe to have in the house…oh, and she likes it too.
So, we dumped the chocolate (which no one in my family would classify as ice cream anyway) and counted it as our first lesson learned.
(To read more about the beginning of our gluten free journey, read: Letting Go of Normal)