FACEBOOK NOTE FROM 2009:
We had spaghetti for dinner tonight. That's not a big deal to most people. But for my daughter, Emily, it means a lot. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was almost 2 years old. CD is an autoimmune disease which causes her body to "attack" her intestines if she ever ingests even a crumb of wheat gluten. You'll hear me refer to it as an allergy to simplify it for people...but it's far more than an allergy. A "reaction" for her isn't temporary and if she were to stray from her gluten free diet for a long period of time, she would have a very high risk of developing intestinal cancer not to mention the fact that she would be so malnourished her body could not function.
Many people ask us how she was diagnosed. We were blessed because the diagnosis came only a month or two after her symptoms appeared. Our healthy little toddler had lost weight quickly, except for her distended tummy. Her eyes appeared sunken in and her face was bony and pale. There were other symptoms that I will spare you. She went from being an active little girl to spending all of her free time sleeping on the couch...no running, skipping or giggling. After a simple blood test and an intestinal biopsy we had our diagnosis and treatment...living life gluten free.
At first, I thought it wouldn't be hard. After 2.5 hours at the grocery store and many tears shed, I left with Fritos, bananas and chicken. The realization hit me hard that this situation was going to be insurmountable. At that time there were no support groups...and let's face it...no one in Albany, GA even knew what wheat gluten was! I spent the first three months of her diagnosis totally consumed with notebooks to journal safe food and unsafe food, food labels and a phone to my ear calling all of the food manufacturers to ask what was in their food. Also during this time we had to be focused on getting Emily "caught up" because the time she spent ingesting gluten had depleted her body of everything that God put there to make her healthy. We had to be very purposeful about what we were putting into our child.
God had blessed me with one friend, Jackie, who lived in Albany at the time. Before Emily's dianosis, God had sent Jackie on a journey of learning to feed her family better...with whole foods. She did research for me...baked gluten free goodies (which is NOT easy)...and listened to my problems. She was a bigger help than she could possibly know. With her help and lots of time researching I began to feel less overwhelmed. After MUCH PRAYER from our family and church and having implemented all we had learned, we began to see amazing results! Within three months her stomach wasn't distended anymore and her physical appearance was almost back to normal. There were many battles to face after she began to get well. People have a hard time believing that one crumb of a cookie or cracker can make someone sick. People have tried to go to battle with me on that and in situations such as daycare, school and other public settings it can be difficult to say the least. But God's grace brought us through it.
That was such a long time ago. Emily is seven now. It's neat to see how God knits together a child's temperament in their DNA knowing how they must be equipped to handle what He has for them to experience in life. From the second Emily was born she has exhibited compassion, love, contentment and a good attitude. She has never once complained or asked "why" she has to deal with this. There are no "real" birthday cakes that she can enjoy...no pizza parties to partake of...no freshly baked cookies like we know them. And it's not just in bread....it's in seasonings, chocolate, broth....you name and it can have wheat gluten in it. My daughter is amazing because I would have thrown my hands up by now.
If you've made it this far into the rambling you're probably wondering why I'm writing about this now. Well, it all began with spaghetti. I purchased a different kind of gluten free noodles to save a buck (Gluten free is a very expensive diet). I knew immediately after I cooked them that they were going to be bad but I crossed my fingers hoping that Em's taste buds wouldn't notice. My sweet girl sat there through the meal without complaining. After we were all done she looked at me with her big, brown eyes and politely asked if she could have a PB&J (gluten free of course). While I cleaned up the dishes she sat happily with her sandwich and she was one word.....content...as always.