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When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease I definitely went through the stages of grief. Okay I’m still in the stages actually. Grief is a long process. I’ve experienced loss before and I do feel somewhat odd comparing this diagnosis to the loss of a loved one. It seems almost trivial. To compare my change of eating habits to losing someone close to me? But in many ways it’s just like that. Grief is grief. I’m now in the process of learning how to live gluten free and it’s hard. It’s scary. Part of the old me is gone. Much like having a person gone from my life. My life has changed. I can’t get it back. It’s simply the way it is now and I’m grieving over it.
How To Live Gluten Free In The Lou
St. Louis (or ‘the Lou’ as the locals affectionately call it) has a lot of great restaurants. This is a wonderful thing since the audiologist man and I like to eat out. A lot. Now I can see how that sounds. Typically when you eat out a lot you gain weight. I wouldn’t say that we have ever been extremely unhealthy in our eating habits. Sure we’ve gained a few pounds and lost a few pounds over the years but for the most part we’ve been able to keep it in check. Eating out is something that we enjoy doing together. It gives us the opportunity to try new restaurants in the city where we reside and just spend a relaxing dinner together. One where we can sit and chat about our day, what we’ve been up to, etc. Just reconnect. It’s a date night. Just us at a restaurant. Not having to wrestle with children or prepare the meal. It’s a dandy time. A time that I thought I lost with my diagnosis and I grieved for it.
A part of myself has disappeared and the stages of grief have become very real to me. Denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance. I’ve experienced it all. And the thing about grief is… I don’t believe that you are every truly through all of the stages. I don’t think you ever truly come out on the other side. It’s so easy to step back into the previous stages. To cycle through the stages over and over. And that’s okay. Because that is grief. It’s how it works. It’s how we survive.
Denial: When my doctor called to give me the biopsy results I was in shock. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner and suddenly told that I had a problem. A problem that wouldn’t allow me to eat what I was preparing for dinner in that very moment. I didn’t have this problem. There was no way it could be true. But it was.
Bargaining: I thought that I could cheat just a little bit. Just still eat whatever I wanted and that life would be fine. I’ve never had the horrible repercussions of the disease so I wouldn’t have to be totally gluten free. I could eat the occasional piece of bread. I could still eat birthday cake or cupcakes a few times a year. I could. Right?
Depression: Hearing that even though I didn’t have all of the symptoms associated with the disease but could still develop intestinal cancer (or additional autoimmune diseases) by not sticking to a gluten free diet sent me into a depression. My life would never be the same.
Anger: Much like denial but with a lot more feeling. Oh was I ever angry. I still am. It doesn’t seem fair at all. I’m angry that I have this problem. I’m angry that my life will never be the same. I’m just angry.
Acceptance: Some days I think that I’ve accepted it. I mean I’ve been totally gluten free (to my knowledge) so you would think that I’ve long accepted it. Only I haven’t. I still go back and forth between the other stages. Which means I haven’t fully accepted it. I don’t think that I ever will.
But I’m learning to how to live gluten free.
More specifically I’m learning how to live gluten free in the Lou.
Stay tuned as I learn the ins and out of eating out in St. Louis and staying gluten free.