I’m warning you, I’m feeling grumbly today so if you don’t want to read my grumbles, you should go Google cute photos of kittens or puppies or something. Why am I so grumbly? Oh, I did that thing I promised myself I would never do. I let myself scroll down on an article and started to read the comments.
Why are so many folks such meanie-pants in their comments? The things people think it’s okay to say on the internet makes me lose my faith in humanity. Like to the point that not even sparkly kitten GIFS really helps.
It’s like the internet provides a switch for some folks; a switch that they wouldn’t flip if they had to say it to another person’s face, but in the freedom of their own space and comfort of their jammies, they flip with wild abandon.
And I’m not even talking about articles on contentious topics. I’m talking about run of the mill stuff like oatmeal.
PEOPLE ARE OUT OF CONTROL! It’s a dystopian novel in the making, I swear.
Let me elaborate.
If you were to hear someone say, “I’m lactose intolerant,” what would be your likely response? Not that heated, I’d wager. After all, most folks know that if someone says they are lactose intolerant, that means that the lining of their small intestine isn’t producing any/enough of the enzyme lactase which causes the lactose to pass from the small intestine into the large intestine where it interacts with that environment to cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Or if someone says, “I’m allergic to shellfish,” no one freaks out. Instead, they may offer sympathy that the shellfish avoider must skip the lovely prawns due to his/her body’s immune system’s response to the protein found in shellfish.
And for the ever growing population of folks who are allergic to nuts, we may be sad that we can’t share with them our Aunt Mabel’s world-famous peanut butter balls, but we wouldn’t assume that they are carrying an EpiPen just for kicks.
People are allergic to all kinds of things: dogs, cats, grass, mold, latex, pine trees, and even the sun. It may not make sense that our bodies go nuts and react to stuff, but they do.
So stop hating on the folks who say they are allergic or intolerant to gluten. Haters may hate but to read their comments, every person who is avoiding gluten is half-brain dead and the other half is so shallowly concerned with the circumference of their thighs that they should be taken out to the wood shed and soundly beaten about the head and neck until they wise up and just eat a bagel, dammit.
Yes, there are many, many people who don’t react in such a manner. And there are plenty of folks who latch onto every new diet out there.
But for those of us who really are intolerant to gluten, can commenters be a bit more gentle in their comments?
Let me tell you what living with a gluten intolerance is like.
When my family eats pizza, I don’t. I may eat a similar looking thing, but it isn’t pizza in the same vein as that yeasty-yummy-gooey-pizza thing you know and love. Imagine never again eating a hot dog at the ball game. Or a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Or macaroni and cheese bites on the happy hour menu. Or anything without reading its label or making it yourself.
Or imagine if you did eat something “normal”, feeling like someone is stabbing you in the stomach with a hot knife. That’s the first part. Then, as things move south, imagine needing to be near the bathroom. Let me tell you, explosive diarrhea gets old, real fast. And then there’s the several days of intestinal cramping that follows.
I remember the first time I had a gluten attack. I was a high school freshman, and I thought I was going to die. My family is of German heritage and so my life has always included lots of homemade bread, noodles, cakes, and cookies. All the comfort foods that sustain a farming family through a long, cold winter. I don’t remember what was for dinner that night. I just remember later curling up on the couch with a stomach ache like I’d never had before. These stomach issues continued to plague me until when I was an insured 25 year old, I started trying to find out what was wrong with me.
My doctor tried all the newest medication on me. Three different acid reducers, muscle relaxants for the upper duodenum, tests and tests and more tests, and finally an upper GI with that lovely strawberry-flavored barium. It’s no surprise that no medications worked, and no tests revealed anything.
She wrung her hands and went with what doctors are left with when all their tools don’t work: try to avoid stress.
What I needed was to avoid gluten. Which I found out when Mister Soandso joined a high performance gym and was put on an allergy diet (similar to the Elimination Diet). As we both stopped eating gluten, I found that for the first time since I was 14, I wasn’t suffering from the issues that had plagued me for so long. When I told my doctor, she was thrilled. She will biopsy my colon when I have my colonoscopy at 50 to rule out celiac’s but she thinks this is an intolerance. Her diagnosis: avoid it and test your kids for celiac’s.
Last winter, I inadvertently ate some gluten at a restaurant. The restaurant is about 15 minutes from my house. It was a very long and uncomfortable drive home. And then, about three hours later, the rash started. By the next day, I had a rash all over my trunk and my upper arms. My doctor’s reaction: Your reaction seems to be getting worse. You really need to be more careful when eating out.
I don’t eat gluten free because I’m looking for some magic way of being high-school-skinny. I’m very nearly 45 years old and I don’t need to revisit my high school years, thank you very much. I avoid gluten because when I eat it, it makes me sick and apparently, more and more sick as time continues.
So, feel free to leave a comment. But don’t tell me its all in my head or that I’m just being silly. Because my doctor and I will tell you that you’re the one being silly. Now, if you want to invite me out for coffee and a gluten-free scone, that’s different. Or a real, honest-to-goodness loaf of GF sourdough bread slathered in butter, or spaetzle and apple strudel, then comment away. My birthday is this week and I could use some of that comfort food that won’t make me sick these days.
ps. I mean it, never read the comments. Remember back when Walter Cronkite was responsible for telling us that’s the way it is? Folks left comments back then that showed a level of common respect for all. Their comments showed that they wanted to be part of a discourse and not just clang their swords together. It was a better time, back then. These days, it feels more important to shout from the rooftops than to sit down and talk. Let’s stop shouting and teach our children to talk with one another. I’ve got a cup of coffee and a gluten free muffin right here…let’s sit down together and stop hating on each other.