The Glutening

The hospital gown droops around me like a main sail begging for a breeze. Still, despite it's ample proportions, the biased seams shift when I sit on the parchment paper table, and I tug at the hem to maximize my coverage while I wait. 

Having finally scheduled my first physical in two years, it was surprisingly painless—especially since my son was with my husband. Oh, the doctor's running late? Take your time! I have a book. Even fasting for the lab work to come felt easy...no minor feat given my tendency toward hanger. I was very eager to see the doctor. I like answers to medical anxieties from what's that lump  to when did that mole get there? This time, it was a relief to speak to a professional about my celiac symptoms—their mysteriousness and trickery, their uncanny resemblance to myriad other conditions or causes.

Even after being on a gluten free diet for almost three years, I still can't always tell when I have or haven't accidentally been "glutened." Am I tired because the baby is teething and up at night? Am I anxious and shaky because of our impending move and mounting to-do list? Is my headache just tension? Am I irritable because I'm at that point in my cycle? Does my stomach hurt because I haven't practiced yoga recently? Do my joints ache because my shoes have worn out? Is my brain foggy because I still breastfeed?

The uncertainty is exhausting, but I can't seem to shake my questioning. My husband and I "know" when the maelstrom of symptoms happens at once, it must be a "glutening." Even so, I'm relieved to be seeing my doctor. She'll sample my blood in slender glass vials, send them to technicians, and they'll offer up validation—one way or the other. I will either need to rein in my diet (no more eating out or "trying" new grocery items for a while) or keep looking for another underlying cause—maybe some other chemical in my body is interfering, whether it's because of celiac disease or not. I've heard of other celiacs who develop allergies or sensitivities to additional foods like dairy or eggs. I hope I'm not one of them. 

My most recent "reaction" appeared as the result of tequila. Incriminating, right? I hadn't had any tequila since being diagnosed, and as we've been clearing our pantry of everything from chia seeds to baking soda, the opened bottle of Patron resurfaced. It tasted fine to Kevin; smelled fine to me. I read the label and looked it up—100% pure agave, legit for celiacs. I could have a margarita?

Kev whipped up a cocktail to accompany our grilled pork chops with lime and cilantro. I took a sip. It was strong, but good. We were about halfway through our meal (I was only a quarter of the way through my 6 oz drink) when my head started to hurt, pound. I stopped drinking the tequila, started drinking water. Before long, I took Tylenol. I went to sleep with it, woke up with it, the vise across my forehead tipping my balance and propelling me toward caffeine. Excedrin didn't work either. By the second day, it had subsided, and in it's place, the sudden shards of pain in my abdomen, the vanishing of my patience, the onslaught of unexplained tears, and the quizzical yet knowing looks Kev and I exchanged. What did I eat? Could the tequila have been contaminated? Was it something else? Thus began another groundswell of wondering. 

It's been a week since my appointment and maybe two since that meal. My symptoms are dissipating. I've learned that my B vitamins are normal and my D vitamins are not. I had been taking about 1000 mg of Vitamin D in my daily supplements before; I was told to double it. As for my celiac blood work, I'm still waiting to hear back. For the first three days, I checked my online results with the rapidity of a thirteen year old on Twitter. On day seven, my finger still twitches over my recent history, but still no results. My disappointment is visceral, but I'll find out soon enough. Until then, I have packing to do.