When I opened the refrigerator door this morning I saw three loaves of special breads: artisan whole wheat, raisin, and seeded whole grain. They are made by companies with wonderful names like When Pigs Fly and Nashoba Brook Bakery. They are delicious, I am told. But I can never eat a single bite of any of them.
Almost nine years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease I had never heard of called celiac sprue. Those of us who have it cannot eat anything with gluten, ever. And gluten lurks everywhere. In anything with wheat, barley or rye. In most soy sauce. In beer. In most cereals. It isn't just that we would have an allergic reaction (which most of us would), but gluten does bad stuff to our intestines over time, and that can lead to life-threatening diseases. It's not pretty.
It was bad enough to have to give up my morning bagel. But there are worse things. When we are invited to dinner by friends, I have to remind them of my eating restrictions. When they serve just-baked saucer-sized chocolate-chip cookies at meetings at work, I have to pass. When we go to a restaurant, I call in advance to be sure they can accommodate my diet, and I have to worry that someone will drop a piece of pasta in my soup, or a bread crumb on my plate.
On the plus side, more people are being diagnosed with this disease. And therefore there are more gluten-free products available online or in grocery stores. And more restaurants are paying attention to allergies in general. At home, I eat wonderful meals. And I didn't have to give up coffee ice cream. So it's not all bad, and it is getting better.
Nevertheless, some days I feel depressed about being gluten-intolerant. It doesn't make me feel better that others have worse afflictions. Seeing those loaves of bread this morning made this one of those days.
I've got the celiac blues.