When I was first diagnosed as a Celiac, I was living with my freshly-legal brother. This meant that there was a constant barrage of 18 year old boys swarming the kitchen & eating quite literally everything. I was still growing accustomed to not being able to eat whatever was available, so every meal was a mental challenge– and having a bunch of teenage locusts that ate everything in sight only increased that challenge.
As difficult as it was for me to adjust, it was ten times more difficult for my brother. He could never seem to remember that double-dipping his knife into the peanut butter would imminently result in my suffering, and he was (and still is) rather careless with his gluten-flinging when he was cooking. And since he has the ability to eat everything (and I mean EVERYTHING), he constantly forgot that I could hardly eat ANYTHING. This all too often resulted in me going to the fridge to get something to eat, only to discover that it was no longer there.
Now, I am absolutely masochistic when it comes to going to school, and I always try to schedule my school days so that I am only there two days a week– which means that I would be at school for around 12 hours a day. During my adjustment period into a gluten-free life, this translated to me eating breakfast and then basically starving myself until I came home. Sometimes I would remember to bring fruit or something with me, but I always came home ravenous. On one such day, I returned home at eleven at night salivating over the chicken and mashed potatoes I knew I had in the fridge.
I practically sprinted to the fridge when I returned home, only to discover that my chicken had found it’s way to another mouth while I was at school. This was a Wednesday. At the time, I did grocery shopping on Thursdays. All we had in the fridge was some eggplant parmesan & some gluten-contaminated Jelly. (I don’t even like jelly….)
I have a flair for the dramatic, so about 15 minutes after this discovery, one of my brothers friends came in to find me laying on the kitchen floor in a dejected manner that only I and my niece can really pull off without looking psychotic. He asked what was wrong, and then I didn’t see him for another thirty minutes, when he came back wearing a superman cape.
OKAY. He wasn’t really wearing a cape. But he should have been.
This particular friend 0f my brothers had some dietary restrictions himself, so he understood my plight. He felt so horrible about me not having anything to eat in my own house that he had ridden his bicycle almost two miles to his house & returned with two small sweet potatoes, a tomato & a cucumber. He threw the potatoes in the oven & quickly sliced me up a simple salad that I could eat while I was waiting. I was simultaneously overwhelmed with gratitude & filled with hope for my love life.
You see, I was convinced at the time that if my own brother couldn’t be supportive of my disease & remember not to contaminate me, then I would I never find someone in a romantic sense that could do that. My brother is not a horrible person, and I know that he really cares about me– he has been there for me when I needed a ride to or from school, has been an emotional cheerleader when I was going through devastating times in my life. He has even driven thirty minutes just to help me figure out how to work a DVD player. He isn’t some jerk who could care less– he is just careless. I don’t blame or hate him for it, nor do I take it as a reflection of his feelings for me. It just how he is, and I accept that like he accepts all of the things about me that he isn’t a fan of.
But his friend showed me that night that not everyone is as forgetful about my dietary issues as my brother. And overtime, my best friend showed me that she is almost more concerned about those issues than I myself am. And through the support of my mom, my best friend & her family, I was able to make the adjustments into a fully gluten-free life.
These days my best friend has the new title of ‘girlfriend’, and she lives a mostly gluten free life. My health is important enough to her that she rarely brings gluten-things into the house. When she does, she is obsessive about cross-contamination. She washes everything twice. She brushes her teeth after eating. She refuses to kiss me if there is even an inkling of a chance that she has gluten-mouth, despite my protests. She is supportive of me in every way possible, and I am reminded every day of how lucky I am to be in love with such a wonderful person.
Moral of this story: Hold out for the person that will refuse to kiss you– you will find them some day.