I feel like calling the travel agent who booked me on this calamitous tour to ask for my money back. “Hell-oo-oo? Hello? It’s me, Terina, and I don’t know who messed up, but I wanna talk to their supervisor. Hell-oo-oo, hello?” In my heart, I know I can’t do that, but couldn’t they hand over the handy dandy hitchhiker’s guide to this altered galaxy?
I was first diagnosed with celiac disease late in 2004. As a third-generation celiac, I knew my odds were stacked, but that possibility didn’t make the diagnosis any easier. I dawdled about prolonging the misery through Thanksgiving and Christmas, thinking that gluten-free would make a great New Year resolution!
Gluten-freedom began for me, January 4, 2005, and on that day eating, the simple, inborn survivalist skill that requires no more effort than that of a toddler—to pluck food up and stick it in one’s mouth--became infinitely more complex!
I felt like a boat had dumped me off shore and I landed tippy toed—in it—right up to my chin. Total immersion in the culture and the customs and to top it all off, suddenly I’m forced to learn a foreign language--that of food labels!
The daughter will tell you that I’m no good with languages. The closest I have ever come to being a linguist is when I inadvertently mimic the accent of anyone with whom I’m speaking. (It’s accidental! I promise!)
Being a native English speaker doesn’t help one decipher the complexities of food label intrepretation. It’s more complicated than the subtleties of bath, wash and rest rooms. Explain the difference between malt and dextrin and maltodextrine! YIKES! Wheat, rye, barley, oats, malt, and any derivation thereof on any label, that food is OUT! But without a degree in food science, it is not a mere eyestrain that brings on the migraine!
What does it all mean?
Well, the sad and easy translation is that there will be no more reaching without reviewing, no more plucking without perusing, and no more shoving it into the mouth without a certified lab analysis of the contents!
And all of this must take place in the time and space before breakfast. If ever again one wishes to eat out for lunch, that will require extensive research on the restaurant’s safety protocols, scrupulous evaluation of the menu offerings, and for me it usually ends in a heated discussion or lengthy debate with the wait staff.
By the time dinner rolls around, there are no dinner rolls around. Is it any wonder that the exhaustion has overwhelmed and overcome, and then Pshaw! Who gives a rat about dinner anyway!
Reality Check: Just what is needed to add to the myriad of complexities in life—a do-or-die diet!