The thought hits me several times a week - Tuesday and Thursday to be exact - as the spongy blue box brushes my leg as I walk to class. It's contents vary: usually a salad, sometimes a quesadilla, and always packed neatly in one of my reusable plastic containers with a fork and napkin tucked at its side. Always a gluten free lunch to accompany my 1:30 class - and it's always just me carrying.
When I first visited my college, Point Loma Nazarene University, I remember walking around the cafeteria with awe. As a highschool senior (and undiagnosed celiac), I saw lots of exciting, pre-made meals in my future. I saw my high school lunch box sitting rejected at home. Until celiac disease entered my life, and canceled my meal plan.
Whether in class or in a non gluten-free friendly restaurant, my blue bag isn't far away. Every super hero needs a side kick - for me, my little lunch box is just that.
I'm probably one of the only girls whose purse, rather than being stuffed with lipstick, a mirror and powder, boasts a plastic bag of pills that probably wouldn't make it past airport security. Gas-X. Tums. Gaviscon. Tylenol. Tylenol sinus.
|I'm not one for fashion...but this looks about right! (Source)|
As someone with celiac and fibromyalgia, I never know when the pain - in my stomach or head - might start up. Sometimes food, even when certified gluten free, and my tummy decide they aren't on talking terms anymore. Sometimes I sit in one position too long and each tight muscle files its own complaint.
But, since going gluten free, most days I don't need to dig into my stash. Most days, I kick butt at the gym, embark on a culinary adventure, and savor being free from the pain that used to haunt me every day.
I know I'm the only one rockin' my stylin' backpack.
Honestly, I was never a big fan of pink. Too girly for the tom-boy who wore pants to her middle school graduation. But, I couldn't resist the bag whose sequin stripes reminded me of Point Loma sunsets.
And then I covered it in patches of me. A soccer ball here, a poodle for my dog Sammi there. The "Casey" engraved Scooby Doo ribbon and several "Certified Gluten Free" buttons.
I've gotten more compliments on this backpack than I can count - including from a sweet middle school boy who checked out my bling while his companions (loudly) checked out my butt. (Thank you, yoga?). Either way, among the sea (PLNU pun if you know my school overlooks the ocean!) of blue and black bags, mine never fails to stand out.
Everyone knows that this baggage - more than most 19 year old girls have yet to see - is 100% mine.
The fact is, autoimmune diseases can function like bags stuffed with bricks at times. No matter how much I try to outrun them, lift and hide them, or downplay their weight, they stay hooked to my side.
But, my baggage is beautiful. Yes, my lunchbox is worn, but it's contents still make teachers stop class and ask, "What is that delicious smell? Pesto?" (True story!) Yes, those pills are literally overkill - but, if you ever have a headache, I'm a 24 hour pharmacy. And yes my backpack reveals all my secrets - my passions, my background, my celiac diagnosis - at first glance, but I have nothing to hide.
Because most arms are tired by more than textbooks and groceries. By secrets and past addictions. By family tragedies and health scares. And, yes, even by diseases most people can't pronounce. We all have baggage. It's time to stop burying them and start bedazzling.
Do you ever feel weighed down by ceust or other health problems? What's your view on "baggage?" Comment below!