Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Celiacs and College Roommate

It's a common nightmare scenario. The popular, blond teenager boarded with the mysteriously sweet loner who, after sixty minutes of suspense, finally strikes in a bloody shower scene. Months ago, when I thought about rooming in college, sometimes I would joke that, with my luck, I'd end up with a psycho. In a million years, though, I never figured that I would be the difficult one.

Celiac disease changed all that.

I didn't realize the challenges that celiacs would pose for rooming until, a few weeks ago, when I caught the school spirit bug and stayed up until midnight to discover my dorm number and roommate. The administration of PLNU laughed at us on Facebook the day later, but the rush of discovering those tiny three numbers and names canceled out any embarrassment. My roommate, who I will call Katie, and I Facebook messaged for a few minutes past midnight, sharing the usual - What's your name? Where do you live? Can you believe we're college freshman? - info. I went to bed smiling, ready to embrace my new housing and housemate.

Behold my glorious dorm!

The next day, when we started texting each other, reality set in. All while my thumbs were flying on the keyboard, I wondered, "How should I tell her? When should I tell her? Should I tell her?" I'm not ashamed of having celiac disease. In fact, I plan on buying a GF or Celiac t-shirt. I'm loving the skull and crossbone look made of wheat. Thing is, though, I don't introduce myself with "I have ceilac disease" in the lead. Their first impression of me should be of a quirky, sarcastic teenage girl, not a chronic illness on legs.

The problem is, not telling Katie before I get to know her isn't an option. We're college roommates. That means we share a small room and a fridge. A microwave. All of which need to be set up before we meet on the first day. Therein lies my problem.

Being my typical self, at first I casually agreed that we could share a fridge. What could it hurt? I thought. Wheat stuff on one side, gluten free on the other. A few weeks later, I had to send The Text. The text that "outed" myself as a celiac and took back my agreement to share the fridge. My stomach felt sick when I typed it. I hadn't even met her and this stupid disease was already making me sound like a back-pedalling freak

Cue the foreboding music...

Two days later, I got The Text back. "Okay. I don't have a clue what that is, but I'm willing to learn and get my own fridge." 

And that text made all the difference. Before celiac disease, I had no idea what gluten was or how to avoid it. I didn't know about cross contamination. So all I can hope for is that the people around me want to learn

Sharing my college living space with someone who eats gluten won't be easy, but I am so blessed to have a roommate who respects my crazy diet

With a little bit of luck and support, maybe having a roommate while eating gluten free won't be so psycho after all. 


Are you guys living on campus at college? What did your roommate say when you told them? Comment below!

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