Before my doctor's visit last week, I never imagined such medical jargon would ever pop up by my name. Remission is for cancer patients, I thought. Those sick little children a few doors down from my hospital room in September. Not me.
Except, that's exactly the term that the doctor used after peering down at my blood results. Antibodies - normal. Vitamins - check. All that added up to one phrase: Your celiac is in remission.
And, after a lot of thinking, I've finally figured out what "remission" really means to me.
RE: reset. Before I mysteriously started suffering from nausea, weight loss and acid reflux, my stomach was as big as a black hole and equally indestructible. I shocked waitresses, friends envied my wooden leg and soccer practice always ended with a Brownie sundae.
I can't go back to the way things were - though if anyone has a spare time machine, hit me up! - but this is my chance at a redo. Right now, my body is free of damage, full of nutrients and friends with (almost) anything gluten free.
MIS: misnomer. Because no matter how many times my doctor may tell me that I'm normal, I'm not. As I put it, I'm one weird chica. I can't test my teenage metabolism through midnight pizza runs or ice cream parties at my college. I'm part of the 1% of Americans that actually want to gain weight. Case in point: the first thing an old high school friend said to me when we met up after a year? "Geez, you're skinny! What happened to you?"
Just because I am in remission doesn't mean that celiac is any less prominent in my life - just like cancer patients whose hair grow back in different colors or proudly wear mastectomy scars, my body is forever changed.
|This body's been on an adventure...|
Yet, the dire effects of celiac disease, undercut by the gluten free fad diet dominating the news, never hit me until last week. The issues with bone density. The risk of cancer if a celiac "cheats" (as if!). The challenges with fertility. I have always associated "remission" with cancer, and while cancer and celiac definitely aren't the same, now I understand how harmful both can be in their own way.
|Not always an exaggeration (Source)|
ON: onward march. Because yes, I was sick. Yes, now I am "healthy" even if I am not normal. And the power to remain so rests in my hands.
It isn't easy. When my sister and dad ordered Papa John's during the World Cup, my tongue betrayed me by drooling buckets. And, as my family embarks on a cross country road trip this coming summer, the challenge of finding safe, un-contaminated food has never seemed more terrifying. Ergo, the car will be stuffed with 25% personal items and 75% food (including this delicious homemade hemp seed butter!).
No matter what happens in the future, though, I'm moving forward in an onward march. I have all the tools I need: gluten free goodies, a celiac support system worth a year of free food (and this GF grub gets expensive!), and a stubborn attitude carved by a year of stomach struggles.
No one was more surprised than me when "remission" joined this celiac's party. The more my writing-major mind analyzes the actual word, though, the more it makes sense. It perfectly explains the celiac roller coaster of my last year as I dipped and swirled through resets, sicknesses, misnomers and mistakes until finally moving on.
So, when anyone asks how this celiac is doing, I'm not going to drone on about my improved digestion, continual fight for weight, or latest cooking feat. Instead, I'm just going to smile and say, "My celiac disease is in remission. How great is that?"
What does "remission" mean to you? Do you consider yourself "fully healed" from celiac? Comment below!