This last weekend was the prime example of how far I've come since freshman year. Besides the dietary changes, the hardest part of celiac disease is the isolation. It's so easy to say no when a pizza party turns into a "Casey-watches-people-eat" party." But this year, I've learned to say yes. And I couldn't be more grateful.
Yes, to the 9-pm donut runs while I'm already rocking my slippers and tie-dye pj shorts. I couldn't taste that powdered sugar - in fact, I'm noticing that me plus huge quantities of nearby gluten seems to trigger nausea? Maybe my body's finally getting a sense of self preservation! - but I could help my friend choose chocolate frosting over sprinkles.
And join in the nervous laughter as we got lost in the sketchy neighborhoods near my school. We agreed that, if necessary, we'd sacrifice the donuts as payment for directions.
Yes, to rolling into Starbucks later that same night though I've never drank caffeine and haven't even checked if anything they serve wouldn't kill me. Cause there's no classier pairing than donuts and coffee as we watch The Conjouring in our pjs.
And yes to the double date with friends to a Korean restaurant where no one speaks fluent English. I'll be honest - before we left, I was terrified. Like usual, I'd done my homework and learned that nothing "gluten free" was associated with the restaurant. My friend assured my that everything was naturally free of gluten - but, as every celiac knows, cross contamination is the real beast.
So, I packed my own dinner - say hello to a potapas tortillas quesadilla stuffed with veggies, daiya cheese, pesto and ahi tuna - and hoped for the best. I don't mind bringing my own food as long as no one else minds either. Like restaurant owners who have, sometimes politely and other times not so much, informed me that outside food is prohibited in the restaurant. Understandable? Certainly. Awkward? Heck to the yes.
One nice part of a foreign restaurant with limited English, however? If they noticed my plastic container and food, they didn't mention it. If necessary, I would've waited to eat in the car, but I savored the chance to be like everyone else at our table - eating, laughing and enjoying the final hours of the weekend.
And when we took a detour to a Chinese market on the way back? I said yes to that too. Cause, gluten or gluten free, I'm always willing to learn something new.
And while I didn't buy any goodies - unlike my friends who loaded up on Japanese stick cookies, soft press and macadamia nut chocolates - I did load up on some memories. And I'm just fine with that.
Just like, during a party for my school's literary magazine this week, I'll be just fine devouring my own lunchbox of sweet potato salmon sliders as everyone else pulls a vanishing act on pies from Pizza Hut.
Celiac isn't easy - especially when college students' obsession with everything edible joins the picture. But, as this semester is teaching me, sometimes the best response is "yes." (As long as ingesting gluten isn't in your future!)
How do you deal with celiac isolation? What do you try to say "yes" to? Comment below!