Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That's right, I shun Canada's #1 export for fun*

It's been a challenging day in my little gluten-free world. Maybe if I wasn't already feeling ill for going on 48 hours I wouldn't have even noticed. But today I noticed. Big time. I get tired of having to read every fricking label. To announce to the server at every fricking restaurant what my health concerns are, and then cross my fingers that a) they convey the details to the kitchen staff and b) the kitchen staff knows what's required for me to safely eat my meal. And it's not just food. It's anything that touches my skin as well - moisturizer, body wash, tanning lotion, hair products, make up, etc.

Somebody who really aught to know better recently joked "you're taking this celiac thing a bit far aren't you?" and it ruffled more than one feather. I really do, I believe, try to be responsible about it for myself, be grateful that since my diagnosis I've felt better than I did in the last 15 years, and not expect other people to have to take care of it. But days like today I just want a fricking break. I want to put saltines in my chicken soup (trust me, rice crackers are NOT the same) and eat a Mars bar and use the locally made shampoo Cowboy bought me. I want to indulge in being sick without worrying about making myself worse. Or having other people make it worse.

Incident 1: I'm looking for a new hair product like one I used to love but that has been discontinued. I stopped by a salon, told them what I was looking for, and then without reading the label gobbed a proferred sample on my hand, rubbed it around, and then scrunched it onto the ends of my hair. And then I read the label. It included Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein and I said "Oh, I can't use this I'm allergic to wheat." To which the 'helper' replied "well, I'm allergic to wheat and I use this all the time." Oh, really? How super for you. But I break out in a burning, itchy rash, so how's about NO! So I went and washed my hands and have just put up with the itchy neck for the rest of the day.

Incident 2: I phoned Air Transat, who offer a whole wide variety of special in-flight meals, to pre-order our breakfasts coming and going to Puerto Vallarta. I choose for Cowboy and I from the "Club Class" menu, and then mentioned that my meal needs to be gluten free. Oh, quelle surprise, but I have to choose between the Club Class meal I'm entitled to, and the economy class gluten free meal. Which the 'helper' felt she needed to repeat 3 times - because really, who wouldn't choose to have the $5 meal instead of the $3 meal even if it means being sick for days after, right? And when I said that it really is more important that I be well for the trip, she said "well of course, I understand." WTF!!! Do you really think I was ordering the gluten-free meal for fun? Do diabetics have to explain why they order special meals? Do people with peanut allergies have to argue for safe food?

Yes. I'm annoyed. I'm scared about travelling for 2 weeks and having to make all my normal requests to people who may or may not speak English. And, when all else fails, I have printed out in Spanish restaurant cards, because nothing says "I'm low maintenance" like a transliterated, laminated card explaining your health concerns.

I guess, if I was going to be honest, the label for today would be pissed off & whiney. But I've pre-set them so forthright will have to do.

PS - Wheat isn't actually even in the top 10 of Canadian exports, but apparently I'm also feeling dramatic.


  1. What the heck Shan, with that bathing suit you'll likely just want to gnaw on celery sticks anyway.
    How many Spanish words have you learned? You probably won't need to use them but it's fun to have a few words available.

  2. Ya. I have connected with a large celiac community on Twitter, and everything I've heard says Mexico is the safest place for celiac's to visit (as long as the food is authentic Mexican). Still, that air line lady ticked me off!

  3. The only Spanish you need to know for this trip is:

    "Que es esta mierda?" (make sure you say it with an upside down question mark in front of 'que')

    And I love you, too.

  4. Trouble with speaking Spanish, it helps to understand the answer when given in local dialect. Hopefully they answer 'si' or 'no'. Being spanish, they will likely phrase their reply in a lengthy and flowery sentence or two.
    It's all good.


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