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Our Celiac Story…continued

Pa Hubbard’s Story:  Very soon after the “cookie episode,” I explained the genetic basis for celiac disease to Pa Hubbard. Susceptibility to celiac disease, similar to other autoimmune diseases, is inherited. “Must have been your family’s inferior genetics,” he announced.

“I’m not the one with a colonoscopy scheduled for next month,” I calmly replied.

Pa Hubbard had also been plagued with digestive issues his entire life, which I suppose made us a little more accepting of Miss Muffet’s situation. It wasn’t unusual for him to sit in the bathroom for a couple of hours each morning; that was part of the reason he was always such an early riser (and also a huge contributor to how well-read he is). I’ll be honest, for a long time in our marriage I used to question why it took him so long. Just what was he DOING in there each morning?

In the prior few months, about to turn 40, he had resolved to try and nail it down. More fiber? Nope. Probiotics? Wrong again. He finally had seen a gastroenterologist, who was hoping a colonoscopy might reveal the problem.

I suggested he eliminate gluten for a bit, just to see if it made a difference for him. He looked incredulously at me. “Can’t I take a pill?”

The first few days of gluten-free living was hard on Pa Hubbard. “This stinks,” he said grumpily. “I want bread. How do people DO THIS?!”

After a week and a half, Pa Hubbard changed his tune completely. “I can’t believe how GREAT I feel! I can’t believe that I’ve lived with this my entire life! I’m 40 years old and I feel REBORN!” He was telling everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, about his experience. He was a gluten free evangelist.

In addition to his digestive issues clearing, Pa also felt more energetic than ever before. A few weeks after eliminating gluten, he put Miss Muffet and Bo Peep in the jogging stroller and ran 5 miles around our city. Joint pain that he had experienced most of his life began to ease. The year prior he had gone so far as to have his bladder scoped for a urinary issue that had been bothering him; the scope was completely normal, and the physician suggested his problem was likely “psychological.” It hasn’t bothered him since being gluten-free.

Staying gluten free hasn’t been easy for Pa. He has to travel quite a bit for his job, and there are many times when he has been “glutened” in restaurants. This includes expensive restaurants with otherwise knowledgeable chefs, and restaurants that cater to those on a “gluten free diet.” And it isn’t nice for him or me when he gets glutened. He gets cranky, irritable, and depressed, as if his brain has a chemical imbalance. There is a name for it among the gluten intolerant community: “Celiac Rage.”

So how does Pa feel about “doing this” after two years? Does he miss my homemade baguettes… his mother’s chicken pot pie… Chinese takeout? As he said to a friend the other day, “When something makes you that sick, you don’t miss eating it all.”

About Cathy Rehmeyer PhD

I am Wife to Pa Hubbard and Mother to two beautiful girls under the age of five. I am also a medical school professor, which ultimately allowed me to identify my family’s gluten intolerance issues, but has also influenced my interests in the food-body connection in numerous other ways. Prior to earning a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, I taught high school biology and was a seasonal park naturalist for many years. My experiences in medicine, agriculture, natural history, and teaching have all converged into the gardening and gluten-free living blog, Mother of a Hubbard. I hope you enjoy it!

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  • Jeannette Shields: This was great! My favorite sentence was "..you are the one who puts yourself on that scale..." You are so right and I can take myself OFF too! By that, I mean, I think a lot of my negative self talk probably weighs more than I do!!!!! View Post
  • Nancy Short: I am gluten free dairy free and yeast free. Gluten free breads seem to all have yeast extract in them. View Post