It may not be celiac guilt as much as chronic-conditions or genetic-health-issues guilt, because I think a lot of people have this no matter what the disease or illness. Take, for example, my grandmother, whom this post is dedicated to. She died Wednesday. She did not have celiac disease, but her husband – my grandfather -had the gut issues on his side of the family (both colitis and celiac disease). He died 28 years ago, but after my daughter was diagnosed with celiac, my grandma often felt bad that their side of the family passed down several gastrointestinal issues.
Celiac Disease: All in the Family
When my husband and I decided to have children, we weren’t thinking about what diseases our children would be genetically predisposed to; let’s face it, no one would have children if we all thought they all were destined toward a life filled with chronic health conditions – some more serious than others. Joel and I knew about my grandpa’s and cousin’s colitis. But once Emma was diagnosed with celiac disease, that’s when I found out my grandpa’s sister had been dealing with celiac for 40 years. Now that I look back, she skipped my wedding reception and I wonder if it is because of her diet. I wish I would have known….
Of course since then, my brother also was diagnosed with celiac. My father has been tested but came back negative, so while he could be the carrier he doesn’t appear to have it. Joel and I discussed bringing another child into the world (after Emma), knowing that he or she may end up with a life-long health issue. We decided to take that risk when we had Grace. So far she has shown no signs of celiac disease.
Taking the Blame for Celiac Disease
None of us can truly blame others for the genes in our families. Nor can we as parents or grandparents feel guilty for bringing children into this world who become sick because of our genetic makeup. A website for Children’s Hospital of Boston explained it nicely: “Do not feel guilty that you somehow ‘gave’ celiac disease to your child. It may be a blessing in disguise for your ancestors that had suffered from similar symptoms that no doctor ever fully diagnosed. Perhaps they had been suffering from the effects of undiagnosed celiac disease.”
This, in part, is how my brother was diagnosed; because of my daughter, we knew about it. Before his diagnosis of celiac disease, his health was in a downward spiral. Who knows where he would have been in 10 years. Plus now when my brother and I have grandchildren, we’ll both know to keep our eyes peeled for any suspicious symptom.
Ultimately, when my grandma apologized for the celiac genes, I told her she shouldn’t worry about it. I am not sure whether she took my suggestion or if her fretting continued. I just hope when she passed away this week she didn’t think she was to blame for all the “ills” in our families.