So after Emma found gluteny noodles in her gluten-free pasta at Maggiano’s, I was worried she’d burst into a sudden display of a messy sickness– nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loose stool, — or at the very least– maybe a tummy ache, or even a really bad attitude. But 48 hours later – no dice. Which actually was convenient since we flew home from Washington DC the next day – but in the long run this worries me.
Is it bad that I’d prefer my daughter have a reaction? In general, if Emma’s had gluten, I really want to “witness” it. But why? Is it that former newsie coming out in me—the nosey side? Am I just a concerned parent or worse, maybe I’m just wishing the worst on my own daughter.
All of these options sound horrible when said out loud. But I am concerned about those adolescent years—she’s 11. Those years aren’t far away. And if she knows she won’t react, in her mind, why NOT eat something with gluten – or why bother worrying about cross contamination? Wednesday night when we were walking back to the hotel from the Metro Station, she uttered the words, “Mama, if I don’t have a reaction does that mean I don’t have celiac disease?” Uh oh.
I of course explained to her right away that she still had it and the gluten that was in her food was doing damage to her gut even though it may not manifest itself in an outward symptom. But when she’s 15 and thinks I’m the dumbest person in the world, why would she believe ME? I’ve really never given this issue much of a second thought until this instant.
Many Celiacs are Asymptomatic
But I know I’m not alone. Some Americans with celiac disease have no outward physical reactions when they accidentally or intentionally eat gluten. This is an issue that causes a lot of second guessing among many celiacs: “A little bit won’t hurt”, “I don’t react like ‘so and so’, so I must not have it as bad” or “my diagnosis must be wrong”.
This outwardly “asymptomatic” issue may have held true for Emma this week, but it certainly didn’t before she was diagnosed. She vomited a lot, had horrible diarrhea and a distended belly, lost weight and was very ornery. We KNOW she has celiac disease. We’ve KNOWN since 2000. We KNOW she must maintain this diet for the rest of her life and follow it diligently. And right now the best my husband and I can do is instill the KNOWLEDGE in her and support her so she understands her disease and how to keep herself healthy as she becomes an adult.
I think that’s all any of us can do because eventually it will be her decision what goes into her mouth. And no matter how sadistic I am about wanting to know every detail about a potential cross contamination episode – eventually it will be an issue only she can handle.