It’s time for a gut check.

I’ve been taking a break for a couple of weeks–in part due to vacation, and in part due to figuring out a few health-related things.  I take a brief step back to the blog for a minute to share this gem with you:

I’ll drop this in from our friends over at GlutenDude:

Celiac Disease Facts

Fact: Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.

Fact: Celiac disease affects over 3 million Americans, making it the most common autoimmune disease in the world.

Fact: Celiac disease affects men and women across all ages and races.

Fact: 83% of those celiacs are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Fact: The longer a person is not properly diagnosed and continues to eat gluten, the greater their risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis and cancer.

Fact: Untreated celiac disease increases the risk of cancer 200-300%.

Fact: Untreated celiac disease increases the risk of miscarriage 800-900%.

Fact: There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.

Fact: A 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.

Fact: The total US healthcare cost for all untreated celiacs: $14.5 – $34.8 billion annually.

Fact: An additional 3% – 6% suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity and suffer just as greatly.


Being a celiac doesn’t mean that I’m soft.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not manly.  It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m unpatriotic–and that subtle undertone is perhaps the most offensive part of the entire message.

Yeah, I know, I know.  Ron Swanson.  Tongue in cheek.  Sarcasm.  ‘Murica and all.  Here’s a simple truth: that doesn’t make it ok to target any group that has a demonstrable, objectively defined, medical condition.

What if the commercial instead said that the founding fathers would see quadriplegics in wheelchairs as weak?  Thomas Jefferson very frequently expounded on the benefits of a walk in the woods.  Does that mean that persons who can’t partake in such activities are weak and unAmerican?

The efforts to castigate gluten allergies, whether portrayed as celiac or not, hurt those of us who actually have the condition.  When people see gluten allergies as a fad, as nonsense, as a lifestyle choice, they don’t take it seriously.  I’ve said it before: when you tell a waiter that you have a shellfish allergy, they picture you swelling up and dying on their floor if they screw up.  They take it seriously.  When you say that you have a gluten allergy, they have no such mental picture.  They often think it’s a choice, or a joke, or not something serious.  “Sure, our french fries are gluten free; they’re just fried potatoes…oh, you mean the fact that they’re deep fried in oil that is also used to deep-fry gluten-battered onion rings is a problem?”  The more and more that it becomes socially acceptable to make this disease a joke, or a sign of weakness–or now apparently a sign that someone is unpatriotic–the more and more at risk celiacs are.

I’m not going to die on the floor of a restaurant from gluten cross-contamination.  I will spend the next 3 days feeling like I wish I had died on the floor.  I’ll lose a few pounds of the scarce weight that I have.  I’ll spend a lot of quality time with the porcelain gods.  I’ll regret that my waiter didn’t think through the fact that all of the eggs have butter on them.

This commercial isn’t cool.  It isn’t funny.  It isn’t fair.  It targets people who have a disability, and makes light of their condition.

Perhaps being a celiac who rides bikes is the universe’s cosmic sense of humor.  I used to under-appreciate the challenges of living without perfect health, and did not have an appropriate amount of empathy for those with physical or mental challenges.  I used to curse the cyclists who dared put themselves on the roadway, whether it presented an inconvenience to me in my 6,000 pound pickup truck or not.  Perhaps I had to become a celiac to develop empathy and understanding–I’m the first to admit that I’m a flawed creature.  But Damnit.  Can’t we do better than this?  Can’t a major TV network recognize when their commercial literally suggests that having a disability is unpatriotic, it might not be the best idea?

Do better than I did, and be better than I was.  Have some empathy.  Don’t laugh at this joke–please don’t laugh at me.  I didn’t choose this, and I’d undo it if I could.  If I could eat without worrying about the consequences–I’d give just about anything for that.  If I could put on and hold weight.  If I could stop taking ridiculous doses of iron and not have anemia.

If I could have had a daughter who didn’t suffer from the same disease.  If I could have had a daughter that didn’t have a life sentence of this same bullshit.  The same questioning at every restaurant.  The same eye roll from the waiter.  The same, “no, there’s no dessert option for you.”  The same time in pain when someone makes a seemingly inconsequential mistake behind a closed kitchen door.  The same doubt with every bite that you put in your mouth.  This is the legacy that I leave my child.

Please don’t make that a joke.  I’d change me if I could.


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