I was thinking – our significant others put up with a lot.
Our significant others endure the constant discussions at every social gathering about celiac disease. New social contacts mean an explanation of why we can’t come to their house for dinner without a 20 minute conversation about bringing our own food.
It means the camaraderie of a pitcher of beer is ruined by our need to order cider or a glass of wine.
It means that the well-intentioned friend at a pot luck brought something gluten free, but we can’t eat it because we don’t know how it was prepared. When sick, meal trains or other means of social comfort are allowed for the family, but we remain left to find gluten free foods for ourselves.
They cannot make dinner reservations at a new place without first a 20 minute review of the menu, then a 5 minute grilling of the wait staff, only to watch helplessly as we endure the results of the inevitable cross contamination.
They hold our hair back as we vomit. Bring us the heating pad and a glass of ginger ale to soothe our sore stomachs. With great affront to their noses, they deliver emergency toilet paper upon request. They hold us tight when the pain is just too much.
They see us at our most vulnerable and help us out of the abyss of yet another episode of unexplained gastrointestinal distress. Then helping us through the guessing game of what could have made us sick.
They endure hours and hours of endless conversations about this disease – whether online or in person. When a group of celiac patients get together to discuss what it is like to have celiac, our significant others patiently wait while we compare notes on symptoms and the latest information about scientific discoveries about celiac.
They worry because they’ve read all of the information we’ve given them about the potential long term side effects of celiac. They know that while we look healthy today that the reality is that the disease is taking a toll on our bodies. While we may never have the most devastating effects, they know that with each glutening episode we inch closer something else going wrong.
They taste our latest gluten free baked treat. They smile sweetly because we think we have found something so delicious. We are so excited about a gluten free baked treat that actually tastes good. When in actuality, it tastes nothing like its gluten filled counterpart and probably tastes pretty bad. But they smile through it!
Just not in the mood – really means, I want to but I was sick all day and don’t want anyone in that general area. And sometimes it means, everything hurts, so I just don’t want anyone to touch me. Other times it means, I’ve been mentally exhausted by this disease today and I just can’t do it.
Traveling with us requires hours of planning where to stop to ensure we have a safe place to eat, then later speeding to the next exit because it wasn’t as safe as we thought. They know what gas stations have the cleanest bathrooms. Then when clean is a luxury and simply a functional bathroom will do, they stand outside at those questionable bathrooms to ensure our safety.
Our partners make our homes safe by not bringing in gluten foods. They brush their teeth after their beer but before kissing us. They understand that paying for a gluten free loaf of bread that is half the size of normal bread and three times the cost shows us love. They check every label when going to the grocery store for us, just to make sure they buy the right stuff.
Our partners often put themselves in awkward social situations, endure financial burdens, and put themselves in sometimes dangerous places to protect us. Celiac disease affects them is obvious ways and many that we may not see. They do all of this out of love for their partner. And your partner may not do any of those things or maybe all of them or maybe just a few – they love and support you. And if they don’t, dump them!
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope that we are extra grateful for all of the love and support our significant others give to us. I am.
Happy Valentine’s Day – a few days early!!