So A Celiac and some EMT’s go into a restaurant…

When some friends and I try to go out to dinner after work…

P2P: I have a severe allergy to gluten, which means I can’t–

Waitress: –Ohh, do you mean glucose?

P2P: No. I mean gluten. Anyway, I can’t have–

Waitress: Y’know. Glucose. Like sugar.

P2P: Nope. No, it’s gluten. Not glucose.

Waitress: Are you sure?

P2P: …what?

EMT Friend: Of course she’s sure. It’s her medical history.

Waitress: I know how tough it is. My cousin had an allergy to glucose. We have a few sugar-free things on our menu.

EMT Friend: Okay, well, that’s nice. We better be going.

And that is why I don’t go out to eat. Also why I love having friends that look out for me.

On another note…Sweetheart…if your cousin had an allergy to glucose, they probably wouldn’t be alive…what with that whole glucose-being-necessary-in-metabolism issue.

Celiac Disease and Dining Out

And now, for something completely different…

The concept of celiac disease shouldn’t be that hard to grasp. And yet, people interpret it in the weirdest ways. Hell, you don’t even need to know the nitty gritty and all the science behind it. I’ll over-simplify it for you. “I have an allergy to gluten.” And because most people kind of furrow their brows and go, “Huh? What’s a gluten?”, I usually follow that up with a list of things I can’t eat…wheat, barley, rye, oats, modified food starch, etc.

Now, when someone says, “I have a peanut allergy,” people go way out of their way to make sure there are no peanuts anywhere near that person or the food that person will eat. In elementary school, one of my classmates had a peanut allergy. Our class had to eat at tables in the hallway outside of the cafeteria so there’d be no risk of her getting a whiff from some kid enjoying a PB&J. None of us were allowed to eat peanut products in the hallway. If we had a peanut-y lunch, we had to go in the cafeteria to eat it, and wash our hands and brush our teeth when lunch was done before we returned to the classroom.

I don’t expect that level of avoidance or safety with my celiac disease. But my point is, people go out of their way to make sure the allergy-sufferer is safe. If someone added peanut butter to a slice of bread with a knife, most people would think twice before using that same knife to prepare food for a person with peanut allergies. People get that. Whether or not they realize it, they understand the concept of “cross contamination.”

So when I say, “I have a severe allergy to gluten. Which means I can’t have croutons in my salad. They will make me very sick. In fact, you can’t even pick the croutons out. It will still make me sick,” I expect a server–particularly one in the food serving/preparation business–to say, “Hm. She’s severely allergic. She specifically emphasized ‘no croutons’. I shouldn’t put croutons on her salad.” I would hope that most people would realize that it wouldn’t be okay to pick the croutons out of the salad afterwards, but I tend to explain that as well. You know, just to clarify. Which I don’t mind doing, especially because it is going to keep me safe.

So when I find a crouton like half-deep into my salad, yes, I’m going to be pretty annoyed. And when you tell me, “Oh, I forgot to pick that one out,” I’m going to be even more annoyed.

And I’m met with a shrug of the shoulders, and, “Oh well.” Because my diet is much harder to stick to than most other allergies, does that make it less severe? Does that mean it’s okay to be less stringent? I just don’t get it. No, I won’t go into anaphylaxis, but judging by how ignorant these people are about gluten allergies and celiac disease, they don’t realize that. Even if they did know that, I can guarantee you that being very very sick for a week or more isn’t much fun either.

What makes it so different?? Why is this such a difficult concept???