Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The other shoe

Almost 3 years ago, Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, one of many in a family of auto-immune diseases. There is often a relationship between these auto-immune diseases. As a result, Type 1 diabetics go through routine screenings for other auto-immune disease antibodies.

A few months ago, some of Emma’s antibodies came back elevated and we started working with a gastroenterologist to further delve into the situation. After further blood tests and a quick but invasive upper endoscopy last week, the gastroenterologist has indicated that Emma has Celiac disease. He is waiting for the biopsy results to absolutely confirm it, but his observation during the procedure was sufficient for him to tell us to proceed.

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease where your body has an adverse reaction to gluten, primarily found in wheat. When a person with celiac eats gluten, it causes a reaction in their intestines and causes damage to their intestines. Most celiacs identify the problem because of gastro issues after eating but others, as in Emma’s case, show no outward symptoms and are identified because of a screening. The good news is that the damage to the intestines caused by gluten is easily healed – by removing gluten completely from your diet.

So that is what we have started to do – remove wheat, rye, barley and other gluten from Emma’s diet. A no wheat diet is not an easy one to adapt to, but we are fortunate to have so many other products available to us that weren’t available even 5 or 10 years ago – including crackers, frozen waffles, pastas, and even cake mixes. I came home from the Whole Foods store last week with 4 grocery bags full of gluten-free products, and we had a completely gluten free taco dinner our first night, including soft corn tortillas and regular corn crispy taco shells. Where we can, we will eat entire meals gluten free with Emma, and in other cases, we will have a meal where we eat the same food but Emma’s portion will be gluten free and the remainder of us will have gluten (such as pasta).

This transition definitely has its challenges and we will go through times when Emma will absolutely hate that she has restrictions on her diet. Its much like an “allergy” in that respect but unlike those who have allergies, she has had the foods and enjoyed them, and now can’t have them – so we are trying as much as possible to find replacements for many of her favorite foods. We’ll be splurging a little too, with gluten free cupcakes and cookies, as rewards for trying foods she might not otherwise want to try.

I just wanted to share with all of you what’s going on with us these days. We’ll be transitioning as quickly as we can to a gluten-free diet for Emma, and we all may be a little extra grumpy as we figure this out, but everyone is still healthy, and happy, and we’ll make this transition with a child who still spends all of her days relatively happy!

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