Samantha recently approached me to write a guest post with the title "What Bread Means to Me". Now, this could be simple and it could be immensely complex -- but I'm going to remain true to myself and write from the heart. This is my first time posting anywhere outside of my own personal blog and its safety blanket, so forgive me!
What does bread mean to me?
Bread is a bacon sandwich.
Bread is stew and dumplings with a crispy, freshly baked roll.
Bread is Subway sandwiches.
Bread is beans on toast.
Bread is cheese on toast with Worcestershire sauce.
Bread is Camembert fresh from the oven with homemade bread.
Unfortunately, as of September 2012, all of that changed. I had a pretty rough year in 2012. I thought I'd come through it unscathed and with the people I love, but there was one thing that suffered -- I just didn't realise it at the time.
I started to feel completely drained, all of the time -- despite getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night, I'd struggle to make it to 5pm. I started feeling sick with dizzy spells and frequent trips to the toilet. Putting it down to the viruses that frequent the British winter, I thought nothing of it and took a day or two off of my much loved job before getting back into it. Again, I'd be struck down. It became a viscous cycle. At this point, I started losing weight. I had been trying to lose some extra pounds, so I thought it was just because I was eating healthy. The symptoms continued to haunt me, but those were absolutely nothing compared to the bloated, hard stomach I started to have. I didn't understand -- pregnancy? No, I had the Nexplanon implant fitted over two years ago. Gastric flu, maybe? No, I'd had that before and this wasn't the same. I still didn't think it warranted a visit to the Doctor, however -- stupid of me, but the Doctors surgery I'm registered to isn't exactly the fastest service. I'd have to book a bloated day 4 weeks in advance, and my symptoms still felt incredibly sporadic so I didn't really care for bothering the health service. What if it was just a bug that I was fighting off?
Luckily, I had a colleague who had listened to my moans and sympathy pleas throughout this, and alarm bells started ringing for her. She took me to one side, and told me to keep a diary of the things I was eating -- she had been diagnosed with something named "celeriac" and she had a feeling my symptoms were signs of me following that road. I went home, researched celeriac and saw nothing but an odd vegetable with a funny name. Ignoring that, I did keep a diary for a week. Looking back on that diary, I could see a definitive link. Porridge in a morning? Cramps, a rock hard stomach with massive bloating.. All that by 11am. Rye-bread? Agonising.
You get the picture.
It was time to get a Doctor.
Right now, I'm awaiting the results of a blood test, which even if it comes back negative may be flawed according to my GP. This has left me wondering how and why? I've never shown reactions to anything to do with food. In fact, I love my food and trying out different cuisines... Some people have said its my age (I'm 26 this year.) Some people have said its because I had an incredibly stressful period during 2012. Some say its because I'm fussy. All I know, is that I'm 26 and bread was a very big part of my life -- sandwiches, brioche, bread rolls, baguettes, bread pudding, rye bread..
Turns out "celiac disease" is an intolerance to gluten, and not a vegetable. I'm not going to pretend I know everything about it, because I don't. I struggle with what I can and can't eat, as Samantha can attest -- she's saved me with so many gluten free recipes and she's been helping me since I took my first few gluten free fairy-steps. A gluten free diet has made my symptoms much more tolerable -- in fact, unless I eat something I shouldn't (biscuits masqueraded as harmless treats for the first few days) and I feel much more prepared for what may lay ahead.
So, what does bread mean to me? Bread is an on going discovery, of the gluten free kind!