Once I started to get a handle on the corn free life I began to discuss it with other parents at my daughters school. I found others who were juggling dietary restrictions, or searching for answers through diet. A good friend was taking her son off of milk products and we watched, amazed at his progress as he began making eye contact and initiating conversations. She was also looking into going gluten free, something I was adamently against trying (for myself, anyways). Corn free was hard enough. I was not about to put MORE restrictions on my diet.
But, the fact was I'd hit a plateau. I still didn't feel up to volunteering in the classroom (Who would? If you never know when you might need to make a very quick exit.) There were still days I'd take extra pain killers to try and keep the cramping quiet while I ran to the school just to pick up my daughter and come home. I still mapped my day keeping a close eye on bathroom access. (Honestly, I don't think that will ever fade. No matter how well I feel the first thing I do in a new place is map my nearest escape route. Its oddly comforting to know there's one less step should the worst happen.)
"It's the gluten," she'd stage whisper as I tried to surreptitiously massage my bloated abdomen. I smiled. I laughed. I adamately disagreed. I loved wheat. I was blessed to tolerate wheat. I needed, it, right? Oatmeal was stabilizing. I'd wake up each morning, avoid eating until I was ravenous, and then eat every 10-15 minutes to keep the symptoms at bay. This was life with IBS, I told myself. This is normal for me.
My doctor raised her eyebrows, flinching at the loud protests my stomach made during an exam. "You must be starving!" Er, no, I just polished off a box of whole wheat crackers. I commented that my mouth had started tingling each time I ate certain products, and she sent me to an allergist. "It's not wheat," I assured him. The scratch tests confirmed I wasn't allergic to wheat. We had a long talk about celiac disease. He wanted me to go grain free/gluten free for a trial period. If I improved, I'd get tested. (This was poor planning, but thats for another post) It seemed like an awful lot of effort. And I knew, really, truly, gluten wasn't the trouble. Really. Probably.
"It's the gluten," my friend whispered again that afternoon. I laughed, but not quite so convincingly. Doubts were creeping in. Everything I read on the subject had an uncomfortable air of familiarity about it. Corn was hard enough to give up. I wouldn't do it. Giving up pasta, and pancakes and muffins was simply too much to ask. I couldn't do it. "I'm just saying..." she shrugged, "It's worth a shot."
Finally I had to admit it. I just didn't feel...well. I needed to do...something. At any rate, I needed to prove once and for all that it wasn't the gluten. So I went gluten free.
When I started feeling better, I told myself it was a coincidence. "It's not the gluten," I told myself, when I noticed my waistband was still comfortable at bedtime. "It's not gluten," I remarked under my breath when I realized after an extra long day, that I'd had no emergency pit stops. "It's not the gluten," I said, eyeing the remains of my family's favorite banana spelt bread.
And even if it is, spelt doesn't have that much gluten in it, right?
And then I knew once and for all. It was the gluten.