When Celiac Could Be Cured -- Or Not?

a celiac cure in the offing? 

"I'm holding out for when I can eat a big gluten-ful muffin."

I wasn't. Am not.

My friend has celiac too, but he was thinking cure and rage rage against the dying of the light. I wasn't.

What a ton of unpleasant bricks, I thought: because I had unconsciously stuck myself square into the idea that my disease was normal.
How comfortable should I be with a disease? Where is the line between acceptance and ingenuity -- and bleak resignation?

"There are lots of things just as good gluten-free," he said after that, "But somethings just were meant to a have gluten. And so was I."

Logically, he's right. No one's body, functioning in health, tries to murder its small intestine when it detects gluten -- that's madness. We were meant to be able to eat gluten without an autoimmune response (regardless of what you think about its other qualities).

The exchange left me with many questions, and a lot of anger, and frustration, and a gut-wrenching sensation of having swallowed a lot of denial to avoid a lot of grief. For it's much easier to stick a smiley sticker on a face (or lapel) than it is accept I can take care of myself, and enjoy my life -- smiling sometimes, sometimes unsmiling -- and still experience loss.

What I miss most isn't muffins.

It's the birthday cake my mum made every year when I was small.

"Some day, we'll eat a real solid gluten'y muffin together," he nodded, "Just you see, CJ."

I felt like crying, and turning my nose up. But isn't the second just one in a trio of classic defensive mechanisms, alongside tantrums & giggles.

That night, we ate cake. Gluten-free cake, because we had both finished our graduate programs, and one must celebrate hobbit-style, with much food and festivity, song and friends -- all of which are naturally gluten free, except perhaps the food. (Though it was all gluten free that night.)

But neither of us is eating gluten at this point, because there is no cure.

Fixing food doesn't fix loss. Fun food doesn't fix loss. Food, in other words, doesn't fix feelings -- and don't we bloody well have feelings about celiac disease.

Gluten-free for me is no fad, and it is no choice; because currently there is no cure for celiac disease.

So do you grieve the loss? I suppose I can defy the prescription and the idea of restriction -- gluten-free food doesn't have to leave me deprived -- while also accepting that hyper-vigilance, meal-planning, and travel and social situations -- are very different with this condition.

"Just you see, CJ."

Pshaw. I want it now.

And I don't feel like grieving.

Then again, grief passes. "This too shall pass," I remarked.

He grinned at me, "Real fast if we accidentally got gluten!"

"Shut up! That's not funny."

But it was almost, and much better than stewing in resentment at my denial that evening.

Tumbling free, I suppose,


Question -- Do you balance grief & loss with hope? Do you miss gluten? Do you just go off pretending you don't?


  1. I think life is all about a balance of grief and loss with hope. I am actively choosing the see the good in all things, but I think there is always an element of both/and in the world. Too many people want to say it's black or white, but often life is messy and we have to learn to live into these spaces. I embrace the gluten free life in terms of the major benefits it has added to my life. I mean, they are major! But, it doesn't mean I can't also hold space for the grief that my body doesn't function like other people's bodies. That's my perspective :)

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading this!


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