Over the weekend I gave a lot of thought about what to title this post: “When it rains, it pours…” “When life gives you lemons…” Ultimately, I decided on “The Rollercoaster.” You see, I’ve been looking for an adequate metaphor to describe how the gluten-free lifestyle parallels life in general. In the end, I decided that a rollercoaster is a pretty good metaphor, though it’s not quite perfect. I’ll explain.
In the sense that rollercoasters have highs and lows, then yes, it works as a metaphor for both life and for the gluten-free lifestyle. In the gluten-free world, you start with a pretty deep low – usually the abyss of symptoms preceding a diagnosis (with Celiac, gluten intolerance, whatever). From there on out, there are highs (switching to a gluten-free diet, feeling healthy) and lows (gluten contamination). But that’s where the perfect parallel between gluten-free living and life in general end.
That’s because, in my opinion, the longer you live a gluten-free lifestyle, the more sustained the highs become, and the fewer lows we experience. Our bodies are healthy, we become adept at eating a gluten-free diet, you know the drill. Conversely, we experience fewer and fewer cases of contamination or other “lows” that punctuate an otherwise great ride. Life in general isn’t like that. The longer you walk this Earth, the greater the likelihood is that your personal rollercoaster will experience ever more lows. As we grow older, our bodies may begin to fail us (in ways big or small), we’ve almost surely faced challenge and adversity, and we’ve almost surely faced a growing amount of pain and loss and inevitably, death. I’m not trying to be morbid or a “downer.” I’m merely trying to illustrate how the gluten-free and life rollercoasters begin on similar tracks but quickly diverge from one another over time.
I draw this distinction because recently, our gluten-free and life rollercoasters diverged in very big ways. On the heels of us announcing our new cookbook (high), Kelli was in a car accident (big low) that totaled her car and shattered her right foot. She went into surgery on Friday, and 2 plates and 13 screws later, her foot is back together. She now faces a long recovery, including up to 14 weeks off her feet entirely, and a likely six months before she’ll be able to walk normally again. In that same week, our 4.5 month old daughter, Marin, went on a hunger strike that had her unsettlingly close to being admitted to a hospital so doctors could administer fluids and nutrients via IV (another low). The reasons for her backslide are various: silent reflux, a string of successive ear infections, likely dietary sensitivies she would have inherited from me, and a feeding aversion because of the chronic pain she now associates with eating. Little by little, we’re now making positive progress with Marin.
Needless to say, the last seven days have been tiring, stressful, emotional, frustrating, and at times, filled with hope and rays of light. It has also been a time filled with an outpouring of support from family and friends. We consider you, NGNP’s readers, to be a part of our circle, and so I’m sharing our recent challenges with you here on the blog.
Admittedly, I sometimes struggle with how personal to get on the blog…how much detail is enough personal detail without being too much? Because on the one hand, blogs can be wonderfully personal, making the vast indifference of the Internet a much more intimate place. But blogs can also be narcissistic and self-important, and I’m wary of crossing over that line and succumbing to an inflated view of the value of my personal life to you the reader. To that end, I strive to be personal only insofar as personal details illustrate a greater point about gluten-free living. It’s a balance I’ll continue to seek (and hopefully, achieve).
In the meantime, when it comes to your personal gluten-free rollercoaster, what have been your highest highs, and your lowest lows?