When my husband and I first met, we bonded over a long night of cheap whiskey and jello shots. He drank beer, I drank the whiskey. It was awkward – obviously, the alcohol helped. Even in my slightly tipsy state, I remember the 0330 conversation we were having with a friend of ours about her boyfriend situation. She was getting sleepy in front of my fire place and was frustrated with the type of guys she was dating; she felt like they never had their crap together. I remember giving her advice and I wish I remember what he said but I remember how what he said made me feel. He said something brilliant – adorable, intelligent, completely reasonable. He said something that I would have said. I looked at him and for the first real time that night, I remember my heart going pitter pat. Shortly after that moment, he kissed me for the first time…
Looking back, we bonded over gluten. We ate bread, burgers, we drank. We ate pizza. I made him dinners over the next few weeks – those weeks that turned into months and now years. When we met, I was an endoscopy nurse. Ironic now, when I look back at it, because shortly after we met, I was getting an endoscopy done for celiac disease from one of the doctors I worked closely with. We met December 22nd. By January, we were nearly inseparable. By May, we went out one night and I started vomiting uncontrollably. All over my poor sporty little blue Miata. He had to drive me home. I assumed it was the alcohol but it didn’t stop. Days of intractable nausea and vomiting turned into weeks and then into months. I was spitting up ice chips. I was two to three weeks into the problem when I finally got in to see my primary care doctor. Lucky for me, he had just gotten back from a conference on celiac disease two weeks prior. My symptoms were never “typical”. Brain fog, tingling to my finger tips, constipation co-mingled with random bouts of diarrhea, bloating, depression, difficulty sleeping. I got vitiligo when I had sun and gluten exposure. I looked like a leopard when my tans would peel or fade. I didn’t relate most of those symptoms to my celiac because the month prior, I had gone back to working night shift after being off of it for a year. Many of those things happen on night shift. Who knows if that added to it?
It took a month to get my official diagnosis. I bugged my doctor to help me get into appointments quicker because living in the limbo was making me worse – don’t stop eating gluten until you are diagnosed! The recovery began, slow, steady, and full of anxiety. For the first two months (if you ask him, probably longer),
I was mad and bitter. I hated celiac disease.
We would go out to eat and he could get whatever he wanted, smothering the coffee table and countertops with gluten, and I would get the boring gluten free version. I had so much anxiety when he brought gluten into the house. It must have been late August that we got him in to see my primary doctor. This was his first experience with a doctor here in the United States. He had always had funny symptoms – random bouts of diarrhea, tingling to his right foot toes, bloating. He had some symptoms I had. I asked my doctor to humor me and test him. His blood test came up positive on a semi-gluten free diet (I was nagging the poor man to death about the gluten). The more we talked about it, the more he shared. When he was little, he couldn’t gain weight. He would throw up all the time. He wouldn’t eat. They thought he was lactose intolerant. His german doctors told his mother that he was just a bratty child – refusing to eat. No… maybe he just had celiac disease. His symptoms all resolved post gluten free diet. I was already gluten free and so he just went with me instead of getting his upper endoscopy. It was helping. He now gets small dermatitis herpetiformis rashes with exposures. We know when he gets exposed even more quickly than we know I do and his comes with attached lactose intolerance.
When my doctor called with his diagnosis, he said it was weird enough to see one of us get diagnosed… let alone two. My husband swears it’s an STD. Thankfully, there’s no science to support his nonsense.
I don’t know where we would be if he had not been diagnosed. I could see my anxiety increasing, my frustrations mounting – it would be hard. Harder than it already is. Lucky for me, this man I had met only a few months prior has been perfect for me. He has been patient, understanding, compatible and supportive while navigating our way through celiac disease. We don’t know what that means for our little ones as they come out but even though the road has been hard, you notice the bumps less when you have someone amazing to walk it with you.
If you’re looking for someone living the same lifestyle, there’s now dating websites like Gluten Free Singles or check out these tips for dating with celiac disease at Dating 101 for the Gluten Free Single.
What has your experience been like with celiac and dating? Is it hard to find someone who understands?