Cheers to the first day of Celiac Awareness month. There are so many great stories, giveaways, expos coming your way over the course of this next month from many a blogger out there. Don’t be afraid to get involved, educate, and spread the knowledge.
This young man you are about to meet is doing just that. He is one of our Calendar Men and spent most of his growing life sheltered in a body that was turning against him, no one could figure out why. Finally they did. Meet Nicolas Cole…
I spent the first 18 years of my life undiagnosed with celiac disease. Stories? Here’s a story for you…
Doctors thought it was Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They wanted to do a lower G.I. test. I said, “Mom, what’s a lower G.I. test?” She explained the tube, the camera, the destination and I said nope, no thank you, really, I mean truly, such an honor, I would, any other time, but not now, find someone else, I’m good. She approved the test anyway.
Preparation consisted of drinking 2 gallons of sulfer-tasting water. And with each sip, what little food was left in my stomach headed south, down and down, until I was clean as spring gutters.
This “cleansing process” lasted from 5 p.m to 4 a.m, during which I sat on the toilet with my entire desktop computer situated on a foldable card table in front of me. I ran chords from the bathroom to the outlet in my bedroom, long extension chords, looking like I was powering a spaceship from behind closed doors.
Every hour or so, my mom would come upstairs, knock and ask, “Cole, how’s it coming in there?” She could hear the click clack of my keyboard, my mouse, the only things keeping me from teetering into depression—because seriously, all I wanted was to take a normal poop, just one normal poop, once in my life. From within the bathroom, I called back, “It’s going ok,” and she followed that with, “Are you drinking?” I looked at the still almost-full two gallon jug beside the toilet and said, “Slowly but surely.”
We repeated this call and response until it was midnight and time for her to go to sleep. All alone, in the empty night, I sat there, awaiting tomorrow’s procedure. Maybe they’d finally figure out what was wrong with me. Maybe i’d finally be able to gain some weight. Maybe I wouldn’t look like a skeleton anymore, with my bony arms and my hollowed-out face. Maybe i’d be able to make some friends and attend school for more than three days in a week and maybe, just maybe, i’d find myself a girlfriend. But no, oh no, that would be asking far too much.
The test came back negative. As did the other 79 tests I underwent, and diets I tried, and medications I sampled. It wasn’t until my 18th birthday that my mom, who had been reading about her own stomach issues for quite a while now, approached me with the thought that maybe we were both allergic to gluten.
I tried eating gluten-free for a day and never looked back, my soul singing the sweet song of solace. I gave up the pizza, the cupcakes, the brownies, the flour tortillas and the fried chicken and the donuts and the sandwiches, and replaced it all with vegetables, chicken, turkey, and rice. It was hard at first, but hardly as difficult as living undiagnosed with celiac disease.
Finally, I was free, free of the ball and chain that had kept me locked in the bathroom for 18 years.
And what did I do with my newfound freedom?
I remade myself.
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