Take me out to the ballgame…

Went into the big city last night to watch a baseball game. Things were a little scary in the early going and then the Nationals pulled out a win. However, as happy as I am about the win, that isn’t why I am writing about the game on my food blog.

You might want to buckle your seat belt, things are about to get REAL honest.

Most of you who read this do so having come from my Facebook page. So you know that just under a year ago, I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. It was a LONG road to finally pin down my laundry list of symptoms into a set that actually RELATED to one another and put me on the road to finding the right diagnosis to start relieving those symptoms. I capitalize for emphasis, because the years I spent feeling like absolute crap sucked. My joints hurt, my skin was dry with patches of eczema, my stomach ached, I had intestinal issues covering both ends of the spectrum (I hope you get my drift here), I was bloated, I had GERD, seasonal allergies were running rampant, I didn’t lose weight no matter what I tried… I could go on, but I won’t. It sucked. Fair enough?

So finding out I had an allergy – an allergy that was most likely responsible for a number of my symptoms was a relief. The skin test given to me came up positive very quickly for wheat and no other apparent food allergies. Given my gastrointestinal symptoms, my allergist is also fairly certain that I have Celiac disease. However, the diagnostic tools used to confirm such a diagnosis (back on gluten for 2+ weeks, endoscopy with biopsy) only to receive a treatment plan that is exactly the same as the treatment plan for my confirmed wheat allergy caused me to decline that little party.

Within three weeks of being gluten free, my Plantar fasciitis completely resolved. I noticed a decline in joint pain, and my stomach troubles started to ease. Months later, I’ve lost about 25 pounds, I’m obviously passionate about food, and I feel pretty great!

Going out to eat is a challenge. It doesn’t stop me, but I have to always be aware, always be vigilant. I do not expect anyone else to manage my allergy for me. I accept invitations to parties, to cookouts, to gatherings, and I either eat the things I can eat, or I just have drinks and will eat when I get home. That happens more often than I like to admit. Restaurants are a minefield, and I can’t ask a host or hostess to modify their menu or their way of cooking because of something that is MY issue. In my opinion, my dietary restrictions are my personal responsibility. I’m pretty optimistic, and flexible and can make the best of ANY situation, any menu, any event. I just try to throw the focus on the people.

See, it’s not bread I miss, or pasta. It’s cake…cupcakes… and that’s weird because it’s not like I was eating those things every day before my diagnosis. With thighs like mine, I can’t AFFORD to. It took a little amateur psychology to figure out that what I miss is feeling like I’m “normal”. I cannot go to a wedding, or a birthday party, or retirement party…or any celebration and have cake like all the rest of the guests. I’m different. I can’t celebrate my co-workers birthdays with everyone else in the office. We sing, and afterward, I walk away. I am not normal. And sometimes, it sucks not being normal.

Yeah but what does THAT have to do with the Washington Nationals?

Nationals Park has a gluten free concession stand. Every item is certified GF. And what a menu! Hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, nachos, … and beer. The park also has gluten free soft pretzels… and beer. I went to a baseball game, I got a chili cheese dog with onions, a soft pretzel… and a beer.

Just like everybody else. My food looked the same, it was served in the same paper boat, pretzel wrapper, and plastic cup, and according to my 14 year old, my hotdog tasted EXACTLY like hers. I was just like thousands of other spectators in that stadium. I was “normal”. Yeah, I paid ballpark prices, but I think I smiled all the way through that ballpark meal.

It was worth it. It made the victory that much sweeter. Thank you, Washington Nationals.

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