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Celiac and the stomach: A day in the life… It’s taken me years, if not over a decade for me to write something like this. I finally feel comfortable enough. The time is right. For the entirety of my life, I’ve dealt with various degrees of stomach issues. On paper I have Celiac Disease and "Ibs"...which I still do not agree is an actual thing, but I digress. Not sure what else I have that causes issues, because I have yet to find a solution to my problems. If anyone out there has any tricks of the trade I am all ears. Ever since I can remember, it seems my life has always been run by two things. FOOD. And where, when, and how that food was going to end up…yeah, gross I know. Sorry I’m not sorry anymore. Every morning has always been a revolving door of how my stomach feels, versus what I can handle eating, versus where the closest bathroom is. Don’t believe me? Ask my family, my friends, and my soon to be wife. CJ’s life has always revolved around food. If I do not eat I become extremely irritable, but my stomach feels great. When I do eat, no more hangry CJ to deal with yet there’s a good chance something did not sit right. Welp, there he goes off to the bathroom for the 5th time today. Woo! Just another day in the life. Now I am not writing this to say my problems are any worse than any others out there. I am only documenting my personal experience in hopes to connect with others that may have endured similar circumstances. So if you’ve ever experienced any type of stomach issues, health issues in general, please read on I'd love to connect with you!

Morning

The time I wake up every morning is always determined by whether or not I have to be somewhere. You see from my experiences most people can wake up and leave their home within a half hour to an hour of waking up. I can’t do that. At least not until there’s magic bathrooms installed in cars, on bikes, or anywhere else for that matter. So generally if I have to leave by 8, that means I have to be up by 6-630. Doesn’t seem too bad right? Well what if I have to leave at 7? Or 6? I have to wake up much earlier. The bathroom rules my life at this point. Often times I would be out late at night with other people with an early rise the next day. If we needed to get in the car, train, bus, flight early the next morning…people typically threw on their slacks, grabbed a coffee and a bagel and on the way we went. Meanwhile I was stuck waking up much earlier, typically exhausted, and having an extreme amount of anxiety over whether I was going to have an episode or not. The worst part, nobody knew but me. I held in all my frustration, all my anger…for something I could not control. This typically made everything worse. My entire life I have taken it out on myself because I felt ashamed. I’d wake up earlier and earlier or eat less food, essentially do whatever it takes to “fix” something…which I did / and still do  not even know what is causing the “broken.” If I was ever late for something, I would blame it on something else rather than just being truthful. Being on time has been engrained in me since my childhood, but sometimes I have absolutely no choice. For years I have felt guilty for this...that ends now. To anyone who is reading this, no more self-shaming! Do not feel alone like I did. Embrace who you are, “problems” and all.

Afternoon

Once I am confident that I am okay in the morning, I typically make sure to drink one last glass of water before I leave the house. This is when things occasionally get interesting. Driving/riding in cars affects a lot of people out there in various ways. For me, if something did not sit right in my stomach I immediately know after a couple minutes in the car. I cannot even count how many times I have had to turn back to go home, pull into a grocery store, or call off what I am trying to do in general. Anyone who can relate to this knows how exhausting both physically and mentally this can be. We start getting these thoughts, "Do I tell my boss/coworkers/acquaintances the truth? Do I lie? Do I make up some crazy story that my dog ran away and im searching for them, that's why I am late?" LOL. Talk about anxiety inducing. The thing is as I sit here and self reflect, I realize I was always my own problem. If I had just been truthful with myself that I have an illness that needs attention, I could have then been honest with everyone else and not cause myself to have the crippling anxiety I have experienced over the years. This is no easy feat in a society that seems to brush problems under the rug rather than confronting them head on. I followed this trend. With all that being said, typically afternoons are my "golden hours" because I feel the best in between 10AM-5PM. If I make sure to eat a healthy lunch and drink enough water, it is usually smooth sailing.

Evening

My evenings always depend on what I consumed earlier in the day. I am super strict with my diet so I usually do not have too big of an issue in the evenings. However, if I eat something out of the ordinary i.e. go out to lunch or have something that was contaminated, it is unknown how I will feel. To me, that's the worst part. Psychologically, during lunch time, I am forced to think ahead about how I might feel or react if I consume something out of the ordinary. There have been times where I completely skip eating due to this fear. IT SUCKSSSS. I lose my patience, I lose my GAINZZZ, and I have to smile my way through the day even though I feel miserable.

TO CONCLUDE

We all have our own trials and tribulations that help make us stronger. Mine happens to effect me almost every day of my life. It may cause problems, but it does not define who I am. Don't let your troubles define you either. There is always a reason to smile and its our choice to define our lives by that. I'm a firm believer in the notion that you should never judge a book for its cover. We never know what somebody might be going through. So from now on try to be a little more patient with others, listen more than you speak, and help someone in need...just because it is the right thing to do.