When the Body Lies

I have been glutened. For people who don’t have celiac disease (most of you), that means that a protein most people can tolerate has attacked my small intestine & made it impossible for me to digest a variety of things (for a little bit).

I won’t get into the physical details because they are gross. You know what stomach flu is like.

Mentally, it’s much worse, I always feel. You stop absorbing fat-soluble vitamins for a few days while it all heals, so your body is achey and your brain is…

I burst into tears driving into work yesterday because INXS was on the radio. I…don’t usually do that.

I burst into tears thinking about something relatively innocuous from my past that I am normally able to analyze rationally. And that I don’t normally think about.

And I had a really fantastic day yesterday. I had zero reason to be sad.

This is why we have to remember that what our brains do is frequently tied to what our body is doing. Yes, our brain controls our bodies, but our bodies control our brains right back.

When you are sick, when your organs are damaged, your brain is handling a gazillion other things. It’s like the mother with four kids, & all of them are screaming. Eventually, she’s going to snap & scream at them. And they’ll burst into tears.

I mean it was so bad I had a moment (or longer) where I thought God hated me. I felt trapped, rather than in his hands. Or even worse, abandoned. There was absolutely no good reason for this except that my brain did not actually work at that moment.

I never want to hear another gluten joke again. You people don’t even know.

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In Remembrance of Me

You guys, I’m sorry, but I’m obsessed with the Eucharist again.

“Oh God,” you sigh, rolling your eyes. “I thought we were over this yearsago. Write about something else, please. Or write about sexting again. Everybody liked that.”

No. We will revisit the Body and Blood of Christ, especially since I have…additional insights.

Also today is the feast day of Frances de Sales, the patron saint of writers, & I’m writing. About Jesus. So there. Logos to your Holy Mother. *crosses arms like an ’80s rapper*

The 15 or so priests who read this blog with tremendous amusement and forehead slapping are anxiously awaiting my additional insights, so I will tell you that they come of being super into bringing all the Eucharist kit up for healing masses or setting it up after any masses at St. Nicholas, and by Eucharist kit I of course mean the chalice assembly, but I always have to come up with a cutesy name for all the things.

Not actually called a Eucharist kit.

Y’all are lucky I don’t call it Jesus Gear.

Anyhow, this fills me with great delight. As literally insane as this might sound to normies, I get a huge kick out of carrying Christ materials about. It used to terrify me, as I was convinced I would trip, but now I’ve learned to balance bottles of holy water & wine with a chalice assembly & a number of other accoutrements, all in one trip. It’s like I bundle all the Jesus in my arms & share him with errbody. It’s fun.

I also think other stuff is fun. Don’t worry too much.

Tonight I was going over the clean up process in my head, over and over, & the reassembly of the Eucharist kit. It’s like wrapping presents. It fills me with unspeakable joy.

Is this even remotely sane? I don’t even know whom one goes to in order to complain about such a thing. “Doctor, Doctor. You’ve got to help me. I keep thinking about the Eucharist.”

It’s not just The Stuff. I love the liturgy around it. I’ve memorized like two versions of it. I get annoyed if the rhythm of it is disturbed. That’s something I have to work on.

I of course enjoy receiving it, as I’ve written many times before. We have a funny little process down at St. Nicholas, where I have my own little bowl of gluten free, though if we want to be super Catholic, I’m apparently supposed to have a little thing of wine that gets poured before the bread goes in. I’m down for that, too. I will miss the very different textured gluten free host, but I want to do whatever is Correct. And also not destroy my small intestine.

It is not lost on me how unfair it is that I can’t do Communion like a normal person, but I also stopped worrying about things being unfair when I was 13 years old. Life is unfair & stupid. Our job is to be graceful anyway.

Is there any way I can just live in a church all the time and just do church things? Is that being a nun? Should I be a nun?

OMG SHOULD I BE A NUN?!

Since I am not at this time a nun, please buy my very not-a-nun books.

“Ha Ha, Your Potentially Fatal Disease is HILAIR!”…

…is what I hear when y’all make gluten jokes. That’s because I have celiac disease, & am not on some trendy, totally misguided diet.

“Celiacs can’t touch this!”



I talk about fibromyalgia a lot. I published a book of my experiences with it & I have an entire blog devoted to it. I don’t talk about celiac because, I realized a few days ago, it’s the one thing I’m actually kind of sensitive about. And then I realized it’s because it’s the one disease (or rather its only treatment) that the first world makes fun of all the time. Constantly. Without end.

I empathize with why you do. The type of people that go on & on about gluten are exactly the type of people everyone hates. They end to be upper class white people who also rabbit on about eating raw, locally sourced, fair trade, cruelty free everything & wax rhapsodic about colonics, vaginal steaming, & Pilates. They say “Namaste” as frequently as the rest of us say “What up?” 

They appropriate cultural staples & turn them into fads. They are history’s greatest monsters. I get that. I’m with you on that.

I confess we celiacs also secretly love these people.

Why? Thanks to their deep pockets & frivolous spending habits & mouthiness, they have greatly expanded the number of options people with celiac disease have for getting super fat. It’s awesome. Because these munificent harridans wave their credit cards at every damn thing that seems “clean”, the market has responded by making actually edible gluten free baked goods. Donuts, bread that doesn’t have the consistency of dry wall, cakes, brownies, cookies, tarts, pasta, cereal, pie crusts…it all exists! A copious bounty of ready-made, ridiculously expensive treats are now available in nearly every supermarket. It’s a golden age for our potentially fatal disease.

Wait, what?

Yes. Because the only treatment for celiac disease is avoiding gluten completely. If we don’t avoid gluten completely, let me explain what happens. It’s very different from what people who are just cutting out gluten experience.

After ingesting gluten (a protein present in all wheat products, including soy sauce & damn near everything else in the West), our immune system trips out & attacks it. It does this in the small intestine, which makes the villi (tiny projections on the intestine wall which do all the work) freak out & flatten. Then we stop digesting fat.

“That sounds great!” you say, like some kind of idiot who doesn’t understand human biology. No, it is not great. Aside from bloating, gas, & yellowy diarrhea coming out of you at rates that would make laxative abusers envious, fat is essential, essential, for brain function. It also makes you feel full, so if you meet a fat person with celiac, they are feeding their constant hunger with sugar, which the body stores as fat faster than fat becomes fat, thanks to stupid evolution.

Additionally, the part of the intestine that is damaged by celiac disease also generates most of your serotonin. Yes, much of your neurochemicals are made in your gut. So after the sexy, sexy gastric symptoms comes depression (like, crippling depression), cognitive issues, & lovely additional neurological symptoms like falling, aching, loss of grip strength, fasciculations, etc.

Many people with undiagnosed celiac are worked up for MS or ALS first. This is why. There is mounting evidence that celiac causes permanent brain damage. Those of you who know me are probably not surprised.

Side note: I was also deemed infertile because I did not ovulate during my peak childbearing years. This is not uncommon in undiagnosed celiac because the immune system in your abdomen is so freaked out, it panics all over your ovaries, too.  You save money on tampons, but no baby. Well, crap.

Untreated celiac kills because the cells in the small intestine, after years of abuse, just give up being normal cells and frequently turn into bowel cancer. Those are everyone’s favourite two words: Bowel Cancer. That’s of course if you survive the suicidal depression & the falling & whatnot.

So when you crack your super funny gluten joke on Twitter or Facebook or your high profile late night TV show, what you are saying to people with celiac, unintentionally, is “You’re hilarious for trying to not die of bowel cancer!” I am not asking you to not crack your jokes. You do whatever you like. Just be aware there’s a population of us out there who cannot do stuff you take for granted. Here are some of those things:

1. Attend a food-oriented event without concern.

I hate any event associated with food, because I hate being that stupid girl asking about gluten. If you want me to come to something in a totally carefree spirit of learning/socializing/worship, don’t provide food. Snacks, “dinner included”, & “pot luck” all create 100 scenarios where I am saying “No thank you” repeatedly to people who see that I am fat & just assume I want food. No, I don’t want food; those 36 years where I was turning sugar into fat made it so I don’t need food. I don’t want to talk about food or explain a disease. How are you? Put the cookies away & just tell me about you. No for fuck’s sake I don’t want a sandwich.

2. Order at a restaurant.

I have to be that stupid girl who asks about gluten. The wait staff assume that I am that stupid girl on a stupid diet who will eat her carefully prepared gluten free quinoa goat cheese salad, then take a sip of her friend’s beer & a bite of her friend’s cake. No. So I have to start each order (at a place without a designated gluten free menu) with “I’m so sorry, but I have celiac disease.” Sometimes, I have to explain celiac disease. “Which of your menu items can be made gluten free?” Then the poor server has to figure that out, which usually means asking a chef, whom I envision swearing loudly & throwing a handful of wheat flour into the air.

This is 800 times worse when I order somewhere that the server has English as a second or third language, if at all. I love food from other counties as it is delicious & frequently gluten free, but of course all the best authentic “ethnic” food comes from businesses that employ almost no one from America. This situation is my own damn fault. And they are frequently stuck using American ingredients, which may have wheat/gluten as a binding agent. I have come up with creative ways to ask about this, but I feel like an asshole every time.

Then the people at the table launch into their good humoured “You’re so difficult!” ribbing, & even though I know they’re kidding because I am usually the one accommodating others, I want to crawl under the table & stab all of their ankles with my fork.

3. Sit at a common area without worrying about breaking out.

This is going to sound stupid to y’all, but if I brush crumbs off a desk, table, or bench with the side of my hand, I break out in nasty little itchy bumps right where my hand touched the crumbs. A lot of us do. This rash can last weeks, & is the opposite of sexy unless you like your hand jobs with extra texture.

4. Use soap/moisturizer/shampoo/make up/sun block without reading the ingredients.

Do you know all the chemical names for wheat? I don’t yet, as there are many. Skin absorbs 70% of what’s on it. If I slather or lather on wheat, it’s just as bad as if I accidentally ate a piece of cake, yet 600 times less satisfying. Wheat proteins apparently make everything soft & youthful, so y’all put it in a lot of shit. It’s “all natural”.

5. Digest other foods.

Yup, when your intestine is compromised, dairy, other grains, sugar, & pretty much everything is harder to digest & absorb. We are frequently deficient in something even when we’re doing everything right. We also get a lot less fiber than the rest of you, which is why you see us inhale vegetables.

As diseases go, celiac ain’t the worst because the cure is free: don’t eat gluten. You can also reverse a lot of the turmoil you suffered most of your life. There’s a lot you can’t, though, & you must be in a state of constant vigilance. You also have to put up with people’s little cracks.

Nobody else will understand how irritating this is until another disease’s treatment becomes a trendy weight loss method. Gangrene sufferers, you’re next. Wait till the Goopers of the world figure out you can lose ten pounds in a day by cutting off your lower leg!



Buttery Butter Cake, Grain Free!

There is no photo of the Buttery Butter Cake as it was inhaled.

Y’all are familiar with my gluten free almond cake & have frequently enjoyed it at my home or elsewhere. Those of you who love it will be shocked to learn that there exists a person near & dear to my heart who despises everything that even tastes remotely of marzipan in much the same way that I hate having my fingernails ripped off while a Jersey housewife reads from Leviticus. And that person would be my mother.

As I was heading to her Ventura Get Away Abode (a double wide in a senior living park on the harbour) that Saturday, & knowing that she likes to have something a little sweet with tea, & knowing that I myself have completely gone off grains due to wanting to die when I eat them, I decided to modify my almond cake recipe.

My inspiration came from the buttery flavour of cashews.

If you have any vegan friends, you know that these folk make pretty much every fake dairy product on the planet from cashews. Cashew cheese, cashew cream, cashew milk…& I understand why. When I eat the roasted, salted kind, I am distinctly aware of their buttery flavour.

My buttery butter cake recipe is basically the almond cake recipe, but with cashews. Gather:

-2 cups of raw cashews
-1/2 cup of sugar
-1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
-3/4 cup of egg whites
-1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp

Pulse the cashews & sugar in a food processor until almost powdery. Add the last 3 ingredients & pulse till combined. The “dough” is pretty thick.

Butter an 8×8 pan (or a 9×9 if you want more delicious crispy edges & bottoms), pour in the dough, shake to even out & put in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. This is so easy you can do it while waiting for a laundry cycle.

I wait about 5 minutes before cutting it w/ a butter knife into 8 bars, then let it cool a little longer. It is AMAZING with PG Tips. It’s good warm & cold. It would take double cream & curd well if you wanted to serve it as an afternoon tea cake. I think it would take a melted chocolate top well also.

My mother is not a sweets person, but when I went to take the leftovers home, there was one bar left with a big bite out of it. She fessed up.

You can use as little as a quarter cup of sugar & it’s still ok, it’s just more like a grainless bread at that point. I would also use only a quarter cup of sugar if you were going to glaze it or ice it.

I have now been charged with bringing a buttery butter cake to anything involving my mother ever.

Oh And Another Thing…

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There’s a rather ugly strain of snark going around right now that speaks from a place of high intellectual assessment of pop culture & its various depravities. Instead, it betrays the snarkist as medically ignorant.

I get that some people are on diets because it’s trendy & fashionable. But those diets exist because some of us would die or at least experience tremendous discomfort if we ate the foods that aren’t on them. Yes, a Norm that goes gluten free is kidding herself, but for those of us with celiac, it’s not us making a fuss or being difficult or precious. It’s that we don’t want to crap ourselves in your presence in the immediate future, & we don’t want diseased bowel cut out of us at a later date.

If someone has a nut or wheat allergy, they frequently learned this after showing up at the ER because they stopped breathing. So let’s not be dicks about this. You may as well deride someone for being averse to drowning or falling into a wood chipper. Should we poo poo those who aren’t keen on being hacked to death by Jizzy The Marvelous Murder Clown? Well then seriously. Calm your tits. Don’t be offended if someone can’t eat something you made. It not their fault any more than it’s yours. And if they’re over the age of 7, they usually get that.

(If they do throw a fit & you didn’t know, however, feel free to assume their blood sugar is low & that all this stuff is coming up from the time their brother poured soy sauce in their Coke when they weren’t looking & they missed Thanksgiving due to near death. We all have baggage.)

I am also weary of people who mock those that look different or behave differently without first ascertaining if there’s a medical issue before assuming they’re a slovenly entitled jerk. I’m fond of saying “Most people don’t have Asperger’s; they’re just dicks” but some people do. They’re not dicks; they’re just kinda difficult to get on with. I use that saying so often because I’ll meet women dating a somewhat awkward, neglectful, inappropriate guy but he’s hot so they put up with it cos they saw a thing on Dr. Oz about “Aspergris or whatever” & I’m like “Child, no.”

The same goes for people in the grocery store sick of a child’s flapping or strange utterances (after 20 seconds, not imagining the parent deals with it all day). And my other favourite, the impromptu weight counselor. This has never happened to me, but it has happened to friends losing a significant amount of weight.

The most mortifying example was a gal in a fibro support group who had lost 40 lbs eating right & going to the gym, but she had about 120 to go. She was at the supermarket loading her basket with lean protein & veggies, wearing a sweatshirt from her gym.

An extremely well put together & elegant woman approached her. She was very slender & my friend thought she was beautiful. Then she opened her mouth. She sorta grasped at the sweatshirt & said “Did you get this from Goodwill? Cos your ass has surely never seen the inside of a gym.”

My friend was dumbstruck. She stopped by the pizza & ice cream aisles, went home, cried, & ate. We all got her back on track, but this hideous Beast of Prey did enough damage to make the gal no longer proud to wear her gym sweatshirt out any more.

My response, as I’m this kind of a bitch, would be “I can imagine why you’d think that. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve lost 40 lbs, & I’ve in fact just come from my 3rd gym session this week. I think I have pretty good food choices in my cart, but you’re so slim, maybe you could recommend some others?”

I’ve been known to completely destroy a person’s life with meek kindness.

This all boils down to think before you open your giant flapping hate hole. You don’t want to have to shove your foot in there, do you?*

*Foot fetishists need not answer.

Almost Prep Free Lazy Ass Real Food Chicken Vegetable Soup

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Not only is this recipe a lazy as hell, but I will lazily post pics of the recipe, because I’ve been having celiac reactions & fibro pain. Absolutely everything in it was purchased at Trader Joe’s (except the coconut oil, as I was out & had to borrow), but you could easily do something similar at Whole Foods or even a regular supermarket:

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The only thing you need chop is the chicken!

Briefly heat the coconut oil until it’s in liquid form, then add the mirepoix. Once softened, add the chopped up chicken (half inch slices are sufficient) to brown a bit. Add the broth & bring to a boil. Then add the vegetables, add water to cover, reduce to a simmer, & leave until it achieves the crispness/softness you desire. At the very end, add the mustard. You’re done!

This makes 8 generous servings & here are the nutrition stats per each:

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So yeah, you can have seconds. If you want more salt, you can always add some sea salt while the chicken browns.

I’m using this soup to heal up after a particularly nasty celiac/lactose incident. I already feel better; I hope you do, too!

(Sorry, I can’t be funny when I spent the whole last 3 days no more than 30 seconds from a loo.)

Lazy Ass Mexicanish Chicken Kinda

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In my quest to simplify from-scratch foods for the chronically ill & terminally lazy, I have come up with One Pot Mostly Healthful Chipotle Chicken Thighs. You can boast of this as “from scratch” despite the fact that you do virtually nothing. It’s also a great way to add coconut oil to your diet (to shore up your nervous system & support your thyroid) without trying to figure out how many recipes you can make that taste like coconut.

On a good day when you can leave the house, purchase a package of chicken thighs. There’s usually 5 in there. I use thighs for stuff like this because the extra fat allows the meat to fall apart in a tasty way, rather than chicken breasts, which shred into low fat shards of rubber.

In a 2 quart saucepan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil on highish. I promise by the time you’re done, you won’t taste it.

Squish the thighs into the oil (don’t burn yourself). It doesn’t matter if they don’t all sit on the bottom because they will shrink & you’re going to mash em all up anyway. Salt the top with sea or kosher salt. When you think the thighs have browned a bit, turn em over, squish em again, & brown the other side. Salt again.

Now get out a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. These can be found in the ineptly titled “Latin” aisle in your grocery shop or even more cheaply in an actual Mexican mercado (which I realize you may not have in the Midwest). Open it & dump that sucker in there. Reduce the heat to medium low & leave it for like an hour. You may want to come back & stir it during commercials. Make sure it’s simmering & not boiling. When it’s done, & you’ve given it a good stir with something sturdy, it’ll look like the above photo.

There, it’s done!

You can serve it over brown rice, pintos, corn chips for a nacho situation, or like I did, which was to put a couple ounces in two corn tortillas with a dab of plain Greek yogurt & some reduced fat cheddar…

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…like so. In this incarnation you’re getting 27 grams of protein.

If you’re feeling less lazy or achy, chop up some scallions, cilantro, & kale for a fairly healthful salad. If I were serving this to company, I’d add a couple tablespoons of organic honey during cooking (unless they too were watching their sugar). The peppers caramelize fairly well without a sweetener, though, so it’s not necessary.

Clean up: this part kind of sucks for the weak & achy. Once you’ve emptied the pot into a container, & while the pot is still hot, fill it about a quarter way up with hot water & a squirt of washing up liquid. Let it sit while you eat, then fill it with cooler water & scrub away. Alternately you can let it sit until all the crunchy gunge melts off.

Enjoy & tell me how you serve this chicken so I may steal your lazy version for achy days.