My Coeliac Journey – Two Years On

27 Oct

Well first of all, let my apologise for the recent blog silence.  I have just had one of those periods when everything has gone wrong, one after another and unfortunately life has had to take over for a while.  Major works at both our house and our rental property, sick cats and working away have featured heavily and it’s been all go.  I’ve not had the time (or the money!) to focus on blogging.  Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m hoping normal service will be resumed soon!

During this period of silence, the second anniversary of my endoscopy, and hence eating gluten free, quietly slipped by.  Some of you may remember my blog post accounting my diagnosis and the experience of my first year living gluten free.  Year two has been much less dramatic and really quite mundane in comparison, and to be honest I thought what’s the point in writing about year two if there’s not much to say?  Then I thought to myself you know what, how much would I have given to have considered coeliac a bit mundane two years ago?

Feeling Perkier, and perhaps a bit rounder in the face...

Feeling Perkier, and perhaps a bit rounder in the face…

So here are some of my thoughts on year two, if only to show the newbies that it does get better.  Firstly, the year has passed without a major glutening.  I really regard this as a major achievement to go a whole year with no slip-ups.  The only problem I can remember having, is some minor symptoms which I put down to some contaminated draft cider whilst out.  This has obviously made a huge difference to both my physical and mental state.

It’s worth saying that I haven’t led a sheltered life to achieve this.  I’ve eaten out regularly and tried lots of great new foods.  I tend to stick to quite a small pool of restaurants when eating out though to be honest.  I’ve got my favourites in both Plymouth and London and I know I can eat at these places with confidence.  I think I’ve learned to handle the awkward questions better when I eat somewhere new though, and have some places on the list to try in Plymouth that I hope to be bringing reviews of in the next few months.

So overall it’s been a year of feeling pretty healthy.  No brain fog, no joint pain and I feel I’m getting close to where I should be.  I know others struggle so don’t want this to come across as smug, but I hope those struggling can take comfort from the fact that if you work hard and are determined at living strictly gluten free, then living with coeliac disease doesn’t have to be a constant nightmare.

I think that this year I’ve lost that feeling of being a freak.  I have immersed myself deeply into the coeliac and gluten free community via social media, and you guys really are like my extended family.  It is such a comforting feeling to know that you’re not alone, and actually there are loads of us in the same boat.  I thank each and every one of you for helping me feel this way.

Gluten free has of course gone more mainstream in the past year and this has undoubtedly helped too.  I may well have banged on a bit about gluten free pizza on this blog, but the fact that chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut have come on board really has helped to give a feeling of normality.  Being able to join in on the work pizza runs for example, it’s great to feel included instead of having to sulk in the corner with your packed lunch.

One thing I have done this year is learn to say “no thank you”.  I no longer feel the need to constantly explain myself, or the urge to tell someone being nice and offering you a piece of cake to $%@# off!  I am now able to just smile and say no thanks without feeling the need to give the person offering a ten minute lecture in coeliac disease.  Of course there is still the odd occasion when this is necessary!

Through running Gluten Free by the Sea and being part of the gluten free community on Facebook and Twitter, I have managed to find so much (largely locally produced) gluten free food that I no longer feel like I’m missing out.  Maybe I’ve just forgotten what wheat filled nasties taste like, but I’ve lost that constant hankering for a sticky bun or similar.  There’s great gluten free food out there, and I feel so much better so why worry about it.

Gluten Free by the Sea has grown over the year, and this has also led to me being invited to join the committee of the Coeliac UK Plymouth Voluntary Support Group.  It has been highly rewarding being able to help people through these mediums and it is not lost on me that I would never have done anything like that pre-coeliac.  I firmly believe getting diagnosed with coeliac disease has helped me come out of my shell and grow as a person.

Two failings of the year following my one year post though are my failure to make that first trip abroad, and I haven’t really pushed myself enough in developing my cooking skills.  These will have to stay on the list of goals for year three.

I realise, and am very grateful for, the fact that I only need to avoid gluten.  My thoughts are always with those who have to battle multiple allergies and intolerance, and I hope during year three things will get better for all of us.  For those who are newbies or simply still struggling I hope you can find your “normal”, your “mundane” soon.

Finally I just wanted to say a big thank-you to my wife, Abby, my family and my friends.  You’ve all worked so hard to understand and be accommodating and it is appreciated.  Others are not so fortunate.

Thanks for listening.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea


12 Responses to “My Coeliac Journey – Two Years On”

  1. Abigail Mcquatters-gollop October 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Great, blog. I’m so proud of you!

  2. Molly October 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Love your blog! Being a student in Plymouth I love the local information! If you are ever thinking about holidays abroad orlando Florida has some amazing gluten free places! Gluten free doughnuts and hot dogs are by far the best!!

    • Kevin Gollop October 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Molly, it’s lovely to here nice feedback like that! My wife is American so I am going to have to pop over for some of those doughnuts and hot dogs soon 🙂

  3. Vicki Gilbert October 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Hi Kevin great blog post, so nice to hear someone being so honest and positive about their gluten free experience 🙂 3 of us in this house with coeliac disease! Keep up the good work. Vicki (Leeds Coeliac Voluntary Support Group)

    • Kevin Gollop October 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! Nice to “meet” another volunteer 🙂

  4. Debra Samuel October 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    Hi Kevin, yet another inspirational blog. I’m so pleased to have ‘met’ you along your journey. The Coeliac community, be it twitter, FB or CUK, are fabulous in the UK and we are all very lucky to have people to take the time to help others. When I ‘speak’ to other CD sufferers in other countries, even those across the pond where you think that CD would be more understood and catered for, I realise just how fortunate we are to have Coeliac UK standing up for us and pushing the boundaries for us all. Here’s to Year 3 – to infinity and beyond!!!

    • Kevin Gollop October 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

      Thank you Debra. I completely agree with your comments! We are indeed very lucky. Of course you Facebook group plays a huge part of that community. Keep up the good work!

  5. Blindology Blinds of Plymouth October 28, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Well done Kevin, great blog also, I know what life can be like with Coeliac, so lets hope that upwards and onwards, keep up the good work 😉

  6. Ruth Holroyd October 28, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Great positive blog post Kevin. I’m sure many will take some comfort from knowing that the cravings disappear, that you feel better and that a whole year has gone without a major gluten mishap. It has made me think I need to be more brave, but with multiple allergies (and wheat intolerance) that cause anaphylaxis I find it very hard. Keep up the good work.

  7. Rich Gray October 30, 2013 at 7:31 am #

    Well done mate. Feeling the need for a pizza raid again soon. 😉

  8. bethgorgeouslyglutenfree November 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Lovely story 🙂

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