My Last Real Doughnut: The Celiac Realization

In 2010, I had my last real doughnut.

It was an éclair from the Arborg Bakery when my friends and I were in town for a college project. I told them, “Before we leave, we have to stop at the bakery!”

While my friends cooed in doughnut heaven, I drove back to Red River College, scratching my itchy burning hands as they bubbled like pop rocks. 

I couldn’t accept the obvious: I was Celiac.

When one of my aunts was diagnosed in the late 1990s, few people understood Celiac disease. In a nutshell – no gluten. Barley, malt, malt flavour, brewer’s yeast, dextrin. And more! Celiac is a hereditary disease, and it runs on its own timeline. It’ll mess with your gluten filled life because of stress or an overload of gluten. After years and years of yummy puffy homemade bread, a body can revolt.

To ensure a product is gluten free, look for this symbol or a “GF” certified stamp. Remember, some products may not agree with everyone. In Canada, the product must be less than 20 p.p.m.

My Celiac disease was caused by stress.

Three months after my maternal Baba died in 2007, I developed a strange rash on my hands. Fast forward two months when my mother-in-law died, and I was patting my oozing hands with a tissue.

I sought help from my doctor. “Eczema,” he told the girl who felt like a leper. But the steroid cream didn’t help.

Then another aunt was diagnosed with Celiac disease, and then my mom. My dad became gluten-tolerant. I panicked. I hoarded tissue and inhaled gluten.

In 2009, my then-husband became gluten-intolerant. When we ate gluten-free, I felt better. When we didn’t, my hands felt as though I’d played in poison ivy. But I was adamant: I was not Celiac.

But my eating habits were screaming otherwise. No gluten, no strange rash. Pour on the gluten, welcome to Rashville. Population: one person who won’t stop eating gluten.

Some Celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant can’t eat oatmeal, even certified. After an extensive search, this is the only oatmeal I can eat. The Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed one smells like happiness.

After six months of gluten-free breads, pasta, and pizza, I returned to my doctor for a Celiac test. According to the Canadian Celiac Association, to ensure accuracy of testing, you should eat the equivalent of four slices of bread for three weeks. Two issues. I’d been eating gluten-free for half-a-year, and a colonoscopy was out of the question because I have epilepsy. I did a Celiac blood test, and it returned with a number.

I was Celiac.

The rash on my hands? It’s called Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and it’s seen in 10 to 25 per cent of people with Celiac disease. On the bright side, I’m spared the harsh intestinal side effects, and I can tell within minutes if something has gluten. Some people with Celiac disease can’t eats oats. I’m hit and miss. Bye, bye, Cheerios and Quaker Oats. Hello Enjoy Life Maple Fig Breakfast Ovals and Nature’s Path Qi’a Gluten Free Oatmeal.

I’m fortunate that DH is my only symptom.

Little bumps on my hands were a small price to pay for that last éclair.

Published by Tammy Karatchuk

Freelance Reporter/Photojournalist. Author of memoirs and contemporary romance. Former Edmonton Journal figure skating reporter, Edmonton Shaw TV broadcaster, and 680 CJOB (Winnipeg) reporter and weekend anchor. Adult skater and actor.

%d bloggers like this: