I was glutened.
For those of you that don’t use the term “glutened”, it’s what I refer to as ingesting gluten unknowingly or by mistake. As the years have progressed since my diagnosis, being glutened has become less and less of an occurrence. I’m extremely careful when I eat out and I’m the first person to educate friends or family to ensure they know how to prepare food when I’m around. I avoid buffets and do my research before heading out for a meal. At the end of the day though – there’s still always that chance. That chance that someone is going to be lazy, or forgetful, and I just might end up sick. It’s the risk you take when dining out or trusting someone else to prepare your meal. But just because you’re celiac doesn’t mean you curl up (or run to the bathroom) and hide. You just need to do a little bit of educating and prep so you’re in the clear – but even that is never 100%.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas the hubby and I went out for a romantic anniversary dinner. We went to Rose. Rabbit. Lie in the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino. I heavily researched the restaurant and made sure I contacted them ahead of time. We arrived early for our reservation so we were seated at the bar. We were transported into a scene from Mad Men. I expected Don Draper to be flirting with a new lady friend in the corner – but I digress. There was a small musical group producing the most amazing sounds and the singer was out of this world.
We ordered a drink and took in the show, chatted with a few people seated at the bar and a short time later we were shown to our table.
When we were seated our server immediately put us at ease “I’ve been told you’re gluten free – is it an allergy or preference?”. I always respond with allergy and that I’m celiac. He assured me I would be taken care of and proceeded to guide me through the menu. There were so many options I didn’t know where to start so he made a few recommendations and said he’d give us a moment to look everything over. We decided that night we were going to try something new. We opted for caviar tacos and oysters to start. My husband is always nervous. And when the tacos arrived he noticed crunchy bits on the plate. He wouldn’t let me eat them until he confirmed what they were. Our server said “They’re potato chips – and they are gluten free. No need to worry!”
This was by far the most indulgent meal we had ever experienced!
For my main, I kept it simple – opting for chicken. They had to make some modifications but it still sounded wonderful. Our server didn’t deliver the meal – another staff member did. As he laid the plate in front of me he said “gluten free chicken”.
I dug right in – it was DELICIOUS! It was an extremely busy night so our server didn’t make it back to our table to check on us until I was 3/4 of the way through. Except he didn’t ask how everything was tasting… he immediately said “I am so sorry – I need to take your plate immediately. I think our kitchen messed up.” Innocently I said “I don’t think so – I ordered the chicken”. He said, “I’m pretty sure what you have isn’t gluten free.” My stomach DROPPED. My husband was immediately angry. I told him “not to jump to conclusions – it could have been an error on the server’s part. Let’s just wait until they confirm”.
The confirmation came. I had been glutened. My flight mode kicked in and with tears running down my face I bolted back to our hotel room. My husband hung back talking to the manager – I wasn’t risking the wait.
I’m sure you can imagine what followed.
Later, my husband told me that the manager wanted to call an ambulance and send a doctor to our room. She didn’t understand that Celiac does not give you an anaphylactic reaction and just needs to run it’s course. He quickly tried to educate her before joining me in the hotel room.
Over the next 24 hours the hotel checked on me several times. They even comped our entire weekend! We laugh about it now – my husband says “Way to take one for the team!”.
So I was glutened. It was an accident. It wasn’t malice – but it happened. Being glutened (although I do not recommend it) offers an opportunity to educate. I spoke with several of the hotel staff afterwards ensuring they understood what being a Celiac meant in hopes that this won’t happen to someone else. Establishments NEED to know the severity of the consequences of ingesting gluten as a celiac – or even a person with a sensitivity for that matter. So the responsibility lies with us my gluten free fam! We need to be vocal and vigilant. We need to read labels – even if we just purchased that product last week.
We are in charge of our health and wellbeing.