I made a mistake on Wednesday night. I got glutened for the first time in years.
I was invited to an event in the city and food was being pre-ordered from a restaurant in NYC that is famous for their gluten-free menu. About 1/2 way into the meal, I stopped eating. I just knew something wasn't right. Then, the conversation in the room turned to the food and my thoughts were confirmed. My order was wrong and I was eating a gluten-filled sandwich. I went through a rush of emotions: anger, sadness, worry, frustration, fear, but knew I would just have to wait it out and see what happens. I finished my event with a poker face on, but I was kind of freaking out inside.
Here are a few mistakes that were made that led me to eating gluten for the first time in at least 5 or 6 years.
: I ordered my meal through email to the person NOT directly talking to the restaurant. Despite clearly mentioning I wanted the "gluten-free sandwich" in my email this did not happen. I should have been more explicit in my order or suggested ordering for myself.
: When I arrived, I went for my food immediately and didn't really look at it. I was starving, this was specially ordered for me so I ASSUMED what I got was the gluten-free sandwich. I didn't ask "Is this the gluten-free sandwich?" I just ate.
: I ate about 1/4 of the food and felt something was a little off. You know what it was?? The awesome texture of the sandwich bread. I had food from this place before so I should have known their gluten-free bread was not that good.
: I was distracted. I was talking and socializing the whole time I was eating instead of paying attention to the nagging feeling in my head. I ate 1/2 the sandwich before I stopped.
: I ate gluten. The girl who ordered confirmed it wasn't gluten-free. Simple as that.
Basically, the people that ordered the "gluten-free" dinner did not realize that the place they were ordering from was not a dedicated gluten-free restaurant. No one in the room except for me and one other person was Celiac so they didn't know the questions to ask and the things to check for that I ALWAYS when ordering food and dining out. They assumed everything on the menu was safe and I trusted them to order exactly what I asked for. This did not happen.
I think I psyched myself out so much that I started to feel sick. I was honestly freaking out the whole subway ride home thinking "This is it. I am going to die of gluten poisoning" especially since I hadn't gotten glutened in at least five years. I felt a little woozy but mostly just like I was drunk which was especially weird since I haven't been drinking lately. My thoughts were confused and the last 10 minutes of my event were kind of a blur. Was this the infamous gluten brain fog? Was I just dizzy with worry about the gluten I just ate?
I woke up on Thursday with a slight stomach ache so I drank ginger ale when I got to work and took it easy with food for the morning. All day I waited to run for the bathroom or grab a garbage can. TMI? Probably, but you are reading this because you either have celiac or are gluten-free and have been through this before. Again, I had a mild stomach ache all day but not the violent reaction that I had to gluten in the past. Today, the small stomach ache is still there but I did not get the violent reaction to gluten that I have gotten in years passed.
Perhaps I dodged a gluten bullet on Wednesday, but this is just a reminder that even after 31 years of being gluten-free I still need to be on my toes and be vigilant for the rest of my gluten-free life. I'm not going to beat myself up about this mistake nor will I hold any resentment to the people who ordered from me. I am going to move on and pay more attention in the future. Next time, I might not be so lucky.