A Good Book: The Cure for the Common Celiac

Is “the tummies” something you grew up saying? As in, “I can’t go out, I have the tummies” when your stomach feels like it’s going to burst into flames? Or did I invent that? Anyway, I used to say that a lot. I can’t go out, I have the tummies. I can’t write, I have the tummies. I can’t sit up straight, I have the tummies.

For the first time in my life, though, this past month I found myself thinking the unthinkable: I can’t read- I have the tummies.

Last week, I tested positive for Celiac Disease- a gluten intolerance meaning I can’t eat wheat, barley or rye and probably not oat. By the time I was diagnosed, however, I’d already been trying the gluten free diet, as all my symptoms added up. What I didn’t know was that once a Celiac gives up gluten, you really can’t go back. My early mishaps (who knew oatmeal wasn’t safe? and why did that crazy restaurant put FLOUR in HUMMUS?) left me with terrible stomach aches, sores on my tongue, and a general feeling of fatigue. This was difficult enough, but then when I was actually diagnosed with Celiac and found out this wasn’t going away- that I’d be gluten free for life- I went into a funk. After all, most of my favorite foods are pastries and sandwiches.

R.I.P., grilled cheese. Also, I specifically looked for another photo with this pink sweater, to continue the trend. Not that it was hard to find.

As of Saturday, I still hadn’t finished the book I started a month ago. Morale was at an all-time low… and so was cake consumption.

But as I got ready for an event in Providence this weekend,  5 hours from here by train, I knew what to do: I packed two big books and nothing else. No distractions. No other options. I was going to get back in the swing of things.

Initially, it was more difficult than I’d thought it would be. My stomach was, predictably, hurting on the way there, and I looked out the window for two solid hours before I even touched my first book. I plowed through but felt distracted.

On the way back, I was smarter and stupid all at once. Smarter, in a sense, because it’d been seven hours since I ate anything by the time I boarded the train, and my stomach wasn’t acting up. Stupid because I eventually went ten hours without food during a very active day. It wasn’t intentional. I don’t advise it.  It’s a terrible idea.

But for those five hours, I read like I haven’t read in ages. I finished the first book and read all of the second. Inhaled them. Devoured them like the muffins and biscuits I’d be missing. Greedily. Quite literally, hungrily. Few things have ever felt so exquisite.

Oh, what an afternoon I had. It was bliss in its absolute most pure form. And for those of you who’ve read the book, I find it no coincidence that my father was riding beside me on this trip, and we were taking the same route I describe in the very first chapter.

I hope to, in some not-too-distant time, be able to read on a full stomach. Till then, I’ll read just before I eat, to be on the safe side. But in the meantime, I tip my hat to the hobby I find to be my lifeblood in some new way almost every day. Thank you, books, for quenching my appetite when nothing else could. I’ve loved falling in love all over again.

When’s the last time you fell in love with books all over again?

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Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This past summer, I rekindled my love of reading. The glorious summer weather made our screened porch all too enticing, and I sat for hours at a time, indulging in my read-fest. Loved it!!!!

    P.S. mine is a nearly gluten-free home, as my husband is highly sensitive to gluten (but not tested positive for Celiac). I am tickled by all the great foods out there – including our beloved bread – that recently seems to have sprung from nowhere. Truly, Alice, you’ll get the hang of it. We grieved for months… and then decided to start sampling food products and recipes. It’s been fun, frankly! There are also so INCREDIBLE websites out there with recommendations and product reviews – I’d love to send a list to you if needed!

  2. I fall in love with reading every time I finish a book (even if I don’t care that much for it) because I know right around the corner another delicious one is waiting for me to discover it. I work in a library where I am surrounded by anticipation. Yum.

  3. Guess what did it for me? Your book. How cool is that? Since having my first child five years ago, life had become busy as a work from home mom and I had never found a way to fit reading in. After reading your book, I was reminded how much reading is a part of who I am. Since the beginning of May I have inhaled about 50 books and it has been glorious. I’m back and it feels so good!

    • That makes me so ridiculously happy. :) !

  4. Well, coincidentally, the last time I fell in love with books all over again was tonight, about an hour before finding out about the “Reading Promise” via a Facebook link to your site by our town library. I’ve always loved reading to my children, but like Shelley reports above, I have sadly found the days too short to “get it all done” and still stay awake for reading time, but how rewarding when I do, and I did tonight. With a 1st and 3rd grader, the focus on developing their own reading skills has inadvertently snuffed out some of my motivation to read TO them, as I loved to when they were “little”. Turns out they still love being read to, and it’s that bond that made them love books in the first place…SO WHY STOP? My son is in college now and still loves to read. I’m looking forward to reading the “Promise” and starting my own streak with my girls.
    P.S. My H.S. Journalism teacher told me “in order to write, you must READ”…that couldn’t be more evident in your writing. Wonderful!

  5. I just finished your wonderful book and had to stop by and give my compliments! Have you considered trying fiction? I think you’d be a great novelist.

    I fall in love with reading every time I read something that really pulls me in. Your book reminded me of a few titles that I just love and now plan to re-read. Tonight I’m in love with Mo Willems and his hilarious Elephant and Piggie series– my son and I read them together and the giggles were priceless.

  6. My computer cable broke and for the last 5 days i’ve read and read and read and it’s been glorious. Note to self computer less, books more :)

  7. Reading your book made me feel that all my years as a teacher were important. It made my day and I shared it with everyone I could. I love books and had a hard time accepting that not all children liked to read. They showed me that it was rather prevalent among my classes of fourth and fifth graders. There was no way I could make them read unless there was a reward. You and your father did what we dreamed of as reading teachers. After I retired, I found myself in two book clubs. Your book is the selection for this month and I am reading it again. As a substitute teacher, I am still hoping to get at least one student to see the benefits of reading.


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