It seemed that the hospital staff seemed to miss two very important words when I was admitted to the hospital following my surgery last week: Celiac disease.
Since surgery was bright and early, I was in my room before lunch. Even though I was on a liquid diet, I knew something wasn’t right. Sitting next to my red jello on my tray was chicken broth. Whoever can stomach straight chicken broth after surgery (or anythime for that matter) is beyond me. I didnt question the chicken broth in my tray for its lack of appeal to my taste buds but because I remember how hard it was last Christmas to find gluten-free chicken broth for the turkey marinade.
So when the nutrition staff came back for the tray, I asked, “You know I have Celiac disease right and cannot have gluten?” In knew when she looked at me like I had fournheads that I was in trouble. You see I know for a fact that the nurse and I discussed my diet needs during my pre-op interview in which I stressed the importance of a gluten-free diet.
Somehow it seems that that fact got lost somewhere between the interview room and my medical chart as there was not a single mention of Celiac on my chart.
Once we made it sure that it became clearly notated on my chart (and by we I mean myself and my infuriated husband who happens to be pretty protective of his lovely wife), I started to question I was the only Celiac in the county. Since the prevalence of Celiac disease is now 1 in 133 in the US and therefore chances were that I was not alone, I was starting to understand why most people I talked to headed to Charlotte for procedures instead of staying local. No one seemed to understand what “gluten-free” meant. My night nurse seemed completely confused while the night time nutrition staff breathed a sigh of relief when the Dr said that i needed to stick to jello for the night. Hubs was making a run to the drugstore next door so he picked up some Rice Chex just in case. Eventually the head of the nutrition staff came to understand what a gluten-free diet was which meant that I spent the rest of the weekend eating plain baked chicken breasts.
While I did not go hungry and thankfully avoided any type of gluten-contamination, it still baffles me to think that a medical facility could seem to be so clueless about an increasingly common medical issue like Celiac, even in a small town. The whole experience made me realize just how important awareness programs are and make me even more hopeful that this surgery will allow me to lace up my running shoes and join Team Gluten-Free for a race for Celiac awareness.