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March 5, 2010 @ 1:00 am

Beware of Gluten-Carrying Strangers

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I sorry, Mom. I just likes to be petted.

Ah, geez.  I couldn’t figure out, on Wednesday, why I was so scattered and unable to focus at work.  I slept enough the night before.  I took my ADD medication, just as I do every day.  I didn’t feel particularly overly hormonal.  The Fibro was apparently the reason my neck was hurting (more about the neck thing tomorrow), but it didn’t make sense to me that it would have that profound of an effect on my ADD when my other typical Fibro symptoms were not heightened.  I hadn’t been glutened, I thought . . . until yesterday.

Yesterday, I was just as scattered as Wednesday, and I kept catching myself with that lights-are-on-but-nobody’s-home look on my face.  I woke up feeling crappy.  (Sometimes there are no other descriptive words that are better, really, than “crappy”.  It encompasses a lot.)  I was teetering on the edge of depression and my Inner Critic was working like a hamster on a wheel, throwing all sorts of negative thoughts my way, for several hours all morning.

Then I realized that I had that familiar pain in my gut, and had been feeling it for some time.  Since Wednesday.  I asked myself how I could have been glutened, since I didn’t recall doing anything differently.

And. Then. It. Hit. Me.

Tuesday night, I noticed that Emily smelled like a stranger.

The maintenance man, and/or the roofer-guy, was/were in my apartment, and someone who smelled of men’s cologne or aftershave had been petting my cat.  Maybe he/they had just eaten lunch and still had crumbs on his/their hands, or maybe he/they put some kind of hand cream on because it’s been cold out and many people are finding that their skin is easily dry and chapped right now.

However it may have happened, I remember jokingly rubbing my hands all over Emily when I discovered that she smelled like a stranger, to put my own scent on her and cover up the stranger’s.  SS and I were on Skype at the time and I did that to be funny in an exaggerated-reaction sort of way.  But I didn’t get up and wash my hands right away, after doing that, and I went on to hug and kiss Emily after that.

I’m going to have to put a sign on my door that says “#1: Do not enter without prior authorization, and #2: If you do enter, do not pet my cat without my permission, or you could make me sick.”

Not really.  But this sure does add to that anxious feeling I have so often, of needing to live in a bubble, and my tendency to shrink away from strangers and all their potential gluteniness.


  1. Comment by fibrohubby:

    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. My wife just started a gluten-free diet, so we are currently trying to eliminate cross contamination. I hadn’t even considered the issue of petting our dog. Thanks

    • Comment by lifeischange:

      Thank you, fibrohubby, for your comment. It can be a big undertaking, figuring out and eliminating cross contamination. I have a post here that might help (it contains links back to other posts about things I learned prior to writing it). I had a difficult time with it for a long time, but it’s getting a lot easier, now.

  2. Comment by kate1975:

    I’m glad that you figured this out and sorry that it happened and something that can seem so small had such a huge effect on you. I have been feeling similarly, not even sure if I want to shake hands with people, etc. It does tend to make someone feel paranoid. Good and healing thoughts to you.


    • Comment by lifeischange:

      Thank you, Kate. I belong to a Yahoo group about gluten-free living, and had a little conversation (via email/group postings) with a woman who is even more sensitive than I am. She can’t walk through a bakery without reacting to the airborne traces of gluten. We discussed the fact that neither of us has heard of or read about research being done into levels of sensitivity. There is a small percentage of people with Celiac who don’t respond to following a gluten free diet and are diagnosed with “refractory sprue”. I wondered about, and then she mentioned, the theory that maybe most of those are simply hyper-sensitive people. It’s very hard, if not impossible, really, to completely avoid every trace of gluten. I guess we just do the best we can, and give ourselves permission to be a little paranoid when we need to. It’s better than being sick, right?

  3. Comment by kate1975:


    If someone is that sensitive I don’t think trying for strict avoidance is paranoid, it is practical. Good and healing thoughts to you.



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