I am one of many lucky sufferers of gluten intolerance and generally-obnoxious bowel syndrome. Ever since I was 14 years old I’ve had an unexplainable pain in my gut. I thought it was an ulcer for the longest time and got to experience having video tubes in all sorts of exciting places in pursuit of this invisible villain.
"Your stomach is perfectly healthy." My doctor told me after the endoscopy; the same words would be repeated years later by my colonoscopist (is that a word?). After both victories, my evil tummy gurgled in maliciously in triumph.
"Why do you hate me so?" I asked my tummy time and time again, desperate. But never was an answer spoken…
Now, to any of you who have never felt continuous pain in your stomach for a sustained period of time, I cannot properly relate to you how this affects your life. Imagine either a hangover that refuses to go away for weeks and weeks or being stuck with that feeling you get two hours after eating shady-looking Thai food.
If we listen to Eastern wisdom, we learn that the stomach is our primary energy source, which makes sense because we eat to survive and food becomes energy and building-blocks for our cells. I’m also keen to the idea that emotions are felt in “the gut”; for example colloquialisms like, “gut instincts”, “going off your gut feeling”, “a gut reaction”, or “trust your gut”, etc, etc. The combination of these two ideas together means that when your stomach is sour, both your mood and your life-force are feeling pretty Charlie Brown (that kid was seriously depressed).
Now, flash forward to 2011, I’m 23 and working at the Waterford Institute and my friend and partner in rhyme (we’re both writers; I know, I’m a pun grand master), Christian Heidicker, announces that he’s gone Gluten-Free. Not only does he say he has more energy, he also just “feels cleaner inside and happier all over” (Christian, forgive me if I’m misquoting you, my brain puts a sitcom filter on all my memories for its own enjoyment). As someone working full-time, going to school at night, partying every weekend, and in a committed(ish) relationship, energy was a very precious commodity to me. So, I tried this whole “Gluten-Free” thing in hopes of gaining some more energy and two weeks later, after 9 years of dealing with an angry monster ruling my life from its abdominal throne, the beast was quiet.
Stay Tuned for Episode II of Tummy Tales: Memories of Gluten
How is it that so many roads converge to the same destination?
If I began my life in a different place or moved myself now, would I end up somewhere else? Or would I still come to the same home at the end of it all?
Is there some kind of seed in me that it doesn’t care where I am planted, but will spill the same branches and the same fruit regardless?
Are my limbs simply weathervanes to a much subtler master?
Who is running to the gate when my will gets weak, and who is at the door to answer him?