Monday, 26 November 2007

The Hesitant Visitors

This past weekend, we went to visit Granny and Pepe. It's really wonderful to visit with them! They pretty much let me take over their kitchen and they just eat the stuff that we eat, which makes the likelihood of any of us getting sick that much less.

Years ago, when we first started this new path of a gluten free diet, this was not the case though. They would want to try to make something nice for us, do a perfect job... and then throw gluteny potato chips on as a topping, leaving us with no dinner to eat but raw veggies at that point.

My father, especially, had great difficulty understanding how little gluten it took for the children to become ill. Eventually, I 'stubborned' him into accepting that I would not be changing my strict stance. After a couple of honest slips got by me though, and the children got quite ill, he couldn't deny the fact that indeed, even non-visible amounts of gluten could make them sick.

It seemed a long road to travel though and for me it was an exercise in frustration because most people cannot tell, via ingredients, the difference between gluten free potato chips and regular potato chips. Heck, even this last weekend, my Mom bought Rice Dream rice milk, even after I had told her, countless times, that the Rice Dream company is risky to deal with.

"Yu Milk Ma." I tell her, several times a year. "It's Canadian. It's organic. And it's gluten free. It's even supplemented with the kind of enzymes that are safe for Celiacs. Buy Yu Milk Ma."

Two weeks later she tells me she's bought yet another carton of Rice Dream... sigh. She's a real gem of a Granny and I know she means well... but...

Anyway, over time, we also realized that the children required much more than just a gf diet at their gluten laden house. And no, their house is not filthy. Actually it's much cleaner on its worst day than my house is on its best day. Nevertheless, every time we visited, the children would always come away just a little bit sick - or more.

Eventually, we agreed that it was just too risky for the children though and so we stopped visiting them and they just came to our totally-gf-house all the time... And hands and mouths were washed before kisses were given. They are, after all, awesome grandparents who enjoy giving their grandchildren lots of hugs and kisses but toxic gluten laden kisses became of issue at some point too.

Well, we finally got everything right and a visit from loving Grandparents became a non-toxic affair that was no longer guaranteed to be followed by several miserable days (or weeks - as an untreated glutening can appear as a virus and last 7 to 10 days).

A couple of years passed in this way and as the children got older, they expressed more of a desire to visit other homes. I had no idea what to do. I wanted to let them go but I didn't want them to get sick.

Feeling like their health and safety should be my primary concern, I spent a great deal of time thinking about how the children could go about visiting other homes safely.

And so, as good grandparents should, we were allowed to visit their house and ask them to jump through all sorts of hoops so that we could figure out the lay of the gluten, in a gluten filled home.

We made a lot of mistakes that first year. However, we finally figured out that the children were a lot less sick if we covered the kitchen table and kept it covered.

Then we figured out that their animals needed to stay gluten free while we visited - because kids think dog licks are both fun and funny... no matter how many times their mother screams, "They lick their bumbs with *that* you know!"- Actually, I'm now thinking that it might have been partially my fault for all the licking that took place as the children seemed to revel in having me say these words again and again.

But I digress. We also figured out that the furniture around the television was a gluteny spot that was making them sick. So, to throw a fitted sheet over the couch and instruct the children that *this* is the only piece of furniture for them to sit on, we scored another victory.

Eventually, we were fully successful in coming away from their home sans maladies (without illnesses).

We were heady with success. We got cocky. And now after this last visit, the children are all sick and needy again. We think it was the couches. We didn't cover them. Granny thought it would be fine. I did not do my regular inspection. I failed to do what I always tell the children to do...

1) Make sure the table and a couch are newly covered while you are there and can see it being done.
2) Make sure the kitchen dishtowels and cloths are tossed in the laundry and new ones put out.
3) Go and wipe the door handles of every room you're going to use. (baths, entries, fridge, computer)

We mastered our 'systemic protocol' and then snubbed our noses at success, brushed off our hands and decided we didn't need it anymore.

Sigh... All I can say is, it serves us right. On the bright side though, we've once again got confirmation that our three tiered protocol is required and not to be sullied by laziness, embarrassment or heady success.

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