I’ve had celiac disease for over 14 years and I am still susceptible to bad judgment. I don’t know if that says a lot about the disease, or a lot about me. But let me set the stage for what happened this past weekend.
Mrs. Dude and I were helping Maddie (our youngest Dudette) move apartments in Philadelphia. She was moving from a studio to a bigger place. Good news: the apartment she was moving out of had an elevator. Bad news: the place she was moving into was a three story walk up. Philly is a 90 minute or so drive from the Dude Ranch in Asbury Park. So we woke up at 7:30 and were out the door an hour later. You notice how I didn’t mention anything about eating in that hour? Keep that in mind.
We arrived in Philly at 10, picked up the U-Haul, headed to her place and parked somewhat illegally. Moving in a city is a beast. It took about an hour to move all of her stuff from her apartment to the truck. I was a pile of sweat at this point. Still no mention of food? Exactly.
We drove to her new residence, amazingly managed to find a parking space about 30 yards from her front door, and then started carrying all of her goods up three flights of stairs. Physical work is something I enjoy doing, so even though it was really draining, it was satisfying. So here we are, it’s around 2:00, I’ve burnt 500 calories, and I still haven’t eaten a thing. It’s time for lunch! And this is where everything goes wrong.
Maddie is gluten-free (but not celiac) and had a burger the night before from a place called P’unk Burger. I did my due diligence, did as much research as I could, found at they have procedures in place and a dedicated fryer. We all decided to place a delivery order.
At this point, I hear what you might be thinking. “Dude…it’s a place you’ve never been to, it’s fast casual, and it may not be your safest option.” I hear you…now. But I was absolutely starving and my stomach seemed to have a mind of its own. So I order a regular burger with a GF bun with a side of tater tots (haven’t had since I was a kid) and add a note that I have celiac disease. Maddie gets a chicken sandwich on a GF bun. And Mrs. Dude gets a veggie burger with a regular bun.
Thirty minutes go by and the food arrives. It has now been about 16 hours since I ate the night before. We each take our box and begin the feast. I open mine and start devouring the tater tots. They were as good as I remember. I then unwrap my burger, pick it up and was about to take a bite when Mrs. Dude said “STOP!” I don’t know how she picked up on this but she noted how my bun looks different from hers and Maddie’s. We literally spent the next 7 minutes inspecting each bun to see if they messed up or not. Once Mrs. Dude tasted my bun compared to hers, it was definite. They gave her the GF bun and gave me the regular bun.
I’ve never experienced anything like this. I phoned the eatery and described the circumstance. To their credit, they handled it admirably. I could now choose. They could either prepare a fresh burger and send it right away, or they could refund me the money I paid for my burger. Do you really think I was thinking about acquiring another one? Then, as my intellect took over from my stomach, I asked for a refund, went next door to get sushi, and continued living happily ever after.
Except I didn’t. I seem to have a two day delay between getting glutened and a reaction. Well…I haven’t really slept since Sunday night even though I’m exhausted. I’m having a hard time focusing and I have that “off” feeling. So yeah…the tater tots must have done me in.
So what are the lessons here?
- Be better prepared. I have no idea why I didn’t pack some food with me. Just stupid.
- We’re human. We are going to have lapses in judgment, especially when we’re starving. Don’t beat yourself up.
- Don’t curse the celiac gods. Mrs. Dude and Maddie felt awful that I couldn’t eat the meal. I simply said “it’s all part of the disease.”
So if you need me for the next few days, you can find me with my head in the clouds.