You’ve Experienced an Event

Those were the words the study coordinator used when she called me yesterday afternoon to tell me I’ve qualified to move to the next step in the clinical research study. An event. When I use the word “event” I usually mean something with a fancy dress and snazzy high heels and if it’s a special enough event, some wildly patterned stockings. I think of hushed crowds readying to unleash rowdy cheers when the curtain rises or the ripple of excitement when the celebrated chef steps up to the cooking station or the wave of bodies suddenly moving when someone turns on the dance music.

No such snazziness or fanciness in this case. The event was the advent of pain. Lots of pain. The kind of pain that makes me suck in my breath and double over; the kind that makes me see flashes of white. That last one might go along with the neurological symptoms I forgot followed severe gluten contamination: headaches, muscle twitching and sudden weakness, waves of anxiety. Celiac disease causes lots of crazy symptoms. And then there’s that “exquisitely prurient” DH rash (which is a nice way of saying a rash that makes you want to rip your skin off). The blisters cluster on my forearms, shoulder, shins and knees. This time they are tiny and only a few itched so badly I scratched until I bled just a little. This means some new purple patches for my already scarred little legs.

I’ve officially cross-contaminated myself enough times to turn my GI tract into a war zone. This joyful news means they can embed medical photojournalists behind enemy lines for a close-up look at the  flattened landscape where thousands of villi used to wave busily in the gastric breeze.

Thank God. I didn’t have to resort to drastic measures like ingesting Dunkin Donut holes or kissing someone after they cheerfully chowed down on a chicken biscuit from the nearby fast food emporium.  I’ll admit both strategies crossed my mind but I couldn’t do either without feeling dirty.

So now we wait for the gastroenterologist’s office to call to schedule the endoscopic exam. And we stay contaminated and thus sick a little while longer. And then? Exam and healing! And a little more mango sorbet. Gluten free, of course.

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