It's been years since I was last glutened. It's been so long that I don't recall the symptoms very well, which is why I'm not even sure. I also know that my reaction seemed to be ever evolving, so I'm not even sure what my reaction is any longer.
It used to be that within 24 hours of ingestion, I would have one horrifying visit to the bathroom. I then experienced several hours of being incredibly lethargic, intense brain fog, etc. For the next two weeks, I would become ill every time I ate something. That was my reaction in a nutshell. It seemed the more I ingested, the quicker I reacted, whereas the less I ingested, the longer the time period until I reacted.
So why do I think I was glutened? Last week, after eating out, I experienced a horrifying trip to the bathroom the next morning. I assumed it was because I wasn't used to greasy food. I'm still not sure, but the last week has been full of far too many urgent trips to the bathroom. They don't necessarily happen immediately after eating like they used to, but they're definitely very frequent.
Last night was the worst. I needed to run to the grocery store, and when I pulled into the parking lot, I felt that familiar twinge in my stomach. I sat in the car for a moment trying to decide if I needed to go straight to the restroom or if I would be safe to attempt to grab the five items I needed. I finally left the safety of my car and determined I could attempt to do my shopping and then head to the restroom if necessary.
I didn't even have one item in my cart when I decided I had probably made the wrong decision, but I took a deep breath and pressed on. The fear of knowing the restrooms were on the opposite side of the store didn't help to calm my nerves. I wanted to grab a few extra items, but I determined it was a better idea to grab just the necessities. As I headed to the checkout lanes, I did a quick calculation of how long it would take me to get through the line and whether or not I could make it through without crapping my pants before making it to the restrooms if my stomach started spasming while I was in line.
I made it through the line and decided I'd prefer to get home rather than using a grocery store restroom. As soon as I left my parking spot, I wondered if it was a mistake. I was only a few miles away from home, so I hoped I could make it. I quickly called my husband to ask him to unlock the door so I could run inside immediately to the bathroom....but he didn't answer. As I approached a McDonalds, I questioned if it was a better idea to stop there as I didn't really have any options once I passed it. The spasms were getting so bad that I felt like I was going to pass out, so I felt it was safer to stop.
As I walked towards the back, I saw a large sign on the mens room door: "Restrooms are for paying customers only." I foolishly hoped the same sign would not be on the womens door, but I was wrong. I was past the point of no return, so I pushed through the door past the sign, and slipped into a stall.
I left as quickly as I could, avoiding eye contact with the staff, who I assume hadn't even noticed me walk in because it was probably a bunch of teenagers working. I'm a natural rule follower, and I felt bad for "breaking the rules" as well as "blowing up the bathroom" in a sense.
I drove home slightly ashamed that I had resorted to emergency trips at McDonalds after so many years. I used to know where every single restroom was on every single route I could ever need to take. I no longer know those things because it's unnecessary information at this point, and I'm thankful for that.
I'm still overly cautious about everything I put in my mouth, but I think I got slightly sloppy for the sake of convenience. At this point, I'll never know if it was gluten or if it was something else that caused my stomach to suddenly get completely wonky. Either way, it's a good reminder that I need to remain vigilant so that I can continue enjoying life rather than fearing when my next emergency bathroom trip will be.