Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dad left behind a little bit of himself... namely, his intestines

Okay, so my dad had this disease called Celiac, which meant he couldn't have a trace of gluten (wheat, flour, barley, etc.)

So, none of this stuff:

After he passed away last month, my family (mom, sister's fam and my fam) went up to our condo in Midway. It was our first trip there without him, so it was bittersweet to say the least. But while we were up there, we ordered a couple of giant pizzas from this Italian pizza joint. 

We were so excited because it was the first time in 25 years we'd ordered pizza as a family. Up until last month, we never (as a family) wanted to order something with gluten in it, out of respect for my dad's disease. 

Well, my family hasn't stopped talking about last week's night of pizza. My sister spoke of the pizza like it had just been invented the night before. 

She's all, "It's cheese AND sauce AND bread! It's a miracle!"

We immediately made plans to go to the condo in Midway again, just so we could order that pizza. 

But then three days later, I got a call from my doctor's office.

"Ms. Ashton?"


"I'm calling about the results of your blood test. And... you've tested positive for celiac disease."


It kinda sucks. But the best part of whole thing has been the reactions I've gotten from my family and friends. 

I'll share them with you. These are the conversations that follow after the announcement, "I have Celiac disease." 

Reaction #1
Bree Despain (who is gluten-intolerant): "I knew it! I diagnosed that for you, like, weeks ago! And I didn't even need the blood test to prove it! Welcome to hell. Haha!"

Reaction #2:
my mom: "Oh, I'm so thrilled! It's like your dad left a little piece of himself behind for us."

me: "Um, if he wanted to leave a piece, I would've preferred his big heart, over his faulty intestines..."

Reaction #3:
also my mom: "Okay, we had pizza last weekend, and I don't know about you, but I felt just dang crappy afterward, so this works out great. You couldn't have asked for better news."

To be fair, any news that doesn't involve the word "cancer" is good news in our family.

Reaction #4:
My sister: "Seriously? Crap! Does that mean no more pizza? What are we going to eat over Memorial Day weekend? Couldn't you have planned to get the diagnosis later?"

me: "I've heard that a gluten-free diet is sort of healthy. At least, healthier than eating all that bread."

sister (with jealousy in her voice): "Really? Then I'm going gluten-free too, and don't try to stop me. It's not all about you."

So, I know it's not a big deal. But it's going to be a little difficult going "Gluten-Free" because I've been on the "Go Gluten or Go Home" diet for so long. 

I met with the doctor again, hoping that the blood test might have been a little inconclusive, but she told me that on the celiac scale of 1-10, my blood test came back at 72.

No joke. 

Below, I present something this world has never seen before... nay, something this universe has never seen before... 


In other great news, I'll be in San Francisco at Books Inc. for a book event with the amazing Bree Despain and Cynthia Hand tomorrow night. 

If you are in the area, or know anyone in the area, take pity on a gluten-free soul and spread the word! And if you have any good GF tips or recipes, send them my way. 


  1. Oh Brodi! You're too funny! You're lucky to have a friend like Bree who has the inside scoop on his! I'm jealous that both you and Bree will be with Cynthia Hand! SHE IS SO COOL!!! Hopefully the book stuff will be able to take your mind off of the intestinal stuff, and maybe you'll get to experiment with GF pizza recipes?

  2. Also, that pizza place in Midway is my favorite (besides Pizza Factory). They have really yummy salads too though...

  3. I'm curious, what are the side effects of not following a gluten free diet with Celiac's? Because supposedly my MIL has it, but she doesn't follow the diet.

    I'm sorry that of all the things your dad left you with, it was Celiac's. But I have to say, I think he left you with his big heart too. You are one of the nicest, funniest, most genuine people I have the privilege of knowing. I know that is not a funny or witty comment to make on your very witty blog, but it's true.

  4. Hear ye, Hear ye...I may have a piece of news that will rock your world after this: Dominos has come out with a gluten-free pizza.

    This is, of course, only good news if you happen to like Dominos. I hope you do. :D

  5. Sara - the side effects can vary, depending on the severity of the disease, from pain (light to severe) to actual starvation. With Celiac's the receptors in the intestines that pull nutrients from food become flattened and unusable when gluten is consumed.

    @BrodiAshton - So sorry to hear about this! I ate GF for two years, having been misdiagnosed with Celiacs. It's an adjustment, for sure, but it's not as difficult as it seems. Its actually not even as difficult as it used to be anymore with many restaurants and even airlines offering GF alternatives. Your mother is probably super well-versed in the ins-and-outs of Celiacs and will be an invaluable resource for you!

    I used to eat loads of Mexican (corn tortillas), rice, quinoa, grilled meats (no sauces unless you know they're GF). At places like Whole Foods Market you'll find great, GF flour and baking mixes. Bob's Red Mill GF flour mix is one of the best I found (flavor/texture-wise). You can eat oatmeal. (so long as it's processed in a GF plant). You can even find GF Soy sauce if you like Chinese food. PF Changs has a GF menu (made with GF soy sauce-- just REALLY stress that you need GF to the waiter because they aren't always very attentive). If you're super sensitive to Gluten, you may want to invest in a new set of cookware and NEVER cook with Gluten as trace gluten from what you used to cook can linger in cookware. There are pizza places that do offer GF pizza crust, but again, if you're super sensitive, the oven may give you problems. So if you must have pizza, buy or make a GF crust (or even an Anna's GF pizza) and make at home.

    You can do this! And you'll begin to feel better quickly! Best wishes,

  6. I'm sorry you have Celiac. They thought I had it a couple of years ago. I tested positive on my blood test, but when they did an endoscopy, they said I didn't have it. During that time, though, I went gluten free for a month and it was hard, but I managed and I felt great! I know I have an intolerance to it like Bree does (as well as dairy), but I haven't gone GF all the way since that month because I love bread so much. I hope it goes well for you and that you feel great because of it!

    PS--I love Bree's reaction. I can totally hear her say that too.

  7. Oh and P.S. I've seen "gluten free" pizza advertised at many different places. So you may yet be able to eat of the cheesy, saucy goodness. :)

  8. Ah. A new adventure. I always thought because I dont eat a lot of bread it wouldn't be hard, but I have a few friends who recently started GF diets because of diagnosis and I was telling one of them what we were having for dinners that week and I realized even w/ out bread there was at least one or more items in my dinners that had gluten. It's eye opening for sure. GOOD LUCK! :)

  9. My sis-in-law and two of her kids have Celiacs. I'll try to get some info and websites from her because she's completely redone their food storage and things to be gluten (and everything else)free. Of course you may have a bunch of info since you're dad dealt with it. You can buy pizza crusts that are gluten free. She would get some of those then call Papa Murpheys and just buy the sauce and toppings from the pizza and make it at home. Probably not quite the same but better than having a last bite of Pizza. The worst thing is that you have to take all your own food to church activities/parties/friends houses, etc. The thing is, she didn't even mind eating gluten free because she felt so good once she'd stopped poisoning her body.

  10. You have my deepest sympathy! I have a severe soy and peanut allergy. No chocolate. No dining out. No fast food/processed foods. But I have great pity parties! I hope you find many new ways to indulge yourself. For me, reading books, such as yours, makes my days so much happier.

  11. Is it just me or does it seem like Celiac's disease and gluten intolerance are becoming more and more common? It makes me wonder...

    I made pizza at home last night with a homemade sauce and CAULIFLOWER crust! It was soooo good. My husband (who was very skeptical about the crust) loved it and said it was even better than real pizza crust! I thought it had maybe a bit too much cheese, but I will definitely make it again.

  12. Certain brands of hot dogs are out for you. I know you are now devastated. Bob's Red Mill has great GF products, although Whole Foods will rob you blind from shopping there. Too bad you don't live in CA where Trader Joe's is a Celiac's BFF! Also too bad they don't have some kind of supplement for Celiacs like they do for Lactose Intolerance. I'm just sayin'.

    Sorry I forgot to warn you about SF being freeeeezing! It's uncommonly cold this year.