Sunday, March 20, 2011

to share or not to share...

so i've mentioned my gluten free difficulties at work before... which i am VERY happy to report have been resolved when i changed jobs in mid february.  now i'm a receptionist at the allergy and asthma center (a.k.a. dr. walker's office) in springfield.  where we have a designated lunch time and eating outside of that time is discouraged.  no more constant snacking, yah!!  i lost like 5 pounds in the first 2 weeks of working there.

however, i have a new gluten free work dilemma... i take A LOT of phone calls from people wondering if they have celiac disease.  my dilemma is that although i have a TON of personal experience on the subject of trying to go gluten free; i'm no medical expert on the subject (and i'm self diagnosed.)  frankly, beyond diagnosis... no one else in the office seems to be a celiac expert either...  you are diagnosed, sent back to your pcp, who is supposed to send you to a nutritionist, end of story.

just this past week i spoke to a parent looking for testing for their child because of headaches.  they explained at length that they had tried everything and as a last resort they were coming to us for help.  i asked very casually if they had thought about eliminating wheat.  the parent admitted considering that as a possibility but not trying it yet.  i told them in my experience ditching wheat was the trick.  they seemed more open to the possibility and excited to hear that i had success with out wheat.

i was overwhelmed with a feeling of pride (i guess) that i might have helped someone with my words of encouragement and experience.  but then all i could think was:  yikes!  am i going to get in trouble if someone in the office finds out i'm passing out advice to patients??  i instantly decided to be more careful with my personal information sharing.  not in an embarrassed way, but in a "the receptionist does not have a medical degree" kind of way...  

however, i can't help but be compelled to at least offer a kind word, or a "hey, this website, or store has great gluten free stuff," to someone really looking for the answer to why they have pain, headaches, or "tummy trouble".  it sucks to feel crappy; i know that first hand.  like this parent said about their child, they're 16, they don't need to have headaches like this.  it sucks to be looking for answers and come up short, too.  

another patient said their spouse was just diagnosed after an endoscopy... only after their doctor told them they were bloated because they were swallowing too much air!!!!  after hearing that story i sat at my desk shaking my head, and thinking about how far celiac awareness has come in the past few years but also about how far it clearly still needs to go.

so, careful sharing from now on i guess... honestly, no one has made a peep at my current job about my sharing; where i make a point of not hiding my gluten free status.  i think these are carry over feelings from the last job where i felt as if i wasn't capable of doing anything right, especially answer the phone.

oh well.  have a happy gluten free day!  :)

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