My open letter to www.Theberry.com for their photo they potsted of a button stating “gluten free intolerant” that appears to be on a chef’s jacket *shudder*
My dear berries,
What you see here is me the sickest I’ve ever been in my whole life. Some doctors had given up on me while others remained baffled. I was in the hospital with inflamed organs, locked joints, unable to eat, scared, and malnourished to the point of broken teeth, bones, and hair loss. This is the day they figured out why. I have Celiac Disease. The protein gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye had caused my immune system to wreak havok on my body and destroy the villi in my intestines. Without villi it is impossible to absorb nutrients you need to survive. A gluten free diet saved my life. My organs began to heal themselves and with time I was able to trade in my handicap sticker for a 5k bib. This is the same gluten free diet you made fun of this morning in your morning coffee album. In case you forgot it was a nice big photo of a button stating, “gluten free intolerant.”
This disease is life threatening but somehow has become the butt of every joke. Until now the Berry was one of the few places I could go and not worry about being ridiculed. I cannot watch TV, listen to the radio, or go on the internet without hearing someone make fun of gluten or call everyone on the diet an annoying hipster. I realize it is because so many have gone on the diet as a fad weight loss solution. These are the same people that can’t even tell you what gluten is… As Jimmy Kimmel so kindly showed us.
The jokes, viral youtube videos, and photos are dangerous and have put me and others like me in danger. The onslaught of negative gluten freeness on the internet, TV, and radio have caused friends, family, and food service workers to view this diet as a joke rather than medical necessity. They roll their eyes then proceed to contaminate our food (or blatantly give us gluten) because they honestly do not believe that it will cause any real harm. It only takes 1/5 of a crumb to cause a gluten reaction. And no it’s not a tummy ache it’s weeks of vomiting, skin rashes, crippling joint and muscle pain, and dizziness… just to name a few. Every joke puts a celiac that much closer to danger. I love the Berry and I am heart broken. Please rise above the ignorance. Please give us a place where we can go without seeing our disease laughed at. Please, for the sake of those struggling and those who have lost the struggle.
Kyna Hockenberry, Celiac survivor
I’d also like to note that the first response to this was, “lighten up.”
That badge disgusts me.