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Nadtorious

Cross Contamination in new living situation

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Hi gang. I'm sure everyone can relate to that wit's end moment with dealing with Celiac and I feel like I'm finally hitting mine. I was diagnosed 15 years ago and through that time have had lots of ups and downs teaching family, friends, partners, loved ones and restaurant staff how to safely make a meal for me (or anyone else with celiac for that matter). I've definitely had moments of feeling like a paranoid freak and like I have to be overly anal about issues, especially in dealing with cross contamination, but typically people have figured it out and we can all have a laugh and share a meal. This has also led me to become rather self conscious about the level to which I have to remind people about my sensitivity and feeling like a nag at times. But again, 15 years worth of boyfriends and others have figured it out without too much of a headache and I've always been grateful for the extra steps being taken to keep me healthy.

Until now. I just moved in with my boyfriend of a year and his 13 year old son and it's like a gluten bomb has gone off in the house. I've had a few talks with the BF about keeping things separate but I am still getting sick after almost each meal prepared by him or his son. We've talked about having a clean grill, keeping the cutting board clean, condiments....you guys know the drill. Last night I had to quietly (and awkwardly) ask him to wash his hands after eating a soft pretzel as he was about to prep dinner. It led to a big discussion after and I'm not sure it's really resonating other than he feels terrible (and I somehow got glutened again). On top of all that I just witnessed his son prep a bagel and immediately unload the dishwasher without washing his hands. This sounds like such dumb stuff but we all know it can get us sick, and I've pretty much been getting sick weekly since moving in (whereas I used to get sick 1-2 times a year).....

I guess my questions at this point are.....is this a lost cause? Without making this whole house gluten-free (which I'm not advocating for nor is he prepared to do) how can things like this be prevented (which I already seemingly know the answer to, it's just a matter of getting it to happen)? Do any of you have suggestions on how to have these conversations with confidence and not feel like a total freak in trying to explain how sick you get from a single crumb? Or how to get this across to a 13 year old without sounding like a crazy evil overbearing stepmother? I thought, after 15 years, I really had this dialed but clearly I have been proven wrong. Any and all suggestions welcome, including dumping boyfriend, moving out, tazing anyone who walks in the house with glutenous foods, and just getting over it in general. 

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25 minutes ago, Nadtorious said:

Hi gang. I'm sure everyone can relate to that wit's end moment with dealing with Celiac and I feel like I'm finally hitting mine. I was diagnosed 15 years ago and through that time have had lots of ups and downs teaching family, friends, partners, loved ones and restaurant staff how to safely make a meal for me (or anyone else with celiac for that matter). I've definitely had moments of feeling like a paranoid freak and like I have to be overly anal about issues, especially in dealing with cross contamination, but typically people have figured it out and we can all have a laugh and share a meal. This has also led me to become rather self conscious about the level to which I have to remind people about my sensitivity and feeling like a nag at times. But again, 15 years worth of boyfriends and others have figured it out without too much of a headache and I've always been grateful for the extra steps being taken to keep me healthy.

Until now. I just moved in with my boyfriend of a year and his 13 year old son and it's like a gluten bomb has gone off in the house. I've had a few talks with the BF about keeping things separate but I am still getting sick after almost each meal prepared by him or his son. We've talked about having a clean grill, keeping the cutting board clean, condiments....you guys know the drill. Last night I had to quietly (and awkwardly) ask him to wash his hands after eating a soft pretzel as he was about to prep dinner. It led to a big discussion after and I'm not sure it's really resonating other than he feels terrible (and I somehow got glutened again). On top of all that I just witnessed his son prep a bagel and immediately unload the dishwasher without washing his hands. This sounds like such dumb stuff but we all know it can get us sick, and I've pretty much been getting sick weekly since moving in (whereas I used to get sick 1-2 times a year).....

I guess my questions at this point are.....is this a lost cause? Without making this whole house gluten-free (which I'm not advocating for nor is he prepared to do) how can things like this be prevented (which I already seemingly know the answer to, it's just a matter of getting it to happen)? Do any of you have suggestions on how to have these conversations with confidence and not feel like a total freak in trying to explain how sick you get from a single crumb? Or how to get this across to a 13 year old without sounding like a crazy evil overbearing stepmother? I thought, after 15 years, I really had this dialed but clearly I have been proven wrong. Any and all suggestions welcome, including dumping boyfriend, moving out, tazing anyone who walks in the house with glutenous foods, and just getting over it in general. 

Til he learns cook your own meals in a dedicated prep area. Use a fold out table, your own storage for your foods, disposable plates, and utensils, Get your own hybrid rice cooker/crock pot/steamer, your own microwave, and a griddle. Look into some nordic ware microwave cook ware. and use freezer paper on prep surfaces.  This way you can fix your own safe meals in your own area.   See if this works in the mean time til you train them, perhaps convert them to gluten-free and a gluten-free house. Relationships are about compromise and understanding, good luck with it.

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I feel your pain but instead of making the 3 others in the house conform to my standards, I just make my own meals w/or w/out them. I have my own appliances, my own shelf in the fridge and my own cupboard. They use as little flour as possible and use mine when it's in a recipe. Everything is separate. I've been doing this for 11 yrs and it still makes me feel like a freak but I watch everyone like a hawk in the kitchen and at the table. If in doubt, I ask what they used and I read all labels. It reminds me of living w/someone who eats your food so you have to hide it or write your name on it.

The main goal is YOU not getting sick, so stand up to them and get yourself your own gluten-free area to work in. My kids were teenagers and I didn't get sick, so you should be able to teach the 13 yr old. Good luck. Stand up for your gluten-free self. Personal question, does your significant other brush their teeth before kissing you? I don't kiss my fiance unless he's just brushed and not had beer or other poison for me.

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This may seem like a lame idea but I think sometimes visuals can really bring home a point like nothing else can. To help them both understand just how little it takes to make you sick as a dog, how about a visual demonstration?  How about getting a measuring cup full of sand & asking them if they think that would be roughly a million grains of sand. Then have a pair of tweezers & remove 20 grains. Then tell them that 20 grains of sand (gluten) will make you sick for weeks. 

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42 minutes ago, squirmingitch said:

This may seem like a lame idea but I think sometimes visuals can really bring home a point like nothing else can. To help them both understand just how little it takes to make you sick as a dog, how about a visual demonstration?  How about getting a measuring cup full of sand & asking them if they think that would be roughly a million grains of sand. Then have a pair of tweezers & remove 20 grains. Then tell them that 20 grains of sand (gluten) will make you sick for weeks. 

While this does seem to be a good idea, I think the sand thing might make them think you can just pick it off and not get the seriousness down.....following a another suggestion from a month or so ago about using rat poison (member suggested taking a bowl of food and bringing their husband in putting rat poison in it sitrring it all in in front of him and asking if he would eat it knowing there was rat poison in it [pretty sure this was thrown away])   Perhaps you can take a bowl of rice....show it to both the father and son and say "Gluten is poisonous to my body, gluten residue can be invisible and not able to be seen but can still make me sick." then pull out a can of RAID ant poison "This is poison right?" Spray it on the rice ask them if they would eat that. Ask them if they can see the poison on it. Spray it on a fork and ask them if they would use that fork.......might get the point across.....NOTE THROW AWAY AND WASH THEM AFTER THE EXAMPLE.

I am not SAYING or SUGGESTING to actually poison anyone, this is supposed to be done with their full awareness in front of them to MAKE A POINT, DO NOT feed them poison or do it with out them paying attention. This is for a visual teaching and AHH OK I GET IT NOW setting and comprehension.

My father has a allergy to poison ivy, I got my gluten issues across to him by asking him if he would like it if I took the poison ivy and dusted the kitchen, plates, pots and pans with it.......that look and quiet understanding was a huge turning point with me and him about my disease.

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Personally, I would sit down with your BF and tell him that you really appreciate all the hard work that he is doing to keep the kitchen safe for you but that you are still getting sick.  Explain that even 1 crumb can make you sick and that you know that it is a very difficult task.  Then I would explain that you are going to make your own food for a while in hopes of feeling a bit better. You can still encourage family meals together and an occasional meal out to promote family time together. 

I would ask if you could have your own section of the fridge, labelled with your own stuff that no one eats from. Get some pyrex dishes with lids, your own scrub brush, and your own condiments. (I don't think you need your own microwave, but definitely get your own toaster.

As your relationship grows, either he will grow to understand your illness more and want to help you feel better and do everything he can to help it OR he will not be interested in helping you stay healthy.  Hopefully, it's the first, but if it's the second, then you will eventually know that it's time to get your own place and decide if you should move on. 

Hope it works out!

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I think Jen above has the right idea. However well you communicate it they won't develop the kind of reflex responses, at least soon enough to keep you well. Your current level of glutening is putting your long term health at risk so you need to act now and Jen's approach offers the best chance of swift results without ending the relationship. 

I do think its worth having another go with the communication however and trying to put yourself in their shoes may help with that. Outside this forum, the whole thing probably seems bizarre. I find a lot of people can only understand it in terms of 'avoidance'  - ie. You're 'avoiding' gluten like others might 'avoid' spicy food etc. They get that you don't want to eat it, because it presumably upsets your stomach, but they absolutely do not get that there is an auto immune response taking place. That it's closer to AIDS than gastroenteritis in some ways. Hope you understand what I mean by that, I know it sounds melodramatic! 

Don't try and explain the science, just keep it to a couple of key points. 

One glutening per month makes some scary changes to celiac morbidity rates.  It could affect you in many different ways including in rare cases some very serious ones indeed.

It only takes a tiny amount.

Recovery can take weeks. 

And then try and create that safe space Jen has outlined above. 

Best of luck :)

 

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