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Cheerymarie

Help: Celiacs in the navy- told to bring my own food on deployments

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backstory: I was diagnosed via biopsy and blood test 9/25 is when I was told by the GI doctor (civilian). I went to navy medical for sea duty screening and was told “bring your own food on deployments” which honestly isn’t possible for a 9 month carrier deployment nor do I WANT to live off gluten free snacks, while working such long hours. ( I feel like I will become malnourished)  I was also told by the navy doctor “not everything on the ship has gluten in it” yes I agree but you’re referring to the salad bar and I can’t live off iceberg lettuce and carrots. Also there’s a serious concern for cross contamination. Then he told me “ I mean you can have a little gluten just don’t eat bread” I’m convinced this dude is a flaming idiot. So he’s sending me to sea and I’m terribly scared I’m going to get those HORRIBLE stomach pains again (which I’m still having less intense versions of) which is what got me into the ER which is how I got a referral to the civilian GI. I have been in for 5 years and my job is primarily an at sea job as I am a nuke. I have already done my time at shore, plus some due to knee surgery. I don’t know what to do, I really don’t want to be super sick again. 

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You need to take this up the chain of command. Go immediately to your chaplin who will be able to assist you in this process.  Make sure you bring the records from the GI doctor with you along with a letter from him/her detailing the seriousness of your condition and the need to be gluten free. You need to be aware that the Navy will likely have 2 options, permanent shore duty or a medical discharge. If needed pull  legal into the situation. Having dealt with Navy doctors you have my sympathy. I hope you can get this resolved quickly.  I would think it would be very hard to be a celiac on board a ship. Especially if we should (heaven forbid) get into a confilict somewhere.

 

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Hmm, while not quite possible to live off for extended amounts of time they do make a bunch of gluten free meal bars. meal shakes etc. Augason Farms used to have freeze dried gluten free food/meals, and mountain house makes some of the MREs gluten free just check their list and select the "gluten free" check box. Bar wise I swear by Julian Bakery as a dairy free low carb bar since I do not do carbs but fats and protein only. There are cheaper and other options. Meal shakes Pioneer Labs makes a full celiac support one, MRM makes some decent ones. others have talked about oragain and garden of life shakes.  
Perhaps see about talking to the chef/cooks on your ship your deployed on. If you can inform them of your issues perhaps you can make arrangements for you to keep a dedicated mess kit and use it to fix gluten free food and meals. Eggs, and canned veggies are my go to meal in the mornings and evenings, along with stir frys, super simple and fast to make.

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Wow I really feel for you here. I used to work on ships doing research and I eventually quit and changed careers because no one was able (ahem, or willing) to try and accommodate me; I got many of the same "a little won't hurt" comments. While I quit because I was in the early stages of my recovery and very sensitive and nervous, I have learned a few tricks since then that may be able to help you:

-Hard boiled eggs. Not the best if cooked in a gluten pot, but in odd situations where a kitchen had to accommodate me, they happily provided me with hard boiled eggs and yogurt

-Dehydrate your own food. I made stew recipes with ground meat and then threw them in a dehydrator. Then I took the crust (it was crusted to the bottom) and put it in a blender. Voila, a powder! It rehydrates as a super tasty soup

While those two options can't last for a 9 mo. deployment, they may help close the gap for the first few weeks when you're trying to work with the kitchen. Perhaps you can get the civilian doctor to write you a medical note (I used one once from my doc that had a prescription for "gluten free food" and a note about cross contamination and it helped). I truly wish you the best of luck.

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Hopefully if this problem gets spread around enough the navy (or any military branch for the matter) will start making gluten free MRE's. I mean that's all they need and they'll have a large group of readily available, strong, healthy people willing to serve their country. I am looking into joining the navy or coast guard, is permanent shore duty possible?

 

and I wish you the best of luck on solving this, I guess what the guy above said. Go up the chain of command and let them know what's by up. 

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