How did lunch get so complicated?

I just got an email about a workshop I have to attend in August at my college. It'll be small, but will including all the deans as well as my cohort of new faculty and some experienced faculty.

The workshop is scheduled to take place over three days and includes three lunches at three different places.

I haven't been to a restaurant since my diagnosis. These aren't places with GF menus (ha! around here), but since they're all in my small city, it would be could to build relationships with them.

But I'm scared ... not just of being glutened, or the amount of prep it's going to take to make the meals work, but of sticking out.

I went to a workshop at the end of June where lunch was sent in and brought my own lunch. People, of course, asked questions. It ended up being big topic of conversation over lunch. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to talk about celiac ... I'm an educator by avocation after all ... but I don't want to be only "celiac girl", I also want people to be aware of my teaching and research. And, oh yeah, maybe me as a person too.

Especially to the administration. One thing that worries me is that someone who gets into their head that I'm sick or hard to deal with and how that could affect my career. These people I'm eating with are the same people deciding about job renewals and tenure. I don't want them to think I can't handle things or that I need to be treated differently. At another job, I had an allergic reaction to air freshner used in the building. The department thereafter saw me as 'bubble girl' and it became an enormous production. So, on the one hand, I don't want anyone over-reacting.

On the other hand, I don't want people not taking this seriously either, since I do need special accomodations for things like these lunches. Also, this summer is not as productive in terms of research and writing as I had planned because of being sick (I was hospitalized for a little while too).

Apparently I want it all. I wonder if others worry about their jobs and people's perception of them as they deal with Celiac, especially this line between hey-I'm really sick! and this is serious and not wanting to stick out.

I need to find the 'elevator answer' - a quick blurb that explains and walks the line. And, somehow sound like I'm still doing a lot this summer without killing myself with the pressure and letting it still be ok to rest.


Mary Frances said...

I feel your pain. I'm not sure whether I get more grief at work for being a vegetarian or being gluten-free.

Some tactics that work for my husband and I (we're both GF) are to order salads w/o croutons, sandwiches w/o the bread, or grilled fish with steamed or grilled veggies. We've also found a local Mexican restaurant that will make our burritos with corn tortillas.

If we're eating at a work event, we sometimes bring our own bread
for sandwiches. My office has potluck meals for holidays, and I usually bring a dish that will fill me up if it's the only thing thatI can eat.

When people comment, I usually just tell them that I have a wheat allergy - for some reason people seem to accept allergies pretty readily. If they ask how I react to it, then I tell them that it causes an inflammatory immune response which results in severe internal damage. That is usually enough information that they take it seriously, rather than thinking that I'm just being picky.

Hope this helps,
Mary Frances

grey said...

Thanks for your comment. It's been an up-and-down month in terms of energy. I used your suggestion about what to say regarding how I react to gluten when visiting my first restaurant. It worked very well; they took it seriously and I had a very positive experience.

Still working up the nerves to try Mexican - I know I can get corn tortillas, but I worry about cross-contamination and making the problem clear. I think I need to be more adventurous.