I had intended to sleep earlier tonight, but as I am kept awake by my pesky joints I have decided to share my not-so-pleasant two days with you in hopes that perhaps a few celiac sufferer can find peace in knowing they are not alone sharing a common, yet entirely unlikely, immune response to oats.
Now those of you who may be savvy about celiac disease may be in a similar situation as I was yesterday going, “Well, isn’t it just an autoimmune reaction to gluten? Oats don’t have gluten though.”. Well, you would be partially correct. I had personally been under the impression since my diagnosis four years ago that the only issues I would have with oats would have to do with cross contamination from the fields where they are grown and the factories within which they are processed. I figured that I would be safe to try certified gluten free oats thinking that the only adverse effect that would ensue would be a potential intolerance like I have found with soy and other legumes. Lo and behold my understanding was flipped over!
Two tablespoons or so of oats later and I was set upon a severe reaction. Confused I scoured the celiac association webpages for any new findings on oats. My heart sank into my chest when I read about Avenin (the protein in oats with a similar structure to gluten) with a large caution warning stating that there are those amongst us who may experience an immune response, but there is no way of knowing who could be effected.
I am one of those lucky individuals, though my luck would likely not be considered good, who was diagnosed with a very severe case of celiac disease, where such severe reactions are now known to extend to Avenin. This means that when my immune system throws a fit like the drama queen it is, it throws a temper tantrum to disrupt the rest of my system. It plays pretend, acting like I have rheumatoid arthritis, everywhere, when in reality I don’t. So I am sitting here, kept awake by my “old lady” inflamed joints grinding against the bone, writing to you all with a warning to all other celiac sufferers who may not know: Beware of oats! If you aren’t sure if you will react, don’t go for a tablespoon. Please learn from my mistake, start with a tiny amount and reintroduce it slowly. The risk of the reaction is most certainly not worth the delicious flavour of the oats.
For those of you reading this with that understanding only shared experience can bring, I am glad to have been able to share this with you. For everyone else, I hope that this can bring more of an understanding of the complexity of the autoimmune disease and the wider variety of triggers that may set of the surge of battling antibodies, who have set themselves up to mutiny against their own host.