You won’t believe who tried to give me gluten

Or maybe you will.

IV hand hospital gown blondeLast month, I had an endoscopy done to take biopsies of my esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to check my digestive health. Though celiac disease had been ruled out in the past, I had tested positive for eosinophilic esophagitis, through another endoscopy collecting biopsies from my esophagus.

EE or EoE as it’s known, because eosinophilic esophagitis is a real mouthful, is a body’s allergic reaction to a suspected allergen, and results in inflammatory cells building up in the esophagus which can make swallowing difficult and cause structural changes as well. The current ways of treating it include avoiding what you have an allergy to, taking steroids to reduce inflammation in the esophagus, or reverting to an elemental diet to avoid allergens.

If you have this disease, you may not know what you’re allergic to. When I had my positive test, I was in the middle of a “eat everything” food challenge, including all of the items I had previously left off my list, including wheat and other gluten grains, rye and barley, plus oats for good measure. However, by the time of my recent endoscopy, I was no longer eating those foods, indicating that I was allergic to wheat before the procedure occurred. I even got a nifty red bracelet from the care facility to indicate in black block letters that I was allergic to WHEAT.

And yet, when I woke from the anesthesia, I was greeted back to consciousness by a nurse asking if I’d like some water and soda crackers. REALLY?

I understand that people who work in healthcare are busy people. However, I am pretty sure if I was wearing a red bracelet with PENICILLIN written on it, people would pay attention. I know nurses receive education on this topic as well: many of the classes I took to obtain my degree in Dietetics were attended by nursing students. Cross-contamination is discussed at length, as is celiac disease and the importance of recognizing allergies and what happens during an allergic reaction.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, but when it did ten years ago, I figured that while healthcare professionals should know better, some actions are automatic. But is this okay in the world of health? And by now, haven’t wheat and gluten both become pretty high profile in the area of allergies/intolerances?

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