Support Groups

Have you ever stopped to think about how many social groups you are a part of? It really is a fascinating thing to do if you have a few minutes of time. As I sat down to think about all of the groups that my family is blessed enough to be a part of, I kept having “Oh, yeah, forgot about that one” moments. Just think about all of the circles of friends you have and you’ll understand how well-connected you actually are. College friends, neighbors, kids’ friends’ parents, church friends; the list doesn’t stop. I’m not going to go through all of the groups that I came up with but the number surprised me.

When Cam was diagnosed in September, we became a part of several more community groups. Some were forced upon us, others we joined voluntarily. Cam became a part of a small but growing group of people diagnosed with Celiac (currently 1 out every 133 people). It’s not a group that he’s a member of by choice. In contrast, by choice I have become part of a wonderful group of people sharing their Celiac and Gluten Free stories out there in the Twitterverse. Learning of their ordeals and following their stories has reiterated to Cam (and myself) that we are not alone with this new challenge. But we were never alone. During the past week, there have been several enlightening moments that have reminded me that we’ve had the support that we’ve needed since day one.

It started at a conference that my wife and I asked for with Cam’s teacher team. We’re not concerned about his grades or his behavior at school. After the “Oreo Lab” incident, we wanted to make sure that the teachers were understanding of his situation. (Side note: I know in the past day that there has been quite the stir up with a post that a school mom made about not being able to have birthday cake in the class room. While I disagree with most of her flawed statements (read the Gluten Dude’s response for feelings that are similar to mine), this conference was not about chastising the teacher who used the cookies in the class. Cam is mature enough to know where gluten is and is not. Our meeting was more about how he was personally adjusting in an environment where we were not with him.) The meeting with the teachers was great. They listened, asked questions and had a genuine concern for our son’s comfort levels while under their watch. Signs for support continued later in the week when we went to a surprise birthday party for my godfather. Here, among relatives that we see maybe once or twice a year (and that we haven’t seen since Cam’s diagnosis), caring and considerate questions were asked. The hostess of the party asked if they could provide a GF pizza specifically for him, the one person among the group of 40 or 50 present that would need this. A beautiful and non-selfish offer that was definitely noticed. From friends asking us how they can help accommodate our needs to make Cam “comfortable” when inviting us over for a simple get-together to his orthodontist assistant revealing to us that she and her daughter are both Celiac patients and sharing some of their stories, the number of supporters have been shining points during this past week. These are the signs of compassion that makes what we are doing just a little bit easier.

And we hope to continue to find support in the days to come. This next week, we will be going to our first meeting of the local Gluten Intolerance Group. The group in our town is affectionately known as the Gluten Free Gang (Cam asked if he could get a GFG tattoo, I shot that idea down quickly). He’s looking forward to meeting other kids who has what he has (he’s the only one in his school with Celiac). My wife and I are looking forward to meeting other families who have experienced this lifestyle change and sharing tips and suggestions with them. We all are looking forward to a positive experience and the chance to add one more group to our list to count on.

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