OK. The title was just to get your attention. Regardless, this post is done in an interview format and the person to which I’m asking these questions is very important to this blog. Exclusivity is what makes the title somewhat false. You see, the person I am interviewing for this post is gaining tremendous experience in answering questions about his condition and sharing what his Celiac life has become. He has been featured in other blog writer posts, did an interview with an international allergy magazine and has, believe it or not, appeared in a gluten free calendar. All by the age of 13. Of course, I’m talking about Cam.
I’ve “interviewed” Cam before, asking him about favorite foods and getting his feedback on his Celiac experiences, so I was hesitant to do another question/answer style of blog. But then I looked at the date; July 1st. Halfway into the year. Cam was diagnosed with Celiac in September 2013 but we did not begin to blog, tweet, share his story until January 1st. So, here we are six months later. It’s kind of like a half birthday / anniversary for us. Wow, in six months so much has changed. Instead of just our family reading about Cam’s every day life, hundreds of new people follow our story each month. As I mentioned, he’s been asked about his gluten experience in real interviews (not just silly things put together by his Dad). He has been approached by companies to try their sample products and give his opinions about them. He has embraced his condition, educates those who ask and has become a spokesperson for Celiac teens, whether he realizes it or not. Given all of these tremendous achievements, I felt it important that he have a chance to tell you how his summer is going; in his own words.
Celiac Teen Dad (CTD): How’s Your Summer Going?
Cam: It’s going pretty well…a lot better than last summer ’cause last summer I had all my Celiac attacks because I didn’t know I had my disease. It’s also better because I’m able to do more, such as camps and see my friends more often because I’m not having to stay near home as much.
CTD: Are there challenges you face in the summer time that maybe you don’t have to face during the school year?
Cam: Well, I go out to eat a lot more so there’s the challenge of cross-contamination. Also, when we go places like the movie theaters, there’s always gluten or crumbs on the floor and the seats which I need to be careful about.
CTD: How about when you go to the pool with your friends? Any problems there?
Cam: I just don’t get any concessions. There’s always crumbs on the picnic tables and there’s the possibility of crumbs in the pool.
CTD: You shouldn’t drink pool water any way.
Cam: I know. (Said in a very “teenager” worthy tone)
CTD: Now, you play a lot of baseball and pick-up basketball in the summer. Has your Celiac Disease affected your play?
Cam: I don’t think so. It does affect things like when we go out to eat with the team after a game. I need to keep in mind the cross-contamination possibilities but it’s a lot of fun to hang out with your teammates.
CTD: Do your teammates treat you different since you’re not eating the same things that they are?
Cam: My friends are very understanding of my situation because they ask questions and I let them know why I can’t do things. I’ll say, “I can’t have these wings because they’re breaded” or “I can’t have that pizza because it uses wheat flour”. If I tell them about it, they’re understanding and it doesn’t really matter. They help me out and know to be careful and not give me any gluten.
CTD: Anything exciting coming up the rest of the summer (only 7 weeks left until he starts school)?
Cam: Well, coming up at the end of July, I’m going to a gluten-free camp in North Carolina at Camp Kanata. They’re doing a special gluten free week with gluten free food. I’m real excited about it because it’s a nice overnight, week long camp where I can go swimming, play basketball and just have a good time and not worry about food.
CTD: Does it take some pressure off of you, knowing that for that whole week you’re not going to have to worry about what you are eating?
Cam: Yeah, it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders knowing that it will be safe for me to eat there. I won’t completely let my guard down because you always have to be on the watch and there might be things like crumbs from the previous week’s camp that could cause some cross-contamination. But it’s going to be a lot easier knowing that everyone there understands my condition and wants to keep things safe.
CTD: Are you excited at the chance to meet other kids who might have Celiac Disease and/or gluten sensitivities?
Cam: Yeah, I really don’t know a lot of people who have Celiac Disease so I’m excited to meet some kids my age who have Celiac and share stories to see if they went through some of the same things that I did and find out what foods they like. It will be fun.
CTD: Ten months now since your diagnosis. Do you feel like you have adapted to the gluten free lifestyle.
Cam: I feel I’ve adapted very well. I remember checking out all of the store bought brands and hoping that I could find something that I liked. And now, I know where to look for gluten and I know I have to be careful at restaurants. But my family supports me a lot; my mom cooks everything, my dad expresses my feelings in his blog. In 10 months, I would say that the Celiac lifestyle has become a lot easier.