Personal: A Word About Taco Bell

*** For those of you who are reading this looking for a GF Taco Bell Menu, please see the newer post, Taco Bell, Take 2! https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/taco-bell-take-2/ ***

This is my story, and mileage may vary for the rest of you, but I had the best experience today and wanted to share it.

 I live in Springfield, Missouri, a small city in the heart of the Ozarks Plateau.  We don’t have a PF Chang’s, we don’t have a Whole Foods Market… Celiacs here do the best they can until the farmer’s markets open.  We have two restaurants with a specific Gluten Free menu: The Outback and a little Vietnamese place called Bambu (which we frequent like fiends). 

90% of the time I tell a server that I can’t have wheat, rye or barley, the response is either: “I can bring you white bread.” or “There’s no bread with X dish.”  Gluten is a foreign concept here.

So, I have to commend the Taco Bell on West Sunshine (across from Bass Pro) for their knowledge and observational skills.  I drove through today to get lunch for my husband, who was filling in for someone at the local Crisis Hotline (so she could spend the holiday with her kids).  I ordered for him, then I ordered for me: Chicken Taco Salad, no bowl, no red strips… you know the drill.  I didn’t check the order, just went to drop it off at Jim’s work.

When I got there, what do you know?  My order was wrong.  I’ve been on Cipro this week for Diverticulitis, so when I realized my order was inedible, I was almost in tears.  I resolved, though, to go back to the Taco Bell and give them a piece of my mind, even if I accomplished little else.

At the Taco Bell, I calmly explained the whole speel… no wheat, make us die, etc., etc.  A woman I can only presume was the manager (her name was Twyla) told me that it was ok, they knew about Celiac and had a few regulars who had the same problem.  She was really, really nice.  She didn’t try to just “scrape off” the offensive meat goo, she tossed my salad in front of me and made me a new one.  She also gave me a stack of Tostata shells and told me that some of the other Celiacs break them up into chips.

I know it probably doesn’t seem like much to most of you, but it meant the world to me.  In a place where I have no choice but to advocate for myself, I found one more shining jewel of understanding.  In a place where I constantly feel left out, someone found a way to include me.

When I was finally dx’ed in November, I thought the hardest part was over.  I really, really did.  No longer would I be ill, I would be improving daily (which I am, and that’s a blessing).  I would be strong, I would be well, I would be able to go outside and hike and work in my garden and play with my dogs.  I was so super pumped. 

 I never considered how hard the changes would be, how embarrassed I would be to eat out with friends, how much my life would change.  I was sick for at least 10 years (my whole adult life), my mother thinks maybe all my life (hindsight is 20/20 they say)… so these changes are significant.  I guess I just never expected them to be… Celiac Disease was my magic bullet and I expected all my problems to go away once someone finally acknowledged that I was really ill and not just attention seeking.

 So, for this, and so much more today, I want to thank the Taco Bell and Twyla.  Thanks for making me feel included and not like I was being a royal pain in the rear.

*** For those of you who are reading this looking for a GF Taco Bell Menu, please see the newer post, Taco Bell, Take 2! https://crystalstair.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/taco-bell-take-2/***

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3 comments so far

  1. spiralowlcreations on

    “I was sick for at least 10 years (my whole adult life), my mother thinks maybe all my life (hindsight is 20/20 they say)… so these changes are significant. I guess I just never expected them to be… Celiac Disease was my magic bullet and I expected all my problems to go away once someone finally acknowledged that I was really ill and not just attention seeking.”

    I have to say, I know this feeling, it almost brought tears to my eyes. When I was talking to my mom the other day I said being able to give her that Dx, almost wave it in her face to *prove* that I haven’t been a hypocondriac, I *really* was sick, I really haven’t felt good. Felt wonderful. To know, that if I can just Keep Going it’s actually going to get better. When I’ve watched my health go downhill and knew that it was just going to get worse, and I’m only in my early 30’s. I was scared of 50’s. Now I look forward to them!

  2. crystalstair on

    You know, it’s funny how life does you sometimes. I’m really glad you got your dx… I don’t know how long you’ve been on the GF diet, but it really will change your life, but it won’t be all at once. My improvements seem to come on in little spurts (of course, I have other problems that compound it, so your results may vary), but they keep coming on and I am so thankful.

    Two years ago, I was certain I was going to die. I had long ago given up hope that anyone would believe me anymore… my old Dr’s nurse treated me like a hypocondriac and he kept feeding me psych meds. Somehow, we endure and I think it makes us stronger, better people. You and I are more prepared now for the battles that might lay ahead.

    I’m disappointed that your mother didn’t believe you, mine was the only one who really did in the end, pretty much everyone else thought I was attention seeking.

    Our peers will never understand, though, you know that, I’m sure. While they are still out playing at house or just starting to have their families, you and I have looked a life of pain in the face and stood our ground. And while it is going to take some adjustment and some mighty priority shifting, in the end it will be worth it all, I am sure.

    Congratulations on your Dx and forgive me if I wax poetic. 🙂

    ~Kristi

  3. Allison on

    I know how you feel because I’ve been there too, and I think you’ll find a lot of other celiacs were regarded with the same skepticism by family, friends, doctors, etc. Just remember that you’re not alone, and don’t feel embarrassed in restaurants or anywhere else! Feel proud that you’re standing up for and taking care of yourself. I’m sure you would want your friends to do the same for themselves or their families!
    Every year since I was diagnosed (2002), I hear and see more about gluten/celiac disease. I feel optimistic that as word gets around, I’ll feel less and less like an oddball. 😉 Good luck!!

    -Allison


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