Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Borrowed time.

It’s been a good day.

Of course, aren’t all days good when you’re living on borrowed time?

I’ve been having major anger issues lately. Sure, some of it might be from this stupid COVID-19 mess, but a lot of it is just me being mad at my own body. Since moving to Pennsylvania nearly a year ago, I have had labs drawn a few times. I don’t even know what prompted my doctor to check whatever mysterious level in my blood it is that indicates I might have an issue with gluten, but check it she did. The first time this level was checked, my blood sugar was also checked and came back crazy high. It made zero sense, because at the time I had been on a diabetic diet for a little over a year. The doctor, of course, defended the lab stating that “this level is rarely incorrect.”

Well, it was wrong. Way, WAY wrong.

So when she told me I “might have celiac disease” I didn’t believe it and asked for the labs to be drawn again. I had no symptoms of celiac (and believe me, I looked them up) so I figured the lab screwed up again.

The results were the same the second time. Long story short, I got referred to a specialist in Pittsburgh who decided I need to have some scope procedure done where they shove a camera down my throat and look at my small intestines. This is apparently the only way to get a definitive diagnosis.

Enter COVID-19.

That procedure has been postponed indefinitely. In the meantime, another set of labs were drawn and still indicate celiac disease. Like it or not, for now I have to live my life on the assumption that I have it and need to be on a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life.

I’ve been pretty angry about it for a few weeks now because it doesn’t affect only me. There are two of us in this house and we are not going to make different meals for each of us, so Mike now has to eat gluten free as well. It sucks.

Today was a good day though. I’m lucky that Mike has embraced this whole lifestyle change. He knows how much I love baking, so he’s made sure I have a plethora of gluten-free ingredients. For the first time since before Christmas, I got the stand mixer out today and baked. It was glorious! I made oatmeal raisin cookies that are not only free of the evil gluten, but also mostly sugar free, and I made flourless peanut butter cookies.

Life is good. 

Thinking about all of this while I was baking got me thinking about my life and the different ailments I have dealt with over the last 20 years. It was July 2000 when I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid causing hyperthyroidism. After a decade of that flaring up and being treated with medication, I finally had my thyroid removed in 2010. Since then, other than having to take a thyroid pill every day, life has been pretty simple.

Then in 2018 I was told that I was very close to being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. That prompted a major lifestyle change! My doctor at the time didn’t think I could change my eating and exercise habits enough to avoid the diagnosis. In one year, I did just that though. I lost 25+ pounds and changed my eating habits. I was officially no longer on the brink of diabetes.

Life was good again! 

Now this. I’ve always loved the idea that from the day we are born, we are dying. Every day should be lived and appreciated to its full extent. Losing our son to cancer at such a young age also taught us that lesson. 

But damn…sometimes I feel like my body is hellbent on getting me to death faster than I want to go! Never with anything that is guaranteed to kill me. Just this little thorn-in-my-side stuff. 

Here’s where the borrowed time comes in.

I am incredibly fortunate to live in a time when there is knowledge of these disorders and treatment options available. I may not like having to give up some foods, but at least I know that is how to deal with it. If I had been born 100 years ago, I might have had any (or all) of these ailments and not known that I had them at all! Who knows if they would have killed me or not. When my Graves’ Disease flared up, I would sometimes have a resting heart rate of about 110 beats per minute and only be able to get 2-3 hours of sleep per night and that would go on for days until the medicine the doctors prescribed kicked in and got it under control. Without medication, who knows how long my body could have withstood that. 

So yeah…maybe this time that I have now is not time I was meant to have. Instead of wasting time being angry over this new twist in my life, I’m choosing to consider it my next great adventure! Like all adventures, there will be struggles…kind of like taking a beautiful hike in the mountains and getting bit by mosquitoes and falling into a patch of poison ivy. It’s all part of the whole experience, right?

If my body is determined to keep throwing these curveballs at me, it better be prepared for a battle because I love a good challenge!

Bring on the gluten-free cookies!