A Bombshell Day

A Bombshell Day

Some days are what we’d call Red Letter Days. You know, the ones that hold special significance for us. Like the birth of a child or the day we get married or the first day of an important career milestone. Other days are what I like to call Bombshell Days. Those are the ones that rock our world, change the way we move forward. I’ve had a few of those, and so I can pretty much say this is going to be one of my Bombshell Days.

To help give my reaction to the news I received today, it might help to provide a bit of background for perspective. I was born in 196… ok, maybe not that much background.

Background

I’ve basically been sick since my first memories. I was the kid who fell in love with books because it was all there was to do in my bedroom while my friends were at school. The kid whose grandfather bought goats just to see if I could handle goats’ milk. (Yeah, he was pretty awesome.) And whose mom schlepped from doctor to specialist to ultra-specialist in hopes of finding out why I was always sick. After testing, I found out I was allergic to just about everything that moved and quite a few things that didn’t move. I took shots for years to build up my immune system, went on special diets, and tried some pretty funky solutions in a quest to feel healthy like everyone else.

I was a very sickly 102 pounds when I married (but at least I was thin, right?) and then spent the next several years finding out it was almost impossible for me to carry a baby. After three miscarriages, we finally had our first child, a beautiful, wonderful daughter. Three more miscarriages, and we brought our oldest son in the world. And after another miscarriage, we decided it was just too hard and gave up on having a third. A year later, we discovered we’d been blessed with one last pregnancy that meant 5 months of bed rest before our last son joined our little family.

After he was born, my health just completely fell apart. I had blackouts from rollercoaster blood sugars that couldn’t be explained and that didn’t develop into type 1 diabetes as predicted. I gained weight and then more weight and then more weight until I had blossomed from a small to a large. Borderline thyroid results allowed me to start on Armour, but that didn’t result in weight loss. Nothing seemed to help.

The Diagnosis

And then the unthinkable happened. I got a diagnosis. My new doctor told me I had Celiac, and while it meant a huge learning curve and completely new diet, it was an answer that explained so much. And so I dove in with two feet and a whole lot of research. I preached gluten-free to my kids, started plying new dishes on my family (some really not so good experiments as well as a few winners), and began celebrating the hope of better health.

And I did feel better. Quite a bit better. I didn’t lose any weight to speak of, but my energy increased, the bloating in my stomach disappeared for several weeks, and the headaches I experience almost daily were greatly reduced. I became a total, avid convert. Until a few weeks ago when I went for my annual checkup with the same doctor who helped me through all ten of my pregnancies. After perusing my file, he commented that there was no test for Celiac. Along with a boatload of other tests like lipid panel, liver, cancer markers, thyroid, and A1c, he added the test for Celiac markers. And so I added gluten back into my diet to prepare for the test. I was a bit concerned, because the world didn’t end when I ate my first piece of bread. And I didn’t spend the next three days sick. I’d been there, before – sick after a meal, so I was perplexed.

The Bombshell

My doctor called this morning – with good news, he said. All of my blood work was normal. Including the test for Celiac markers. Absolutely no indication of Celiac. None. Nada. Nothing. Not even a smidgen.

And so now all I have is questions. Why did the other doctor tell me I had Celiac? Why did I feel better at first off of gluten? Why did I get sick sometimes after eating gluten and not others? And, most of all, now what?

Seriously. Now what? I personally have no idea. And now I’m back to no answers, only questions. If you have answers, buddy, I’m all ears.

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How Do You Let People Know You’re Not At Your Best?

I was having this conversation recently and am curious how you handle this: How do you tell someone you may not be at your best due to not feeling 100% without appearing to be fishing for sympathy?

With sometimes multiple meetings scheduled in a day, it is often impossible to “call in sick” when I’ve managed to ingest some gluten without realizing it. And thus the challenge begins. Do I let clients know I may need to suddenly leave the meeting, or do I just hope to get through it before a new bout of stomach ailments appear (and just bolt out the door if I have to and explain later)? Either way, I think it’s tough. My health becomes a topic of conversation – not something I want to have happen when I’m working with others in a professional capacity.

A family member recently told me they thought I was sick more than I was well. It was then that I realized each time I mentioned I was moving a bit creaky due to the weather (I have Fibromyalgia as well as Celiac) coupled with each time I mentioned suffering from eating unidentified gluten, what they heard was, “I am sick again today.”

So I’m hoping you’ll share how you handle a chronic illness without letting those around you think you’re fishing for sympathy or becoming an invalid when all you’re really needing is a bit of space to handle the challenges of the day.