Monday, October 5, 2015

Prayer Request for my Hashimoto's Disease

Those who have been following for a little while may be aware that I was diagnosed a few months ago with Hashimoto's Disease. And there's just a few things I need to talk about.

I seriously almost wrote my seven quick takes on Friday about the seven worst things about trying to go gluten-free because of my Hashimoto's. You might notice I didn't do one this week. There's a good reason for that - my Hashimoto's has been making me miserable for the last few days. While I know that whining is unbecoming, it's the only thing I feel like doing right now.

I've made a comparison in the past between Hashimoto's Disease and Diabetes. Hashimoto's Disease is not half so much like Diabetes as it is like Celiac. This is not to make light of either Diabetes or Celiac, just to illustrate a difference.

Image from Wikipedia.
Used under Creative Commons License 3.0.
Hashimoto's Disease (like Celiac) is an autoimmune condition. Any time I "cheat" on my new eating restrictions, my body produces antibodies that try to get my thyroid. And it continues to produce them for a while (the length of time being measured in months, as I understand it).

So far, I had been following the rough equivalent of an 80/20 plan for compliance. I don't eat it at home (mostly), but when I've out at a restaurant with someone to celebrate an occasion, I've been choosing not to worry about it.

Following this plan, I saw a lot of changes in my symptoms, and my hormone levels did experience a profound and favorable change. Plus, the carpal tunnel that was a bane to me during my first pregnancy has almost completely vanished. The upper back pain that I seemed to have (and require a back rub for) every night also vanished after my first few weeks of this plan. (Not that I'm complaining about getting back rubs, but needing one every night?)

These were all good results, and I was very happy with them until, in the process of my reading, I discovered I shouldn't be. Or at very least, I shouldn't be satisfied with them.

Continued "cheating" on the gluten-free diet (defined as knowingly consuming gluten once a month or more) is worse than I'd previously believed. While it doesn't cause me a lot of major problems in the short term, it does lead to an elevated risk of serious heart problems (because of the inflammation caused), and Diabetes (which would make things LOADS worse), and a half dozen other things I want LESS than those. (I'd cite and specify, but I'd have to dig, and I'm emotionally really worn out right now.)

A comparison I stumbled across in several places (I would give attribution to one of them, but again - worn out) is that gluten isn't half as much like food for me as it is like rat poison. Is it really wise to eat "just a little bit" of rat poison "every now and then"?

Some of the information was confusing and contradictory, and some I wasn't sure if it applied only to Celiacs (but not to Hashimoto's patients). Some of it was encouraging, some of it was not. Some of it made things sound totally doable, some things made it sound like the only way to make it happen on a dime was to spend about five or six hundred dollars to replace most of the things in my kitchen, and then watch my grocery bill grow by about 40%.

Sometimes it sounds like in order to make it happen, we really have to have the unwavering support of everyone we know,  and then only if we never go out to eat again.

I've gone through a week of extremes: first feeling like I can totally make this happen.
I made a plan for figuring out how long it takes the antibodies to get out of my system (after the baby comes), letting my digestive system do some serious healing, then figuring out if milk is actually something I have a cross-reactivity response to, or if that advice was just an example of my doctor being extra careful because being pregnant seems to make my reactions to gluten and dairy more pronounced.
While I'm not sure that making the change either right before the baby comes or right after (when I'm also going to be trying to make the switch from disposable to cloth diapers), it's going to be the first time we can get a relatively clear picture of what my hormones look like (because I won't be pregnant). A clear picture is something I feel like I need in order to really move forward. Just so's I'm being clear.
...and then crying because I can never have [insert emotionally important food here] again.
Keeping the Friday regulations is presenting its own set of woes. Between my Hashimoto's, the friday regulations, and needing to be sensitive to our friends' diabetes, Friday is becoming a weekly Kobayashi Maru. (Even Kirk only took it twice before he reprogrammed the test!)

And then there's the fact that next Saturday is my birthday. And I'm preparing for what is probably going to be my last-time-ever trip to Louie's (my favorite restaurant - a greasy spoon) for my once-a-year favorite birthday meal: chicken-fried steak & eggs, with delicious sausage gravy and toast (probably with loads of real butter). Next year, I'll probably have long since figured out how to make sausage gravy and found acceptable toast and butter substitutes, but I'll probably need to learn how to make chicken fried steak.
But the real kicker came Saturday night. Did you know that an ordinary communion host contains kind of a lot of gluten? Up to 50 mg. Enough to be "definitely not safe for Celiacs", and therefore unlikely to be safe for me. I probably should have thought to check, but I never did until I was whacked in the face. Apparently, the CDF has already weighed in on of gluten-free hosts and completely shut down discussion of the idea, leaving me with the unwelcome notion of only receiving under one species.

There are a lot of reasons why receiving the precious blood alone doesn't feel "good enough," and I don't really feel up to getting into all of them right now.

In spite of being very tired, I couldn't fall asleep, and I couldn't seem to get my brain close enough to "in neutral" to be able to fall asleep, so I was up late, binge watching Netflix until I nodded off. I just didn't want to think about it.

I recognize that this is something I need to do for my health, and I believe that making the change will be a good spiritual discipline, but actually making the change is hard. Really, really hard.

I'm having a very hard time really convincing myself that I'm not functionally going to be a second-class Catholic for the foreseeable future. That food is not going to be uninteresting, inconvenient, and outrageously expensive for the rest of my life.

So... this is prayer request. I'm not sure if I need a little more discernment, discretion, courage, discipline, trust, or something else entirely... but whatever it is I need... I really need it.

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