Surrender

I guess I’ve had it in my mind that I’ll be well enough to tackle anything by the end of January. My new specialist is capable and the medication he prescribed has been working so well. My energy has been up and I’ve been feeling great. But I guess it’s all relative because my blood tests results were mixed. In some ways I’m going backwards. And the main culprit: gluten.

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I really don’t like inconveniencing anyone. I pride myself in being able to eat almost anything. I love vegetables and I’m open to trying new foods. I try everything when I go to friends’ houses for dinner and I like to finish everything on my plate. I also love eating out and trying new foods. And now I have to eliminate, not reduce, eliminate gluten from my diet.

It’s such a big ask as gluten is found in so many foods such as pasta, cakes, crackers, biscuits, gravy, soy sauce and even coating on tablets. I have spent the past three months really cutting down on gluten and we have discovered many gluten-free alternatives. I’ve been eating well and looking after myself. I’ve enjoyed yoga many times a week and I’ve built some hope that I can have a good life again. And now another setback.

The impacts of being gluten free are vast for me. I must literally throw away my old recipes. Baking with my kids will never be as fun as before. I need to ask restaurants what is in the food I’m going to eat and who knows if they’ll be honest? I’ve been off alcohol for a few years and caffeine for just over a year now. That in itself has a difficult social impact and I’m feeling like I’m running out of things to give up.

We have a dinner club of ladies that we call the Bookless Club. We don’t mess around with books – we just eat the food, and some drink wine of course. And now I’ve had to tell them that all meals need to comply with my complicated requirements. For a people pleaser like me, this is the most difficult part.

But you wouldn’t believe the kindness with which they responded. Such amazing people and it helps me to remember that it’s times like this that brings out the good in people. I’ve discovered just how much they care and that they’re willing to amend the meals to take my needs into account. This morning I was overwhelmed with their kindness. And that is, perhaps, one silver lining.

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I think one of my lessons has to be learning to surrender. Learning to let go, and to go with what I have right now. I can’t control the illness and the fact that it can take years to recover. It’s just something I have to learn to work with. So I go on, adjusting everything I put into my mouth and we check again in six weeks’ time. I wonder what strange and unexpected results I’ll find then.

I am dealing with the disappointment of not being well, just when I was feeling so much better. The frustration and difficulty of being so wary of what I eat is also so difficult. It takes constant vigilance and I’m pretty tired of that. I want to live a life where I can be free to eat what I want to eat and have a cappuccino once a week. It doesn’t seem a lot to ask.

Perhaps the importance of food will diminish and perhaps there will be other benefits such as eating fewer desserts. My late grandmother was a recovered alcoholic. I always admired the way she kept beers in the fridge for her visitors. I marveled at the restraint and strength she demonstrated. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to bake for others and refrain from eating it, but I’ll do my best.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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