After I saw the Heme/Onc (short for Hematology/Oncology) guy, I walked out the door not expecting to hear from him until my follow-up appointment in 6 months. It was lunchtime, and we were hungry, so my husband and I decided to grab a quick, yummy brunch of deliciousness at our local Waffle House. Their pecan waffles qualify for my select life list of very favorite foods. If I had known this would be my last time to ever have them, I probably would have ordered a dozen and eaten until I couldn't stand up any more.
Remember how I talked about Zebras and Interesting Patients the other day? Remember how I said you don't want to be one, but that I am one? Well...after I left my Heme/Onc appointment, my doctor spent some time researching what could be causing my immune system to shut down. He was unable to find a link between this and my MS, but he did find ONE STUDY being performed at BMS looking at a possible link between my particular immune problem and wheat allergies. Has this research been completed? No. Has this research been published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal? No. IT'S STILL ONGOING, and there is no way to get me into the actual trial. So what does my hematologist decide? He wants me to try a wheat-free (aka gluten-free) diet. It will be our own, personal experiment. I literally felt Life As I Know It come crashing down around me.
I received this life-altering phone call around 4:30 on a Monday afternoon. I was not pleased. But God has a serious sense of humor. A very dear friend of mine has Celiac Disease, the only absolute medical indication for a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free can completely cure Celiac and eliminate its long term side effects. She has been gluten-free for several years and has been wanting me to experiment with the diet almost since the day she started it. Obviously, since bread is my very favorite food (I have literally lived on bread alone for months at a time while travelling overseas), I do not want to give it up. I like bread. Bread makes me happy. Anyhow, back to God's sense of humor...this friend was sitting next to me at my kitchen table when I got the call from my doctor. I instantly went into mourning. She became almost giddy with excitement.
After my initial shock and despair wore off, I went into my typical OCD, Type A mode. In the last 3 weeks and 4 days since I got this unpleasant news, I have read more books and cookbooks and websites and blogs on gluten-free cooking than I can count. I have dreamed about bread and pizza and fried chicken and yeast rolls and icing cake. I have fixated on finding acceptable substitutes for my favorite foods. So far, I have found a good pancake recipe, a decent oven-fried chicken recipe, and several awful bread recipes...complete with some flammable loaves. I'm a work in progress, and I know God has a plan for this. Right now, the risk of blindness and herniation and a nonexistent immune system are good motivators.