Martha Carr’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.
At some point, most of us think we have a certain baseline of information tucked away in our heads.
We’ve lived long enough, done enough, maybe even earned a degree and worked a few jobs.
We feel like we can do a few things without having to go gather so much information anymore.
That’s what I thought, too. Surely, I know a few things about publishing. I’ve been in this business for more than 20 years, which is long enough to have heard someone say every year that the business is doomed.
True, a lot has changed since the Internet and desktop publishing, but we’re all learning that together. So-called experts are really guys who’ve been testing out the new software a week longer than you.
Same thing with most aches and pains, especially if you’re a seasoned parent. By the time any of us have raised a child and gotten them onto gainful employment, we’ve seen our share of weird rashes and gory wounds.
Raising a son has given me a marked admiration for the body’s ability to work out most problems for itself.
Besides, making time to go see a doctor, pay the co-pay, send in any necessary forms and pay for a prescription that only treats the symptoms seems like a lot of effort.
Usually, I opt to white-knuckle my way through things, or look for a holistic remedy.
Fortunately, there are exceptions. Most of you know that I’ve survived three bouts of melanoma, or skin cancer, despite the very low odds I was initially given. What saved me was going in the exact opposite direction of my normal instincts and persisting till I found a doctor who would listen to me.
Timing in that instance was everything. Just a few more months of acting like I knew everything would have cost me my life.
But, there have been a dozen small, inconsequential symptoms that I noticed, like occasional hives or mild numbness in my shins that I wrote off to eating the wrong thing or running too much. In my estimation, none of it formed a pattern.
That’s where I made a mistake.
I’m not a doctor, and because I wasn’t saying everything, I wasn’t giving a doctor the best chance at seeing the whole picture.
However, God first sends you a pebble, then a rock, and a brick, and then the entire brick wall. Not too long ago, the brick wall showed up and I was suddenly and mysteriously doubled over in pain.
At first, I assumed it was stomach flu and was careful about what I was eating, but ignoring it for the most part. But I noticed it came and went without fever or chills. It also came with such force that I couldn’t move for hours on end, and it just wasn’t going away.
Of course, my mind went back to cancer, and I wondered if I had been a little too relieved that I had dodged a bullet. It was either that or my second biggest fear, worms.
The idea of creepy, crawlies running loose has been known to keep me up at night.
The answer though was a lot simpler. Like an increasing number of Americans every year, gluten is no longer my friend. Wheat, rye, barley and even soy are off the table for me.
What was once mostly unheard of is becoming a phenomenon as the number of sufferers is reported to double each year. The digestive system gets worn down over time and can even stop absorbing nutrients, leaving a sufferer in pain and lethargic, with a host of symptoms.
For some, it’s hypersensitivity and for others it can be celiac disease. I’m still waiting for test results to find out which camp I’ve joined. Either way, the treatment is the same. No more gluten.
Researchers feel the increase may be overexposure to gluten, which is used as a byproduct in a lot of packaged food.
That points out a bad habit of mine. I tend to eat whatever is convenient and fast.
This new awareness means that I’m making sudden, rapid changes to my lifestyle, which are overwhelming but necessary. Pain is a great motivator.
The other message, though, is if I had been a little more humble and asked about milder symptoms years ago, I could have made gradual changes along the way.
My determination to do things on my own got me here. Fortunately, the human body is very forgiving, and I get yet another second chance to finally ask a lot more questions. More adventures to follow.
Tweet me @MarthaRandolph, or e-mail me with any helpful gluten-free recipes or tips.
Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com.