“The Prophet Joseph Smith said: We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man. … All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not”...
Even the severe tests of health or a handicapped or disabled body can refine a soul for the glorious day of restoration and healing which surely will come.
Your body really is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character. ” – Elder Boyd K. Packer, October 2000
So… while my doctor waits for me to complete two more labs, I wait for my life to stop being so hectic that I can actually do them. Maybe that will happen next week sometime, but not until Tuesday or Wednesday at least. Why? Because there have been multiple days of running errands. Where I live, that means at least 4 hours of driving and, because of my dietary restrictions, a real struggle to find a way to eat. Then, when I’ve been home, I’ve been doing home repair work, painting a kitchen we are renovating. There have many late nights, late dinners, and various frustrations to the ideal I wish I could live. Like not having a kitchen sink right now. Oy!! One test in particular has a lot of guidelines, like needing me to eat at certain times of the day. Hahahaha, not even possible right now. Honestly, I have also been waiting for another paycheck: While I think all these initial labs are going to help, they are not a fixture of our shoestring budget. I used up all we had in the HSA… and coming up with more money when I’ve already forked out quite an initial investment is a little daunting when I have kids to feed and clothe, the expenses of the much-needed home reno, bills to pay, etc. So, what have I learned? (Hence the reason for this update). Well, I was talking with a friend at church whose family also deals with gluten issues. Though nobody really outright SAYS it, enough has been said nonverbally and in side-comments to make me realize that some people don’t believe there is really any problem with their diet outside of one they’ve created in their own minds. This family doesn’t often attend potlucks. Instead of the traditional proffered piece of bread, they bring and partake of a special non-wheat rice cracker as a substitute emblem of the sacrament during our worship service. She told me some things I did not know about gluten, and I asked my doctor (by email) about what she’d asserted.
- Q: My friend told me that when you eat gluten free, your blood labs change and it appears as if you do not have Hashi’s anymore because your antibody levels go down. Is that true?
- A: Not necessarily at all–antibody levels may not go down
- Q: She warned me that even 1 bite of gluten-containing food can throw your system off for 6 months.
- A: More like 8 months to a year Wow. Like, seriously? Wow. So I guess I am going to join the weirdo club, only I have to be even weirder because MY sacrament can’t even have ANY grain product right now. I racked my brains trying to come up with an appropriate, non-attention-attracting substitute. Pureed cauliflower, dehydrated into a little wafer?? Then, boom, it hit me: coconut! I can still have that! And it’s white, and I can buy it pre-made! So I hope they let me take a little chip of coconut instead of bread (D&C 27:2). I haven’t asked my church leader yet, but I am hoping he understands enough about gluten and my disease to let this fly. I am going to list this blogpost on Facebook again, so maybe others will understand why I have seemingly gone off the deep end into that place I’ve created in my own mind. Yeah a place created from truth. My doctor has warned me that I can never, NEVER have dairy or wheat again. NEVER. Would you scoff at someone who told you they were allergic to peanuts or penicillin and couldn’t have any more or they might die? Well, the same is true for me, only with my “allergies”, the premature death is very, very, very slow… as my immune system goes absolutely BONKERS dismantling and attacking my own body from the inside out…and then… dominos!!! Off I will go into something serious, triggered by the final overload, and quickly. I’m trying to avoid that.
About 6 years ago, when working with an MD, she told me that “pizza is death on a plate for you.” I didn’t want to hear that at all. So I didn’t listen. Pizza is my all-time favorite food. Pizza has a sentimental attachment for me, emotionally, since it is associated with one of the few regular, predictable and happy events of my childhood: our Saturday night pizza dinner tradition. But nothing has really changed since my rejection of her counsel. Pizza is still death on a plate for me. But this time around, the determination is sticking. I have not cheated on the recovery diet, not even once. Not even at the buffet restaurant or the church potluck this week. Not even while traveling and struggling to find something, anything, quick and convenient within the parameters of what I am currently allowed that I still could eat.
Why? I think it is because I have decided, once and for all, to have my spirit be in control of my body. I have paid too high a price in the past for letting the opposite occur. Here are my main motivations:
- I have had the most excellent example in the life of my husband. His commitment to the standards of our faith were kept, down to the last covenant. He was a virgin when we married. He could have given me no greater gift than the assurance, security and joy of this knowledge: that he is only mine and the Lord’s; that he was faithful to me then and is faithful to me still. I want to be like more like him, in his example of self-control and self-mastery.
- Sacrifice means giving up something you want now for something you want more. There is something that I want more than pizza. It is to be healthy again. Maybe even healthy enough to have another child. I have been praying for help – for that grace, or enabling power, which is promised to those worthy petitioners who ask God for it.
- Before I die, I would like to know that me, I, myself (the part of me that lives on after physical death), has finally, ultimately conquered and is THE BOSS over this physical body… so that I can anticipate a happy time until the morning when I rise… and when I am resurrected, my spirit will still be the one who is in charge. I can still remember an account from Elder Hartman Rector, Jr about a person with an addiction to smoking. It’s from a conference address he gave in 1970, but must have been in an instructional manual at one time, because I have never forgotten this story (emphasis added by me). I have decided to be among those who have chosen a more excellent way for themselves, let whatever attending difficulties come as they will.
“Sometimes we seem to get the idea that in the spirit world, we will be completely different individuals; we will suddenly undergo a miraculous change in our character when we die. But nothing could be further from the truth. “We,” our spirits, do not change at death; we are still the same. Amulek, a great Book of Mormon prophet, tells us plainly what the conditions in the spirit world will be. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. “Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. (Alma 34:33-34)…
The scriptures speak of the spirit world as being two different places—as paradise at one time, and as spirit prison at another time. But as a matter of fact, the spirit world is really just one place; it merely depends on the condition we are in when we go there as to what it will be for us. If we go there addicted to drugs, bad habits, or evil desires, it will be a prison. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be free; he doesn’t want us to be in bondage to our appetites and passions. Therefore, he has given us commandments that are only calculated to make us free. And he tells us that all of his commandments are spiritual. D&C 29:34 Never at any time has he given a commandment that is not spiritual. Even the Word of Wisdom is a spiritual commandment in that it primarily affects our spirits, and certainly it does.
To illustrate, I knew a man who was a member of the Church but had returned to his habit of smoking cigarettes. He said he didn’t want to smoke but just couldn’t help it. Of course, he could have overcome the habit if he had really wanted to while he had his body to help him. If the spirit tells the body not to pick up the cigarette, the body won’t pick it up, and abstinence over time allows the spirit to overcome the desire. This man finally suffered a stroke. His body was paralyzed with the exception of his right arm and his eyes. As his son-in-law picked him up from the porch of his house, where he had fallen, with the only arm this man could move, he reached for the cigarette in his son-in-law’s mouth, but he could not hold onto it. His son-in-law held the lighted cigarette to the stricken man’s lips, but in his condition he could not hold it in his mouth.
For nine months this man lay on his bed. He actually wore out the pocket of his pajamas reaching into it for a cigarette that was not there. Then he died and went into the spirit world. Do you suppose he still wants a cigarette? On the basis of Amulek’s statement, he does. But there is just one catch—there are no cigarettes in the spirit world. Would you suppose he is in paradise or in spirit prison? The answer seems only too obvious.
Oh yes, it is possible to repent in the spirit world, although we are given to understand that it is much more difficult to repent there because we will not have our physical bodies to help us. Also an integral part of repentance is that we must make restitution. This means that if you have stolen five dollars, you have to return five dollars to the person whom you have robbed. This may be very difficult to do in the spirit world. You can also understand then why murder and adultery or fornication are such grievous sins; how can you make restitution? Virtue once gone cannot be replaced. Neither can a life be restored. It may be very difficult to gain forgiveness for these kinds of sins.
President Brigham Young said it is a hundred times easier to repent here on the earth than it is in the spirit world. By the same token, if we go there in the right condition, it is a hundred times easier to learn in the spirit world than it is here in this life. So we should do what we can do best where we are. Now is the best time to repent; then will be the best time to learn.”
As of right now I have been 20 whole days gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. My jeans, which had gotten to a point of not being able to be zipped up anymore, fit comfortably again. The swelling in my fingers has gone down to a point where I can constantly wear my wedding bands again… and not just for a few hours of near-tourniquet-like torture. (I haven’t been able to do that in over a year.) I feel alright… not super-energized, but not exhausted like before. My biggest complaint at present is dealing with some pain, maybe infection in what is left of my teeth. So, until next time, this is your human guinea pig signing off…