I turned thirty-two this past month, and I have to be honest…ever since I left my twenties, I dread getting another year older. I understand I’m still young – there are many years ahead of me – but in my mind, I stopped aging at about twenty-four, so when I realize I’m almost ten years older than my sadly skewed and somewhat far-fetched mindset, I internally capsize and sink.
There were many milestones I thought I would have achieved in life by thirty, and I don’t know when I put a deadline on my accomplishments, but I’m a Type A personality, so I suppose these personal expectations are inevitable. However, I’m also an optimist, so I’m thankfully saved from many self-destructive thoughts on most occasions. And yet, my body chooses to remind me of my age, frailty, and constant pain on a daily basis.
Some of you may know I’ve been faced with some medical challenges during this season of life…by no fault of my own. I have Celiac Disease, and I was fed gluten while in quarantine at The Hilton Sydney back in September 2020. Typically, my symptoms last for about two months, but clearly my body has aged enough that I no longer bounce back from a contamination this severe.
My symptoms seem to be getting worse, not better. My body isn’t tolerating a lot of food, so last week, I was on a pretty steady diet of gluten free toast and lactose free butter. Appetizing. However, my more debilitating concerns surround the nerves in my body.
I still make it a priority to work out at least five times a week, but I’m finding that I’m losing control of my hands and feet. A Google search revealed I’ve got symptoms aligning with peripheral neuropathy, which is caused by something…perhaps Celiac Disease, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense given that I haven’t eaten gluten in over nine months. I’ve had a specialist tell me that I should be living a normal life as long as I’m on a gluten free diet. But I can assure you, my life is anything but normal.
I have pain and numbness in my lower legs/feet as well as my forearms/hands. If I push myself in the gym, I often find control over the muscles in my hands and feet difficult. My vision has been affected, I have headaches and dizziness, but most annoyingly, I live in a state of nausea. I’ll be going to a neurologist in August to try to determine what’s going on with my body, and I’m praying I get some answers.
I share all this negativity, but it wouldn’t be like me if I didn’t point out the positives…once the optimist, always the optimist. As frustrated as I am with my health and not understanding why my body is responding the way it is, I know this life and this body is temporary. I often joke about dying and no longer being bound to my pain – and it may sound morbid – but as a Christian, I know heaven will be a wonderful place, not just because I will no longer feel pain, but more importantly, because I’ll be in the presence of God, no longer veiled by my sin.
I went to sleep on the night before I turned thirty-two, and I said to my husband – with slightly too much enthusiasm, “who knows, maybe I’ll never turn thirty-two, maybe I’ll get to meet Jesus before midnight.” He didn’t appreciate my humor – in fact, he got mad at me for my untimely, macabre joke – but I woke up on my birthday, and as long as I’m here, I’ll make the most of every day.
I have a great life, despite all my medical issues. I certainly don’t want to focus on what comes next after this life while letting all that God has blessed me with pass me by, so I’ll keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, push through my pain, and follow His will for my future. Thankfully, I’m encouraged by scripture in this journey, and I’ll leave you with this: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21).