Sunday, January 2, 2011


Things you might need to know to appreciate this post:
1) I love grapefruit
2) I love candy
3) I hate shots/needles
4) Six years ago, my body was diagnosed with "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis" (a condition where the immune system attacks good organs... in this case, my thyroid).
5) Every year on Christmas morning, we have grapefruit, followed by cinnamon rolls. It is pretty much the only Christmas day tradition I have.
6) In May 2010, I found out my body has diabetes
7) I'm trying to distinguish between who I am, and what my body is. That I am not my body. It's all part of this life coaching technique my older brother is helping me with.

Four days before Christmas, I had my three-month checkup with my endocrinologist. If you don't know what kind of doctor that is, it is for the endocrine system, and I've been seeing him regularly for six years now for my Thyroid issue, and now diabetes. At this appointment, he said my numbers weren't going anywhere good. My sugars were up (despite diet and exercise), and my cholesterol levels were really high (despite diet and exercise). He also showed me this number for this specialized test he had run on my pancreas months earlier. Normal levels for this test are 1.0 or less. My number was 30. Basically, he said my immune system has turned on my pancreas and is attacking and killing all of the beta-islet cells -- the ones that produce insulin that help the body to absorb sugar. Another effect of all this is essentially the early signs of heart disease. He said over and over and over again, how people who are not overweight, who exercise, and eat healthy, can have heart disease.

As a result of my numbers, he said I will most likely be insulin-dependent in about 12 months. Maybe a year and a half. Other doctors, he said, would have me strictly on insulin shots already, but he wants to postpone it as long as we can. He doubled my oral medication, which makes me extremely nauseous, and prescribed a new one for cholesterol.

My doctor was pretty nice to say over and over and over again that there is nothing I am doing that is causing all of this. My body is not behaving the way it should be under normal circumstances. I guess that helps to relieve the would-be guilt factor. I was handling all of this in stride, as best as can be expected. Then, I went to pick up my new medicine that night.

As the pharmacist was running my credit card (for the enormously HIGH co-pay on that cholesterol medicine), she handed me the medicine and almost as a last-minute comment, said, "Oh, and no more grapefruit."

"Seriously?" I blurted out.

"Yes. For real. No more grapefruit. For life."

"Seriously?" I thought she was joking. Had Dave called her in advance and told her about my love of grapefruit, and my Christmas morning tradition that was just days away?

"Yes, Ma'am. I'm serious."

I couldn't believe it! As I drove away from the pharmacy drive-thru window, the reality of everything just came crashing down. I laughed out loud the whole way home like some maniacal creature. Oh, the irony of life.

Soon (though hopefully not until 2012), shots every day. And no more grapefruit? Seriously?
Before I pulled into my driveway, I had already made one critical decision. High cholesterol levels or not, I was going to have my grapefruit on Christmas morning. So, Dave went and bought plenty of big, juicy ruby reds. I postponed taking my medicine for a few days. And, Christmas morning, I woke up, and had a grapefruit; section by juicy section. Then, I squeezed out every drop of juice and drank it up. It's going to have to last me a lifetime.



Wendy said...

Oh Jen, I'm so sorry to hear about your health. And banishment from grapefruit. That is such a bummer. You seem like you have a good outlook on it though. Love you!

VikiViki said...

That is so crazy...I think you may have to just not take that medication for a few days each year around's in our blood! This year I didn't make it to the store in time to buy grapefruit...but luckily we had some that Tom had brought home from AZ...maybe even from YOUR backyard!! Ah, life's ironies are bitter sometimes....thanks for being a positive example as you go through your trials.

Orange Peanut said...

Bummer!!! I'm sorry you have to have this trial, but am so impressed with the positive approach you are taking!!!! I'm sure it's not easy!

So glad you have a doctor who is not rushing into things but still seems to have your back ;-)

Take care and thanks for the update!!!

Jennifer Pelo Rawlings said...

Sad. I am glad that you were able to have that last one though.

For me that would be like someone telling me I could never have pig products again. I could cry right now just imagining it.

Sarah Crawford said...

NOOOOO!!!!! Not something as innocent as grapefruit! Although, I must admit, I have never liked grapefruit, I'm sure it just put you over the top when you heard that. Sounds like you have a good doc. who's on top of everything. Keep your chin up! I'm praying for you!!

Diana Barlow Blaser said...

My sister stumbled upon your blog and told me about it since she thought perhaps we're related. I'm sure we are somewhere down the line. My sister and I have been inspired by reading some of your stories and so I thought I would stop by and say hello.

Diana Blaser

Kathryn Crouse said...

Hey Jenny . . sorry to hear about your health issues going on!! I hope things get better. I read your entire talk from Christmas . . SO GOOD. Thanks for sharing it. AND I'm glad your family's FHE is like mine LOL!!!! So funny. Hope your family is doing well.

Elizabeth Willis Barrett said...

Wow, you've kept your health issues quiet. I didn't know you've had to deal with all of this. I really missed writing group and have written nothing for weeks. You have inspired me to get back at it!

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