For those of you who have asked, I am feeling much better, thank you. I really appreciate your concern.
I have been able to do more and more with each passing day and I am almost back to "normal," if there is such a thing for any of us. Maybe the correct term is better, much better.
We went back to the rheumatologist a few weeks ago and he confirmed his diagnosis: that it is not rheumatoid arthritis (phew!), but gouty arthritis, something I've dealt with for 10 years. The difference was that this one was a particularly bad case, an edge case, the most severe illness I have ever had.
To tell you the truth, though, I am much better off because of it.
Well, I am eating much better than ever before, not so much out of self-discipline but due to fear that I would ever bring such a thing on myself again. Honestly, it was my eating habits that brought it on. Yes, heredity has something to do with it, but if I had been eating better last winter, it would not have caught up with me.
We are surrounded by gastronomical temptations. The stores are full of prepared, processed, sweet foods that I dare not eat. At least not now. Most of you are probably not affected by these foods other than a bit of weight gain and perhaps the usual long-term risks. But I can't risk eating those kinds of things any more, at least not in the quantities I was eating.
After eating mostly vegetables for the last 7 weeks, I have to say, I am sleeping better than I have in years; my blood pressure is back to normal; I feel intense energy and more mental clarity than usual, and I no longer have the pot belly I sprouted between October and March. (My unresolved feelings were measured in unneeded pounds.)
I am committed to eating mostly nutrient-dense foods now. I would be foolish to give in and go back to my old slovenly habits. I have to think about what I eat if I want to enjoy life. Consider it nutritional repentance.
I have had issues with sugar for a long time. I have been accused of being a "candy head" for years, and it is true. I have had trouble staying away from sugar since I was a boy. Once when I was 9 or 10, the family doctor recommended that my parents take us kids off of sugar entirely. This torture continued for some months. In my desperation, I happened to find an errant box of powdered sugar in the pantry. I hid the box and a metal spoon in my room behind my bed. At night or other moments of stealth, I would take the box out of its hiding place and give myself one or two heaping spoonfuls of "Turkish Delight." Surprisingly, I was never caught except by my conscience.
There are so, SO many things I want to do that I haven't been able to do easily in the last while, like ride horses, go skiing, hiking, camping, mountain climbing, tussling with grandkids. I have to eat and live differently if I want to do those things, now and in the future.
My illness compelled me to be humble, and I am extremely grateful for that. I have a ways to go, but I am so thankful for all that God showed me in my desperate hours. He reminded me that the scriptures teach us to be grateful to Him in all things, not just the fun, happy, comfortable things (see D&C 59:7). I feel like a different person. My illness has been my teacher and friend. It is not a glamorous disease, but I'll take it for what it's worth—priceless.