Posted in Life Lessons, Teacher Life

Dear Body, Today I Choose Anger…

I know, that doesn’t sound like the kind of introduction you’re used to finding when you open this blog.  To be honest, I started this post from the couch during my most recent bout with illness. I never fully intended to post it, I think it was meant to be more of a cathartic exercise; however, as I wrote, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps these thoughts are in fact worth sharing. I mean, yes, the purpose of this blog is to inform readers about food intolerances and to encourage you through my own journey that life can and will be OK again, even when you’re convinced it never will. However, I think sometimes I go too far and make it seem like my journey is now all sunshine, rainbows, and delicious treats. Believe it or not, there are potholes on the journey too. And though I don’t often share those, I think this time it’s worth sharing…if for no other reason than to to remind everyone that no life is perfect, that dark days are inevitable, and you don’t have to pretend they don’t exist. We’re only human after all.

So, as I mentioned above, today I’m choosing anger. Now that is a strange sentence for many reasons. First of all, because anger is an emotion with which I am not well acquainted.  In fact, I once considered it a point of pride that I so rarely (i.e. never) experienced this particular emotion. However, it was during a rather insightful conversation with one of my ACE “brothers” when we were living in DC when I came to a startling conclusion. I realized that perhaps anger is an important sentiment; because if you never experience anger, then it means there is nothing in your life which you care so deeply about that it can ignite a passionate response . It suddenly troubled me that I rarely, if ever, allowed myself to feel anger. And from that day forward, I have embraced anger as a gift; granted, it’s how you channel this anger into action that defines whether it’s a catalyst for change or simply a vice. In fact, I whipped out my trusty Catechism this afternoon (well, actually it was already out for a lesson plan: Religion teacher problems)  and found paragraph 1767 which definitively states that passions in and of themselves are neither good nor evil but must be governed by reason.  (Side note: the Vatican website has a topical index of the Catechism!! In my Religion teacher world, this is simply amazing.) Second, it may seem strange to define anger as a choice…but that’s exactly what I think it is. (And clearly the Catechism seems to agree) You can feel emotions coming on, but only you can choose what is worth letting go and what is worth holding onto in your own life. So, again, yes, today I am choosing anger.

You know you’re a Religion teacher when…

Why am I choosing anger, you ask? Great question. My body and I are not on good terms.  My immune system in particular. I have just missed out on the second planned trip to visit ACE friends in the Midwest since July. Once it was a stomach bug, today it’s a respiratory infection. In just the 4 weeks since school started, my body has already waved the white flag.  The illnesses ravaging the girls since day 1 have proven too much for my poor, confused immune system. It’s been a long week of coughing, throat scratching, and the kind of exhaustion I never dreamed possible. I somehow made it through back to school night last week with a smile on my face and then crawled home into my bed with an aching chest, still dressed in my school attire. Friday morning it was off to the doctor and a brief pneumonia scare…before it was determined that my lungs seemed OK and I was given a prescription which said “rest, fluids, and a boring weekend” AKA you’re not getting on a plane to Michigan in the morning.

So here I’ve sat. The couch and I have become fast friends. I’ve slept more than I thought possible and downed more fluids and Umcka cold syrup than seems healthy. And I’ve been a little angry. Angry that an autoimmune condition, despite my fervent efforts to convince myself and everyone around me otherwise, does make life more difficult sometimes. It means I can’t fight germs the way other people can. It means when I am fighting said germs, my body freaks out at foods and triggers that it normally wouldn’t. And to top it all off, I received some bad news.  I’ve been feeling gradually worse over the past few weeks but I attributed everything to back to schools tiredness, September/new school stress, every other reason under the sun to explain why I was feeling sub-par. I had a few fleeting moments where I wondered aloud if something was up. I even had the nerve to verbalize a deeply-rooted fear that for the longest time I was afraid to say out loud: that it could be coffee.  I noticed it was often mid-morning, about two hours after breakfast, that I was feeling my worst. Nothing like when I eat one of the other triggers, but still bad enough to take notice. Well, the good news: it isn’t coffee. The bad news: it’s oats.

I know, I know… many of you with celiac or gluten issues are not feeling very bad for me right now. You’re thinking: “no kidding, Katie. Welcome to my world”. That’s right..many people with gluten allergies cannot handle oats, even the ones certified as gluten free. However, until recently, I was one of the lucky ones. (If I can be described as lucky that is haha). Well, those days are no more. For some unknown reason, my body has decided that now is the time to start attacking avenin, AKA the protein in oats that is remarkably similar to gluten. And the cereal I’ve been eating for weeks? One of the main ingredients is oat flour. So this means in some sense, I’m responsible for this latest bout of illness because I’ve been eating oats and thus rendering my immune system incapable of fighting off this recent germ. Or perhaps it’s the germ that invaded first, thus making my immune system attack something new. It’s the beauty of an autoimmune condition: you just never know. It’s like the ultimate chicken or the egg scenario.

Now before you get too concerned, don’t worry. Today I chose anger. But tomorrow I’ll be back onboard the acceptance train. I’ll fill your newsfeed with posts of how this unforeseen event led me to discover my new favorite winter breakfast replacement (Quinoa “Rice and Shine”- yes, that’s a real thing I discovered today) or how lucky I am to have people in my life who care about me enough to let me rant from 700 miles away on the phone since I can’t be sitting with them or who will drive an hour just to bring me Katie-safe food, Mexican (READ: NO CORN SYRUP!!) Coca-Cola, and keep me company when I’m resigned to the couch. Yes, those are all topics for another day. When I wake up tomorrow, I will transform this anger into positive passion. I’ll find new recipes that are safe, I’ll commit myself even more to making the world a better place for my food-allergy-ridden friends, and I’ll drive you crazy with my all-too-upbeat posts about rainbows and sunshine.

Where do you think I went after school/my chat with the doctor today?
If your answer was Mom’s Organic Market, you know me quite well 🙂

For today, though, I will let myself be angry. And every once in awhile, you should too. And you may even let yourself shed a tear or two. I mean, if Pope John Paul II recommended it, it must be sound advice, right??

Courtesy of:

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