Patience. I’ve learned a lot about that word since my husband got sick two and a half years ago. Of course I’ve learned lots of other things too. I can tell you how standard lyme tests have a false negative rate of 40 percent or more, which led to a delay in Don’s diagnosis. I can tell you about the difficulties of treating late stage lyme. I can even tell you about the alternative treatments available. But what I can’t tell you, despite all my research, the thousands of dollars in medical bills, and the lifestyle adjustments we’ve had to make, is when this roller coaster ride will be over. Despite all that, I think I’ve shown patience in dealing with the big challenges we’ve been dealing with. But like Rebecca Rice Birkin, I’ve also found that it’s often, “the little household crises that get to me.” Just yesterday, chronic illness hit me where it really matters—in the sugar bowl.
There I was, innocently serving my breakfast oatmeal, when Don walked up behind me. “You’re putting sugar on that?”
Now I have been accused of being health conscious. It may be because I sprout beans before cooking to improve their nutritional value. It may be because I actually cook with tofu. And if we’re really being honest here, I confess that I (once) made my daughter a birthday cake out of wheat flour and mashed navy beans.
But oatmeal without sugar? Come on.
Don furrowed his brows in concern, and shook his head at me. The shame was overwhelming. What was I supposed to say?
You see, Don is the one with the sugar addiction. Or at least he used to be. The first time we compiled 72 hour kits, I made the mistake of sending him to the store for food. He came back with three days worth of candy and a small package of beef jerky. I’ve begged, pleaded, and nagged for years since about that sticky white poison. One time I even got him to talk to his doctor about his sugar habit. He emerged from the appointment looking gleeful.
“See Ang? I’m fine. The doctor said to tell you not to worry. People with hypoglycemia like me should always carry candy with them.”
“Did you mention that you’re eating at least half a pound of that emergency candy a day?”
He didn’t have an answer.
So you can imagine the challenge it was for Don to be prescribed long term antibiotics a couple of months ago. Along with the drugs came a warning not to eat simple carbs because of their potential for promoting yeast overgrowth.
Don was patient in the face of sugar withdrawals. He was patient when I served him a Thanksgiving dinner with no flour, sugar, or starch in it. He was patient when his coworkers brought Christmas treats to work that he couldn’t share. And then came something that we never expected. The patience paid off. Somewhere in there the sugar cravings stopped, and a whole new world opened to him.
“Wow, taste these apples, Ang! Did apples always have this much flavor?”
“Ang, I can’t believe you’re eating peanut butter with sugar in it! You can’t even taste the peanuts!”
“Let’s just eliminate the sugar from our food storage. We don’t need it.”
And then the unthinkable. Last week he rampaged through the house, throwing away candy. My specialty dark chocolate? Gone. My five year-old’s birthday candy? Gone. The Mexican candy Grandma brought all the way from Juarez to fill their Christmas piÃ±ata? All gone.
Now, I’m with him in theory. If he can stick with this, I’m sure we’ll all be healthier for it. It’s just that it’s all been rather fast.
Don’t tell Don, but I fished a Ghirardelli mint chocolate square out of the trash can. For old time’s sake. He’s going to have to be a little patient with me on this one.