I hope today was the last time for quite some time that I will have to go for some obscure test. Though it has become routine this past year, there is nothing to like about it. I won’t miss the NPO after midnight, which really begins to suck when you have a cough and the most you can do is lick an ice cube to moisten your mouth. I won’t miss searching for wherever I am headed to this time- an endless array of medical centers, building numbers, floors, hallways, suites, and rooms to navigate- never the same place twice. I won’t miss the receptionists who bark at you or talk down to you and call you “honey” or act as if you have leprosy or do not seem to comprehend that anyone who finds themselves in her line is probably not having the best of days either. I won’t miss sitting in waiting rooms for hours on end, reading magazines that are 15 months old while Price is Right plays in the background on some thirty year old TV and the women next to you hacks up her lungs and you have the feeling that it would be a small miracle to escape this place without picking up some germs that will make you sicker than you were when you first came in. I won’t miss seeing all the other patients around me with the same despondent weary look in their eyes that makes you wonder how many years they too have been a member of this endless test taking club. I won’t miss lying on the cold tables in a cloth gown that countless others have worn, or worse yet-a small semi-transparent sheet of paper, while nurses in pumpkin print scrubs invariably leave the door open behind them just as they ask you loudly as some visitor walks by your door- “And how often do you move your bowels?” I won’t miss having to answer that question and sit in rooms and tell complete strangers every single minute detail about my digestive system. I won’t miss the doctors who yawn while you describe the pain you have been in, then proceed to lecture you about the effects of stress on the body and prescribe an anti-depressant, or an PPI, or an antibiotic, or an anti-spasmodic, or whatever else they feel like… all of which you have tried before without any discernable effect. I won’t miss arriving at work late for the fifth time this month, where people will look at you with a mix of curiosity and sympathy and ask “how are you doing”, all the while hoping you will say “just fine” and the conversation can move on to more pleasant topics. I won’t miss calling the insurance companies and fighting their denials, and watching my hard earned money melt away while I continue to feel sicker. I won’t miss getting the results that are always “normal” and the doctors who think that single word on a piece of paper means their work here is done, go on your way, you’re on your own now.
If a life without gluten is a life without tests and doctors appointments and hospitals… then I can do that. And my prayers go out to all of those who are still lost in the absurdity of it all. And my heartful thanks to those seemingly rare individuals in the medical community who are kind, and cheerful, and helpful. And I hope they wouldn’t take offense, but I pray I don’t see any of them again for a very long time.