Autoimpunity

A blog series

Posted by Daniel Figueroa IV on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM

auto-
1
a combining form meaning “self,” “same,” “spontaneous,” used in the formation of compound words: autograph, autodidact.

im·pu·ni·ty
[im-pyoo-ni-tee]
Noun
1.
exemption from punishment.
2.
immunity from detrimental effects, as of an action.

For the first two weeks I couldn’t walk and the doctors didn’t know why. I wasn’t paralyzed, I could still move. Only, whenever I stood up, the slightest pressure on my feet sent me further downward towards linoleum as if I were being pulled by invisible chains. Up top it felt like someone stabbed me in the neck and left the knife in. My knees were swollen to the size of softballs, full of borderline-septic fluid and immobile.

Every bump to my bed, the slightest movements and jostling, all sent jolts of pain surging through every atom of my being, making sure to hit every nerve on the way. I was so paralyzed by pain for so long, as I lay in the hospital bed, I thought I might, for the first time in more than 20 years, piss myself.

And the doctor’s didn’t know why.

After spending 22 of 30 days in the hospital, the closest anyone got to a diagnoses was a best guess. A good guess, but not 100 percent. It wasn’t for lack of trying either. The doctors paid close attention, set aside hubris and ego to consult with others in the field, ran all the tests they could think of and made sure to check on me everyday, even when it meant missing out on part of a wife’s birthday. Their sincerity was evident and admirable.

It was the scariest and most frustrating few weeks of my life, and I will be forever grateful of the care and attention I received from the doctors and, especially, the nurses at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

We live in a fast-paced, global world that is constantly shrinking right along with our attention spans. Medicine is science and good science takes time. Patience and positivity have become my closest friends and most valuable allies.

So here we are, nearly four months after entering the hospital, and there are still many questions, but answers are ever closer. There are, however, a few certainties. First, I am afflicted by one hell of an autoimmune disease, and second, I refuse to let it get the better of me.

I might not know medicine, but I know food, and I know drink, and I have prolifically enjoyed both for most of my 27 years. I began smoking at 10 and drinking at 12. No fucks were ever given by me.

I was Keith fucking Richards.

I was invincible.

I laughed off every claim of gluten-free this or paleo that. Fad diets and speculative correlations between processed food, wheat or anything else was of no concern to me. I’d made it this far, nothing could stand in my way of enjoying every pleasure I saw fit to imbibe.

Then I couldn’t walk for two weeks and the doctors didn’t know why.

I’ve never been one to rely on others when I could do for myself, so here is my invitation to you: Join me as I cut out glutens, grains, processed foods and alcohol. Follow this experiment I am conducting to get myself back to some semblance of health in which I am the test subject.

Regardless of whatever your condition might be, what we choose to put in our bodies is of more import than we realize. It is also something we can control entirely.

So let’s take back control, take back our bodies and take back our health. We are, after all, only given one shot to live.


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