Friday, December 31, 2010

Beyond Avoidance

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance.

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Well, yes. There is something I've been avoiding, putting off, just not doing. And yes, it's because I'm worried, unsure, busy, and otherwise deterred from doing it.

I'm not going to write about it here. And I doubt I'm going to actually do it in 2011, either.

I'm OK with that, though. I'll get to it eventually. I'll probably wonder why I didn't do it sooner when I finally get it done ... but I'm OK with that, too.


December 19 – Healing.

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Well, I think I've already established how wonderful it's been to discover that I have a gluten intolerance (probably celiac disease), and how adopting a gluten-free diet has been incredibly healing for me, physically.

Now, though, as I look forward, I realize I cannot blame being tired, sore, achy, irritable, or sick for any lack of action on my part. It's time for me to make progress, real progress.

It's time for me to stop settling for my body the way it is. I know it can be better, I know I can make better food choices, I can exercise more consistently, I can sleep more, I can be more vigilant about taking the supplements that I need. I can be faster, I can have a clearer mind, I can feel better.

So, I'm setting goals. I hate to call them resolutions, but I do have concrete plans of action for physical healing, for the next step in feeling better. I'm going to track my food intake online again, because that's been a very helpful tool for me (I like MyPlate for this). I'm aiming to run/walk/jog 100 miles a month ... yes, that's an average of 3+ miles a day without a break, I know! I'm excited about the challenge and hopeful for the benefits it will bring to my body.

Naturally, the healing that has taken place physically is leading me to be able to heal emotionally. I will admit, though, I am not certain this healing process, the inner healing, is ever complete. On one hand, this frustrates me ... I'd love to someday feel out of the "emotional woods, so to speak. On the other hand, I realize that it is this continual healing, this unending growth, that makes life so interesting and so vital.

That I can see the big picture this way is a huge sign that much healing has taken place in the last two years. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


December 18 – Try.

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

I'm going to try to go to graduate school.

I did work toward a master's degree before, in counseling, with an emphasis on college student development. I enjoyed it very much and got down to 2 classes left. At that point, I knew I would exhaust my educational benefits from the Army if I finished that master's degree, and I didn't know for sure counseling was going to be what I wanted to go into 17-25 years after finishing the degree.

It's 12 years later, and I think I'm on track now toward a comprehensive plan for my future. Last year, I sat for and received my board-certification to be a lactation consultant (IBCLC). I love helping mothers and babies. Even more, I love teaching doctors and nurses and La Leche League Leaders and other IBCLC's how to help mothers and babies, through presentations and articles. Hopefully, I'll write a book or more at some point ... and now, I realize I want to work for changes in policy. I believe I can make a major impact if I find a way to continue being a public servant. I'd like to create and/or evaluate programs that serve and improve life for our nations mothers and children.

I'm studying for the GRE now and I'm stressed out about it! I'm not sure just how much I can afford to get wrong and still have a decent score. And what *is* a decent score? I have a hard time with the not knowing and I think it's ridiculous that I feel like a standardized test could get in the way of my achieving my goals, which are really unselfish goals! I want to help people who can't help themselves! I'm planning to apply to 4 schools of public health. I'm hopeful for tuition breaks and tuition assistance from the Army so I don't break the bank for this degree. I'm hopeful the degree (policy track, though I'd like to stack my electives with epidemiology-track and maternal-child health coursework) is rigorous enough to prepare me for work in any environment, but not so rigorous that I can't balance my job, my family, and the degree. I'd like to try and finish in 3 years or less.

The prospect of trying is extremely exciting for me, and gives me so much hope for making it through what might otherwise be an unpleasant period of time.

Lesson Learned

December 17 – Lesson Learned.

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I'm sort of cheating with this one, and in the last few weeks with Reverb10, I've already sort of touched on this. The "cheat" is because I started learning this lesson in 2009. The lesson: it's not my fault. What is "it?" Pretty much ... everything. Hmm. Sounds like I'm not taking responsibility for circumstances in my life, right? Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

I think, though, I always took too much responsibility for everything in my life. I blamed myself for how other people treated me, wondered if I really was as unloveable as they said or acted like I was. I chased my tail, always trying harder to be better, to be good enough, to be all things to all people.

Those days are over.

Now, it's difficult for me to settle for "good enough" because I'm that sort of person for whom "good enough" really never is. But, there are some circumstances that don't even HAVE a "good enough." Someone asked of me, regarding a particularly contentious situation, "what can you do differently, so that you're good enough?" My answer was a teary-eyed rant.

"Nothing! There is nothing I can do! I've tried everything I know, I've listened to the advice of others, I've worked so hard at this! There is nothing left for me to do!"

"Then stop trying," she replied. "There is nothing you can do to be good enough. You can't win, but it's not because you're not capable. It's because in that game, there is no winning. The game doesn't end."

This guidance applied to many areas of my life. There are several situations that are, simply, "no-win" because the people involved, for whatever reason, seem to need the conflict, or they need to keep me "in my place," or ... they're carrying some other baggage.

They're carrying the baggage. Not me. It's not my fault.

So, what can I do? Well, for awhile, I cried a lot. The futility of it all was just so frustrating and I felt trapped. Now, though, I'm learning to feel liberated and free because of this knowledge. There are certain circumstances I can change right now, and others I have to just endure. I can try to be compassionate whenever possible, because, well, compassion feels a heck of a lot better than anger and frustration. When I can't be compassionate, I can let it go. I can accept that some games exist only to be played, and, when I am in a position to do so, I can abandon those games that don't serve any higher purpose.

In the meantime, I can set up my life so that I'm ready to move on to the next step as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

5 Minutes

December 15 – 5 Minutes.

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

OK! This Reverb10 prompt stressed me out a lot, because ... how can I possibly do anything well in 5 minutes, be that remembering, writing, or ... anything? But, here goes -- total brain dump in 5 minutes. No more, no less.

I want to remember about 2010:

  • Taking Anna and Simon to NYC to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, out to dinner at Nizza where I had a fabulous GF meal and they were such adorable, polite little angels, and we saw Donny and Marie's Broadway Christmas special! We sat in the front row and got smiles, hellos, and high-fives from both of my childhood idols. Anna and Simon enjoyed the day so much and 2 days later, I'm still buzzing and happy!
  • Finding out I have a gluten intolerance/celiac disease has changed my life. I'm so thankful and want to remember the happiness of the discovery, not the sometimes-inconvenient nature of the lifestyle now.
  • Summer 2010 was really lovely.
  • My first half-marathon since 2001, which I ran with Kelly in the spring. Amazing! I cried and celebrated my health and many blessings.
  • The Army 10-Miler was similar to the half-marathon, but better. I ran that race alone in October but spent the weekend with friends from high school. Those friendships are still sustaining.
  • Gabriella going potty for the first time on the toilet was amazing! Her explosion of joy was very special.
  • Simon singing at his kindergarten class's mother's day presentation -- he was an octave higher than everyone else and so proud of himself, exuberant, and completely invested in his performance for me.
  • Seeing Anna take care of Gabriella, being a big sister and fixing Ella's hair, playing dolls with her, and just loving on her made me feel like Anna, despite evidence to the contrary sometimes, really is learning compassion, leadership, and a sense of responsibility.
5 minutes is over! :(

Thursday, December 16, 2010


December 14 – Appreciate

What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

(Author: Victoria Klein)

Well, if I have to limit myself to one thing for 2010, I'd have to say ... nah. I can't just appreciate one thing.

I appreciate my motherhood and my children. I can't feel it or express it enough. My babies are growing up every day and being their mamma is the best thing ever.

I appreciate that my job provides me financial comfort. And I appreciate that I've stopped trying to find my self-worth in that job. It's not there, and I'm so thankful to finally *get* that.

Most of all, I have come to appreciate my health in 2010. I've always been rather robust, despite spending the last several years in a fog, wearing a cumbersome, heavy coat of general malaise 24/7/365. Now that I've gone gluten-free, I appreciate what feeling "normal" is. I appreciate a calm tummy, no aches and pains, a clear head, and ... delicious food on my plate. Thanks to blogs like Gluten-Free Girl, I'm able to focus on the deliciousness of foods I can eat rather than the depravity of missing the ones that make me sick.

Gratitude is a wonderful thing to carry around.


December 13 – Action

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

(Author: Scott Belsky)

Oh, I really loved this prompt, because ... I'm all about action.

I feel like knowing which direction I'm moving in, and taking steps in that direction significantly improves my outlook on my current situation. I don't much like my current situation, but I'm finding positive things about it that are making "the next step" that much sweeter.

I'm studying for the GRE, and applying to graduate school. I already completed nearly an entire master's degree in counseling, several years ago ... however, now that my retirement from the military is within sight, I feel like I have found and settled into my calling for the future. I'm going to pursue a Master of Public Health, on a policy track, with, I hope, a lot of electives in epidemiology and a focus on maternal/child health and nutrition.

When I became a mother 8 years ago, I had so little knowledge or experience. Mothering Anna was both the most joyful and the most complicated thing I had ever done. Why was it so complicated? Many mothers express this same feeling. I sought and found support through La Leche League, and was proud to be accredited as a Leader so that I could support other mothers in their journey. Helping a mother breastfeed her baby brings me so much satisfaction and hope for the future! I felt like it wasn't enough, though ... too many mothers were coming to me with obstacles I couldn't help them remove; they were getting flawed advice from their doctors and healthcare providers. I decided to volunteer for opportunities to research and speak about lactation topics relevant to the healthcare profession. Oh, how I love, love, LOVE to do this, and I'm thankful for every chance I have to write or speak about breastfeeding. Again, though, I see that even the healthcare profession has its hands tied ... by policy.

A hard look at the policies this country sustains with regard to mothers, babies, and children quickly reveals that the landscape needs to be changed. Paid maternity leaves are rare. Breastfeeding is considered "extra credit" and not the biological norm. Bottles and pacifiers are ubiquitous while mothers from coast to coast feel ashamed to feed their babies in public. Families struggle to make ends meet on one income, and, as one colleague put it, rather than accepting the normal needs of our newborn babies, we as a society are trying to "beat those needs into submission," fighting what God himself has created in this wonderfully interdependent relationship between mother and baby.

I'm giddy with excitement, even as I flounder with the GRE math I'm trying to dust off after years of neglect in the attic of my brain; even as I worry about whether I'll write a good enough statement of purpose or admission essay or, as an IBCLC, be "qualified" for these programs as a bona fide practitioner in the healthcare world. I'm nervous, but optimistic. I'm loving the next step!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Body Integration

December 12 – Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

(Author: Patrick Reynolds)

Ah, well, this prompt stirs up some not-so-fond memories. First, I hated conducting class when I was in college as a music major. Hated it. I much prefer to express myself through words and am extremely uncomfortable using my body to communicate anything. This made conducting awful for me. I got by because I practiced the mechanics, but I knew I'd never make any music as a conductor.

Second, I was treated for an eating disorder many years ago. I'll never claim to be "cured" but I've definitely reached a point in my life where the volume on the ED's voice is turned way down, into the background. I rarely hear it anymore (have other psychoses drowned it out or am I healthier?). I think the ED was one spectacular way I refused to connect my body with myself.

This year, I began reading and studying Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. To say it changed my entire outlook wouldn't suffice; and I've only just begin to study it all. The main concept is that we, as humans with a physical presence, were created in God's perfect image, and that everything of our bodies is also of God. Self-loathing becomes really tough when I'm forced to accept that my body and the experience of being a physical human is as God created it ... Theology of the Body also gives credibility to urges and hungers our bodies feel. Whether we crave chocolate, sex, a good sweat, or all three, these are God-given urges. Of course, there are expectations for how we are to satisfy or defer our fulfillment of these urges, but they're Godly all the same.

Around the same time I began studying TOB, I resumed distance running after a 9-ish year hiatus, during which I birthed and cared for 3 babies. My first race back was the 2010 version of the last distance race I ran in 2001, the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon. I ran it this year with my friend Kelly from college, and it was terrific fun. Each mile, we talked about someone significant in our lives. I dedicated a mile to each of my children, of course. I cried the entire last mile, and was unbelievably happy and proud of my accomplishment. (I just tried to post a picture of us after the finish ... but I don't know if I pulled it off. We'll see.)

The body integration thing, though, happened for me in October, when I finally got to run the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C. I had wanted to do that race for years, but never could because of the work schedule (how ironic, I know). This year, though, I was able to do it. Despite a "wardrobe malfunction" (always try on your race clothes a few days before you pack them ... that skort that fit great 7 pounds ago might not work so great on race day!), I felt amazing. I ran the first 5 miles way faster than I had planned, focusing the whole way on being thankful. I was thankful for my health that allowed me to train for and run a 10-mile race; thankful for the father of my children who is capable and willing to be with them for 3 days so I could take a much-needed break; thankful for the perfect weather and thankful for the race organizers. I discovered, too, that it's much easier to find gratitude during the first mile than during the 10th ... but it's during that last mile that the gratitude is most necessary. Such is how life is, too. It's easy to feel thankful when you're rolling around in your blessings, but when things get difficult, that's when the need to give thanks is most urgent.

My feet hurt, my thighs were chafed, the dang skort kept falling down, exposing a fat roll between my shirt and the sunken waistband, but with every step, I gave thanks, and I felt the rare collision of my body and my being. It's an even I hope to learn to duplicate in my day-to-day in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


December 11 – 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

(Author: Sam Davidson)

Well, wow. This prompt cuts right to the quick of this pack-rat ... I have always struggled with parting with items, and I'm realizing it's because I also have a hard time parting with the emotions, both positive and negative, that I associate with the objects. A good purge feels really, really terrific. but it takes a lot for me to get into one. I need time, solitude (so I can sit and really process the memories as I pitch the items), space (things become a horrid mess once I start), and some motivating factor for the elimination.

With all that in mind, here goes with my 11 things to eliminate from my life ... this is totally unprepared, so I'm interested to see where I end up!

1. Pounds. I'd say 15 ought to do the trick. Why? Because when I was 19 pounds lighter than I am today, I was really freaking hot. Seriously. I have no real reason to be really freaking hot anymore, but 15 pounds brings me under the screening weight my job wants me at, and it also seems to represent a weight at which I am in terrific physical shape. How to do it? I've already gotten the "eat less" part of the equation down. Now it's time to get back to "exercise more." A half marathon to train for on May 1 and the Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred video are both going to get me off to a good start.

2. Funhouse mirrors. Yeah, let me explain. I've discovered lately that my life lacks good reflections of me. There are so many dysfunctional people and situations that I've somehow got tangled up in and as a result, I've lost who I am. I'm finding myself, though, and I'm discarding the funhouse mirrors, those people and situations in my life that reflect an adulterated, distorted image of who and what I really am. Since I can't really *discard* all of them, I'm going to have to avert my eyes when I walk past them. I'm going to have to resist my insatiable need for feedback and instead try to define myself ... by myself ... and seek those reflections that are more authentic and loving.

3. Anger and Resentment. I count these as one "thing" because they're Siamese twins in my world. I get angry, then I immediately resent the person or the circumstance that has fueled my ire. I'm quite certain that housing these guys is giving me cancer or some other major health issue, and I know that unloading them will free me from the restrictions they put on my ability to be happy and free. How do I eliminate Anger and Resentment? Realistically, I know I can't completely cut them loose. I also know that they sometimes serve an important purpose ... but in 2011, I'm going to make a real attempt to crowd them out of Dianaville by hosting Forgiveness and Compassion a little more often.

4. 2 years' worth of Shape and Self magazines. Want 'em? Let me know. I started getting them for free 2 years ago and I've enjoyed them, but I feel wrong throwing them away and really don't want to keep them anymore. While I'm at it, I'm also ready to part with about 2 years' of Psychology Today.

5. OK, here's where the tears start. Baby clothes. I've already started giving away the baby stuff, one gigantic load to my friend Carey a little over a year ago and pretty much everything else to my friends Chris and Nicole, who are awaiting the near-simultaneous arrival of their Chinese toddler and their biological newborn this spring. Giving away the baby stuff means admitting there will be no more babies, and this destroys me. Chris and Nicole are awaiting two girls, so they're receiving all of the girl clothes both of my daughters have outgrown. I cry every season when I'm putting away their clothes and getting out the next batch ...

6. Clothes that don't fit. I've already made great progress with this purge, because now that I'm a big-girl with a big-girl paycheck, I can afford new things when I need them. My hang-up is that I feel like I could sell lots of this stuff on eBay. Why don't I? I don't make the time. I even have a stupid dress-form/mannequin for showing/photographing the clothes for listing. Maybe I should get rid of that, too?

7. Bras and nursing bras get a category separate from clothes, because ... well, there are a lot of them, and they take up a ton of space. They're in great shape and were quite expensive, though (I'm not an "average" size, ahem) ... anyone know of a women's shelter or other place of service that might appreciate the donation of a whole lot of nursing bras and bras that will never, ever fit me again? Pregnancy crisis center, maybe?

8. Profanity. Ah, yes, I give this up pretty much every Lenten season and yet, I swear in front of my children and hardly realize it's coming out of my mouth. I'm ashamed, because I'm teaching my kids that they deserve to be perceived and treated like the intelligent, decent people they are, and that profanity cheapens them. Shouldn't this apply to me, too?

9. It might be time for me to eliminate my obsessive need to get rid of debt. Now, before you start going all Suze Orman on me, let me proudly declare that our only consumer debt is my new car, which I am making double payments on and will own free and clear in about 27 months. We have a mortgage. We also have some retirement savings and some college savings. Zero credit card debt ... but I'm like a crazy person trying to make double and triple payments on the mortgage, pad the "emergency fund" (but, really, as two active duty military members, we're not likely to be suddenly laid off or otherwise unemployed without a warning), and pinch every penny. I'm not sure it's the healthiest way to live.

10. The rice steamer. I think I've used it exactly twice in the 12 years I've owned it. Time to pitch it ... but I feel bad! Does anyone want it?

11. I would love to eliminate Self-Doubt. I have a lot of it, and it serves me no purpose. Or does it? Is there a cookie? This is one I need to ponder a bit more.

The Big Dianaville Purge begins on December 21st, when I'm finally no longer obligated to anyone for anything.

Monday, December 13, 2010


December 10 – Wisdom

Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

(Author: Susannah Conway)

Oh, this one is super, super easy.

I went gluten-free on September 1st. To say my life has changed would be the understatement of the year. I'm never looking back, not ever. Sure, I'm tempted sometimes by the last few bites of "pizza bones" on my kids' plates, which I always used to eat. I'm a little sad at gatherings when the hostess brings out the plate of homemade cookies and, like a leper, I sit there and don't take any. And gluten-free bread is disgusting. Not even worth the attempt, I've learned.

I had been suffering from multiple vague (and sometimes not-so-vague) physical symptoms for years -- I'd say things got really bad during my second pregnancy, in 2004. That pregnancy was incredibly stressful for a variety of reasons, and other than bearing an amazing little boy who lights up my life every day, it really wrecked me. During that pregnancy, I developed a rash. It was like islands of tiny blisters in various places on my body. I had no idea what caused it, and was told first that it was a common condition of pregnancy (this by a very prominent and talented dermatologist). My midwife disagreed but suggested it might go away after my son was born. It didn't. It got worse, at times covering 2/3 of my body, then waning, then taking over my skin again. I was prescribed potent steroid ointment to alleviate the itching so that I could sleep at night.

Sleep. Oh, how sleep eluded me. With a newborn and a toddler (my first two babies are less than 22 months apart), both nursing, plus a full-time job I had to return to at 12 weeks postpartum, plus no family or real support network nearby, I was exhausted. Is there another word for exhausted? Cooked. Done. Nothing left. And, I was in pain, constant pain. Some suggested I had postpartum depression. I was certain I did not, since I felt incredible joy when I was with my children, even through the debilitating exhaustion. My doctor visits, tests, and dead-ends started in mid-2005, and they included:

  • bloodwork (found serum ferritin to be dramatically low so began liquid iron supplements)
  • thyroid, checked probably 7 times in 5 years. Normal.
  • My blood pressure at one visit was 70/45. Was told to add salt to my food and drink licorice tea.
  • Tests for Addison's disease, which came back "subclinical" but still within normal limits.
  • a colonoscopy, because of severe rectal bleeding
  • a colposcopy, even though I'm HPV-negative, because a Pap came back "abnormal"
  • several checks of blood sugar and pancreatic function ... pre-diabetes at one point when fasting sugars were between 100-120
  • nutritional evaluation because my weight, after my 3rd baby was born, refused to come off despite smart eating and lots of exercise
  • repeated biopsies of this unbearable rash: looking for fungus, cancer -- both negative
  • tests for rheumatoid factors and other markers for rheumatoid arthritis
  • questions about whether I might have contracted an STD (which I understand is smart from a public health perspective ... but anyone who knows me sees how incredibly ridiculous this tree is and doesn't bother to bark up it ... alas, the tests were run and of course, negative)
  • stool samples (always a good time)
  • tests for kidney function, which came back "mostly normal" but no doctor would attribute the variations to anything other than dehydration or other commonplace variable
  • bone scan, to rule out osteoporosis
  • x-rays of my pelvis and lower back, because standing and marching hurt like crazy, as did sleeping
I had been treated for the skin condition, which they considered "autoimmune" and told me to expect it to last 18 months to 5 years. When it raged through my 3rd pregnancy, the "autoimmune" theory was shot full of holes, because most autoimmune things go into remission during pregnancy. This got worse. I was also treated for systemic fungus and or yeast, neither of which I actually had.

Finally, in late 2009 and early 2010, I had a doctor who promised "I won't rest until you're feeling better." Sure, he initially recommended Time Management for Dummies at an early appointment, but I didn't get angry at him. He suggested that I had an exhausting life. He wasn't wrong, but I knew my body wasn't just tired.

He arranged for me to spend 3 weeks at home, unbound by the band's crazy schedule, so I could sleep. I slept solidly, 9-10 hours a night for 22 nights. I still felt like I had been hit by a truck. Some mornings, I wondered if I actually felt worse for having slept so much. He also listened to my pleas and ordered a vitamin D panel. Finally, something came back with a result to fix: I was decidedly deficient in vitamin D. Perhaps this would explain a lot of the vague problems I was experiencing? I began mega-dose supplements. My level rose, and I began to feel slightly better. I thought we had cracked it, but then, a plateau. A big one, that wouldn't budge. My doctor, who was leaving for a new duty station, referred me to an endocrinologist. She ran a lot of tests, to include a 24-hour urine cortisol test that required me to collect and refrigerate all of my ""voids" for a 24-hour period, then bring the big jug of "void" to the lab for turn-in. (Came back within normal limits but sure was memorable.) She asked whether I had ever been evaluated for celiac disease.

Within hours of returning home from that initial visit with the endocrinologist, I had scoured the internet and realized that, at the very least, I had a gluten intolerance. An endoscopic biopsy of my small intestine would be necessary to conclusively diagnose celiac disease, but I decided to skip that and remove gluten from my diet on my own.

I had a searing headache for nearly a week.

I lost 6 stubborn pounds in 10 days. My fitness test score jumped by nearly 40 points, which is huge for me.

My body stopped hurting, except for my right lower back and hip, which still hurt a lot.

I no longer have ANY gas (no, really, I just don't have gas anymore, and before, I had A LOT!!), bloating has gone way down, and GI issues after meals have completely stopped. No more wondering before a meal whether something bad is going to happen later. Now I can eat with confidence, most of the time. (Eating out is hard.)

My vitamin D levels are rising. I'm sleeping so much better. My mind is clear, no more of the debilitating exhaustion, confusion, and brain fog. It's gone. Sure, I still get tired, but I think I get "normal person tired" and I can recover from a busy week with a few good nights of sleep.

I'm happier. Is there a price on that?

I've been advised that a conclusive diagnosis is probably a good idea before I leave the Army. That would mean going back on gluten for a month before the endoscopy. The thought makes me want to cry, so, for now, I'm going to not think about it. Instead, I'm going to revel in the best thing I've ever done for myself: going gluten-free.