Monday, February 11, 2013
Running On an Empty Tank
It is difficult to adequately describe the autoimmune life to someone who has never experienced the ups and downs associated with autoimmunity, but I am going to take a stab at it. Let's make a generalization and say that the average "normal" person (one who is not autoimmune) starts each day with about twenty gallons of "gas" in her health's gas tank. She only uses about 10-15 gallons per day, and upon waking the next day, her tank is full again.
Being autoimmune (auto and gas -- get the pun?) means that I almost never awaken with twenty gallons of gas; it's always a surprise. Some days I awaken with fifteen gallons and some days five, and some days my fuel doesn't arrive until 10 a.m. If I go to work and use up my five gallons in the morning, then I am without gas to function the rest of the day. I must borrow gas from the next day, hoping that I am borrowing against a full tank and not a half tank.
Just to keep life interesting, there are seasons in which my thyroid dose is inadequate and I can't seem to get out of second gear. I have to join the rest of the 40 mph traffic while stuck in second gear, with my engine racing to keep up with the others. I try to avoid this wear-and-tear on my transmission, but it's not always possible to predict when these moments occur. Most of the time I just recognize the problem and head home in order to forestall any transmission failure.
Then there are seasons in which my thyroid dose is too high, causing me to burn fuel at a higher rate of consumption than the healthier person. I may begin the day with twenty gallons, but it is gone well before it's time to retire for the day, and without a functioning gas gauge, I can run out of gas without warning and be stranded somewhere with no gas to return me safely home.
But you look at my "auto" and say, "It's so clean and shiny -- it looks so new! How can it be out of gas?" That's the rub. People will assume that I have a full tank just because the exterior is in good condition, so they will often request that I go on a road trip for which I lack the gas.
The biggest challenge, however, is not to obtain a steady fuel supply but to take care of this 'auto' without obsessing over it. I want this auto to go on the road and enjoy the journey without the constant worry about getting in an accident, running out of gas, getting a flat tire, or getting bird droppings on my new wax job. I am enjoying the journey.