On Saturday I got the results of some blood work that I'd had done Monday.
After four months of weight training, binge eating, and an overly publicized five week fast from caffeine did nothing to help raise my body mass index above 18, I was somewhat worried.
After reading one of my blog posts, a friend who has Celiac Disease had asked me if I'd ever been tested. It's apparently an auto-immune disorder that is triggered by eating wheat gluten. One of the many symptoms is inability gain weight. It also apparently has a genetic component, and I know of at least one person in my extended family who has it.
So, incurable hypochondriac that I am, I scheduled a doctor's appointment (apparently you have to schedule those things a month in advance now days) and basically insisted that he give me the test, even though he said I looked generally too healthy to be suffering from untreated Celiac Disease, and that my weight and build are just "a part of who [I am] genetically." He also ordered a test for my thyroid function and a few other things. So they took my blood.
And then I waited.
Now, on the one hand, I thought it would really suck to have Celiac Disease. It's easily treatable, but that treatment is completely cutting all gluten out of your diet. I'm a huge fan of bagels, pasta, hamburger buns, beer, pizza crust, pretzels, bread and just everything that is made of gluten. Giving up all that would be annoying.
Throughout the week though, I started to think of all the pros of actually having a disease.
First, it would mean, that there was a concrete reason for the way that I am that could be changed. I'd just alter my diet or take some sort of medication, and all of my problems, or at least things that people tend to perceive as problems would go away. I'd get stronger, clothes would fit me, I'd no longer look like a poster-child or anorexia whenever I take my coat off––not my shirt, just my coat.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I'd have something concrete to blame how I am on. It may not seem like a big deal, but I really get tired of people dismissing how I am as being some lack of effort on my part. People telling me I look like I need to just eat more, or just work out harder. What am I supposed to say to that? That for the last four months I spent three days a week benching my weight 24 times, doing innumerable pull-ups, bar-pushups, squats, NOT running, etc, and then eating so much protein and fat that I had to crap five times a day? Invariably, they will be quiet for a moment, and then say something like "Well that's something... but I'm sure if you really tried you could gain weight." That's how it always goes.
So, Saturday I got the letter with my results. Everything was normal. No Celiac-Disease, no hormonal imbalance, no blood disorder.
And even though I knew it was messed up, I found myself disappointed. I was hoping for something to change––or something to blame. And I got neither.
Don't get me wrong––I'm really very, extremely, extraordinarily thankful I don't seem to have anything seriously wrong with me. I'm sure there are many people out there who only wish their biggest problems were not being able to lift someone who is half as tall as them and looking like a Holocaust survivor at the beach. Health is a wonderful and fragile gift. I'm young, and even something as simple as not being able to eat gluten would have put a serious damper on a lot of things I may have the opportunity to do over the rest of my life.
Still, I couldn't shake a bit of disappointment. There's nothing to change or blame. It seems I just am who I am.