Doctors’ receptionists are proverbially awful. Our local surgery’s reception is merely bad, but still enough to make me want to avoid it. So when I make you aware of the number of “undiagnosed” complaints I claim to suffer from, you should take this as my reason for avoiding diagnosis; not the gender-typical reaction of men not going to the doctors.
My most recent problem has been a continuation of the actual, diagnosed H. pylori infection I had a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve had a generally upset stomach, which got far, far worse (you don’t want to know) when I ate a lot of bread on any given day, and too much bitter leading to rampaging heartburn and a taste of undigested oiliness in my mouth, I decided to drastically reduce my wheat intake.
For almost a month now i’ve had almost no bread, going from a quarter-loaf a day to perhaps a couple of rolls in the month; I also had one beer, which my father-in-law had got in especially, brewed as it was in the town of my birth. Obviously if I was excluding wheat entirely I’d have to be more circumspect; I’d probably also join Coeliac UK, and start doing a good deal more food preparation. But given everything else I had to do in the month I couldn’t face the culinary difficulties and all the time I’d spend working at it, and anyway felt that a factor of ten reduction was more than enough to contend with, thank you very much. Also, I’d heard that sudden wheat withdrawal can cause much stronger reactions in future. Without the resources to research it all, I thought an initial reduction would in itself at least do no harm.
So since mostly excluding wheat, do I feel any better? On average, yes. Most of the heartburn has gone, as have the most extreme aspects of [mouths something, unintelligible to studio audience]. In their place I have a difficulty of getting, and feeling, fed. Cycling means my blood-sugar level is up and down during the day, as are my moods at work, much as they follow the previous levels. I can’t say I’m eating much healthier in some ways: roasted nuts and crisps have helped my toast cravings, often in greater quantities than what they replace. But I feel better, less bloated, and without that weird sensation of having a histamine reaction, only on my insides.
This all means that, after a few years’ gently mocking them, I have finally joined the ranks of the worried well. But I’d rather worry about whatever it is I might have—if it doesn’t count as an illness until i’ve made an appointment—and feel better, than worry about the label I’ve attracted. My only regret is that I adore toast and beer; if I were doing this for attention, I might give up fruit instead, or even tomatoes (like my granddad, who “ate more than enough of them during the war,” in Italy.) But at least, now that I’m merely worrying, with a lot more of the “well”, I can stop doing so on special occasions. Right?