I was reaching the end of my rope with the pain and achiness and exhaustion I’d been feeling for years. What had begun in college had expanded to a nearly constant ache during my years in New York. Along with the pain came chronic exhaustion and a low-grade fear that followed me everywhere. The fear said, If you feel like this in your 20s, how are you going to feel when you’re 38 or 52?
Being in a new city, I went to see a new doctor and she ran me through yet another battery of tests and sent me to yet another specialist. Only this one finally gave it a name.
Part of me was terrified to hear "This is a chronic disease that can be fatal if you don’t manage it properly” directed at me. But part of me was relieved, too: the part whose fingers ached too much to hold a pen and whose knees throbbed in her ears when she walked down the block.
The doctor had made it clear how important "eating healthy" was to holding back the lupus. What he hadn’t made clear was how to do it, and like so many people who face a grave diagnosis and are told to "eat better," all I could picture was a grim life of denial.
As I write in my book Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith & Enduring Love, food went from something I didn’t think about to becoming a pivotal part of my life. I wouldn’t have chosen to have lupus. But I was grateful that; because of it, I would become open to a whole new way of eating.
Upon my diagnosis, salvation came in the form of two books that gave me hope. One was Janet Fletcher’s Fresh From the Farmers’ Market, and the other was a big book I’d found on a discount shelf by Sally Schneider with the unfortunate name of The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking.