Monday, December 7, 2009

Living Out Loud: My Cat, Diabetes, and Gluten

The vet said "You are now the owner of a cat with diabetes." It is funny how a moment in time can be so life altering. It's only my cat--not my kids--so it's not the worst thing that can happen to a person. But all of a sudden diabetes went from a little on my radar to being something I have to deal with every single day.

My day hadn't been great to begin with. I spent an hour crying in Hebrew class I take because the weekend was so overwhelming. My dog had to go to the hospital on Friday night. My son had projectile vomited all over his room on Saturday night and my daughter screamed for an hour and a half because she didn't want to clean up legos on Sunday. Life felt so hard to deal with. Normally I am a cheerleader/poster child for the gluten free diet, but I have a hard time at synagogue where I have to deal with challah at evening services, and bagels and snacks at morning services and snacks, pizza parties and donuts at my daughter's religious school. I don't go that much, because it is just too much to deal with. Which is sad. The truth is, I don't know if it would change that much if they served gluten free snacks. It is still going to be filled with food my kids can't have and while I make the effort to bring food everywhere, I have my limits to what I am able to do. And I can't bake gluten free challah. I have a beautiful challah pan, but gluten free challah is more of a cake like batter than a dough you can actually braid. The truth is, challah is just not the same without gluten.

I lived on a kibbutz for a summer when I was in high school. There was a factory that made challah where I worked occasionally. In college I baked bread for the Barefoot Contessa, in East Hampton. I would make challah dough in a huge mixer and watch the dough rise on the counter. The dough looked like a giant warm sea creature. I loved the feel of the warmth of the dough as it rose under the towels. It was only one summer, but it was kind of magical being up all night baking and seeing the sun rise with the smell of fresh bread.

Last year, I made a gluten free sourdough starter and sourdough bread that was out of this world. But, I threw away my wonderful, magical starter when my son got very sick from the yeast. Yeast is, I have been told, a similar molecule to the gluten molecule. Which is why the bread was so wonderfully bread like.

I said to my husband last night, "I think Lily has diabetes". I was cleaning her litter box twice a day and there was a ton of liquid. In my talking to the parent of a child who has diabetes, I had learned that a ridiculous amount of water consumption and an overabundance of urine was a sign of diabetes. So I wasn't surprised when the doctor told me she had diabetes. But I was shocked to learn that I would have to give Lily two injections of insulin after she ate daily. It seemed shockingly impossible and all too much to deal with. At the same time, it is my life. Although I know others have it easier than I do at this moment, I also know that others have it worse.

What I find interesting is that for years a person can be living their life, and then something happens which profoundly shifts their focus. And something you never had to think about becomes something you have to think about every day. I know many people live with both celiac and diabetes. In fact, in a small study in Canada in people with type 1 diabetes, "nearly half showed an abnormal response to wheat." Although I, thankfully, don't have both, I will now be thinking about diabetes every single day and my life will be even more logistically difficult. At the same time, I am profoundly lucky. Everything is relative.

Breakfast is at 6 am, Lily. Go to sleep.

***I am not at the Home-Prepared Raw Meat Diet stage yet, but I was given a special food by the vet. And here is a link to Gluten Free Fancy Feast flavors. I have been launched into a whole new gluten free world.


Her Heatherness said...

My cat has had diabetes for years. He was able to go off the insulin for a year or so, but it came back so he had to get back on it again. He was the only cat I knew that had diabetes before hearing of yours.

That was interesting about the yeast being similar to gluten. Might explain why I don't do so well with yeast.

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Betsy said...

I used to think that my mom was silly for always saying 'when it rains, it pours,' but that is how my life has been lately. I do really well for a while and then something will set me off.

I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your week and that your kitty does well with his/her/its new med.

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Frau Guten Tag said...

I had a diabetic cat in the past. We tried oral drugs first, with no success. Then we put her on insulin. I had to time her feedings--I bought a feeding bowl on a timer. In time I was able to stop needing the insulin by changing her diet. That is often the case with type 2 diabetes. A couple of years later she died of cancer unfortunately. But the vet who diagnosed her suggested I just put her to sleep & I found a new vet--I was always so glad I didn't put her to sleep for having diabetes.

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