Dumb Luck and the Word of Wisdom

“Does anyone know if you can breast feed whilst taking ace inhibitors?”


The question pop up in my facebook newsfeed from a diabetes support group. I’ve been diabetic for decades, and am generally bored with the “latest and greatest” diabetes-related updates which typically mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’ve heard most of it before, so tend to avoid diabetes groups—especially on facebook.


But I had recently moved, and the facebook support group was recommended as a way in which to get recommendations for local doctors.  Shortly after I joined, I did have a recommendation for a doctor—who was not accepting new patients. But that referral led to another, and I soon had a doctor who I liked well enough. Almost as quickly as I had joined, I forgot about the group and moved on.


But then that post popped up in my feed. As a feminist, I feel strongly about women having the choice to breast feed. As a diabetic, I am frightened of the day when I might need an ace inhibitor as it would signify that I was suffering from diabetic neuropathy, also known as kidney damage. So I read on.


“Does anyone know if you can breast feed whist taking ace inhibitors? My doctor said there is limited research on the effect of ace inhibitors on breast milk and I really want to breastfeed my daughter for as long as I am alive. My kidney are failing, so it won’t be long.”


I had no answers, but I sat stunned, tears forming in my eyes.


I spoke to my husband about it that evening. “A doctor I had like twenty years ago said that some people’s bodies manage diabetes pretty well, but other people have real problems. At the time, he was implying that I was one of the lucky people with a body that seemed to handle diabetes.”


It has been a difficult few months for my husband and me, for reasons I won’t discuss in detail here. Thus, I had been concerned about ongoing medical care in-between a number of other uncertainties, including temporary unemployment. One of our first goals when we found our footing was to get the proper medical support for me. Finding it, I began to feel better—mostly due to relief, but also due to a new medication that I didn’t know I needed. To be clear, I wasn’t unwell. But I knew I could do better.


“It’s not just luck,” my husband said. He is a convert to the church, joining after we married. He joined the church as a result of personal testimony and from reading the Book of Mormon. He also joined knowing of the inequality between Mormon men and women, and has striven to always have me be included. It really was the best of both worlds for me—I don’t generally do well with Mormon men grounded in patriarchal pride, but had a testimony of the Plan of Salvation. In him, I had the best of both of my worlds- Mormon and feminism.


“You’ve never consumed alcohol the way most people do,” he said, reminding me of friend who had non-diabetes related kidney damaged due to excess drink. “You’ve never smoked,” he said reminding me of my own convert father who died from lung cancer long after he had quit smoking. “And you get up and walk every day,” he reminded me, even though I often felt like a brisk walk wasn’t really as much as I could be doing for exercise.


So maybe this post isn’t so much about feminism. Or women. But it is about the word of wisdom and how I am personally blessed by it.


To be clear, I never met a Christmas pudding that couldn’t be improved by my adding Orange Liquor with at least 40% Alc. And I know which wines match meats on a general level for when we dine with non-Mormon friends. I never met a caffeinated beverage I didn’t like (and I a mourning the end of Coke Zero as much as I crave Saccharine-sweetened Tab cola). And lest I be judgmental, I especially don’t know if the diabetic woman who asked about breast feeding ever had a drink in her life, smoked or otherwise. Even if she did, I wept for her and her baby, and prayed that she might be able to raise her child.


Mostly, I was humbled. Because I knew that my body is probably not very able to “handle” diabetes well. But rather, because I am lucky enough to have been raised as a Mormon, I learned to say no to alcohol and cigarettes long before I learned of how hard those things could be on my mortal, diabetic body. In this, I have the best of all of my worlds– diabetes, feminism and Mormonism.


And for that, I am grateful to God.


Spunky lives in Queensland, Australia. She loves travel and aims to visit as many church branches and wards in the world as possible.

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2 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    This is great, Spunky. I’m glad that the Word of Wisdom has saved you some grief!

  2. Ender2k says:

    Loved this. Thank you.

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