Whose body is this anyway?

old man with hat dancing

My identity thief?

As I lay awake last night in pain from my first gout attack in months, I wondered whether somebody gave me the wrong body. (That’s after a bout of pathetic self-pity fuelled by exhaustion.) Gout is more often a man’s disease, and it’s more common among heavy drinkers and people who eat lots of animal protein. Other risk factors include carrying excess weight or having health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure.

When I had my first episode of gout many years ago, I was a mostly vegetarian teetotaller in my early forties. I was not overweight and had no obvious predisposing ailments.  No wonder it took the doctors so long to figure out what was wrong: they didn’t expect someone my age and gender to have this disorder. In fact, my polycythemia and my diuretic use predisposed me to developing gout.

When I was first diagnosed with polycythemia in my mid-30s, and I did my before-I-knew-better internet research on the illness–how many times must I tell you not to search the internet for health information?–I learned that this particular blood disorder is more common among older Jewish men. As a younger Jewish woman, I had only one of those strikes against me. It turns out leukemias are more common among Jews as well.

When I got my beer belly despite my teetotalling, I started to question again. My apparent fluid-retention pregnancy was due to my sickly liver, again more common among male drinkers. I was not that person; I came by my pregnancy honestly, if not as most women do. I do, however, accept my contribution of my ginormous blood-disorder-related spleen, which I have often referred to as my perennially unborn child.

So I guess I got the Jewish part right, but I am not yet old (though I often feel that way), and I am female. I also don’t plan to take up drinking or a carnivore’s diet. When I consider my lemon of a body, I wonder if I’m a middle-aged woman trapped in an old Jewish alcoholic man’s body. That must be it: God confused me with someone else. I guess I could be a character in the movie Big or some other such Hollywood body-exchange fantasy. I didn’t choose to be in this movie, though, so the part is yours if you’d like it.

I know we all get older and our bodies change as we age. Our pace and reaction times slow, we misplace things, we can’t hear at hip restaurants anymore (assuming they will seat us), and we are more likely to need medical care. I just figure a few more things may have happened to my body because of this mysterious identity theft. Why did that old Jewish meat-eating booze-drinking man choose my body when there were so many younger, perkier gals he could have chosen from? I may never know the answer to that question.

Stay tuned, though, and I will tell you all about the body I’m planning to have in my next life.

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