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It is incredible how many insurmountable and horrible and relationship-threatening problems are simple and breezy when one is receiving proper nutrition.

Guys, I have never felt like this before, at least not since I was an actual child. For the first time in my adult life (!) I do not feel like crap.

This is a big deal.

So! I have an appointment the first week of June with a gastroenterologist. I have a call in (no word yet) to a nutritionist. I am in the process of eradicating gluten from my home (which means everything from getting new appliances to switching the dog to grain-free food). I am learning how to cook things that don't have flour in them, etc.

This is obscenely life-altering, intense, and wonderful. Also, super-frustrating in this horrible "We do NOT waste food!" kind of way that has me very upset that I am getting rid of things that I have paid good money for. Things that all those starving children in the third world would love to have. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Whatever.

Do you need brownie mix? Macaroni? About a thousand packets of instant oatmeal? Have I got some food for you! Seriously.

Problems with Jack that felt crippling, that had me (literally) ending this relationship and walking out the door, now seem quite easily figured out. Nothing seems insurmountable! Everything is fixable! So crazy.

So I got a new toaster. And new wooden spoons and cutting boards, dish drying rack, spatulas, whisks... things that I can't necessarily just clean really well. Probably giving my mom's standing mixer to my new sister-in-law-to-be. Keep it in the family, but far far away from me. I want a new one, but they're like, $300. Save and save and save.

And now I'm working on my knowledge of what I can eat. Where I can shop. What I can cook. Where I can go out. What I can drink. Etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Woohoooooo!!!

Begin at the beginning.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a huge appetite. I was the skinny girl in school who out-ate all her boyfriends, not to mention the rest of the football team. I can straight up devour an entire pizza and look around to see what's for dessert. Even when I am extremely full, full to the point of nausea, I am still ravenously hungry. I have always attributed this to a love of food, and thanked whatever gods there were for a high enough metabolism to counter-balance this huge hunger and keep me relatively trim.

When I was 19, I was turned down at a blood drive because my iron levels were way too low. I self-diagnosed as anemic, never talked to a Dr about it, and took iron supplements on and off for years.

Twice in my early twenties, I had unexplained miscarriages. It is not something I talk about often. It is something I have always been terrified to find an explanation for.

I have always been depressed or at least hyper-sensitive. I bounce from being happy with the world to very near tears more often than most people I have met. Most of you have never seen this side of me, because I am very good at hiding it.

The last two years, I have dealt with an array of gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, and have been genuinely unhappy with my body. Not unhappy with how it looked, but with how it worked. Because of stomach distention, people started to believe I was pregnant. Enough people that it became a joke at work. Enough people that I stopped being offended. That is a lot of people.

All this to say, this week I went in for a blood panel to find out if I have Celiac Disease. There is a very high chance that I do. For those that don't know what Celiac Disease is, it basically means that whenever I eat gluten, my body produces antibodies that attack and kill off the villi in my intestines, making it impossible for me to absorb nutrients. This malabsorption leads to nutrient deficiency and ravenous hunger. There are tons of symptoms, most of which I have had. Everything I have written leading up to this paragraph is something that can be explained by Celiac Disease.

The only cure for Celiac is to completely cut gluten out of your diet. Completely. Being that gluten is over-used in our culture, being that it is in things you would not expect it to be in (ketchup! ice cream! soy sauce!), I am now very limited on food options. I am going to have to purchase new cookware, appliances, etc. I am going to have to get rid of anything that has gluten in it. I have to re-learn how to cook. I have to get rid of my mother's 25 year old Kitchen Aid stand mixer, in which I have made every cookie I have ever baked in my entire life, because a speck of flour too small for me to see could cause damage to my insides. This is sadder than it should be. I am simultaneously so relieved and so very, very devastated.

Celiac Disease is not an allergy, but a genetic auto-immune disease. My father refuses to get tested for it, as does my brother, so I will never know where it came from or whether my family is safe from it. This, especially if you are familiar with my history of dealing with loss, is horrifying in ways I don't know how to deal with yet. The idea of losing anyone in my family because of this wholly preventable thing has me completely beside myself.

The next few months will be difficult. I will probably bounce back and forth a lot between sick and healthy. Hopefully not. I will definitely be a basket case about things I can't eat anymore, things I must get rid of, money I must spend to keep myself healthy. I will find out what things my body can absorb and what it no longer has the ability to, and what I will have to supplement with vitamins, probably for the rest of my life.

This is a good thing. My dad told me, a few weeks ago, when I was doing an elimination diet (Dr. recommended) to narrow down whether it was gluten that was giving me problems, "You don't want Celiac Disease." Like some hypochondriac who was doing this for attention. Like I had flipped through a list of diseases and chosen Celiac because it sounded fun. I don't want a diagnosis because I want a diagnosis. I want a diagnosis because then I can work on fixing it. Because then I don't have to feel shitty anymore.

There is a decent chance that I will have a false negative result. In order to insure a positive blood test for this, you have to eat gluten every day for six weeks, and I couldn't do it. The first day back on gluten (after three weeks off it) made me so violently ill I couldn't go to work. The next morning, I cried while forcing myself to eat toast, knowing I would be sick later in the day. And then I went to the Dr. And they agreed to have me tested that day, and said that even if I got a negative result, I should act as if I had not, because clearly this was something that was very very important for my health, that I needed to cut gluten out of my diet if I was going to be OK.

And that's it. I have not felt this good maybe ever. I am exhausted, but in a good way. I eat regular-sized meals and am full for the first time in years, maybe ever. I have so much more energy. My stomach is no longer distended. My skin isn't cracking. I've lost seven pounds in three weeks because I'm not eating like a werewolf anymore (this is an unexpected side-effect, as I was pretty happy where I was at, weight-wise).

More than anything, I am so very, very relieved.

Post.

From the age of 13, when boys started wanting me around for more than baseball, I haven't been alone.

First there was Steven, with his deep blue eyes and fervent love for the suddenly dissipated Nirvana. He sat on my backyard fence and kissed me at night after his scout meetings.

Then Chad, who I am still friends with on Facebook, who was way too into Beavis and Butthead and bleached his nearly-black hair and then let it grow out.

Then Greg, who I can't remember his last name, who was the first person who ever put his tongue in my mouth. On the sky ride at Great America. I spent the whole kiss counting seconds so I could tell people how long it had lasted.

And then high school boys.

Sean, who was the first. The first everything and I thought I would marry him and live happily ever after. When he broke up with me, I threw my promise ring at him.

And then high school drop-outs and college boys and boys who were too old for school.

And then poets.

And then girls.

And then Jack, who loves me more than anyone has ever loved me, who understands and knows and calls me on my shit better than anyone, who can predict what I will do, who takes care of me always, whose great big heart wraps around me like a quilt...

Since 7th grade, I have never been alone.

And now I want it.

And isn't that interesting?

Isn't it interesting to want to be alone?

Jack is moving out at the end of May. I am looking for a roommate, because while I would totally prefer to just live by myself, I need to keep being able to pay the bills.

This is harder than I am making it sound. There are choking horrible sobs. There are terrifying questions:

Where will you go?
Who will take care of you if you get sick?
Will you forget me?

We still haven't slept apart. I don't know how I will manage. I'll adapt, I suppose. I'll learn. He is heartbroken. I am heartbroken. Different reasons, same result.

The logistics of this are staggering. My to-do list is long:

Find roommate.
Split up possessions.
Close joint bank accounts.
Organize file cabinet.
Etc.

I have never been so sad about something that really felt like the right thing to do. When I am with him, I want to take it all back. When I am not with him, I just want it to be finished already.

Health = Wealth, or somesuch nonsense

Where to begin?

I have been having loads of crazy health problems, ranging from excessively dry skin to stomach issues that I don't want to go into in a public way, and there is a good chance that they are food-allergy related. Woohoo.

So, for the last eight (gah!) days, I have been on the most ridiculous elimination diet ever. I have cut gluten, dairy, meat, alcohol (no biggie), most processed sugar, etc. from my diet in an effort to clean myself out before we start reintroducing things one at a time to see what causes symptoms to re-emerge. I gotta say, I am not happy about the prospect of re-emerging symptoms, but unless I have to, I do not want to live like this forever. Not that there is anything wrong with living as a gluten-free vegan, but frankly, I feel like a fucking squirrel.

On Sunday, Jack asked (so sweetly) if I would make him waffles, and I did, and then I cried. And not just cried, but sobbed! About waffles! I am a mess.

That said, the symptoms I have been having for months, nay, a year or more, have cleared up to next-to-nothing in a matter of eight freaking days. So yeah, silver lining.

Best case scenario is some small allergy, like a slight intolerance to lactose or something. Worst case scenario is Celiac disease or something similar.

On top of that, the flu swept through our apartment like a tornado two weeks ago, which puts me at 15 days (today) of flu symptoms (I'm at the mild and annoying and not-contagious stage now, and I'd be happy as hell to have this gone, thanks very much) and thereby, 15 days of not smoking! After five days of not smoking because I could not leave my couch, I figured why stop there, the worst part of quitting smoking is already behind me!

So now, ten days after THAT, I am still not smoking. And man, this is why I quit quitting. I hate quitting. Quitting fucking sucks. I am antsy and jittery and uncomfortable and I want something in my mouth now. And not just in my mouth. I want something foreign and burny in my lungs. The glorious feeling of cilia fighting for their lives (and ultimately, drowning in tar)... I miss it. I miss it so, so, so much. I am disgusting. And I can't stop coughing. The cilia are winning, and I am a fucking mess.

To add to all the healthful healthy hooray for health things I am doing, I bought a pedometer. I don't know why, I just thought it might be something that would be awesome to have, if only so I can feel good about continuing to not do too much, and lo and behold, I already walk the recommended 10,000 steps per day! Aproximately half of which is done back and forth in my office! A day of sedentary cubicle work is all I need to be healthy! Score! Go me!

It's the little victories, really. Now, back to my trail mix...

With a Coo-Coo Here and a Coo-Coo There

So I'm finally back at work this week, after four days off last week, and I still can't really do a damn thing without coughing. Coughing loudly and uncontrollably makes people around you on public transportation very uncomfortable. I have been getting lots and lots of dirty looks, even though I totally cover my mouth, and am past the terribly contagious stage of this thing.

I do feel much better, though. I do.

Oh god, I haven't even gotten around to telling you about the pigeon yet! So, weekend before last, before I was terribly sick with the terrible horrible hacking flu, I was at a bar with Trina. And at that bar, there was a pigeon. (E-I-E-I-O!) The pigeon was way too friendly for a normal pigeon. He was sitting in a bush right outside the door to the bar, and wouldn't fly or startle when you approached him. He was sitting right at eye-level, and I was just tipsy enough that I decided to see how close to him I could get without him flying away.

Side note: This is totally something I do with wild animals, and has gotten me into trouble more than once. I get a couple of drinks in me, and I no longer understand the concept of an animal's personal space. When I was a little kid, I did this kind of thing too, but then I blamed it on being "part Cherokee" which my mother long claimed but which I have no proof of. Now I just blame the demon liquor. Tee hee.

So anyway, here I am, 4 beers or so in, standing with my face not 2 feet from a live pigeon, and I am an idiot, and sometimes the back of my mind dares me to do weird shit like, say, sticking my hand out to see if a live and probably wild and full-of-diseases bird will hop onto my finger.

Stella, my manly pigeon friend!

I am so frickin' awesome.

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So sick with the sickness


Photo 68, originally uploaded by berkeleykatpoet.

This is, apparently, what I look like when I cough.

Sexy.

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The Mucus has Landed!

A sickness has descended upon our house, and lo, we are so sick. So very sick. So sick with the sickness. I wish I could be more eloquent, but my brain is being beaten to death by that little green dude from the Mucinex commercial. (By the way, that shit actually works pretty well.)

Jack and I have barely left the bed today. I did have an unrelated doctor's appointment today that I actually went to, and then I went to Walgreens and bought some Mucinex and Nyquil and popsicles and then I drove through the Jack in the Box drive through, because my Dr wants me to do an elimination diet to figure out what's going on with my stomach lately, to see if I'm allergic to something or whatever, so if I'm gonna go out like that, I'm gonna go out with a bang (and a very large cheeseburger).

The dogs are very upset with us for not letting them out of our room except to pee all day, and the pigeon that is living in Jack's office (long story that I should be reminded to tell you about later) is bored and lonely and cooing like crazy.

I am a mess. I'm going to eat a couple more twin pops and pass out.

Please wipe down your computer screen with Clorox wipes or something, just in case this is super-contagious. I would hate to give you this shit. It is highly unpleasant.

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So it never makes any sense, huh?

I realized this week that I am fully a grown-up, which is weird, because I do not feel like I am at all. I lost my glasses and found them on the top of my head. This is how I knew.

I feel like probably everyone feels this way. I asked my dad if he had ever really felt grown up, and he said no. He said everyone pretty much seems to stop feeling like they're growing up around 18 or so, and we all just sort of bumble around after that trying to be mature as our bodies get older.

I remember, in high school, thinking that I would want to have children at around 24 or so, because I wanted to be young enough to have energy for them. And then when I was 24, thinking I wasn't ready yet. And now, at nearly 30, thinking, my goodness, who is ever ready? Nobody, probably. We're all just stumbling around like idiots and nobody knows anything, and isn't that funny? I think so.

We're talking about kids in the next few years. And I think I will just try real hard to look like I know what I'm doing, and hopefully I'll do OK and they'll never know the difference.

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Our Awesome New Apartment!

We moved in in the middle of December, and have been working so much that it's taken us this long to get most of the apartment together. Next up, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom!

But here's half of the dining room, the hallway, and the living room...

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The thing is...

One of the women in my department at work had breast cancer a few years back. It has come back. Metastasized. This is how my mother died. It all comes rushing back.

I don't want to make this about me. I'm just being quiet. Doing work. Not talking. I hate that everything is connected to my mother, to me, that this feels like an umbilical cord being plucked like a guitar string.

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