Irreversible Damage

Friday before Thanksgiving, I loaded kids, grocery list, coolers, and made our way for the big town of Huntsville to do haircuts and shopping for the impending holiday.  On the way we learned that lil Sister never made it to cosmetology school.  A student was texting my eldest with questions and it put us in a frantic.  We couldn’t reach her on the cell phone and no one has spoken to her.  Putting the puzzle pieces together we deducted that she’d broke down on the interstate and a passing student had seen her.  Another student walked out of the school to go find her- because she is never late.   That was intense and stressful.  I thought I managed OK.  We left lil sisters’ truck on the side of the road and she rode with her classmate.  We got into town, stopped at a coffee shop, and I had to go potty something awful.  There was blood.  It was not time for female cycling.  We followed on to the school so my bug (my daughter) and son could get haircuts.  I sat in the car feeling uncomfy with a deliberating strange feeling in my gut.  I needed to go potty again.  Sister has some home with hilarious bathroom stories from school, but that’s another blog. In light of those I didn’t want to chance that avenue.   I drove to a local store.  Finding my way to the facilities quickly it had begun to rain.  I texted my friend so she could start googling symptoms for me.   I wandered the store a minute in haste feeling unsettled.  Again and yet again I had to go.  We decided I had a UTI (urinary track infection) and I needed to back off coffee so on.  So, I went to find a Walgreen’s type store for some medicine.  Stop after stop, bathroom visit after bathroom.  The symptoms were worsening as the day progressed.  I finally found some UTI medicine.  Having little patience by this time, knowing that the medicine is probably bad for me in the long haul, but not caring at the moment I swallowed the pills.  I couldn’t go home for I still needed to buy groceries and wait for Sarah to get out of school for the day. I did survive the shopping- if I hadn’t of had my bug with me I would have had a nervous breakdown probably in the freezer section. When I got home I took some antibiotics I had on hand, drank some turmeric tea, lemon water, and cranberry juice.  I had a class to teach the next evening and I can’t do that from my chair at home.  Amazingly, I felt better and even normal on Sunday.

Trucking right along into Monday before the gluttonous turkey feast I woke up extra early with an odd back ache.  Lady (my cocker spaniel) and I got in the car to go run some errands in town.  I was home alone and she loves to get out.  I was not having the carefree lollygagging kinda trip that I anticipated.  In truth, the longer I was out the worse I felt.  Searing pain in my back was becoming more and more apparent that something wasn’t normal.  I kept thinking, if I can just get home, I’ll be ok.  I can get in my chair with some hot tea and relax.  She and I made it home after trying the seat warmer and IBU Prophen.  Nothing sufficed.  I sat in my chair and tried to doze.  Nope not a chance the pain was a lit fire in my abdomen and whole pelvic area.  Moments later I found myself in great distress, pleading to God, and looking for help.  It had come upon me with such ferocity.  I kept looking at the clock thinking I could wait until Sarah got off work to take me to the ER. I didn’t want to bother them at work.  Minutes and seconds stretched out it was becoming apparent, I could not wait. When the tears came for the pain that was becoming unbearable I realized that this wasn’t just an ache.  It was something more than a stumped toe and I couldn’t deal with it at home any longer.  I texted her… Come Home- Take me to ER.  That’s it.  That’s all I could muster.

After much testing and really strong pain meds the doctor arrived at my diagnosis, Interstitial Cystitis.  The nurse said basically I had a really bad UTI.  It’s not a UTI at all.  The urinalysis came back perfect. She made me verbally promise to go see my doctor as soon as possible.  They prescribed antibiotics, two kinds and pain medicine.  The pharmacist, said, hmm. That’s odd; they almost never prescribe two of that strength at the same time.   The doc also said; no work for four days- nothing.  Just before thanksgiving?!   I did all they said, to the letter, just as they said.   Now that life has calmed down and I’ve met with my doctor some of the red flags I did not understand were beginning to make sense.

It’s not a new journey per say.  It’s more like a lifestyle infringement.  I’ve known for years that I have a mild sensitivity to the gluten adversary.  Gluten has become ever so popular here lately.  My bug spent all of her childhood years fighting allergies to plants, animals, and food including gluten.  She was diagnosed with wheat allergies about 14 years ago.  She was 5 years old or so.  Weekly shots, syrups, medicines, and diet restrictions were her lifestyle.  There wasn’t much to work with back then as far as substitutions.  Corn was the mediating bread replacement.  ‘Cause what can you not roll up into a corn tortilla?  Today she curls her nose at corn tortillas despising their existence.  They’ve quite wore their welcome in her book.  Lil sister learned four years or so ago she has food sensitivity to wheat as well.   We know all of this- and yet we would still teeter totter back and forth on the wheat wagon.  Everywhere you go wheat is there making its presence known.  The world doesn’t share our allergies or realization of its existence.  When in truth the numbers of affected persons to food related issues is on the rise.  It’s obvious- the catering grocery world has exploded with gluten free isles of food.  I very much doubt it was out of concern for the females in this clan. There is nothing convenient about having a food allergy to gluten.  We live in a Disney land society with food on demand at each corner laden with grease, potato, and bread. Gluten has been given its marching orders yet it lurks secretly in almost everything.

I had ignored my sensitivity.  Over the years we would make an effort to expel the foe from our diet for a time.  Monotony and boredom of mundane meals would take way to childhood food favs and craves. Since my reactions to eating gluten were limited to red flush face and slight head ache that was what not enough to throw me off the train. Why doesn’t it affect everyone else?  I am just being an oversensitive whiny baby for seeing things that aren’t there.  Attending big “to do” occasions with other family/friends can be daunting, only to have them over and over ask why aren’t you eating (fill in the Blank)?  Immediately following with sympathy replies, “Oh, I couldn’t do that, I’d die – I can’t live without___!”…. Really?  What if eating (favorite food here)…..felt like a Japanese man with katana blades in your gut slicing and dicing his was to your bladder. Before the series is over you are pooping saw blades cursing that food and its very creation.  The  next big question surfaces, “How were you tested?  Are you sure that’s a real allergy?  Will you die if you eat bread?” Now that I have been diagnosed with a “condition” all of a sudden there is a bit sympathy.  I get a lot less questions and a lot more pity.  But the following phrase comes next, “Well at least there are options.”  Grrr… Well at least… Well Yes, least. When we eat out of the home, I can have a salad.  Or maybe a salad.  With a side of lettuce.  (Sarcasm- I hope you can hear it.) I can pay $10 for a plate of lettuce. Yumm.

Now that I have a diagnosis looking at my symptoms- some of which I’ve had for years.  When I would inquire after some of these issues, doctors unanimously said, oh, that’s normal to pee every 5 minutes.  Just drink more water. It wasn’t until I had the monster attach that sent me to the ER that I finally got some attention.  My family was certainly freaked out, stressed, and otherwise widdle wattled. The pain was quite intense- the nurse equated it to labor pains with no sweet bundle of joy at the end.   In an effort to stop the snow ball effect and not be dependent on pain pills the diet had to change. Most think that it is just about gluten/wheat and that is so not the only issue.   I have not only had to scratch gluten, but citrus & tomatoes in all forms and varieties.  Recently, added to our extensive list are nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, jalapeno’s, eggplant, tomatillos, Gogi Berries, paprika, tamales, pimentos, red pepper, bell pepper, tobacco (not that I smoke), and chili pepper), some of the  gluten free bread replacement products, corn, coffee, vinegar, chocolate, dairy, oats and rice.  Dressings have wheat, vinegar and/or dairy and who knows what other hidden no no’s.  I feel like Bessie the cow eating a dry salad.  Corn is a modified touchy subject too. Tomato is in so many things: ketchup, BBQ sauce, chili, Italian foods, and salsa.

About every two days I get sick.  Ick.  I can’t eat anywhere but home without having a reaction.  It’s seems not even a lettuce salad is viable option at most places.  As if food was the only problem it seems that stress is a constant enemy.  I get my emotional plate mattered with worry and I begin to have symptoms.  Repeat the run to the bathroom to potty again, again, and again.  Wait, the pain is beginning.  I just want to curl up at home and cuddle with my furry friend in our chair.  But alas, it comes most often away from home in a car going to rather than on the way back.

You think I’m being over dramatic, I can see that look.  I am.  This is the part where I tell you it’s not a diet.  It’s my new life. Never eating those foods again and it’s not like a diet where you can take a bite here or there and work out a little more tomorrow. One bite equals a cave man discovering fire in your tummy. Nope it’s not indigestion- it’s a pelvic floor fire.  Even eating grilled chicken at restaurant on a salad has been hazardous.  I can’t know the seasonings nor if the grill is contaminated with wheat.

I have been sad, upset, mad, whiney, pouty, fussy and angry.  I had my very own pity party with invitation only admittance.  I have felt sorry for myself, thrown the IC book across the living room, and ignored a sweet heart while he was eating Whataburger in the same car. I suppose they are all phases of detachment from some physiological food addiction issue.  I am sure that you wouldn’t have this issue.  For some people being rock solid, hard as nails, and unrelenting is easier.  I am so weak. There are a vast many people older and younger than me that live with diet issues day and day out- and do they whine.  Probably not.  Why is it so emotional?  Food is not a person, family member, or friend.  I remember once after lil sister was born, I was trying to lose weight.  We were gonna get healthy and get fit.  So, Hunny and I went grocery shopping.  He picked out some cheese puffs and a big bag of Bracs candy.  I thought I was OK with that. After all it’s not like he’ll eat that with me around.  We’ll put it in his lunch to take to work.  UHm. NO, he opens it all and eats it in the car on the 25 mile ride home.  I began to cry.  He didn’t get it.

Photo Credit: Rose Hill Designs by Heather Stillufsen

I am angry at the system for poisoning us.  God made food good for us.  I just can’t believe he made it to hurt our bodies.  That means that someone somewhere has experimented, tampered, and bug sprayed our issues into existence.  I’m angry with the establishment for allowing it to continue. Greed for dollars makes sense on the short haul for them but what about everyone else.  You can’t take money with you when you leave this place. There should be legislation that says no to genetically altered food. We need to stand for God’s Creation.   I feel like I am struggling with a rigged system. Unless we become farmer John and Jane and grow it all ourselves we can’t possibly know for sure what we are eating.  Then do we know what’s in the animal feed? So you grow that too. You need more land, water, and resources. How do you pay for all this and work it too?

This blog in its entirety is for me.  This woman’s coo coo clock is stuck with its birdie’s tongue hanging out and needs to get a hold of herself.  I am, this is part of my process, and you get to read along for the ride. One day I will look back, read this, probably cry, and remember.  Food is such a part of who we are.  We may not want to admit it.  We have special food for all occasions, holidays, and seasons.  It’s hard to say goodbye to things like potato salad.  Please don’t tell me I can make the mock version with cauliflower.  It’s NOT the same or even close.  Who doesn’t love date night with Hunny?  The Lord will see me through this I am sure.  Beginning this New Year I am so appreciative that I have life, a good doctor, and know that we have a plan.  I am so blessed that my family supports me as best as they can.  When I say, I take the days one at a time that is now very literal. Even through adversity there is room to praise him.  God has been so good to me.

  It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:  To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (Psalm 92:1-5)

Fightin to live,