What’s going on

So, the sinus saga (which goes well beyond that one post, as you know if you’ve been around since before Whole30). Turns out it’s not just my sinuses. And it’s not just my allergies.

Long story short, my ENT and I were both perplexed (and one of us rather depressed and swinging by the end of her rapidly fraying rope) (name that movie) by why I’d often present with sinus infection symptoms, but when he’d take a look up there, it looked mostly good, clear, not swollen, so much better since the surgery. Basically, why wasn’t my full-blown November sinus surgery the magic bullet it should have been Why have I continued suffering from chronic low-grade fever (not explained by allergies), fatigue, facial pain, etc. We tried steroid shots in a problem area, he found a small cyst, removed it, more steroid shots, etc. Some progress but not a lot. We were stumped. I cried a lot. Being the doctor’s favorite challenge isn’t a good place to be: not for your body, not for your mind.

Then the last time I was in his office he looked in my throat and had me bite down.

“THAT’S YOUR BITE?”

The thing about my ENT (and if you follow me on twitter you know just how much I love him) is that he doesn’t give up. He doesn’t pawn me off on someone else. Zach and I joke about this, but they share a birthday, and they also share the trademark Scorpio tenacity. They’re perfectionists, and the more they’re told no, the more they persist. And thank god.

It was the first time he noticed that I have a very open bite. He never noticed because when I smile you can’t see my bottom teeth. And what that means is that my back couple of teeth have been taking all the pressure. Between that and the chronic inflammation and all the trauma in my sinuses from two surgeries, he suspected I had a bit of neuralgia in the trigeminal nerve; a big, three branched nerve – one on each side of your face – that branches across the forehead, cheek bone, and jaw. I still don’t totally get the medical sciencey stuff behind it, but basically the nerve is traumatized/fatigued and just mis-fires, or is easily triggered, or something.

Which, along with my allergies, is why I present with sinus symptoms that didn’t match up to what he saw in my sinuses.

(I also explains why it hurts to touch my face in certain spots, and why it feels like someone’s driving a nail into my cheekbone pretty much all the time.)

The weird thing is, I have this too-big crown on a back molar that caused this open bite and probably I should sue the dentist who put it in but the statute of limitations has run out and I was too traumatized by the experience to want to deal with that tooth ever again and also I had no money to get it fixed when I should have. (I used to be a nail biter. When the dentist put the crown in, my front teeth no longer touched. I told him it was too big, and that my teeth weren’t touching. He told me they never touched. …I mean? What? He told me I was wrong. About my own face. I was too young and naive to argue, or go get it fixed by someone else.) I decided that after the shit year that was 2012, I would make my word for 2013 “health” – and that one of the first things I’d do is get that crown replaced. I went to the dentist, who suggested the problem had gotten bigger than the crown alone and referred me to an orthodontist so they could figure out the best course of action.

The orthodontist explained that teeth want to touch, so over time they grow toward each other. Over the last ten-ish years, my other teeth have grown down to accommodate for that crown, so now it’s not just a matter of replacing the crown. My whole mouth is fucked. The ortho told me that the options are: braces (not 100% guarantee to get the jaw like they want it, and will take about two years and also hi, I already had braces), surgery (they can definitely get the results they want and yeah, three surgeries in less than 12 months, but then this will all be OVER. Probably.), or, maybe, possibly, they can just pull the back two molars, which will allow the rest of the teeth to touch.

So this was all in the back of my mind (read: I was avoiding dealing with it, because more medical stuff) when my ENT noticed my bite. Z was with me at that appointment and we explained to him what had happened with the dentist(s) and ortho. I told my ENT that if I had to deal with another surgery, then fuck it, at this point I don’t care.

And the great thing about him is that he said ‘yeah, but that may not be the best course of action for you, and that’s what I can help you with. I don’t want you jumping into another surgery if you don’t need it.’

How many doctors do you know that would react that way? He offered to talk to my dentist and orthos, to help advocate for me. He knows me (and my face) better than anyone, and even though this is no longer a strict ENT issue, he is still helping me.

Also, I will have the most expensive face in the world when this is all over.*

He put me on two weeks of drugs to help ‘re-set the nerves’, and we decided we’d go from there. Last Friday was my last day of the drugs. I hadn’t thought they were doing anything, except, wow, they really were. My pain has come back with a vengeance in the last week. I forgot that before I was taking Advil just about every day, multiple times a day, just to get through the day (and am now doing it again). It’s amazing what we get used to.

I have also noticed, since being off the med, how tense my jaw feels, how the muscles react when I bite down, how it radiates through my face.

It seems this might really be it.

I have an appointment early next week with my ENT (it was supposed to be this past Monday, but was cancelled because of the snow. Go home, March. You are drunk.). I’m excited to feel like we might actually be getting somewhere. I’m also exhausted. Mentally, yes, but physically, too. It’s so hard to get up in the morning, and I’m wiped by 9pm.

I’m ready for this all to be over. Oh, I am so ready.

At some point I’ll get around to talking about what’s getting me through it. The post will be titled, Fuck the Rules, I’m a Grown-up and I’m Drinking this Beer, Send me Candy Crush Lives.

 

*Except maybe this lady.

catlady

Love/Hate

Stolen from my lovely friend K, who sends the best texts ever known to science and mankind.

Hate: I hate having to stop to get gas. I am almost always at E with the light blinking by the time I pull into the station, on a wish and prayer that I don’t run out before then.

Love: When Zach takes my car, he always fills it up for me.

Hate: The Essie Butler Please chips like nobody’s biz. I think because it’s matte it’s more brittle

Love: The Essie Mint Candy Apple is setting a record, having gone over a week and I only need to swap it out now because my cuticles are taking over.

Hate: Still not feeling 100%.

Love: The meds I’m on for this neuralgia stuff have rendered me largely uninterested in food. I think the least this situation can do is comp me some of the workouts I’ve had to miss over the last year+.

tumblr_lhprupWJ7T1qhxg9co1_400

Hate: That I’m going into Spring feeling like I didn’t get the recharge the dark winter months usually give me. I’m usually less social, able to focus on healthy eating and living. This year I just feel like Oooooh wweeee?

What's up with that Lindsey Buckingham  (Bill Hader) on SNL December 4 2010

Love: The smell of spring in the air. The cats bird-watching out the window every morning while birdies flit back and forth between a tree and our hops trellis.

Hate: Seasonal allergies.

Love: My air purifier. I don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner.

Also love: Zyrtec, and my fancy new aerosol nose spray, Qnasl.

Hate: No more boot or sweater or scarf weather.

Love: Sandal season!

Hate: Crushing DC heat & humidity.

Love: Camping season!

Love: Candy Crush. I’m obsessed.

Hate: Candy Crush. I’m obsessed.

Love: Going with my gut.

Hate: Bad gut feelings.

Love: Kendra Scott, and my new rings, especially because they were a steal on sale..

Hate: Not having more monies to buy all the Kendra Scott.

Love: Planning a trip. I need a vacation.

Hate: Nerves about flying. Nosebleeds, ahoy!

Love: Writing anyway.

Hate: Feeling like all I’ve got these days are superficial posts about nail polish.

Love: You for sticking around anyway.

Hate: The hole I’ve been in lately.

Love: All the love & support I’ve been getting from your fancy faces – now and over the course of the past year+. Thank you doesn’t really feel like enough.

 

What’s on your love/hate list?

Breathe

I’ve been dancing in and out of here, mentally. And on twitter. How much to say? What to leave out? What person do I want to be? The one who doesn’t say anything when something is wrong? The one who shouts it and complains? And oh, I have, at times, felt like I’ve done nothing but complain. Some moments I’m fine. Others I sit up at 1am for the fourth school night in a row with the same headache that won’t quit and I feel like I’m grasping at something, and I don’t even know what. I can’t breathe. Just breathe. (Should I tell you I can’t breathe? That I haven’t been sleeping?)

And then I read this via Amy and I read this (and the great comments) and here I am.

We all deal with things in our own way, and I don’t want to be a complainer. I don’t. I’m sick of hearing myself say the same things over and over, both in my online and offline lives: I’m not feeling great, I’m sick again, I have to cancel plans, I can’t because I have a doctor’s appointment. But the reality is that the last 14 months of these sinus issues and surgeries and being sick have…well, they’ve happened. And they’ve been a hamster wheel of despair, thinking this is finally IT! And then…no. It wasn’t it, and we’re going to do this whole thing all over again. And I think in some ways I haven’t really dealt with that. I’ve been just taking it one day at a time. Yeah, there have been setbacks, I’ve had one or two meltdowns, I’ve had days where I’ve declared I am OVER IT. OVER IT. OVER IT. But the truth is there’s really nothing you can do if your body isn’t over it yet. There’s nothing you can do except keep trucking, keep breathing, take it one day at a time, take your small victories where you can. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Most of the time. Because what’s the alternative? (More on that in a minute.)

And then, and then I don’t know what. Something about being in March and the seasons changing and me not being where I thought I would be – that nearly four months after surgery I’m still dealing with problems & recovery. I thought I’d be recovering through the winter, that my life would be back to normal, would be back under my control and not at the mercy of my health. But it isn’t and I haven’t and suddenly spring is just about here, and I am still stuck. I’m seeing improvements, to be sure, but it’s slow. I’m not where I thought I’d be. And other areas of my life – work stress, family stress – my grandmother’s slow demise, other stories that are not mine to share but which are fraught with emotions, hand-wringing, sadness, and pain and all you wish is peace. Peace. Peace for everyone. Health and peace for everyone.

And suddenly it’s a Friday and you’ve had a headache all week that you can’t shake. You can’t sleep, you can’t think straight, all you want is to climb under the covers. And you’ve been feeling ashamed of feeling like this because come on, buck up. …but then. Maybe it’s okay not to be okay. Maybe you owe yourself a full-blown meltdown, a retreat, some good old cleansing, deep-down sobbing. Maybe the only way out is through. But it’s hard to let go and let that happen. I told Zach the other night that I was afraid if I started crying I wouldn’t stop. God that sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s this: it’s accepting that a whole lot of things sure are pretty stressful and worrisome and frustrating right now, and it’s okay to feel those feelings. It’s okay not to be okay. But these things are out of my control and I don’t know when or where they will end. And I’m afraid if I let myself go too far down that path, it will turn into despair. And so I guess I feel like I’m teetering in limbo, afraid to let go, afraid to look back, afraid to look ahead, and it’s getting hard to breathe.

And I don’t know. I am cringing at the thought of hitting publish because…I really am okay, you know? I’m okay. Everything that is hard right now will be fine. And I don’t want to be overly dramatic or attention seeking or…I don’t know. It feels icky, on the one hand, but on the other hand I feel like I should at least acknowledge what’s going on.  Life’s kind of hard right now. It’s also great, of course, in its way, but you know. I’ve had some big, serious health stuff going on the last 14 months that has effected my body, my mind, my relationships, my lifestyle. And you know, I guess I haven’t really dealt with a lot of that, because I’ve been busy just getting through the days.

Wow. Well. Writing it out helps. So. That’s…a big note to end on, but that’s all I really have to say. I’m okay. I’m just processing some stuff. And I guess it’s time I did.

What are your emotional hangover/blue period/wow-this-is-all-going-on-at-once? coping skills?

PS – WOMP WOMP. Sorry. Love, Debbie.
debbie downer photo: Debbie Downer tumblr_l8iocvvyZQ1qbh2ep.gif

Currently Loving

1. Small bags of Easter candy. A perfect way to get my annual indulgence without hating myself.

cadburyminieggs-sm starburst 2oz

2. Still rocking the Butler Please, but Essie’s Mint Candy Apple is all lined up and ready to go. Spring, here we come.

mint_candy_apple

3. Ghee/clarified butter.

DoubleShotGhee

Photo from http://entropyproduction.blogspot.com.

It’s a pain to make (and I do need to post Z’s Lazy Man’s Ghee technique soon), but I love being able to eat butter knowing I’m not getting any dairy. My sinuses love it, too.

4. My friend T (whom, to paint a picture, is the gay male version of Paula Deen – he’s blonde and sounds just like her with his charming spirit and southern drawl) and I were meeting a bunch of other friends out for dinner one night, at a restaurant that is in an area notably terrible for its street parking. We pulled up in front of the restaurant with no parking in sight and went to turn around the block when BAM, a space opened up right in front. Perfect.

“Princess Parking!” he shouted.

So now that’s what I call it, too.

princess-parking-only

LULZ

5. Sweetgreen’s warm grains as a salad base in place of lettuce. And that they now offer kale and lentils for my mix.

6. Witch Hazel.

witchhazel

When I was in fifth grade and everyone cool was getting boobs and zits and treating them with Clearasil (the zits, not the boobs), I asked my Mom to buy me some toner so that I, too, could be cool and relevant. I don’t know why I thought she’d buy me Clearasil or any other drugstore brand as I was always the kid with the Apple and Eve Juice Boxes, fruit leather, and natural peanut butter instead of Koolaid, Fruit Roll-ups, and Jiff. I don’t remember it doing much at that time (probably because my skin didn’t need much help), but oh, I remember that smell so very well. I bought some witch hazel recently as I’d read about it here and there, and how it’s used to treat all kinds of skin ailments. I really like it. It’s cheap, it helps calm irritated skin, heal cuts and zits faster, and it makes my skin look good. I was recently contemplating buying a higher end skin toner and was reading the ingredient list: Witch hazel was up there. It may have even been the first ingredient. So there you go. Soak yourself a cotton ball and go to town.

I’ve been using the Good Sense brand, and I have no idea how it might compare to other kinds, but so far so good. Do you have a favorite Witch Hazel, or know anything about it?

7. Whispering things that are usually shouted. I don’t know how Zach and I stumbled across this particular comedy gem, but it never fails to crack us up. Pick a phrase that would normally be shouted with enthusiasm, and whisper it verrrry quietly in a neutral tone. Favorites include:

Go Sox

Bingo

Jenga

Fire. Fire.

Hey kids, get off of my lawn.

And my favorite: Surprise. Happy Birthday.

Because also: how hilarious would it be to throw someone a huge surprise party, and then when they walk in everyone whispers surprise instead of yelling it? Double the confusion, double the fun.

8. When sales are on sale. I bought this big pink ring, because why not? I kind of wish I’d gotten it in yellow, too. And purple.

rana-pink

It’s basically one stone from the Cassie bracelet, which I have in white and would really like in every color. So pretty.

It’s my dream to some day be able to do this.

kendra

9. Which reminds me: The Amazon Add to Wish List Button. Gather all your consumerist dreams in one place, and your spouse will always know what to get you.

What are you digging lately?

PS:

it-gets-butter-paula-deen

Me Month

What’s more appropriate on a blog – that apex of self-indulgence and navel-gazing – than declaring March “Me Month”? Oh, I don’t know, maybe declaring March Me Month after January was Hear About What I’m Eating for 30 Days Month?

Whole30 still looms. I fumbled my way through February, if we’re being honest, giving myself a break from cooking, from over-thinking food, from pushing myself so hard when I was still sick and trying to figure out which way was up. I’m surprised how much it took out of me, honestly, but maybe I shouldn’t be given the state of my health. I don’t necessarily think it’s great to worry yourself over a severely restricted food program when you’re dealing with sinus infections and lingering illness and surgery recovery and etc. But. If I’d spent the past 14 months waiting until I was 100% before doing things, I’d hardly have done anything at all. It’s been a long and trying 14 months. The good news is – and I hate to think I might jinx it, but ahh at this point fuck it, I seeeem to be making some progress. I took a vat of Cipro and I’ve been getting a series of steroid shots in my sinuses. That’s about as fun as it sounds, though it barely fazes me at this point, as I’ve spent 14 months with things sprayed/prodding/pulling/removing/stuffed into my sinus cavities so meh. What’s a few more needles? During this process of getting a shot, giving the swelling a chance to go down, taking a look, getting another shot, etc. my ENT found a little cyst that was hiding where he couldn’t otherwise see it. What condition must my face be in to be able to hide a cyst from a man who has seen & explored the inside of it through weekly-ish appointments and two surgeries? So that’s what I’ve been up against.

14 months.

The good news is that lately I’ve had more energy to do things. You know, it’s been slow enough progress that I didn’t even really fully realize it until I stopped to look back. My Mom was in town last weekend and she and I ran around nonstop. It was mostly just fine. A few months ago I could hardly get out of the house for one day of running around – never mind three straight days, in between full weeks of work. That’s huge.
I’ve been going to yoga – I’ve been looking forward to it, feeling restored by it. I had to skip one class in January because I was sick, but other than that I have been able to go just about every week, without being completely exhausted from it. That, too, is huge.
It’s time to stop living life in extreme measures. January was Whole30, and February was just sort of coming down off of it and dealing with sickness and family stuff and building up my strength (though I didn’t fully realize that, in the moment). March is about finding balance, working my way back to health.

Here’s what I’ve got mapped out for my March. (If you stop reading after this sentence I don’t really blame you.)

Fitness

As Zach said recently when I was in the throes of a fit of self-pity and frustration about weight gained and workouts unworked and, oh, all of it, it was never going to be a switch flipped. It’s been 14 months of basically laying around (not totally, no, but way more so than ever before, for sure), and that’s not going to just disappear. I’ve been wearing my fitbit again, which helps, and working back up to walking – god, I used to walk so much (10-15+ miles a week), on top of working out – and I just love it. I forgot how much I love it. One of my goals for March is to walk at least 20 minutes a day. If I go to the gym, that counts. If I go to yoga, that doesn’t count. I am excited slash nervous for this. I’ve asked Zach to help hold me to it. Maybe you can help hold me to it, too?

I’ll also go to yoga every week, and head back to the gym. I don’t want to put a number on my gym attendances as I’m afraid that will be setting myself up for failure

10 flights of stairs a day (heeeey, Fitbit goal!). Yesterday at work this resulted in me walking up 6 flights of stairs after a bathroom break. Whatever it takes.

Sleep

8 hours of sleep a night during the week (the weekends will likely be more). For real this time, no screens after 10 during the week. Not tv, no phone, no computer. The Kindle is just fine, as reading in bed is preferred.

Food

Eating for health, eating for nutrition. I’ve been working toward this, obviously, and have been forming some better habits.

Other assorted restoration, much of which I didn’t fully get to during Whole30 but meant to: 

Continue my tea drinking habit, formed during Whole30.

Read two books. The Fault in Our Stars is currently on my nightstand. After that, I’m not sure. Maybe one of the Nelson DeMille’s on my bookcase that I’ve never read, a la Home Sweet Sarah?

Being a better friend, sending notes both handwritten and electronic. (I’ve been making progress here! It will be easier to see friends and make plans now that I seem to possibly be reliably feeling better.)

Finally finishing (starting) my Christmakkuh thank you notes. I’m appropriately embarrassed about this, yes.

What’s on tap for your March?

Lately

I’ve been enjoying…

1. Bartlett pears.

bartlett_pears

I go through phases, weeks, where I simply cannot get enough of them. I get this deep hunger and craving for them (save your jokes, pervs) – have since I was a kid – and I’ve long wondered if they have some nutrient my body needs.

2. Homeland. I watched both seasons in four days last week. I love you, Saul. Never change.

Homeland-4

“Hey, Carrie. I see you’re wearing a leather jacket and a look that means business. Do you want to come for a ride with my tiny rabbit mouth on my motorcycle around a city we’ll pretend is DC? We can go for a dip in the fountain in Farragut Square.” -Brody, probably.

3. Coconut milk. I put that shit in everything.

coconutmilk

4. This post by my lovely friend Amy. There is fear and discomfort in being yourself.

5. EOS lip balm balls. Pretty much all natural, no weird ingredients, fun flavors, not sticky, actually make your lips soft. Perfect, basically. A couple weeks after surgery I was trying to get myself back into doing normal things, in preparation for going back to work. Mostly this involved doing a load of laundry or dragging myself to Target. Target was pretty much the only place I went during this time. And one day Zach came home from work and found me in bed surrounded by four or five EOS lip balms and their packaging. I couldn’t smell or taste any difference between them but that didn’t stop me from putting them on and RELISHING the fact that I’d gotten myself out of the house to do something just for the hell of it. Lip balm, man. Something something balm for the soul, too? Oh, also your husband won’t steal them because they look weird in a pants pocket.

eos-lip-balm-smooth-spheres

6. See’s Hot Hearts.

hothearts

My once a year Valentine treat. Kind of like gourmet giant jelly beans or Hot Tamales. Heaven.

7. Alabama Shakes. Oh my god, Brittany’s voice. It blows me away. I must admit that I’d been hearing Hold On on Pandora for a loooong time before I saw this video from the Grammy’s, figured out who she was, and that Hold On was thus not sung by a man.

8. La Croix.

lacroix

That’s not news, but I want to state for the record that my love has not wavered.

9. Essie Butler Please.

butler_please.png

 

10. Recommend wearing while drinking vodka, club, and meyer lemon juice on a Sunday afternoon.

cocktail

 

Navel gazing on Thirty Days

I started writing this at the end of Whole30, but I needed some time to collect my thoughts. Some of this is how I felt immediately after, some of it reflects how I feel now, and mostly it’s kind of a mess. Forgive the inconsistent tenses and rambling. If I don’t put this out there now with all its imperfections I think I won’t ever get to it.

Well, there’s an apt metaphor if ever I heard one.

******

Well, it’s over. The 30 days, anyway. I’m in the reintroduction-ish phase, but more on that in a minute. This January has felt like the longest, draggiest month and yet somehow, BOOM, it’s over. The days are long, the month is short, etc.? Looking back it feels like a blur, and I’m so glad I took the time to write through it. I’m still digesting everything, and will be for a while, I know. I am so glad I stuck with it. I’m not surprised to be glad that I did, no, but I am surprised, in some ways, that I did it. Huh. I did that. Neat. But also, I am not surprised. I am pretty effing tenacious when I put my mind to it. And when the situation is all-or-nothing (see also: weeks and weeeeks of the elimination diet I did last year) it seems to be easier for me. I don’t know why that is. Removal of options = success. For the short term anyway.

crabcakess

On Day 30, Zach and I popped a bottle of bubbly and drank it with our Whole30 crabcakes, broccoli, and remoulade. And just like that, Whole30 was over. I know technically we were supposed to wait until Day 31, Day 30 at the stroke of midnight, but eh. Suddenly bubbly sounded really good, and there it was.

bubs1

After dinner I also had some candy. Oooh, candy. Besides oats, candy has been the one thing that plagued me through Whole30. After dinner I decided it was time. I had bought some Sweetarts Gummy Valentine’s candy, and some cinnamon and cherry jelly/jujube Valentine hearts earlier in the month. If I didn’t buy them I knew they’d be gone when I went back after Whole30. And honestly, the thought of that candy sitting in the cabinet has caused me  more anxiety than I care to admit. Was it a mistake to buy that candy? Would I be slipping back into old habits? Who would win the battle: me or the candy? Who was in charge: me or the candy? It plagued me, and that’s not easy to admit. Over the course of 30 days I alternated between wanting to dive face first into a bowl of candy (a phrase which I believe I’m now semi-famous for on the internet!) and wanting to march over the the cabinet and throw everything away. I did neither. I just observed these feelings. (And wailed about them here on this blog.)

So after dinner, the true test. I opened the bags, stood there, and thought “This is it”. And as I slowly sampled the candy, I noticed how it felt, and let me tell you, it felt weird. I felt like I was walking a very fine line between two worlds. I could feel the tug of old habits, and the tug of new habits. It really felt like that, like I was being tugged from two sides. So strange. I half wanted to shove handfuls in my gaping maw, half wanted to walk away. I let myself have what I wanted, had a few handfuls, really thought about how the candy tasted. Then I realized, you know what? These cherry juju hearts SUCK. They don’t even taste good. Champagne aside, this is what I’m putting in my body after 30 days of pure, whole foods? A 99 cent bag of fake-tasting cherry candy? Why? No thanks. This is not worth it. Bye. In the trash they went. Next up, the cinnamon hearts. Suddenly they didn’t taste that great. They went from being satisfying, scratching an old itch, to tasting like the fake, cheap, drugstore candy they are. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with fake, cheap, drugstore candy if that satisfies you and makes you happy. But suddenly this wasn’t doing it for me. The only thing it would have been doing was fulfilling an old habit that I’m trying to outgrow. Again, not worth it. In the trash they went too.

Sweetarts hearts? Those stayed. Those I’m still processing. When I eat them, I eat them slowly. I don’t do it mindlessly. I make a point to be aware of the fact that I am eating, rather than shoving food in my face. And as such, I’m eating way less. When I bought the Christmas Sweetarts gummies, they were gone in a day or two. The whole bag. This time, two days later, most of the bag is still in the cabinet. It’s not perfect by any stretch and in many ways I still feel like I’m walking the line between the two worlds of old and new habits. I’m still learning. 30 days isn’t going to turn around years of bad habits, no. But it is certainly a start.

How else do I feel about Whole30?

I’m glad to be off the leash. I am so, so glad to be eating oats again. I am relieved to feel less picky, yet I also still feel very, very picky. I don’t want to overload my system with all kinds of stuff it’s no longer used to. I want to know how things effect it.

oats

So far the non-gluten grains reintro is going well. Day 31 was the long-awaited oats for breakfast. Leftover Whole30 crab cake lunch. Quinoa beef taco bowl for dinner. I was happy. I felt good. I feel good.

quinoatacosalad

Today [actually, the weekend after Whole30 ended - this already happened], my brother is in town and we’re meeting him and a friend for lunch at one of our favorite places. A place that has the best burger in town, only available at the bar. We normally sit at the bar, talk to the bartenders we know, have a few beers, hang out. Today I’ll order a burger without the cheese. Salad instead of fries. I won’t eat the bun because I’m not ready for gluten yet, but I won’t worry about whether there’s sugar in the salad dressing. I might have a cocktail, if something appeals. But I don’t feel overcome with a need to devour a burger and fries, as I often would before.

[Here's what happened: I had gin because it is - no joke - the most hypoallergenic booze out there. I also grossly underestimated the power of gin after 30 days of not drinking. Also, I hadn't eaten much that day by the time we ate around 5. Rookie mistakes, I know. Long story short, I had some bread and cheese with my meal, and in the end I felt worse about Too Much Gin than I did about the gluten and dairy. GREAT SHAME. I've had bread a few times since then, and MAN. I looked 6 months pregnant within a few hours of eating it. I am so bummed, let me tell you. A little gluten in soy sauce hasn't seemed to bother me, but bread? Pizza? Even sprouted Ezekiel bread? Forget it. Misery. I feel awful, my stomach is bloated and painful, I can't fall asleep. So, Big Gluten will be happening only when I'm prepared to pay the price for it.]

I feel grateful. It’s strange, in a way, but I didn’t fully grasp what a true reboot this would be. I mean, I KNEW it would be, but it’s been so long since I’d been in these better habits that I forgot what they felt like. I desperately wanted them back, but they felt so far out of reach. I am so very grateful that they don’t feel out of reach any more. I am grateful to be back in touch with my body, making conscious choices, and not being controlled by food.

I do still have to stop myself from automatically reaching for things sometimes. I stop myself and ask whether I really want it, whether it’s worth it. Often it’s not and I don’t eat it. I’m sure eventually I’ll get to a place where I ask myself that question subconsciously before reaching for something, but for now – at least I ask. I ask.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think that one prescribed way of eating works for everyone. And I don’t think that one thing that works for you will necessarily always work for you. Just like I used to be able to party all weekend and drink tons of gin and get 4 hours sleep and then get up and go the next morning, I can’t do that any more. My body has changed, what it can function on, how much it can function on, that’s all changed. And I’m certain it will continue to evolve.
I don’t think there is anything inherently bad with going into a month-long program with the intent of re-booting. It’s forcing me to be very intentional and purposeful with the decisions I make about what I put in my body, and I’ll be very honest with you: I needed that. Things had gotten away from me, and I needed to get the reins back firmly in hand.

I’m nervous about going off the program, yes, a bit. [I was nervous as the end neared, and I still feel like I'm getting my sea legs here, almost two weeks later.] But I also feel like a dog who has been trained so well on the leash that I’ll behave once I’m off of it. I am enjoying and looking forward to adding things back in and seeing what happens. I have noticed changes. I also did not see all the magic I was promised. I admit there are things I should have done better with. Sleep is number one on that list. Actually, that may be the only thing on the list. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. The thing is, I was expecting this to be a month of relaxation and restoration. But the truth is, it’s really really hard to cook three whole meals a day for a whole month, on top of an already busy life. It was nowhere near as relaxing as I had expected, and in many ways was just the opposite. There are so many things I wanted to do but didn’t. I promised myself I’d get my holiday thank you notes done and spoiler: I didn’t. I didn’t do a lot that was on my to-do list, other than complete Whole30. I feel like I spent all my time thinking about food, meal planning, shopping, cooking, and being sick. Yep, that will make a month go right quick. It also makes it hard to unwind at the end of the day, when you get home late from a doctor’s appointment or post-work yoga class, cook dinner, try to get some downtime with your husband, journal through your feelings and then suddenly when you meant to go to bed at 10pm, you didn’t. I will also admit that I didn’t prioritize sleep enough, and that’s on me. But I am okay admitting that I had a hard time finding a healthy balance. The truth is, Whole30 is a lot of work. It’s consuming. And mine wasn’t perfect (“perfect”), but I’m okay with that.

I also cannot discount being sick so much, and struggling with that. My allergies, my sinuses, my immune system: All of this works against me in ways others don’t have to deal with, so I suspect that’s also part of why I only briefly glimpsed the tiger blood. That said, in starting to take oregano oil and working on killing off my candida (more on that in a different post), I think that inhibited feeling tiger blood, too. I have some of the symptoms of die off: sore throat. exhaustion. constipation. bloating. I found it so strange that I’m suddenly experiencing – once again – the exhaustion that came early on in Whole30. Plus a sore throat while my sinuses are clear. Plus constipation when my digestion has been really pretty good – certainly better than it was before. Something clicked about candida, and I’ve been researching, googling, reading everything I can get my hands on. Sure enough, these symptoms settled in after I started daily doses of oil of oregano, which is supposed to help kill candida. Ugh, anyway, more on that in another post.

I also couldn’t work out much. I made it to my weekly yoga class 3 weeks out of 4. I think. Three times in one month, and let me tell you: At this point that feels like a victory. Understand that over the course of the last year my system for determining my well-being went like this: A) Do I feel well enough to go to work? B) When I get home from work, do I have enough energy to do something more than fall onto the couch or climb into bed?
When I did make it to work (and oh I used more sick time last year than I ever imagined possible, thank god thank god for a wonderful workplace), that was often all i could do. Zach would have to deal with dinner, feeding the cats, cleaning up, finishing laundry, doing any chores that needed doing. And several days of this in a row were often the only real indicators that I had another infection. Well, along with a sore throat and cough a lot of the time too, but all that lingered pretty much constantly. Just ask anyone who tried to have a conversation with me and the Blathering, and thought I was going to give them black lung.

So, I’m still on the road to better health. There’s still so much for me to learn. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I start adding things back in. I’m a little nervous about that, truthfully. I’ve missed my oats terribly and am glad to have them back. I don’t believe that one diet is right for everyone, but I do believe we are free and welcome to scavenge all the bits of wisdom thrown out by various people to cobble together what works best for us. And those decisions aren’t made in a vacuum, prescribed by someone else. They’re made by us, right in the thick of the mess that is our daily lives. We make the best choices for ourselves that we possibly can, and that’s all we can do.

The thing is, I think there is an awful lot wrong with the Standard American Diet. I think we were generally in better health when we listened to our parents and grandmothers and peers and did what had been done for generations, rather than listening to marketers and commercials and the next so-called expert to come along pedaling a book. That’s not to say that every person who does any of those things is WRONG, it’s just to say that they aren’t necessarily right, either. I really think we don’t know enough yet. Nutrition is poorly understood in many ways, and the more we learn the less we really understand. Is it a coincidence that when the low-fat craze hit in the 80s obesity shot up and we’ve been getting ever-unhealthier every year? I can’t believe it is. Marketers and food companies depend – literally depend – on selling us as many cheap, tasty calories as they can. (And I know this is all complicated by food deserts and availability and price and all that, oh I know. It’s so complicated.) We have more easy calories available to us at any time in human history, and we are unhealthier than ever. I mean sure, cavemen probably had terrible dental hygiene and died early of other diseases, but I mean as far as luxury diseases go: in our country (again, gross, sweeping generalizations here) we’ve pretty much gotten dental hygiene and vaccinations (ha ha not going there, let’s just gloss over that) and major diseases under control. So now we have diseases brought on by…eating too much? of the wrong things? Show me a caveman who died from eating too much of anything, except maybe poisonous berries his cavemen friends dared him to try. I know, this whole paragraph is RIFE with problems and other huge, glaring issues, but…that’s kind of where I’m going with this. It’s complicated, and oh so personal. Was it Michael Pollan who said that never have we spent so much time on the question “What should we eat?”, and never have we had more health problems? Because I think that sums it up right there.
No one can tell you what’s right for you. They can tell you the conventional wisdom, the new wisdom, THEIR wisdom. They can relay anecdotal experience. But no one else lives in your body. No one lives in MY body, except me. So I have to make the choices that make me as healthy as I can be. Whether that’s doing Whole30 for a month, doing an allergy diet, doing a Candida diet, trying vegetarianism, cutting out dairy, cutting out gluten, or otherwise finding foods that work for me. (And I have done ALL of that except the candida diet, which I’m currently considering.).
I’m going off this doing a lot of mulling. I am about to eat oats for breakfast for the second day in a row. We’ll see how it goes.
[I've been eating oats many days in a row and it is going GLORIOUSLY.]
Maybe I should change the header of this blog to that, eh? That’s the motto. We’ll see how it goes.
If you made it through this post, congratulations and I’m sorry. And thank you.
Thanks for all the love and support you’ve provided here. Don’t go anywhere, okay? Especially now that Food Lush has closed its doors, I need an outlet.
Tell me you remember this jingle? I’ll be right back. More soon.