Up until the ripe old age of 40, I was a low-maintenance girl. Now some of you might have spit your coffee onto the screen and for that I apologize. Everything is relative and my low-maintenance status was achieved through my ability to eat and drink most things. Not iron-clad, but definitely never an issue, until all of that changed with the calendar.
So there I was, just turned 40 and almost overnight my body began to change and somewhat rapidly. I don't have enough fingers (or toes) to count the times over the years, femaie patients will start a sentence, "once I turned 40..." and I'm definitely one of them. For me it began slowly and because of that, the whole process to now, has been long. I chalk most of that up to a healthy dose of denial and procrastination.
Every now and again bloating and uncomfortable in the belly from over-eating/over-extending, turned into issues in the bathroom combined with gut-twisting cramping that usually occurred in the wee hours of the morning. It became more of a regular thing and turning to Dr. Google, (as most hypochondriacs are known to do far too often), I began visiting my doctor and gynecologist, trying to find an answer.
The one constant was that it was not going away, and at the duration of Passover* every year, I felt great. But I'd never maintain not eating bread and pasta, (and all the baked goods that I adore), and I'd end up back to bloated.
When my sister was first diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago**, I had my first colonoscopy soon after. I do haveIBS, (exacerbated by that dirty little secret that many people suffer from, internal hemmrhoids), but I don't have Celiac, so giving up gluten and later dairy, seemed highly drastic, even though I felt better when I wasn't eating it.
When Leslie's cancer came back this past December, everything literally went to shit. I bottomed out, (pun intended), and I'm quite certain I had a nervous breakdown*** at the end of January, although is it even called that anymore?
I hit bottom and I hit hard. I had to look at myself in a way so I could help myself and I hadn't a clue how to begin. I clung to M and my friends desperate for answers no one else could provide. I found my acupuncturist who saved me, (really) and I found a new GI doctor here, who listened.
Passover arrived around the time I went to Vancouver (for the first of my three stays), and it was on that trip that I finally gave in, accepting that what my doctor said about gluten sensitivity (and dairy), was truth and not just good advice to consider.
4 months later I'm learning. I've had some recent mishaps with both gluten and dairy and the answer is read the labels on everything. Just because it says soy cream cheese, doesn't mean there isn't milk. (How fucked up is that? Whey protein in soy cream cheese is not soy cream cheese.) And soy sauce. Dude, it's in everything, and a lot of things you wouldn't even think, like unseasoned, plain turkey jerky. I consider this recent string of mishaps to be reminders of why I need to be strict and how much better I really do feel now that I'm living gluten and dairy-free.
I have a gluten-free fairy who gifts me delicious gluten-free products and recently, turned me onto a bakery that is ah-mazing and makes me grateful that I live in Los Angeles, (it really is that good.) I'm a bit of a pain in the ass when it comes to restaurants, but I'm also determined to not be that pain in the ass, so I really do make do with what is on the menu and don't make a fuss unless someone asks. I like the challenge of working around the gluten-filled world and making it work.
I always wondered how people could give it all up and really, it hasn't been that hard because I feel so much better. I really don't miss much, (chocolate croissants, le sigh), and I find that I generally eat a lot less now, because there isn't so much mindless munching.
*in observance of passover, i'd give up eating anything that's leavened, (bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods, etc.) for the week.
**leslie was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago exactly. it always feels like someone has kicked me and then sucked the air out when i think about this...less than 50% of cancer patients diagnosed with leslie's stage of colon cancer make the two year mark. i still can't fucking believe she's passed away. how is it possible?
***i haven't really talked about hitting rock bottom this past january because it's very painful to talk about. it was a heavy, heavy time in my life and now, i can see the events leading up to my breakdown crystal clear. i gave away my power, every last drop of it, and i allowed new people and put myself into situations that fed into all of that. now, months later, i'm so grateful for everything that went down...i'm back to myself again, the kristen that i gave up on.