The Best of Both Diets – a New Year’s Post

It is New Year’s Eve, 2018. If the idiots people down the road would stop setting off fireworks 48 minutes before midnight, I would be asleep right now. Hey, it’s been a new year in several other countries for well over 24 hours, already, so I don’t need any judgment. *Thanks.*

I’m ringing in 2019 with mysterious, full-body hives, allergies that decided to hulk up and overpower the prescription-strength meds I have to take twice a day – year-round – for them, muscle cramps in my arms, back, and legs that feel like someone hooked the electrodes of a contraction simulator to me when I wasn’t looking (then turned it up full blast) and bone pain. There isn’t much more to say about bone pain. Anyone who has felt it knows there is nothing like it – in a bad way – and anyone who hasn’t would think I was exaggerating.

All of this is, sadly, normal for me. I don’t mean all of my symptoms are constant and unchanging. No; that would be too easy. The symptoms are rarely ever the same from day to day unless I’ve let things get so bad that I’m in a full-on flare up, and the only thing that can stop that is Jesus and a hefty dose of steroids. (Please don’t message me and tell me about how your cousin’s sister-in-law’s brother’s girlfriend’s dad’s best friend’s godson cured his GI disease with a mixture of probiotics and platypus extract enhanced with the DNA of 17 different dinosaur species and that the first month of the subscription to the product is half off the original price – or any other variation of that. Just don’t.)

It is normal for my system to get so out of whack after the holidays. Basically, it becomes toxic.

I don’t mean like when a person goes septic, although if I pretended I didn’t notice any changes in my body and went on about life I could get to that point pretty easily.

I mean toxic. My red and white blood cells are living in a smoggy atmosphere that rivals India’s most polluted cities or the sludge of the Ganges River. My guts have never been the kind I could trust. And one of our dogs keeps sniffing my right eye, then licking it and growling, then backing away. That’s probably not good.

When I get to this point, I do what any trendy American would do – I detox via herbal teas and a new, raw/organic, cost-inefficient diet. There are those who ask, “If you can change your diet to get better, why don’t you just eat that way all the time so you don’t feel bad to begin with?”

That is a great question.

I like to counter it with one of my own: have you ever tried feeding a healthy, mostly raw, organic diet to a high functioning child on the spectrum whose sensory indicators manifest themselves not only tactilely and visually but also gastronomically, and who loves tomatoes and peas but no other vegetables, considers dessert an emotionally non-negotiable and non-optional staple, Little Debbie cakes well-rounded breakfast food, refuses to eat protein unless it’s a $25 New York Strip or country-style ribs – and occasionally chicken but only if it is literally covered in bread/pasta or at least served with a surplus of it – while also feeding two other grown adults, three dogs with special dietary needs (because we can’t just have a normal dog who eats the Ol Roy from TSC), and occasionally an 18-year-old girl claiming to be your eldest even though she shows up only once or twice per month, all while sticking to a strict grocery budget of preferably less than $1,000 for the month even though nothing is in season because it has been one of the wettest years to date in the area so winter produce suffered, and oh I forgot to mention it but for a family of four who tends to be on-the-go 24/7, all while juggling the exhaustion that comes from working a full-time job, parenting, and battling the fatigue of auto-immune issues? No? Huh. Weird. It is super fun, especially when the groceries still have to be made into actual, edible dinners. If you love adventure, hate having money in your bank account, if the good Lord needs to sand off some of those “rough edges” your church family talks about, or if you’re simply a masochist bent on seeing how much frustration you can handle before you become obsessed with total self-annihilation, well – have I got a deal for you! And as Effie Trinket likes to say, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Here’s the other reason why I don’t eat that way all the time, and it’s even better!

I have chronic diverticulitis and I have Crohn’s disease, which means my immune system is trash and my body can’t figure out the difference between good stuff and bad stuff so it likes to wage war upon itself in a “kill ’em all” kind of way. Apparently, having the two together is fairly rare. I am either a unicorn or a chupacabra. Or a chupacorn, or a unicabra. Or it fluctuates. I haven’t decided.

The diets for those two conditions are completely different. One is high-fiber, with large quantities of whole grains, seeds, and nuts thrown into it, while the other is low- to no-fiber with zero whole grains, seeds, or nuts.

Here’s the catch: if I eat either one of those diets, it exacerbates the other condition. It is lose-lose. Basically, food is trying to kill me.

potatoes fun knife fork
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

That is melodramatic. I won’t actually die because of the food.

Probably.

I did get so malnourished once that I had to have IV nutrition, all the important vitamins/minerals, when I was in college. My mom drove me several hours one way so I could get the treatments, and we went multiple times. They could only do one or two per day. I would not give it five stars or recommend to a friend. It is more boring than trying to read an encyclopedia backwards, and liquid magnesium makes you feel like you’ve peed your pants, but the nurses don’t like it when the patients walk around the family waiting room with the IV stands attached to them and ask people where the bathroom is. Who knew?

I have to do something to cleanse my system but still have the energy to function. That means a full-on water fast is out of the question for the immediate future. So today, as my final act of 2018 related to my health, I decided to pull up the approved shopping/food lists for both diets and circle the items they both had in common. I received both lists from a GI specialist and I figure, if I eliminate the foods that are unique to one of the afore-mentioned lists but not both, and buy only what’s left after I have cross-referenced them, I’ll have a list of safe foods my defective GI tract can tolerate that are also healthy and will help me rebalance my PH levels and immune system. I. Am. Genius.

So far, I’m down to the following:

  • raw, organic, unsweetened peanut butter (creamy – no actual pieces of peanuts)
  • an occasional serving of poultry – twice a week is plenty
  • air.

Also, I hate peanuts and only tolerate the butter form, so I’m happy to live without the peanut butter.

What I’m saying is, I was able to narrow the lists down into one to make shopping manageable. (I’m working on being more positive… pray for me.)

On a good note, I am allowed to have some herbal teas and coffee is not considered blasphemous to the healthy lifestyle as long as I drink it black and have no more than one serving per day, which is not an actual serving in my world, but whatever. We have a new detox tea to give me some beverage options and I tried it this morning. My incredibly supportive and tolerant husband is even drinking it to help his body detox, too, in a sign of solidarity, and we came up with a nickname for it – a pet name, as it were.

We call it…

…wait for it…

…warm flower water.

white ceramic teacup on white surface
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Yes, it tastes exactly like it sounds.

So today, to wrap up 2018, I sat at my desk with my warm flower water, my healthy grocery list consisting of chicken and air, and a modem that wears a women’s US Size 7 ballet flat on the front so I don’t have to watch the blue and white lights blinking in chaotic anti-rhythm. It is leopard print, in case anyone is wondering. It’s a chic yet trendy modem. I don’t know if the sense of satisfaction I got from my decision was real or if it was the product of my hydrocortisone cream starting to kick in, but I feel new resolve about my health. I’m optimistic. I bet there are even more flavor combinations of warm flower water out there that I don’t even know about. My possibilities are endless!

And now, the fireworks have finally stopped, so I can sleep. May 2019 be the best year, yet, filled with enough flower water for everyone and copious everyday adventures!

toast party ball cheers
Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

On Horses, Hijinks, and What Happens When I Go Home

So, I was super busy with life and parenting and life and stuff over the weekend, but in case you missed it, here’s what happened:

Saturday: the Kentucky Derby

Sunday: Mother’s Day

Here’s the thing: the Kentucky Derby is one of my favorite days/things (ever) that we do in my home state. We grow up with it; Kentucky children learn “My Old Kentucky Home” when we’re in elementary school.  (Granted, many do forget the words – that song is crazy long – but we all know the tune and they put the words on the TV screens before the derby, so we’re good.) The boutiques on every Main Street in the state carry derby hats almost year-round, but they stock up around Valentine’s Day and keep adding to their stock until the week of the big event. Some women – you know, the ones with lots of local friends – even have “hat parties,” which is really an excuse to drink mint juleps, mimosas, and sangria, buy out the floral/ribbon stock at the local Hobby Lobby, and get crazy with a glue gun for the sake of creating a one-of-a-kind (and usually fallen-apart-in-the-humidity-and-revelry-of-the-actual-day) crowning glory. For three weeks before the race, Louisville is in Kentucky Derby Festival mode, offering more than 70 events that include things like one of the nation’s largest half-marathons, a steamboat race, the Pegasus Parade, a concert series on the waterfront of the Ohio River, and the largest annual fireworks show in North America – Thunder Over Louisville. We bring out the Hot Browns, the burgoo, and Mint Juleps, and we celebrate our heritage and the launch of the US Triple Crown.

All of this is to say that this year, I’ve been reminded of a time a few years ago, around Derby week, when I was visiting my parents’ place with my family and we were out riding the horses. They used to take in retired thoroughbreds and exercise horses alike, and had a couple other quarter horses and one cutting horse (he was my favorite – I won’t lie). Our son was about 5 years old, our daughter was 10, and my 6-year-old niece was there, too. They were all taking turns riding with my mom, my brother, and myself. Everything went well for about an hour, then before we went inside the house, Trenton (our youngest) asked if he could ride by himself.  We negotiated, since that’s his favorite thing to do, and we agreed that he could ride on Classy, our most docile quarter horse, if I had the lead rope and walked him around so the horse wouldn’t go too fast.

Unfortunately, all we had was a training lead rather than a standard lead (training leads are much longer to allow the horse more movement), so we had to wrap it into a coil a bit to shorten its length.  Also unfortunately, when I handed the coiled lead to my brother while I was dealing with the saddle, he set said lead on the ground as I was adjusting the stirrups and getting Trenton settled. Classy was moving only slightly as she grazed and waited for me to finish, but when she moved her front right foot, she got it tangled in the lead rope.

(Note: we probably should have done better at adulting and made better decisions. It happens.)

I don’t know how much you know about horses, but they can shy away from things and panic if they can’t see what’s happening. They’re tall, and it’s not easy for them to just look down at their feet, so when something gets wrapped around their foot – say, a lead rope – they don’t know if it’s a harmless rope or if it’s a copperhead (both wildly prevalent in these here parts). Needless to say, Classy was not pleased.  She did okay, though, just prancing a little bit, chestnut flanks twitching and gleaming in the sun but otherwise calm, and I told Trenton to hold onto his reins and pommel while I took care of her for a minute and talked to her. I had soothed her pretty well after a second or two, but my idiot brother then broke rule number one when working with horses: he rushed up to her in a panic of his own because he wanted to unwrap the rope and keep Trenton safe. (This is still a bit frustrating for me, of course, for two reasons: one, we were raised with horses basically from birth and both of us know better than to do that, and two, my son was on that horse.)

Feeding off his panic, the horse bolted, Trenton seated firmly atop her. My mother and I still had hold of the lead rope and were trying to pull her head down to calm her, but Mom lost her grip and stumbled right as I dug in my heels, and Classy, rearing and screaming, pulled the rope out of my fingers (leaving 2nd degree rope burns in its wake, because I despite multiple college degrees I was not smart enough to wear gloves).

Then everyone else panicked. My brother started running after Classy (idiot, like he could catch her), my sister-in-law grabbed her daughter and mine and pulled them out of harm’s way (obviously smarter than her husband), and I started yelling for Trenton to hang on and not let go no matter what…

…until the remainder of the lead rope that had gotten wrapped around my leg during the struggle pulled taught and dropped me onto my face into the field, cutting off all my air and sound. Classy then proceeded to drag me over a hundred yards across the paddock (think about that for a moment…yeah, it was as gross as you imagine).

I managed to flip onto my back and remove my shoe, on which the rope was stuck, so I got free as the horse continued to gallop across the field. I started sprinting (rapidly hobbling) for the barn that bisects the center of the field while Trenton and the still-panicked Classy took a sharp turn at the far corner of the fence and came barreling across the ground toward the opposite side of the barn. By the time they were halfway across the field, I noticed our other quarter horse, Sage, galloping toward Classy. He’s the Alpha in the group, so my wonderful and clearly-more-intelligent-than-her-eldest-son mother had released him from his stall and slapped his flank to send him running to Classy. He corralled her back to the barn and escorted the panicked mare to her stall, Trenton still hanging onto the reins, his knuckles as white as his sun-bleached blond hair.

I was taking stock of possible injury, gauging everyone else’s reaction so we didn’t scare any of the other horses, and soothing my crying daughter – who couldn’t tell me why she was crying since everyone was fine – when I saw and heard what followed.

Once Classy was settled in her stall and sniffing through the feed in her bucket, Trenton, oblivious to the chaos behind him when his mighty steed (okay, mare) bolted, had thrown his leg over the saddle, slid down to the ground gracefully, and had run out of the stall with bright eyes and a huge grin. He went straight to the barn door to my sweet, calm mother, reaching up to her to be picked up and saying with all the excitement in his little heart, “Mimi! Mimi! Did you see that?! I was on that horse on that saddle and I had the reins and she went so fast and I rode her fast as fast as she could go all the way around without letting go and I did it all by myself!”

To which Mimi (she’s too southern and too young to be called Grandma, she says) replied, “You sure did,” and patted him on the head.  She is and always has been eternally graceful, calm, and collected. (I do not take after her, in case you’re wondering.)

Then Trenton, without bothering to notice anyone else, asked Mimi if he could have a cookie, switching topics as children do, and she walked him and the girls to the house.

And honestly? I’ve never laughed so hard, because what looked to us like impending tragedy was the most brilliant and fun day of his life, and he had no idea what was happening just behind him.  You know how I know that? He looked at me this past Saturday – over 6 years later – while we watched Nyquist, his favorite (his school number is 13, like the thoroughbred), win the Run for the Roses and said, “Hey… do you remember that time we went to Mimi’s and I rode that one horse real, real, real fast all by myself?”

I said of course I remembered. Who could forget?

Then he said, “I bet I could ride in the derby with Nyquist and win all by myself, too. I would ride even faster than I did at Mimi’s!”

So of course I said, “You sure would,” and then I patted him on the head.

All of My Selves Are Crazy and We’re Cool With That

Since learning to adult over the past couple of decades, it has come to my attention how often absolutely stupid thoughts wander from around the bend of the ol’ cerebrum, spin around a few times in the frontal lobe, and then meander on through the cracks in the brain-to-mouth filter to vocally exit the building before I realize what’s happened.  (Wow, was that a crazy long sentence or what? Sheesh.)

For example, I’ve found myself saying things as a parent like, “No, sweetie, we don’t lick the dog’s face,” and, “Please don’t set that opened SlimJim down on the concrete to play with your friend, then pick it up and eat it again.” (At which point the other progeny – the teenager – said, “I don’t know why you waste your time saying that. You know he’s going to,” and I responded with a sigh and, “I know, but I have to at least try.”)

There are also random things like, “Alanis Morisette was the Taylor Swift of my generation,” which for some reason came to my mind while the song ‘Honky Tonk Rock and Roll’ played on my car radio, because clearly all three of those have worlds in common.  Add to that the fact that I now work from home (which is an absolute delight, by the way – an absolute delight) so I don’t really have office mates and my propensity for talking to myself conversationally has increased exponentially, and well, Houston, we have a problem.

I first became bothered by this a couple of months ago when I realized I was no longer talking to my dogs as if they are dogs but instead started conversing as if anthropomorphizing them was the same as, say, chatting at a coctail party or arguing with a family member.  We’d go on walks and they’d do something utterly canine, normal, and stupid (like try to crap in someone’s front yard when I hadn’t brought a bag) and I’d spout off nonsense like, “Stop being such a douchebag! You’re doing this on purpose to get me in trouble with the HOA! How will you feel when we’re banned from walks and you only have a 3 by 5 square of dirt to do that in, huh? HUH?” and then pause as if waiting for an answer. Because clearly we would be banned from being in public because of my dog answering nature’s call and not because the crazy lady who looks like the female unibomber thinks her dogs are people.

Right.

Then last week I seriously lost it while working (because yes, working from home does mean you actually have to work, contrary to popular belief – I average about 45 hours every five days).  What happened?  Well, it went something like this…

*Begin scene*

Me: *typing notes into database*

*suddenly remembers has a phone call scheduled 2 minutes ago and frantically searches for number*

*can’t find number and starts to panic, made worse by being startled when calendar reminder pops up and makes loud noise*

*knocks three pens, two pencils, and a notebook off of desk*

*tries to clean up mess but ends up knocking computer mouse off of desk, too, and it falls so hard it unplugs from computer and rolls into hard-to-reach corner where my T-rex arms can’t go*

Me (as I straddle desk and contort my no longer young body trying to reach mouse): “Argh! Get your sh** together! Get. It. Together. You. Idiot. You. Work. From home. And should. NOT. BE. HAVING. SUCH. STUPID. PROBLEMS.”

Me: “SHUT UP! Worry about yourself! No one needs all your negativity!”

Me: “YOU shut up! Stop being such a moron and learn to adult, already!”

Me: “UGH! I HATE YOU!”

Me: “You’ll effing get over it. Now, seriously, shut up. I’m TRYING to work, here! AND HURRY UP AND GRAB THAT MOUSE BECAUSE I NEED IT!”

*end scene*

I would love to tell you that this is fiction. I would also love to tell you that Chris Hemsworth finally saw the light, left his gorgeous and talented wife, and asked me to run away with him and live the rest of our sun-kissed days together in paradise and that the hubs was totally cool with that.  I would also like to be able to look at people with a straight face and say Trump will be a great president if the brain-dead multitude decides to vote him into office.

All would be flat-out lies. (And okay, really I don’t wish I could say that about Trump. Even I have limits, faint though they may be.)

And since it’s not fiction, and since this bottle of $9 red wine is surprisingly delicious, I’ve decided to embrace all my versions of me, and we’ve agreed on a temporary truce for now as I embody the crazy that is us.

At least until the hubs wants to know when the dishes will be washed. Because when that happens, those bee-otches are going down. I work 45 hours a week; those other freeloading fatties can start pulling their freaking weight or get the eff out.