A Balance: Living Like an 80 Year Old and Living Like a 20 Year Old
After posting the second blog post, many of my very close friends who I tell everything and anything to were all texting me saying things like, “omg I did not know it was that bad,” or “that’s insane I had no idea.” My friends knew that I always ate very “healthy” and ate lots of vegetables and salads. They knew that I didn’t eat gluten and didn’t often eat many sweets. They knew that I was not their go-to girl for a greasy pizza at late night rey’s. They knew that I always took my “stomach pills” everyday and my bag of pills was an essential item when traveling. They knew that sometimes I would have to leave parties a little early or lie in bed some days because “my stomach was hurting.”
This was pretty much the extent of what they knew about my health. I didn’t purposefully keep it a secret from anyone and it’s not something that I didn’t want to talk about or acknowledge, but it was just easier. If anything, it’s more frustrating and maddening. Like I want to shovel my face with chicken alfredo just as much as the next person and get Domino’s at 2 in the morning but that is not the case for me so I downplayed it.
I wanted to avoid having to explain that those stomach pills were powerful herbs that helped soothe my tummy pain. And when I did try to explain it in the briefest and most simple of terms, people often looked at me like WTF are you on? Herbs? As “medicine?” Ummmm … Do you want to have to explain that to someone? You sound like an absolute whacko that believes in voodoo sh*t. So I just stuck to, “my stomach is bothering me,” instead of going into detail. Or when someone would ask why I didn’t want to eat dessert, I would say “that’s going to bother my stomach.” Instead of saying, “there’s a 99% chance that this chocolate chip cookie turns me into a blow fish because my body doesn’t have enough stomach acid or digestive enzymes to digest the ingredients in it which will lead to extreme bloating, discomfort, pain, fatigue, and a laundry list of problems.” If I were you, I’d look at me like who is she and what happened to her that made her so insane? So naturally I just stuck to my simple line of it bothering my stomach.
People didn’t know about my stomach problems because (1) it’s kind of a lot to break down when you know that the person can’t really relate and you’re on the spot in the middle of a conversation (2) I wanted to be “normal.” No girl wants to turn into a rolly polly after eating- it’s literally some girls' worst nightmare. (3) I never, ever, ever wanted people to feel like they have to accommodate me or have special food for me to eat. I am very good at rolling with it. When I’m in the comfort of my own home with a plethora of groceries, my own kitchen and can do whatever I want- yes I cook my vegetables, sip my tea, drink the bone broth, make foods that agree with me, and live like I am a 75 year old woman. However, if I lived like this all the time and let it control my life, I would live a very sad, boring, and lonely life. And that’s the last thing I want to do so I don’t. When I travel, eat out, am at someone’s house or anywhere besides my house, I go with the flow. I eat what’s available and I roll with it. Yeah maybe I wouldn’t normally eat five slices of cheddar cheese when I’m in my house but if I’m at a party and there’s a bomb charcuterie board- not gonna lie, probably going to hit that pretty hard and avoid what I know will absolutely not end well- gluten. Yes, I preach about bad ingredients and always cooking your vegetables and avoiding processed foods, but that is not always reality and what’s available. So, maybe the next day I wake up with tummy pain or blow up into a balloon. But I’ve learned that’s okay and I will be okay and as much as it is hard and frustrating and sometimes brutal, I’d rather gamble with some pain that I know will pass than have to miss out on life.
(4) I never wanted people to bend over backwards for me. I hate feeling like I get special treatment because I have stomach problems. It is so kind and generous when people go out of their way to think of me and sometimes, I won’t lie, it’s great. Most times, I just want to fit in with everyone else. When my Mom buys a box of gluten free munchkins for me and everyone in my family knows to keep their paws off of them, I’m definitely happy about that. When people feel like they have to make me a different meal or feel bad that they didn’t know and make a big deal about it, it’s totally okay, I can make it work. People are so nice and more than willing to help but I’ve grown pretty numb to missing out on foods or wishing I could eat certain things.
(5) I never want people to feel bad for me. The classic, “I’m so sorry you can’t eat this bread.” Please do not be sorry in any way. You feel bad that I can’t eat the bread but I am absolutely thrilled knowing that not eating the bread will make me a much happier person. After two years of not eating bread, I’m kind of immune to it and pass it around like it’s just a bland glass of water. So you go ahead and indulge in the bread and I will sip my water until my salad comes and we will both be happy as ever. I mean I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that when I am absolutely ravenous and hangry, there aren't thoughts in the back of my mind that say, “Feeling a little crazy and risky, should I just see what happens and eat the sourdough.” The answer to that is no. A very definitive and hard pass on the bread. Most times I am referred to as the skinny b*tch who doesn’t eat the bread and only gets a salad but let it happen. I make up for it in other ways.
(6) I never wanted people to see me in a different way. I feel like when someone says they are sick or something happened to them, people look at them just a tiny bit differently. Maybe they praise them more or treat them just a little more delicately. I know I do that. I’m not exactly proud of it and I try to correct it in my mind, but I think we’d all be lying if we said our views of that person don’t change in the smallest way. But I’m really not different at all. I’m not sick. I have my health and live my life. No one has to tiptoe around or feel bad when they’re eating bread in front of me. I had one too many cases of strep throat, was prescribed too many antibiotics which ruined my stomach, and now my stomach gets a little angry at me when I eat certain foods. The only difference between you and me is that yeah I’m probably not going to house the bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos that you might and I’ll probably avoid eating the big bowl of ice cream, but if we’re being totally honest, has anyone ever felt their most amazing and best self after doing so? Probably not sis.
So I guess the bottom line to this post, rant, information session, or welcome to my life is that I’m still whoever I was to you before you knew about my stomach and bowels :) (mmmm such a glamorous topic). Take everything I say with a grain of salt. I can explain to you the reasons why xanthan gum and vitamin A palmitate (which is found in so many things like Almond Breeze almond milk) are bad for your gut and that I usually make my own almond milk using a blender, water, and nut butter to avoid this. BUT, take it with a grain of salt and realize it is not something that is doable 100% of the time. If I’m getting a nice handcrafted latte from Nero, you best believeee I welcome the Almond Breeze almond milk.
By all means please don’t feel like you can never ask me about it or bring it up- I actually love to talk about it. I am the type of person to not talk about any of my issues unless someone asks because I’m always under the impression that no one cares (I am now realizing that is not the case at all) so please ask away.