Today, I am happy. I am feeling hopeful and calm. It was only three weeks ago, when I had my monthly appointment with the Good Doctor, that I was in a very bad place. Physically, on top of the same old baseline hell, I was still in the death-grip of the perma-headache, which, at its worst, is my worst symptom. Also, I hadn’t had any relief for weeks from IBS-C symptoms (and I really underestimated the toll it was taking on my body). My husband and I were having a difficult time ~ he was (is) overworked and I was (am) needing his company since he’s the only one I see day in and out. I told the Good Doctor that I was feeling very low and kept thinking I didn’t want to go on. Not suicidal, exactly ~ I very much want to live; in fact, just last night I said I’d be a vampire in a heartbeat (no pun intended) to achieve immortality ~ but feeling like I couldn’t accept this illness and I wasn’t strong enough to face it every day for the rest of my life. I said I was ready to consider antidepressants.
That night, I slept terribly (more terribly than the usual) and, in the morning, I feared the worse. However, once out of bed, I was smiling for no reason. Just smiling at the new day. I physically felt lighter. I emotionally felt happier. It was an incredibly dramatic change from the day before. My husband and I had a good talk, my insides relaxed (constipation eased up, bloating disappeared), my headache was gone long enough for me to listen to music and laze in the sun. On every level, I felt different. I saw a future, I could imagine happiness within this illness. I stopped taking Chinese herbs to see if they were causing the headache (the results are not conclusive, but it’s definitely improved). I decided to stop going to therapy and, so far, that has been a good decision. The Good Doctor had, in all seriousness, told me that there were some crazy things going on astrologically but they’d be ending soon. She said something about Mercury in retrograde and some other odd star arrangement and told me there had been so many tumultuous occurrences with her friends and patients, that she had looked it up. I’ve given up all my skepticism. What do I know? My menstrual cycle follows the moon, just like the ocean tides. Who’s to say Mercury wasn’t casting a black cloud over my head? Especially after all my concentrated connectedness to celestial energy during meditation.
So, antidepressants are once again on the back burner.
Of course, the ups and downs continue. My period this month was so painful and made me so sick, that I was curled in a ball for days, wondering if I should go back on the birth control pill, wishing I had the nerve to get a hysterectomy, cursing the doctors who won’t test for hormonal abnormalities, tempted to try some hardcore opioids even though I know I have scary reactions to them…
My father came to visit and it was lovely. I was feeling okay, able to chat and play Trivial Pursuit (lying on my side in the recliner). But, on his last night, I had a meltdown. He had been asking whether I could eat Chinese food or Thai ~ just trying to decide what we were doing for dinner. I analyzed the meltdown for a long time. What made me retreat to my room to cry? Here’s what I came up with:
- I was overdue for a rest and was feeling exhausted and shaky.
- I had been sitting in the sun and was overheated.
- Meals are always stressful because my diet is so restricted.
- I didn’t want anyone to plan dinner around me when I might be too weak/nauseous/worn out to eat.
- I am guilty that I am such a high-maintenance person now. I want to be able to say, “Yeah, I like everything, I can eat anything. Get whatever sounds good.”
- The one thing I know for a fact that I react to is MSG and I have been told many times by restaurants that they don’t use MSG only to wake up the next morning blown up like a swollen Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman, unable to bend my fingers or open my eyes. I knew I could probably come up with something I could eat from a Thai or Chinese restaurant, but I’m scared of them. I stick to what I know (one of the blessings of working in restaurants was that I could read every label of every ingredient of every dish on the menu. One of the blessings of being the boss was I knew how clean the kitchens were; I could coach them to be as fastidious as I am about safe temperatures, cross-contamination and allergy info – plus, I could go in the kitchen and make myself food (don’t worry, all you chefs out there, I was very respectful of the line ;))).
- Finally, and worst of all, in those moments before I burst into tears, while I was trying to come up with something easy to order from a Thai restaurant, I realised I was at that point where THINKING feels like running through quicksand. True brain fog is very difficult to describe. I thought I was experiencing brain fog when I was having lapses in memory and difficulty concentrating, but, just like the total exhaustion I was feeling this time last year was nothing compared to the cellular energetic collapse I experience now, I had no idea how bad “brain fog” could be. You simply can’t think through an issue or problem or question. It is terrifying! What can I order from a restaurant? And then, blank, dense cloudiness. Start again: Food. Thai. Go! I think, Chicken, no sauce…. And then blank again. It’s just too difficult. What’s the question again? It’s like my brain is panting, out of breath. And, I guess, that’s what it is: the brain is not getting enough oxygen.
In the end, my family went out to dinner and left me to rest. They brought me home a delicious steak with a side of coconut rice and, now that I am on the new elimination diet, it will be the last red meat I have until who-knows-when. And that will be the last time I see my Dad until who-knows-when. Maybe, ultimately, that was the real reason for the tears… Knowing I had to say goodbye in a few short hours.