Wednesday, January 12, 2011

my reluctant enemy...

Food has become my enemy.

I have been trying to say this for a while.  I have asked for prayer.  I have begged for someone to help.  After several months, Christ, in His infinite mercy, has sent me two women in my new parish.  Today, help for my spirits, if nothing else, came my way, for which I am exceedingly thankful.  Still, as I sit here enduring nausea, I admit that I am embattled and discouraged.

Go back 20 months, I think, to when the nausea first began.  Seven months of little food until the medication conflict was found.  The hair loss, from which I have not recovered. The weight loss, from which my pancreas has not recovered.  And the discouragement, from which my heart has not recovered.

The dramatic weight loss spawned the insulin resistance and the devastating cycles of eating and then low blood sugar that was not low enough on the charts but low enough to greatly impact my quality of life.  Honestly, the only thing that I have eaten since I did start eating again that has made me feel good afterward is that Panera salad:  chopped chicken cobb.

Of course, that is because you have to factor in the low blood pressure that was creeping up on me.  I was injecting myself with sodium and really saving myself from a cardiac perspective.  The salad has a whopping 1320 milligrams of sodium and 38 grams of protein, or at least it did. The sodium is now showing at 1120.

But this bloody disease, dysautnomia, coupled with insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, and my blood pressure, has absolutely ruined food for me.  Me, Myrtle, the champion trencherwoman.  SIGH.

I eat things and they make me ill.  I take a medication that I have to have but which has essentially removed my appetite.  I eat things and they taste horrible to me, perhaps factor in MS wonkiness there.  I eat things and see no gain. 

So, it is easier not to eat.  But then I will have a day where I find myslf eating all day, trying to find something that is tasty or will make me feel better.  My weight drops and goes back up and drops more.  Bad.  Really bad.

Somehow, I am supposed to salt up my diet after spending my entire adult life avoiding salt since my family has a significant history of heart disease.  In my mind, if it is not "supposed to taste salty" (fries, bacon, ham), then "salty" is gross.  [Bettina and I greatly disagree on how peanuts should taste.  Hers are disgusting to me and mine to her.]

Things I use to love hold little interest, and some things I still enjoy make me ill.  Sometimes nausea.  Sometimes cramps.  Sometimes lower plumbing issues.  Sometimes this nebulous, general malaise that takes a while to pass.

A few days ago, I went out to eat with my new friend and was very excited to have a pile of chicken lo mein.  Before the meal was half-way done, I was battling to keep a smile pasted on my face. I kept eating, even though I was growing ill. I did not want to feel bad, but I wanted to weep in frustration.  She, however, is the one who is committed to finding a nutrition plan that will bring both benefit and enjoyment back to my diet, so I fooled no one.

Today, a woman told me that she spent five years ill due to a similar if differ confluence of medical events, including autoimmune disease.  I wanted to fall upon her neck and weep.  I restrained myself.  I did rather eagerly ask if I could take her to Panera's one day to pick her brain about what she learned.  And I inwardly died a bit at the thought of a five-year battle with food.  Mine is not quite two years yet.  How can I possibly endure another three?  Or even one?  Or a mere month, week, day?

She understood, though, my frustration with people who say, "Just eat something."  She understood the reluctant and sometimes sheer inability to consume food when you know you will feel ill afterwards.  She understood that I could be concerned about this and yet still avoid food.  She understood my fears about the dangers of not eating.  She understood.  She understood.  She understood.

For me, it was as if Jesus Christ was standing right before me telling me that He understood.

Sometimes I think MS has taught me to be hyper aware of my body.  Sometimes I think it is because I have not felt well since 1994.  I have not had a good day, no pain, no dizziness, no fatigue, no blurred vision, no nausea, no weakness, no shakiness, no...since then.  I can feel my heart rate drop. I know when my blood pressure is low.  I start to feel my blood sugar dropping once it falls below 90 or so.  Right now, typing this, I I know my heartrate is probably around 50 because the distance that comes over me has reared its head.  The pressure in my neck tells me I should get up and drink some Gatorade and much on some peanuts.  Of course, getting up would most like mean fainting until I remember--between the time I finish typing and actually arise--to move slowly.  Remember.  Sometimes the problem is simply remembering to eat.

Well, part of the new plan is 6-8 meals a day.  I already knew about that part, but didn't see how since I am not good at doing one meal a day.  Seriously, you know there is a problem when Taco Bell does not send me to chowing down on at least three items from the menu, if not four!  How am I going to eat this often if every meal is a battlefield?

Oh, how I am weary of this war.  I am heartsick over the loss of the joy of eating.  I do have good meals, lest I paint a completely bleak picture.  But good generally means no sick afterward.  Good rarely means actually tasty.  Good almost never means feeling well afterward.  My honest goal:  better tolerance.

From what I understand, it could be worse. It will most likely get worse eventually.  I hope and pray that my new friend can help stave off that day, can actually help restore some joy to the good gift of food our Creator has given to His creation.

I know that He desires good things for me and will provide all my needs.  I know this.  I just struggle to believe so these days when it comes to food.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

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