Someone recently asked me about any dietary restrictions they might need to accommodate, and I felt utterly struck dumb. Sometimes you feel like you really can’t tell the whole truth. Because the whole truth looks something like this:
Things I think probably don’t make me feel great, but I’m not sure that they’re really part of the Problem:
Peanuts (ok, I know those don’t make me feel great)
Things that so far have reliably made me expand like a puffer fish and cramp painfully:
Things that I’m not sure what they do to me, except fill me with a sense of dread and make me not want to eat them:
Things that are under strong suspicion of bringing on fatigue and muscle aches:
Dairy (specifically, the protein, with a latency of about week)
Things that I think are okay, but I’m not 100% positive:
Things I’m slightly suspicious of, but am currently eating anyway:
chocolate (if it doesn’t have milk)
beans, maybe I am eating
This is only the things that I have supposedly tested. Never mind the long list of things I’ve yet to “test.” And none of this is conclusive. There are so many factors and interactions. Was it really the food you ate, or was it fighting off a virus, hormone fluctuations, the other food you also ate that you didn’t think you had to test, or actually the thing you added in last week? And if you think about it hard enough, is there really anything you can eat without affecting your digestion?
The thing is, I still have to try. Because so far the only thing I have conclusively proved to myself is that when I say, “Oh, whatever. This is probably not helping and way too much bother,” and go back to eating whatever I want, my health starts sliding down hill. At first mildly, tolerably. . .and then picking up speed and rushing toward crisis. And every time I get scared and drastically limit my diet, my health starts improving–gradually at first, but then dramatically. But without clear indication of what exactly it is that I shouldn’t be eating.
I don’t want this. I don’t want to have to limit my eating in the first place, and I certainly don’t want it to be this confusing or dragged out. It would be lovely if I could just say, “I just can’t eat X.” It would be lovely if I didn’t think this sorting out was going to have to last a good long while yet. It would be lovely if I could eat with other people, and not try to resist in the name of ambiguous and ill-defined restrictions.
But every time the slide toward ill-feeling begins, I remember sitting in my bed, rocking back in forth, having just been woken up by what I can only describe as feeling like there was a war going on in my body from head to toe. Wave after wave of revolt, wracking pain, paleness and trembling. And the quiet thought in the back of my head, “is this what it feels like when you’re dying?”
It scares me with the kind of visceral fear you have when you lose control of your vehicle and don’t know where you will wind up or in what kind of shape. Only the vehicle that I’m losing control of now is not a Honda CR-V on black ice with running water on top of it. It’s not something I can go down to the used-car dealership and replace. It’s a body where the only option is cumulative damage and progressive handicap and inability to function.
Or else. . .figure out why my body breaths such a sigh of relief when I stop eating almost everything. No matter how many months or years it takes to figure it out. And then I guess respect that. Or return to the darkness.