Friday, May 8, 2009

One of the sickest days I remember consisted of me laying in my bed for nearly 24 hours, only getting up to potty or to TRY and find something I could eat that wouldn't bring on the extreme nausea and/or vomiting. I drank a LOT of 7-Up and Canada Dry in the weeks before the diagnosis. I am a BIG fan of Coke, but I couldn't stomach it when I was really sick. Same went for coffee.

I continued to lose weight and people who knew me were very worried. I was very worried. My husband kept trying to get me to eat - "just a little bit to get your strength back." I tried to tell him that I used up more strength when I was throwing my socks up because of what I'd eaten. Still, I understand his feeling of helplessness. Men fix things. And things out of their control can be very scary.

But to be compliant, and because I knew what he said was true - I really DID need to eat - I began to eat a lot of Campbell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup. And wow - did I ever put away the Keebler Saltine Crackers. After all, isn't that what everyone recommends to someone with an upset stomach? Looking back I realize now that all I was doing was throwing fuel on the fire. Campbell's Soup - not a good choice. Saltine crackers - a really BAD choice.

But who knew?

I've never been a member of the "Food Is My Enemy" club, but after losing 15 pounds I quickly signed up as the President. I was hungry, but my brain processed the food first and I had such a fear of the outcome that sometimes my brain overrode my stomach and shut down the hunger. It was a viscious cycle:

I'm hungry.
I want food.
Food makes me sick.
Being sick makes me hate food.

Then my stomach would start grumbling again..."I'm hungry."

For most of my life I was the one who everyone envied when it came to eating and gaining weight. I could - and did - eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. I mentioned in an earlier blog that a lot of people thought I was a secret bulimic. Ha! If only they knew what I would go through to avoid throwing up. I hate everything about throwing up.

And what my hubby & I didn't realize at the time was that no amount of eating would have gotten my strength back. Turns out I had severe iron-deficiency anemia that required an iron infusion - now that was a F-U-N day! When I had a pretty bad reaction to the iron (only one in 100 react, they had told me), hubby had just left me to go to the bathroom. When he came back it was to a beet-red wife with two nurses and a doctor hovering over her. He looked like he could have benefited from a blood transfusion right about then. The day before that he had taken me for the small bowel biopsy to confirm the Celiac Disease and here we were a day later at the Cancer Center ready for an all-day process of iron infusion. It was a busy week!

It turns out the iron deficiency anemia was a blessing in disguise, because it pointed the doctors in the direction of Celiac Disase. Damaged villi in the the intestines don't allow nutrients (including iron, and iron supplements) to be absorbed into the bloodstream. And from there comes the iron deficiency.

Looking back I can say for certainty that I've learned some things.

1. Not everything can be cured with chicken soup.

2. The brain is a powerful organ when it comes to seeking comfort.

3. I will be careful how I define myself as "sick" from now on. I thought I knew sick before, but it turns out that sick and I had only had a passing acquaintance before I got SICK.

Well, I'm ready to start the weekend. I need to get some food planning done and I also need to do nothing but veg out for awhile too. I still have Gray's Anatomy unwatched on my DVR - I hear it was a good one.

Wish they'd get a character with Celiac at Seattle Grace. Or maybe Dr. House could have a complex case that turned out to be Celiac Disease. Or a new character falls from the sky on Lost and he or she is gluten intolerant.

So many little time.


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