Archive | April 2014

The Abyss

In November of 2007, the words “they found a tumor” altered the course of my husband’s life, my life, and my children’s lives.  Those words started a two year journey to find a diagnosis, followed by several years of treatment attempts, horrible illness,  multiple hospitalizations, incredible stress and strain on our family, more questions than answers, and ultimately, the realization that this wasn’t ever going away.  In fact, it would only continue to get worse…his disease is progressive and incurable.  The roller coaster of emotions never stops, but I have learned a lot about myself, the people in my life, and life with a chronically ill family member.

 

For myself, this isn’t an easy journey.  People tell me all the time that I am an incredibly strong person.  I am strong because I have no choice but to be strong.  What would my alternative be?   I can choose to give up and stop living, or I can choose to be strong, do what needs to be done for my family, and be here for my husband.  I’m strong, but not infallible. I make a choice every day to laugh, enjoy my family, find a few things for myself that I enjoy, and try not to get sucked into the abyss of never ending illness.  However, there are a lot of struggles that I endure every day that people who haven’t ever been in this situation would fail to grasp.  People who haven’t lived this may even think less of me for feeling the way I sometimes feel.  You just can’t fully understand it unless you’ve lived it.

 

There are two emotions that play a constant role in my life…guilt and resentment.  I didn’t sign up for this.  Who would?   I have a lot of days that I resent what this illness has done to me, my husband and the life together that we will likely never have.  We won’t spend our later years traveling together, or going out and doing things with friends, or staying up late having interesting discussions.  Those things are few and far between for us already.  I know this isn’t anyone’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.  I feel resentful of friends and family members who WILL get to do those things, or who can go on great vacations, or who express worries about money when they are making two or three times what we are struggling to live on. I am resentful when I see other couples out doing things together.  I am resentful when I see other families with healthy Dads, actively engaging in activities with their children when my children’s Dad barely has enough energy to get through a quiet day at home.

 

The usual emotion followed by resentment is a big, healthy dose of guilt.  I feel guilty for feeling resentful of the illness, and other people who have an easier life.  I feel guilty for yearning for more from life. I would never wish this on anyone.  I am happy for people who are happy with life.  But sometimes I still resent it, which makes me feel guilty.  I have a lot of things to be grateful for.  I have a husband who loves me, three amazing children who I love more than life itself, some incredible friends, incredibly supportive parents, and many family members who have always been there for us.  I get it.  I have many good things in my life, too.  But that doesn’t take away the resentment and the guilt for feeling resentful.  It is what it is, but it doesn’t make it easier to accept.  Again, for people not in my shoes, this may be hard to understand.

 

I tend to keep my feelings to myself, and withdraw from people during my darker times.  I am an introspective person, and usually prefer to solve my own issues on my own, and in my own time.  I’m sharing this not because I want anyone to solve this issue for me, or because I’m looking for sympathy.  These are my issues that I deal with every day.  They aren’t right or wrong…they just “are.”  I’m sharing this so that people can maybe understand what it’s like to live this type of life.  There are many people out there feeling isolated, misunderstood, resentful, guilty and hopeless.

 

People often ask what  they can do to help a family or person dealing with illness.  They usually mean by actively doing things…making a meal,  or helping with a task.  There are other ways you can help.  You can help emotionally by letting them know that you are there if they need you.  You can help by realizing that your every day issues are issues they would give anything to have, rather than the stress they are living with on a long term basis.  You can help by including them in things so they don’t feel isolated.  You can also help by being sincere in your interest in how someone is doing.  Don’t ask if you don’t REALLY want to be a listening ear. It is noticed when you aren’t really paying attention to what someone is telling you.  You can help by listening without trying to give advice.  Advice is nice if it’s asked for, but mostly it’s just nice to be listened to and sympathized with.  When I feel as if I’ve been really heard, it makes a world of difference.  It makes the resentment and guilt go away for a little while.  It gives me hope.

Diet Delusions

I recently decided to eliminate wheat from my diet, and seriously restrict other grains as well.  I also decided to “give up” sugar.  By “give up,” I mean reduce the amount I consume on a daily basis from 5 pounds to 2 or 3 pounds.  Don’t laugh.  While I am exaggerating, giving up even a small amount of sugar is really, really hard for me.  That’s because it’s addicting…REALLY addicting.  And I like sugary stuff.  Remember, grains are sugar in disguise, so I’m almost insanely sugar free.  Thankfully, there are some wizards out there who have come up with alternatives to the white stuff, and they are just fabulous if you have no taste buds, whatsoever.

The first would be fake sugar…Equal, Sweet and Low, Natrataste, etc.  These are shitty tasting chemicals that cause cancer,  digestive issues, the bubonic plague, hangnails and other icky things that people tend not to enjoy.  There is also Stevia, the “natural” sugar alternative that people like to use because it’s much better for you.  Let’s be honest though…it gives food a nasty aftertaste that leaves me feeling that it’s nothing even close to sugar.  Stevia is okay in baked goods, but it’s atrocious in a cup of coffee.  I love my coffee, and I’ve tried hard to like sugar alternatives in my coffee, but I just can’t do it.  I still drink my coffee with good, old fashioned, white table sugar.  If that makes me unhealthy, then so be it.  Nobody messes with my coffee.

Another love of mine is ice cream.  There was a time, not so long ago, that I could and would eat a ginormous bowl of ice cream with either hot fudge or chocolate sprinkles piled on top.  It really is my favorite dessert.  I never get tired of it.  I could eat it every single night for the rest of my life and die a happy woman.  However, in my quest to lose weight, feel better, and be all around healthier, I have seriously restricted my ice cream intake to maybe once every few weeks (except for the past 3 nights because I made the mistake of buying mint chocolate chip and I hear it calling my name from the freezer at approximately 10 p.m. every night until it’s gone).  This morning, I stumbled across a suggestion by another wheat and sugar eliminator, to eat yogurt topped with strawberries for dessert because it’s “just like eating ice cream.”  Um, excuse me?  What kind of delusional, crack smoking, half wit has the nads to suggest that THAT would be anywhere close to the same as eating a bowl of ice cream?  The only thing even remotely close to ice cream, is friggin ice cream.  End of story.

There are numerous grain free desserts that call for ground flax meal.  I was so excited to try a chocolate muffin-in-a-mug one night, because I was PMSing and I wanted some damn chocolate.  It was really quick and easy to mix up and pop in the microwave for two minutes.  They suggested topping it with whipped cream, so I did.  It smelled heavenly.  I couldn’t wait to eat it.  I took one bite of that atrocity and nearly gagged.  It was like eating chocolate flavored coffee grounds.  I tried to like it for several bites.  I decided that it wasn’t fit for the dog.  I don’t care how good it is for me, I won’t bake anything with flax meal again.

One food that is allowed and encouraged when you eliminate grains and sugars from your diet is chocolate.  However, it should be 85% cacao.  The antioxidants are really good for you, and it’s low in sugar.  VERY low in sugar.  TOO low in sugar.  In fact, it’s nothing like a Hershey bar, or Dove chocolate, or kisses, or M&Ms, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  The “anti wheat people” claim that it’s such a wonderful treat.  They eat one whole square of it and are satisfied.  These people are freaks.  They shouldn’t be allowed to breed.  I will eat dark chocolate…the normal dark chocolate, thank you.  And I will eat more than one square.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am really enjoying the wheat free lifestyle, and most of the food is just delicious.  I feel great, have a lot of energy, and have started losing weight.  I don’t miss wheat, or other grains, and I’m okay with not eating most sugary stuff.  Sometimes, I fall off the no-wheat-no-sugar train, and that’s okay.  I’m not doing this to prove to anyone else that I can do it.  I’m doing this for me, and if I choose to drink my coffee with sugar, or eat a bowl of ice cream once in a while, or eat a Hershey bar with almonds one night, then I’m okay with that.  I don’t need to impress the non-wheat people, or the people in my life who point out that I’m not following my “diet,” or who think my way of eating is “just a fad.”  The point is, I’m a lot healthier, but I’m still enjoying a few of my favorite things.