Saturday, January 31, 2015

Catching a Pee Break

I'm officially experimenting with IC trigger foods! With success!

I'm a little afraid that by writing this post I'll be jinxing myself, but in the past week I've eaten moderate amounts of soy, chili powder, cinnamon, and tart apples and over the next week, if all continues to go well, I plan to try more soy, more spices, and eventually onion and citrus. I am really excited by the idea of being able to have lemon in my tea again.

I really thought that flare would never end. It lasted over six months, and I felt every moment. I'm really trying to temper my hope because I may not be able to have certain foods ever again, and I've got to be prepared for surprise symptoms. Even if every ingredient comes back clear, I'm going to be really wary of acidic and spicy foods for a long time, and will only very, very gradually increase them in my diet. I don't plan to ever drink alcohol again, for both migraine and IC reasons, but caffeine I may consider adding back as a very rare rescue head-med.

I had to pee in the middle of writing this and I expected to feel pain. It's just been going too good. I can't imagine if my migraines ever went away, would I still be psychologically driven to run from light and noise, after so many years of them being intolerable? Nah, I'd go to every outdoor music festival I could, who am I kidding?

And so it will be with the IC. I might just eat salsa again, with some luck and bravery.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hippocrates May Have Been On To Something

I learned to cook out of necessity, and I didn't always enjoy it. It was a chore; I didn't have any real skills or knowledge, so I used a lot of prepackaged foods, and there was inevitably a huge mess at the end of preparations that no one wanted to clean up. Oh, the humanity.

As a child I rarely helped in the kitchen, save for shucking corn or peeling garlic, which I enjoyed mostly. I also was in charge of the crescent rolls on holidays, which felt like an awesome responsibility, though they were the pillsbury kind in the tube so the hardest part was remembering to set the a timer while they baked.

As I got older, and particularly after I moved out and was able to rebuild a real relationship with my stepdad, he and I started shopping for groceries and cooking together. We made lasagnas and soups and ravioli and potatoes au gratin, and I learned to clumsily chop vegetables (I insisted on using a steak knife for ages) and how long to cook them. I made complicated, intimidating dishes by simply following the steps of a recipe, and I learned how to tweak that recipe to suit my own tastes.

I started experimenting a little more in my own kitchen, but was still shy of herbs and spices, and rarely touched the cookbooks on my shelf, instead relying on boxes and cans and plenty of oil for frying. Most of what I made tasted good, and got me more motivated to learn, because I am nothing if not picky about how food tastes, so gaining control of that ability was like magic to me.

But what really got me cooking was getting sick. The more I read about migraines, the more I realized that the preservatives, processed foods, and artificial ingredients I was eating could be having a direct affect on my head. I was embarrassed to note I hadn't intentionally eaten a green vegetable in who knows how long, besides perhaps the occasional dressing-soaked salad.

I wasted so much produce that first year. Cooking it badly, forgetting about it, or being too sick to cook for a week or more and finding it rotten soup in the fridge far too late; I hated throwing food out, but this was not food anyone could eat. My turning point was the discovery of green smoothies, and I went through a phase of several months of drinking my liquefied greens every morning, with fruit to taste of course. It was a revelation, and my body felt so much healthier. I resolved to learn to cook better, despite how bad I was at it or exhausting it was or how big a mess I had to clean at the end of it all, because I really liked feeling stronger, and it was clear food had a power that I'd never credited it with before.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.


So, I kept cooking and I got better at it. It took a few years of accumulated knowledge - of reading cookbooks, taking nutrition classes, hours and hours of internet research, and even more spent in the kitchen making mistakes - for me to be as comfortable and confident with food as I am now. I'm able to improvise and try new ingredients without a hint of fear. I know how to fix mistakes and when to toss it and start over with no regrets. I'm still endlessly searching the internet for techniques and ideas, new and improved or old and perfected ways of cooking that will make my mouth and body happy. I would even like to take classes, under the right circumstances. That's the best part about this hobby, besides the edible rewards, there's always something new to learn.

I consider myself really lucky to have the comfort I do with cooking, especially after being diagnosed with IC. So much of this illness revolves around diet, if I didn't know how to cook I'd be miserable. Either I'd be eating nothing but questionable veggies and rice or I'd have given up entirely on the diet and gone the route of drastic medical intervention. I'm not trying to judge or look down upon people who do live like that, because we've all got our own circumstances and make our own choices, but I'm truly appreciative that I'm able to manage my IC (and my migraines, for that matter) the way I do.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I am fed up with other people.

While I often feel lonely and isolated way up here in the forest, the interactions I have make me want to never leave.

Whether I've gained, lost or maintained the exact same weight for years, there are some people who greet me every time with, "You look thin!" or some derivative, as if it's a compliment. This is not how I want to relate to people in my life, but I'm not sure how to get them to stop without making it awkward.

I mentioned I just turned 36, and everyone I've told in person is making weird age comments like, "Is that all?", "36 years young!", and "It's just the anniversary of your such-and-such birthday." STAHP, everyone, let's not making aging weirder than it already is! "Happy birthday" will suffice. Really.

I have also been recently inundated with helpful migraine advice from people who have no reason to give me advice. They aren't medical practitioners, or even friends of mine; these are people who hear about my disability second or third hand and take it upon themselves to google or ask their neighborhood witch-doctor and then force print-outs on my boyfriend for magnet clinics in other states I can not possibly afford to visit. One perfectly nice but terribly misguided old lady sent me a long note containing a numbered list of things I should and should not be doing, as a migraineur, like avoiding caffeine. Honestly.

There's been a shift in my house. We're both more serious suddenly, trying to wrangle our lives back from our respective chronic conditions but without the usual two steps back. So maybe that will mean something positive for the future. I've been feeling stagnant for so long, some forward momentum would be wonderful.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

On the Eve of my 36th Birthday

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm feeling a little weird about it.

This is the first age that's really hit me in the mortality, and I'm a little uncomfortable with being this close to forty. I mean, I'd be lucky to be 40, and 50, and 110, aging is inevitable, sickness or accident can take any of us at any time, and immortality would be a huge bummer, anyway. But at forty there is absolutely no girlishness left to most women - in truth it disappears for most of us in our early thirties - and by forty, almost every one of us is a grown-ass adult woman without a bone of naivete in our bodies.

Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I have been really enjoying the confidence that comes with knowing my own mind and not feeling so much pressure to perform femininity in the way younger women are sort of required to. I had some good times in my twenties, and yes, my thirties have definitely been harder to enjoy, but I have definitely lived them, and I'm sure my forties will be nothing but not interesting; but I do wish I had more time.

For example, I'm not quite ready to have kids, but could see it in my future. Unfortunately there's an expiration date looming over my uterus that I suddenly have to be thinking about. I could adopt, of course, but I don't like having my options taken away, when I'm not even done deciding if I want to use them.

So today, the day before my 36th birthday, I've spent some energy in the kitchen and made myself a vegan quiche and a bunch of dolmas, so even if I'm not able to go out tomorrow for the ideal beach and lunch experience, it will still be a relaxed and happy day with plenty of good food to help me appreciate and celebrate my life, however I'm able to live it.