Chronic Illness, Gastro Issues and The Worthwhile Rebellion.

A couple of months ago, R.J and  I went to this restaurant called Rebel House in East Boca. They had the most outrageous menu with the most bizarre and delicious concoctions I’d ever had. We couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks afterwards. We kept making plans to go again, but it never quite stuck. When my sister came down, I knew it was one of the places I wanted her to try. And so tonight my mom treated her, R.J and I to dinner there.

See–when there’s a dinner occasion that I’m really looking forward to—either a big meal, an expensive meal, a meal with friends or family that’s planned in advanced—I always have to make a really conscious effort not to screw it up.

Upsetting my stomach takes nothing more than an “imperceptible amount of lactose.” (a phrase you’ll commonly read on “non-dairy” products.)

This week I was already having a few off days, so I decided that between yesterday and today I would be extra, extra careful about not upsetting my stomach—which meant that for breakfast I had air and for lunch I had chicken soup.

All so we could have the following dishes from the gastropub:

(Umm…didn’t quite get the camera out in time…oops.)

  • BBQ Popcorn (Couldn’t eat this one)
  • Charred Curry Honey Cauliflower (This one either…)
  • Clams Casino (Ate this entire appetizer by myself!)
  • Rebel Burger (Looked delicious, but had cheese so that was a no go as well. Fries were good!)
  • Wahoo “Crunch” (rice paper wrapped, shrimp mousseline, avocado Kimchee..)
  • Soft Ripened Goat Cheese with Fig Mostards and Rosemary Crackers
  • Mushroom Leek Grits
  • Apricot and Goat Cheese Pie
  • The “Rebel” Sundae (Which basically had every ingredient known to dessert)

The meal was great, but it got me thinking, when it comes to chronic illnesses that affect your stomach: When is it worth it to splurge?

As someone who reads every menu like it has hidden messages that’ll tell me exactly where the gastronomical landmines are, I could write a novel about what I’d want my “last meal” to be.

Before I started getting sick  (meaning as a very small child)  I ate everything. Always. Licked my plate clean on most occasions. My Nana used to grab my fat little thighs and ask my skinny sister, “why can’t you be like this one??”

Food was always meant to be celebrated, and never was there an occasion where I would turn down a good meal.

Today, my relationship with food is a lot less trusting. Lactose is a no-can-do. Fruits and vegetables have to be eaten very, very sparingly and some (like cauliflower, broccoli, corn, oranges, and apples) not at all. Cooked tuna is out of the question, greasy bacon is no longer an add-on option, and multi-grains and brown rice are just not a good idea.

Most days I stick to a very bland diet with white breads, rices, and pastas. Lots of salt, potatoes, and Powerade.

“alls good that tastes good!”

Sometimes just waiting for the waiter to ask me, “and what about you?” gives me serious anxiety.

Everything I put in my body is a choice. And unlike many healthy people, the choice is not “what will taste good” but more often than not, “what won’t have me crying on the bathroom floor for six hours tonight?”

I’m always waiting for the perfect storm. I have to ask myself: Has it been weeks since my last flare up? Am I on a regulated, powerful regimen of digestive medication? And let’s say I do end up getting sick from this meal: can I afford the pain and discomfort? Do I have work, events, or social commitments tomorrow? Am I taking a treatment tonight that I need to be hydrated for? Is my doctor in tomorrow in case I need an IV?

It’s so stressful that most of the time it’s not even worth the risk. Which can make you pretty depressed after a while. Food is one of life’s simple pleasures and losing the privilege of enjoying it is something you grieve three times a day.

Sometimes I play the ignorance is bliss card and don’t ask if a dish has dairy in it or not. True story: I once played Russian roulette with steakhouse mashed potatoes and landed in the hospital for two weeks because they were made with heavy cream.

 So sometimes I’m a rebel. Sometimes I’m just a moron, smacking myself in the face and asking why did I just do that? That’s going to come back to haunt me.

Some girls diet to be skinny. Some diet to avoid massive, prolonged GI hysteria.

Some skinny bitch once said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

Clearly, that bitch never ate at Rebel House.

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One thought on “Chronic Illness, Gastro Issues and The Worthwhile Rebellion.

  1. Lizz B.

    I am so depressed when it comes to food and my illnesses. I have always been picky, so not a big deal on that front. However, I just recently got diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. And we can’t find any specific triggers. So I will randomly choke on foods that I have eaten a million times before. During the elimination diet for the EoE, I apparently developed lactose intolerance when I couldn’t have dairy for about two months. Lovely. I pretty much live on dairy and wheat because I can’t stand a lot of other foods… luckily, I like Trader Joe’s Rice Drink on cereal and by itself. I also take lactase regularly now. We have also discovered I have IBS. Don’t think it’s triggered by food because I can eat the exact same thing for three days and have completely random digestive issues through the three days. And now, thanks to suspected dysautonomia of some kind, I don’t even have the energy to get lunch foods so I live on SlimFast and Ensure day. Food has slowly been becoming my enemy and I want it back as a friend!

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