For the last few days I’ve felt so nauseated I finally went out and bought a pregnancy test to confirm I was not somehow pregnant. I’m not. These are just part of the weird, ever-changing symptoms of the roller coaster that is my life.
It’s all part of the whole chronic illness journey.
You know what I’m talking about. Anything can set you off. You could have a stressful business meeting and tighten your abdominal muscles for too long. You could try a new brand of chips made out of seaweed that attack your insides like a parasite. You could change medications by a dose so small–yet impactful enough to make your head spin. Maybe you order a pasta that’s supposed to have a white-wine sauce but someone’s snuck some heavy cream into it and now you’re 94% positive you’re going to die in a public restroom.
Family and friends are well meaning, but there is always a clashing of manners when you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner and can only eat the mashed potatoes or dinner rolls.
Aren’t you hungry? Are you anorexic?
And it’s not like you’re going to slam your fist on the table and start screaming, “ARE YOU JOKING? I’M STARVING OVER HERE.”
I’ve always had to monitor my diet at home, grocery stores, at restaurants and at other people’s homes.
This weekend R.J and I and my MIL, Carin, went to this great little Italian place in east Boca. A little old lady sets a daily fixed lunch menu and you get what you get. It’s all amazing–but not always amazing if you can’t eat what you’re getting that day.
The menu gets posted online every morning. I woke up early, took Happy out on his walk–and already I was thinking about what we were going to eat that afternoon. My stomach was in no mood, and it seemed unlikely that there would be anything Italian that I could handle.
I pulled the website up as soon as we got back inside and started reading over that day’s menu.
- Cannoli Bean Soup
- Foccacia Bread
- Italian Meatloaf
- Pasta Boscaiola
I sighed, shut my laptop and tried to reason with myself that if I just stuck to the soup and the bread I might be successful at managing my nausea that day.
When the soup came, I just soaked my bread in it without eating any of the beans or vegetables. When the waiter came to take it away he gave me that look. The look that says, “what? Is our food not good enough for you?”
I just have to keep reminding myself that there is no social graciousness worth being admitted to the hospital for.
Bizarely enough, that night for dinner–the only thing I felt like eating was steak. Steak and chicken are actually part of my “safe foods” diet, but feeling as bad as I was I still thought it was a pretty audacious idea to try one–but I did. And it was fine.
The next day R.J and I had sandwiches for lunch and after a few hours I realized I needed to go grocery shopping since we were out of paper towels. I made a very short list: cleaning supplies, steak, gatorade and paper towels.
Driving to the store I was nauseous. Walking down the aisles I was nauseous. I was essently chugging the ginger ale I had in my purse as I quickly swept things into my cart and darted for the check-out line. I was so sick. I could just feel my lunch coming back up my throat and there was still one person ahead of me in the check out line.
I tried not to panic. I used every tool I had with me: ginger ale, peppermints, dissolvable zofran, deep breathing.
My eyes were watering by the time I got my receipt and I just managed to throw my two bags of groceries into my trunk before I sat down in my car, door open and dry heaved for a few awful minutes onto the pavement. I’m a little out of practice with actual puking since the gastroparesis makes my stomach muscles not so strong–and had I lifted my head to the correct angle I probably wouldn’t have puked acid into my nose.
I’m sorry, that if thats TMI. But that’s the full story. Believe me:
I got myself together and drove home.
The next day I saw my doctor who prescribed me a prescription strength antacid. I’m hoping this will be stronger than the double doses of Prilosec and Nexium and Gavascon and god knows what else I’ve just been shoveling into my mouth.
What do you do? At your worst moment in public? When you know the symptoms are coming–whatever they are–fainting, puking, seizing–do you ditch the cart and head for the door? Do you try to persevere and get through the task?
I remember when this used to happen at school and I would wait until the very last second–the very moment where my eyes were watering and I’d crunched my way through every last sugar in my Altoid–before I’d bolt for the door as calmly as I could make it look.
I’m glad I’ve developed enough skills to make it through the check out line, but I’m conflicted about whether or not this is really an accomplishment or just kind of sad.
What’s your saddest accomplishment?