Is it better to go cold turkey when all you want to do is eat turkey — metaphorically speaking?
I want to get better. I want to be without pain. This is a true statement. Sometimes I feel so awful that I wonder if deep down, somewhere hidden in the black box of my soul, I really want to stay broken forever. Like I want to take advantage of this non-existence, this floating through life, this working from home, this constant excuse. (Like I couldn’t come up with other excuses if I needed to bail on a party early?)
Not good enough.
That is not good enough for me.
See, I have this chair. Everyone knows it is Jen’s Chair — when friends and guests come over, they know or are directed not to sit in it. It’s a paisley recliner from Bob’s Discount Furniture, and I spend approximately 50% of my time in it. On bad days, I’ll spend even more time in it. I have the Bio-Mat set up there on a permanent basis. Heating pads galore. My husband hates what this chair represents because once I get in, put my feet up, put my computer on my lap, and effectively “strap in” with all the heating pads, I’m not getting up for much of anything short of nuclear fallout. Then he and I can try to hold hands across the coffee table, which really doesn’t work. So he’ll hold onto my foot or something.
Do I really want to get out of the chair?
I decided that I do. Screw this chair. I want to set it on fire and buy a sectional sofa.
So what will I do to feel better? How far will I go?
Recently my husband told me, after I made a particularly big clustercuss on a work project, that I have to learn to ask for help. I have to accept that my pain reduction is going to come not from pharmaceuticals, but from alternative health, from doctors, from chiropractors, acupuncturists, healers of all different shapes and sizes. Some of them I have already tried and am willing to try again. Some of them I haven’t tried yet. Others I’ve tried and thrown in the garbage.
What else am I willing to try?
I have been doing the Chronic Babe Secret Club for the first time. It’s a monthly program that I’ve watched slip by every month because I’m on her mailing list, but haven’t tried for various excuses — too many flares, too busy, irrelevant topic, etc. July’s topic was “resilience,” so I took that as a sign that I needed to start a proper support group. I still haven’t taken advantage of all the reading yet, but the Facebook group has been a wonderful place of positivity and empathy, as well as in-depth non-doctor advice.
So not only have I found a place of like-minded individuals with a wide gamut of health problems, but I have also found a group leader who provides many resources like Facebook Live videos, Spotify playlists of upbeat tunes to keep us cheerful, reading materials (her own new book excerpts included, from the upcoming ChronicBabe 101), and more.
One of the group members said she’d given up grains — all grains, not just going gluten-free, which I already am — and it had given her so much energy and had reduced a good percentage of her pain. We’re talking no corn, rice, quinoa, nothing. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING. So I guess I’m essentially paleo at this point? Except I don’t eat gluten, dairy, peanuts, or shellfish. And I avoid alcohol because it makes me feel bloated and disgusting.
Well, hot diggity damn, I thought. If I’m really serious about my pain control, then I have to at least try. If I don’t try, then am I really serious? Do I really want to give up the pain, or am I holding onto it?
And jeeze, guys, I’ve been trying. So far, I’ve been succeeding. It’s been about a week. There are three boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios in the pantry, along with a box of Quinoa cereal, and I just want to stuff my face inside the cardboard and inhale them. Or at least I did, the first few days, when I felt like I was experiencing the flu. You literally go through withdrawal. I Googled my symptoms because I felt like such God-forsaken crap that I didn’t know if I was going through the worst of flares, my pain was getting worse, I was developing new symptoms, or I was dying. (The fourth one there is dramatic. I’m going for dramatics here.)
But you do literally go through withdrawal. It’s recommended that you withdraw from grains during a stress-free period when you don’t have to do much else beside feel terrible. Work fell by the wayside. I couldn’t focus on anything. After maybe three or four days, I emerged, feeling wizened, fit and lean. Still no energy, but I’m waiting on that. Pain is about the same. I’m hopeful, though!
Anyway, I will keep you updated on my progress. I’m sure there will be transgressions, because this is a hellishly difficult diet to keep up, but there have been many, many people who have healed themselves through diet. I’m listening to Wellth, an audiobook by the creator of mindbodygreen.com, and he was discussing the case study of Terry Wahls, the woman who healed her MS by diet. I find these stories so incredibly inspiring. Things can be changed.
I can be changed. I am not in stasis.