Monday, February 07, 2011

USA: I'm Just Another Woman in the Rising Statistics of Stress and Food Intolerance

I thought I was ready for this. Turning my head left, I glimpse what response is on Ron's face. He is generally a cynical man and my bull-shit detector because I believe in the best of everyone. However, I am not believing the best today. Ron appears unphased, and so I look forward again at the doctor.

She rambles on about wheat, magnesium-deficiency and the disaster of soy, but all I can think is "Why is perfectly natural stone ground wheat a detriment to my diet? People have been eating this for thousands of years, and I eat the good kind, not the processed kind!" I'm the one that needs help, though, and that's why I'm here. After years of fighting this on my own, and with some success, sickness has ultimately conquered.

I am scared mostly by what this new diet she is describing will mean for my social life. In the past I tried some pretty rigorous diets that left me feeling alienated and starving at family and social gatherings. Often I was criticized for being too skinny, but I just didn't want to hurt anymore. In the end I found hardly any consistent links, so I didn't want to put myself through any more than I absolutely had to. Eating a balanced diet should be good enough, right? I mean, maybe I'd created this illness in my head.

The doctor tosses me so much information out that I can hardly process it all. I feel like an amateur juggler being thrown a new object every couple minutes. Not just balls but objects of different shapes and sizes that all somehow relate, but I won't know how until I smooth out my technique. I can see she senses my fear and uncertainty, but she is confident in her advice and continues talking.

"Why don't you get your notepad and write this stuff down, honey?" Ron encourages. "Oh, uh, yeah," I stutter and begin jotting down advice. Something about stress, inflammation, estrogen, the supplements I need, the books I should read.

"Well, let's take a look at you. Have a seat in this chair," she says. She checks my skin, face, hair, nails, hand, feet, stomach; she really looks at me and tells me what she sees.

"Now let's look at your blood." The doctor motions us up, and Ron and I follow her lean 5' 10" frame across the faded jungle green carpet, past her multitude of certifications hanging slanted on the wall, through the lab and into a tiny hallway/room where the microscope sits on a table against a wallpaper of patient files. She pricks my ear, swipes it with a half inch square sheet of plastic and places it between two slides under the eyeglass.

She shows me everything, the inflammation, magnesium and zinc deficiencies, signs of stress. I appreciate this. Any doctor who has taken my blood before just checked levels, and they certainly didn't explain the process of detection.

By the time I leave her office, it's been two and a half hours she spent with me, more than I paid for and more than I ever got from a primary care physician. At the front desk the receptionist hands me seven sheets of printouts on what the doctor and I went over. He encourages me to maintain weekly email updates so that I don't have to come in as often. "I want to check that blood again once the wheat is out of your system!" the doctor hollers from the back.

I bundle up and tip-toe across the icy parking lot to my car. Ron has left early to got to work, so I am left alone with a mixture of hope, bewilderment and fear as I turn the ignition. I must learn to meditate. I must train my brain to enjoy broccoli. No more Saturday pancakes. No more sandwiches. No more smoothies with bananas and soy milk. No more corn. No more crackers when under attack. How will Ron and I ever share a meal again? I hate eating separate dinners. I want to cry, but if this plan works it will be worth it. I can do this, I tell myself. I can do this again.

On the way home I stop at Wendy's but I don't tell Ron that's why I'm not hungry for dinner. It is my last "Stick it!" to a stomach that attacks me under the influence of both healthy and unhealthy foods. This better be damn good year.

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