posted by meowser
So. In the interests of turning over a new leaf, I’m going to try to be as un-grody about this as I can. Today is my four-month gallbladderversary. Yep, I celebrated last Labor Day by emergently having my gallbladder out. I had intractable stomach pains that weren’t going away no matter what remedies I gave them, called the advice nurse, who told me I’d better see a doctor pronto. Since my regular doctor was off that day, I went to urgent care, described my symptoms and history, and it took them about ten minutes to figure out that my gallbladder was on fire and it needed to come out right away.
And I have to tell you, these folks should get some kind of medal for treating a fat chick decently. They weighed me, because they had to for general anesthesia, but never gave me any crap about it; the closest was when the surgeon told me that my gallbladder might be hard to get to because of my “build” (which could have referred to my splendiferous hooters as much as anything else). But they didn’t have to cut me all the way open, thank the elves and faeries, and this doctor had pretty obviously done this operation enough times that he could do it in his sleep, so really, everything went down like guacamole.
Until I had to start eating solid food again. And then, as ever, I started to discover that many of the foods most enjoyed by the northern half of my body made my southern half threaten secession.
As you know if you’ve been reading here a while, I’ve had stomach problems pretty much my whole life, and they only got worse after the surgery and never seemed to get any better. About 16 months ago, I wrote about possibly changing my diet to figure out if I could isolate potential triggers. I got great comments on that post, and a couple of folks suggested I try an “elimination diet” — that is, for a few days only eat a few things I know for sure are safe, then gradually re-introduce the questionable ones until I zeroed in on the culprits. I finally tried that, and sure enough, I found that the old autistic bugaboos gluten and casein were giving me the lion’s share of the trouble, so I cut those out.
Yeah, that’s right, MY INSURANCE BLAAARGH folks, I actually did give up most of my favorite foods (soy sauce! I practically swam in that!) for better health, so I don’t want to hear any puling from the VIP seats that I’m self-destructive and don’t take care of my fat self. Pizza, pasta, cheese, butter, milk chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, bread — all of it went, or at least the gluten-and-casein-full versions of them. I told myself that I could eat anything I wanted; I just had to be prepared for what might happen if I did, which was basically going to be the Disneyland fireworks display, only not in color.
You see, I’ve pretty much had to plan my entire life around proximity to an unoccupied toilet. It’s terrible. I have IBS-A (anybody wanna cure that already?), which means I alternate too fast and too slow, and that gives me very little margin for error when it comes to what I eat, and also limits the kind of medication I can take for it. I just had enough. My goal was, no more having to drop my library book or my cooking or my browsing in a store to race to the crapper, no more dirty looks from salespeople when I stunk up their bathrooms and didn’t buy anything because nothing looked appetizing anymore, no more stomach cramps, no more straining, no more uncontrollable fart attacks in public, no more sweating and praying while on the bus or train or in a car that I would make it to the next bathroom on time. And when I say “no more,” I mean no more than the average person; everyone has that stuff happen a few times a year, but not a few times a week (or sometimes, a few times a day).
Gluten-free, by itself, is a pain in the butt, but it can be worked around. I got wheat-free tamari (including little packets to take to sushi bars), found some cool new recipes, including one for red velvet cake that my wheat-eating partner said he liked better than the kind I used to make with wheat and dairy, and he doesn’t blow smoke up my nethers about things like that; he actually ate more of the stuff than of my prior recipe. For me, no dairy is the real pisser. So I didn’t tell my mom I was doing this, and she has never in her life sent me food (other than tea), and what did she send us for the holidays this year? A fruit and cheese basket from Zabar’s. OH MY FREAKING GOD. You can find (or make) gluten-free baked goods that taste great, but I’m sorry, nobody is ever going to find a decent casein-free substitute for luscious Camembert and extra-sharp cheddar. I actually ate a slice of Tofutti mozzarella and some Daiya cheddar after trying that stuff, and I wanted to cry — but alas, even with Lactaid, real cheese goes down like spackling paste.
And yeah, I knew all about orthorexia and nocebo/placebo effect and the dangers of restricting too much for no good reason, and I really wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just doing a number on myself about this, because eliminating entire categories of food really is a big deal. It’s expensive and a pain in the ass to eat this way, and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. No longer can I just “grab something” just anywhere — convenience store, fast-food, pizza — and eat on the run. I must have contingency grub with me everywhere I go, lest I be somewhere the treyf ain’t safe. Most restaurants are now off limits for me if I want to avoid the possibility of asplodey, and the asplodey-proof places are more expensive. (Hawthorne Fish House, I love you to death, but really, $16 for a small basket of oysters and chips?). And make no mistake about it; with GF and CF products, there is price-gouging, and I pretty much have to prepare every meal from scratch now. There’s no way in the world I would do this without getting something — or several somethings — out of it.
Did I? Tune in tomorrow and find out.