Roadrunner-Coyote-A

I used to be sickly.

If you had met me before 2008, you would have called me a sickly person.  It was pretty much the only term that fit, and it was a kinder term than “prone to all levels of disaster and illness”.  My mishaps always looked worse than they were really were, too, because I somehow always ended up with friends who were seemingly unable to get sick or injured– like cartoon characters.

I think W.E. Coyote's like me always find their way to Road Runners.  It's a cosmic match up.

I think W.E. Coyote’s like me always find their way to Road Runners. It’s a cosmic match up.

My husband, roadrunner-esque in his health, became sick in 2008 though.  It was such a frightening experience for me that I gave up sugar and most carbohydrates to join him on his attempt to wrangle diabetes with a controlled diet.

His health improved immediately, our cost of living went down notably, but also– a funny thing happened on the way to fully embracing the diet…

I stopped getting sick.
I stopped falling off of things every day.

I didn’t even notice until I had a worried call from my parents, 6 months into my new diet, asking why I wasn’t staying in touch about important things.  “I know you’re married now,” my mom worried, “but I still need to know that you’re okay.”

You see, they thought I wasn’t calling them when I picked up a terribly unique 24-hour bug that needed to be diagnosed by a specialty doctor.  They thought I wasn’t calling them every time I fell off a staircase.  They thought they were out of the loop, but the truth was– I broke the loop.

I did it purely by accident and I didn’t even know it– but I broke it.

One of my dear friends, London, has received emails from me weekly since 1999.  My sent mail is a wonderful diary of the things that happened to me in that time frame and its amazing to see the near complete stopping of incidents being reported.  Almost every email used to start with “Well, I fell in a ditch”, or “Bleh, looks like I tumbled off that chair…”, or “I guess you can scrape your armpit..” then magically all those things vanished.  For the most part.

I still get sick, of course, and I’m still not graceful– but it’s normal slightly-klutzy, slightly-fragile stuff.  It’s one a year instead of one a week. It disrupts perhaps a day and then moves along.  People who have met me recently wouldn’t list “sickly” or “fragile” or “most likely to be hit by a random passing meteor” amongst my top 5 characteristics.

It’s still so much part of my mindset that I would, though.  I regularly warn people, “I have a weak immune system.” or “If I get on that, I’ll fall off.” or “I need to wash my hands in case I pick up whatever made that monkey sneeze.”  I still carry band-aids and sanitizers, antihistamines and emergency food with me wherever I go.

Still, the truth is, I’ve been relatively incident free for 5 years…

until…

the middle of this year when I decided to reintroduce carbohydrates into my diet.  Not sugar, but some more carbs.

I wasn’t trying to eat the same amount of carbs I used to intake– I’m not even sure my stomach could handle that– but I did want to increase it a bit.  I wanted to be able to eat a package of Top Ramen without feeling disgusting.  I wanted to be able to take a small, half-bite of my niece’s birthday cake without feeling like a zombie for hours.  And, purely to please my own vanity, I wanted to gain some weight back.

So I gradually increased my carb count.

Right now, I’m consuming about twice as many as I was in September– and I think I’m sickly again.  Fragile.

It’s weird how easily I fall back into the habits of a sickly person.  My purse is once again loaded up with the extras– emergency blankets and gauze.  I skid my shoes on the floor a few times before wearing them out to make sure they aren’t mystically slippery.  I wait half an hour between eating anything at all to make sure that the first item sits alright, and if it doesn’t– to know what to point to.

The increased anxiety that has gone along with the carb increase has also been welcomed warmly back into my life.  You see, I spent 22 years knowing what it was to wake up feeling doomed and going to bed feeling stressed.  It’s normal to me.  When it stopped feeling these things after I cut sugars out of my diet, I had a bit of an identity crisis.

It sounds weird to say that I associate myself with being the panicked girl falling off her own chair, but I do.  Like most identity-associations, despite its oddity, it’s dear to me.

coyote

I haven’t fallen off my own chair in 5 years, though, and dear or not– I don’t think I want to be the person who has to deal with falls and illness every single day.

I know I can do it, because I did it just fine for so long– but now I know I have the choice not to do it.

Choice not chance, remember?  I want to live on purpose.

I guess that means no more Top Ramen for me, and I guess that means I’ll have to bring a sugar-free cake to my niece’s birthday party.  It means figuring out a way to find clothing styles I love in the size I am.  It means officially letting go of ever being able to participate in carb-laden traditions, but hopefully…

Hopefully, it also means actually being around for those same traditions in the future instead of being the aunty who tragically died after being chased off a cliff by a rogue roadrunner and an anvil.

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You should know that the grammar checker says I failed this post miserably.  I think it’s all the “get”s and made up words.  I ignored it on the basis that it also told me all my usages of the word “dear” should say “deer”.

That makes sense, right? ;)

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91 comments

  1. I enjoyed this because I related to change in diet and improved diet. I am on a ‘no food’ diet, that’s how describe the fact I have had to give up so much ‘good’ food. The effects for me have been a huge improvement in my health, plus the lose of weight has improved a lot of moblity issues I was having. Great to see you have seen such improvement in yourself. Good for you.

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    1. Thank you, it really was an unexpected benefit of the diet. I only went on it to ease up household shopping and to not have to cook two meals, and to be supportive. :) It’s amazing how much cutting out something so simple as sugar can have such far-reaching effects. Good for you on your diet, too! I don’t care how good food is, it just can’t be worth your life or health. :) *hugs* Thanks for the support.

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  2. I probably should give up all of those things too. *sigh* But a Rarasaur and a Papizilla are carnivores darn it! We didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat carrots! :D Cakes and cookies are a great part of a well balanced diet! If your diet well looked like a giant funnel… oh well. Us clutzy dinosaurs have to pay attention to where we are going and what we eat if we want to make the next epoch huh?

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    1. Haha, I don’t eat carrots. Too much sugar. One of the hardest parts of my low-carb diet (for me) was the increase of proteins. Now I eat tons. Rawr! :)

      It’s funny, but after the first two weeks, I didn’t miss cakes or cookies at all– only the sentimentality of them. It’s hard to tell a 5 year old that you can’t eat her birthday cake, and unlike adjusting to a new diet– that part never seems to get easier.

      And yes– rawrers like you and me have to make it to the next age! :D You can only stomp around if you survive! :) And really, there are harder diets than cutting out sugar. :D

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  3. I did a low carb diet for two months. Not only did I lose 21lbs, I felt fantastic. However, I fell off the wagon and as a result my general health has suffered. You’ve inspired me a little Rara…

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    1. :) Oh good, Suzie. I really am an advocate of dropping sugar. At the minimum, even if you supplement with honey and agave. At the next best level, drop even that stuff. And if you’re feeling adventurous, go full low-carb… but even just cutting out sugar makes a huge life difference, as I’m guessing you know.

      I had the same huge weight drop…mine was about 40 lbs in the same time period, and then more and more has trickled off over the years. Increasing my carb count has added about 5lbs back, which was part of the goal… but even being the size I want to be isn’t worth all this illness. Time to focus on being healthy! :D

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        1. Yep! I did the same. Since Dave was already seriously sick, we dumped all the carbs and sugars in the house (well, gifted them to our starving college friends)– and started anew. I went cold turkey and the first 10 days were BRUTAL… but then I felt fine and energetic and happier than ever. It’s weird how drug-like sugar is on the system.

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    1. “Writing until my brain box is depleted” is the absolute goal of this week. I’ve spent way too much time resting in bed, and if I don’t write, I’ll lose my mind. I’ll figure out a way to edit out all the “get” later.. :D Thanks!!

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    1. It did improve my health, and everyone I know who went on a similar diet… and honestly, though the social aspects can be hard, the food is really easy to adjust to. I like preparing food and eating a lot more now that I’m on this diet– it’s very much guilt-free and simple. :) Good luck with all your health goals, Anyes! *hugs*

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  4. So you are maybe hypoglycemic? I am. It’s more subtle than diabetes, but can be serious problem that is hard to diagnose. Usually, if you are hypoglycemic, you were always hypoglycemic, from early childhood. Sometimes it becomes diabetes, but not always. And then there’s celiac disease … even harder to diagnose that has all kinds of bizarre symptoms, many of which mimic bipolarity … but if you get rid of gluton from your diet, your life gets much better.

    My son is unable to process vitamin A and nearly died of vitamin A-osis … talk about hard to diagnose … For him, all orange and yellow veggies — and liver — are lethal substances.

    I have learned “a standard dose or serving” is nothing but a number the FDA has settled on. 5,000 units of Vitamin A (the “standard”) were a near death sentence for my son. Meanwhile, manufacturers still put thousands of units of Vit. A in margarine, protein bars and lots of other foods.

    A doctor in Israel — the one who diagnosed my son (finally!) — said that Americans take handfuls of vitamins yet have NO idea how dangerous it is. The think “natural” equates to “safe.” The only thing I take is calcium with vitamin D because I have osteoporosis. I’ve seen what can happen. We aren’t an average of anything. We are each different and unique.

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    1. Absolutely! I’ve been sick enough from various things to know how arbitrary medicinal treatments and serving sizes are. And American doctors, it seems, are more inclined than most to try to put us to averages. Most of my most clever and successful treatments have been overseas or by overseas doctors.

      That said, none of the doctors here have tied hypoglycemia to me and I usually make them check. I actually have a great bill of health minus my permanent lung damage and whatever illness/klutziness I picked up– my cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar– all that tends to be perfect. Still, it’s obviously something. The differences are noticeable.

      I have friends with celiac, but I imagine that a Vitamin A diagnosis would be even more agonizing to figure out. I’m so glad he did– that’s a terrifying thing to have and not know.

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  5. Sounds like you have reached the empowered stage free choice. I have been doing gluten/dairy/sugar free for 2 years which started our as a necessity to recover from Lyme disease and survive being on a lot of antibiotics. I think sugar is the worse thing for me but wheat breads convert pretty quickly to sugar so they are really sugar by another name. Congratulations to you for figuring what helps you to feel good and choosing it for your own health and well being.

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    1. Yep, carbs are just sugars that show up to the party late. I cut sugar out 5 years ago for my hubby’s diabetes– it’s funny how it’s often big things like Lyme disease that are the push we need to make positive changes, right? Luckily, I know a good thing when I see it and it’s unlikely I’ll ever go back to consuming sugar. I gave the increased carbs a shot this year, obviously but I’m going to scale those back again too. It’s just not worth the illness. Thanks for sharing a bit of your health journey! *hugs*

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    1. I understand that completely. I only went on this diet to make life easier for my husband. Before that point, my blood pressure, cholesterol, and everything was fine. I was a plus-size, but a mobile and happy plus size. Anything I didn’t enjoy, like anxiety, klutziness, and skin problems– had been with me my whole life and I didn’t really think a diet would change them. I was also always very high energy.

      After I cut out sugar, I became even more high energy (in a productive way, not in a spazzy way), and my skin problems reduced drastically, and my hair became awesome instead of annoying… it’s had a lot of benefits that I wouldn’t have imagined and didn’t read about anywhere. Everyone kept talking about the weight loss, but I was happy with where I was — still, I feel better across the board now.

      I still struggle, even 5 years later, with the social aspects of it, though. Even when people know that you’re healthier and happier, they still want you to eat cake, ha! :)

      Good luck on your health journey, Randee!

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    1. I’m pretty in love with my sugar-free diet. I just wish it was tradition to cut up bacon for birthdays instead of cake, and that chicken was just as cheap as pasta… :D

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  6. I think sugar is a poison to our bodies…I had much the same experience. I am fortunate now to not fall ill very often, but it’s on purpose. I choose to eat the things that don’t harm me and I feel so much better. Yay for you too…so happy. :)

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    1. It’s a wonderful choice to make, Dani, and I’m glad you made it. I was feeling great, too, I’m not sure why I got it in my head to reduce my dedication to the diet. It was actually hard at first, too, since (as you know) bready stuff actually stops tasting good.

      The social aspect was just getting me down. At least now I learned my lesson– I forgot how time-consuming it is to be sickly! :)

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  7. I really need to limit carbs in general; not just because of the weight loss effects but supposedly it is the best diet for my situation. It is difficult, but I am slowly transitioning. I need to pull up your posts from earlier this year with your food lists and ideas for inspiration!

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    1. I think the Kid would love a reduced carb diet, too. My teenage cousins and such live for all the food I eat wrapped in bacon or stuffed with cheese. Like I told, CB, it’s rare for me to say “This is the way to do something and anything else is foolish” — but I’m firmly on “sugar needs to be heavily moderated” bandwagon. Preferably, cut out– but I know that not all of us are in a position to prioritize our health. We have to think of family and finances and grocery shops, etc. But everyone could do by cutting it down. I’m less firm on the carbs, since that is affected so much by what type of exercises we do and illnesses we may already have… but sugar… make it poof! :)

      I think I might assemble a page that specifically links to all my low-carb posts, for people who need to reference it later. I’ll send you it when it’s done. Thanks for the idea! :D

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      1. The Kid does not have a sweet tooth so it would be easy for him. My weakness isn’t sugar, but when the kid had some issues in school years ago I was a mad woman about checking ingredients for HFCS. So, I know it isn’t just the sweets that sneak up on you.

        If you do develop the page, let me know for sure! I think I have to cycle some carbs in just keep sane, but I can do better with what kind those are.

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  8. I am luckily someone who cannot remember the last time I was sick. I have no idea why that is but I often wonder. Surely if people like myself and my children were investigated it would help others. Long may it last I say, but as you know Rara we never know. I have noticed you have had a bad run recently. Hopefully it’s all behind you now.

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    1. Dave is like that, too. It would be interesting to see what genetics are running around in your system, keeping that stuff out. :)

      I think it’ll take about a month to straighten out my diet now that I’ve bungled it up so well, but then I hope it’ll be all back to less repetitive illnesses. I don’t think I’ll ever be nearly-incident-free like you or Dave… but I can do a lot better for myself than I have been. :)

      *hugs* Thanks for the good wishes!

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  9. Sugar-free cake!? That’s preposterous. ;)

    Well at least you know the solution to your recent bouts of illness and shower slippage. I’m rarely ever sick, but my diet would probably take you out. ;)

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    1. It’s so good. Actually, sugar-free cake was the only sugar-free alternative I could stomach when I was still eating sugar, and it was pretty delicious. Far less sweet than regular cake, but still good. :)

      Yep, I know. I feel a little guilty that I did all this damage to myself. I only wrote about the shower slippage and pneumonia, and stomach bug… but there was also the stair slip, and the headaches, and the mysterious hand cramping.

      Dave’s like you. Was never sick, until the big bout of diabetes… and still is so, so rarely sick. :)

      (PS – I was about to all go dino on this Jolie Michele for stealing my CB’s avatar… but *phew* don’t have to do that. Thank goodness. :D )

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      1. I knew I’d throw some people off. Glad I didn’t catch the dino version of Rara! ;)

        My psych seems to think I may have diabetes because I’ve gained quite some weight since having been on meds and it really likes my midsection. & I think I have the urgency to urinate more often which I guess can be a sign. We’ll find out next month. Sorry if I TMI-ed.

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        1. Haha, yes, the explanation post was a good idea, even though the comment seemed like you… I didn’t notice the name till I was in the middle of my reply. :)

          Yep, the constant peeing was something that was driving Dave crazy when he got diagnosed, but our first (not good) doctor didn’t point us in the way of diabetes at all. Either way, I promise it’s a good idea to cut down on sugar. I make recommendations very lightly unless I’m sure enough to argue it in a court room– and I’m sure. :) *hugs* Take care of yourself, chica bonita!

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  10. Ironically, i’m responding from a bed in the ER. Ironic and sick… that I’m hooked up to IVs, chords and breathing equip… acute asthma flare up, and I still have my computer. Better than lying here miserably. I have ongoing health issues and really get the anxiety and denial issues. I pretend none of it exists until I have no choice… today, for example. If carbs are the enemy, step away from the cake, my dear. It’s just not worth it. ;-)

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    1. Aw, no, I’m so sorry about that. I totally understand the need for a computer rather than quiet time. I need to have a computer to keep my brain on, even while my body is malfunctioning. I hope you feel better soon, and I hope that “better” is 100%. But thank you for the reminder… I remember the days where I was always in the hospital… and you’re right. The cake isn’t worth it. *hugs* Get well.

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      1. It’s SO hard to do what’s right sometimes, even when we know the intelligent solution, the potential outcomes. I hate deprivation, demands on my choices; but admittedly, it’s best to just tow the line, and be healthy! Today, I’d undo whatever the hell got me here… if I knew what. :-p Thanks for the kind words.

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  11. This post really spoke to me. I am not feeling well most of the time and I am sure my diet is at least partially, if not wholly, to blame. I’m stuck in such a cycle. It’s always inspirational to see others who have made the changed I know I need to make.

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    1. My tips for those seriously interested is… (1) Set a reasonable diet border. In my case, it was 0 sugar, nearly no carbs– but I didn’t moderate sodium, fat, etc. (2) Get rid of everything in your house that doesn’t fit those requirements. (3) Make a list of all the food you CAN eat, and indulge happily, and have lots around.

      It’s easier to stick to a diet when you have a focus on the stuff you CAN do rather than the stuff you can’t. :) Here’s my lunchtime guide.. http://wp.me/p2E0Bd-2ot

      Good luck, chica! No one should not feel well most of the time. *hugs*

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      1. This is great, thank you so much. I’m going to read through this and make a reasonable plan for January. I know today would be better, but I’ll give myself the holidays to enjoy some favorites. I appreciate the nudge in the right direction!!

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  12. It’s so funny that I find this post in my reader today, Rara, because this entire week I have been trying to convince myself that I’m killing myself. I haven’t been sick in years (or maybe I have and I just didn’t notice it because I was too busy making sure my daughter wasn’t sick) but the last few months, I have been feeling odd. Like my stomach was moving around in my chest or my lungs were changing clothes. Incidentally, a few months ago I switched to a mostly vegetarian and occasionally pescaterian diet, and as suddenly as I changed, I went back to eating the way I used to. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’ve been feeling out of sorts.

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    1. Switching diets can play havoc on your system… especially if your body knows it was better the other way. Humans are wired to have our bodies remind us if we’re not doing things right. :) I’m glad you’re listening to your body… walking around in pain is no fun!

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    1. There are far-reaching effects of sugar that rarely get written about. I wrote about Dave’s experiences with it here (which might require trigger warnings for you on account of the stress-threat level: http://wp.me/p2E0Bd-2BK) . But basically, yes, it changes your brain chemistry. If you don’t believe science on that one, the best way to test it is to try to give it up– you experience basic drug withdrawal symptoms for about 2 weeks. Plus, just like what I recently went through– I decided to increase my carb intake by a small amount, but once you start on sugars again… they’re really alluring. Just like drugs, you start going through ridiculously complex thought processes to explain why it’s alright. It’s a weird thing. The brain chemistry messes with focus, and focus is a huge reason behind klutziness. It also reduces balance, and the ability to react quickly. I’m not sure why I get colds and such more when I’m intaking higher carbs– that may just be me? All I know is, before I went off sugar, I was pretty happy with where I was health-wise, but now I can’t imagine going all the way back.
      :) As to where I started, I wrote some posts on it that I’ll try to compile. but… basically, I set my guidelines, purged my house of the stuff that didn’t fit, and then made a big list of the stuff that I COULD eat so that I could focus on eating that in new and fun ways rather than the stuff I couldn’t eat.

      I know you have anxiety, too, though, so I should warn you that the two weeks of withdrawal were my hardest bout of anxiety in my life. After they were done, it’s a mere whisper of what it was before– and that’s the same with Dave’s depression and my other friends who went off sugar, too. Which is to say… give it up if you can, for the long run, but do it when you have support for that time period.

      Good luck! :) xo!

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      1. Wow Rara this is amazing. I’ll read the link you sent me for sure! You know I’ve wanted to do this for so long, but the addiction is so bad, I don’t know how to get through it. I feel like I’d only be able to eat veggies period. I have a garlic and onion allergy so I can’t eat any food with that in it, it really limits what I can eat. I feel like there’d be hardly anything I could eat, and what I could would be expensive. If you have food suggestions, I’d be open to hearing them. Thank you so much for typing all this out!

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  13. I would like to suggest something, if you want carbs instead of getting ramen, try picking up soba noodles and making ramen with them. Soba is buckwheat and it’s a slow burning carb which is perfectly fine for a diabetic. Can’t help you with the cake part, we just have to say no thank you to that. But, you can have brownies made with almond flour waiting at home to curb your need for dessert or bring them with you. There are ways to do carbs that don’t completely mess us up.

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    1. I do use soba noodles, and I actually have a pretty plentiful diet. I don’t miss the foods… as you know, cravings for that sort of stuff fades rapidly.

      I miss the social aspects of the food. I want top ramen when I’m visiting my cousins in college and that’s what they’re serving. I miss cake at birthday parties (and I never even liked cake). It’s just the social adjustment that I struggle with… but I’ll do better. I have to. :)

      Thank you for the suggestions, though… the brownies with almond flour sound tempting. :)

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      1. you’re welcome. I need to get better about what I eat and totally get the social aspect of it. I am diabetic and saying no to italian food is as much fun as saying no to curry, sushi and ramen here. Which I have indulged too much in. After the holidays I’m going on white carb crack down. =P

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  14. I know how you feel. On my self-imposed diet, if I have cake, pasta or even a sammich, I feel like crap the next day. Take this in stride and eat healthy. You’ve clearly found the best path for you, so follow it where it takes you. Carb detox sucks ass.

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    1. Yeah, it’s why I’ve been stalling on doing the detox again… but I’ve gotten way off path. I gained the bit of weight I wanted back, but I also ended up with a cold, a stomach flu, non-stop headaches, panic attacks… psh. I can’t believe this used to be normal for me.

      This is why we should have cakes made out of bacon for birthdays. :)

      Thanks for the positivity, Rants. :D

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  15. Lucky are those of us who are in tune with our bodies. My body cannot tolerate wheat or gluten, although I don’t get violently ill, I become lethargic and blown up like a balloon for days. It’s just easier to remain on my lifestyle diet than stray. :)

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  16. It’s awesome that you have found something that suit you and that it was brought to you attention so now you are more aware of it. It would be wonderful when all of us are as aware of what makes us feel good as opposed to just following the “normal” which seems to be the most current fad!

    Reading this post reminded me of this news item where some Dutch health official has deemed sugar as a dangerous drug and the need to put warnings on foods….I found that hilarious and scary at the same time because we really need to learn what suits us and each person is different and also when health officials have this need to control the intake of sugar…makes you wonder if something has gone terribly wrong…it’s like telling us that we can’t think for ourselves…which isn’t right..you know?

    Balance is always the key I feel..it’s not something easy to achieve because it takes awareness of ourselves and conscious effort…which is an art that many, even myself are only just relearning to do but it’s worth it…and your post is one testament to it! :D

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  17. So good that you narrowed down the cause and effect of it all. For me, I am also seeing how diet affects health, though it took me a bit to realize that it was indeed diet. Mostly experimenting with different foods, leave one out for a while, then reintroduce it. I miss the days when I could eat ANYTHING and it had no affect on my body. Agree so much that choice is key…you can have it, or not have it…it’s up to you.

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    1. Haha, well… I guess there’s muscle-building exercise, :) but I was being lazy. It’s not worth all the sick-headache-klutziness though, really and truly… so I guess it’s time to work exercise in my schedule. :D Thanks!

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  18. I’m jealous of people who have the willpower to cut carbs and sugar completely from their diets. All I can think is ‘but the cookies! and pasta! and cheetos!’ and then I think you’re all crazy…. but I’m jealous..

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    1. :D Well, I would have never ever done it if my husband hadn’t gotten so sick. When we decided to control his diabetes with diet, it was an “all or nothing” sort of decision moment…so I went all in. I’m happy the results were so much better than expected. :D

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