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.
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…
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.
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.
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?