2015 was by far the worst year for my entire 31 years on this earth. You may remember that I fell off the planet and didn’t write for the majority of the entire year and that when I came back I promised that I’d explain it all, but the further we got into 2015 and the further we get away from it the less I want to go back through it all. So I’m not going to rehash it. I just decided. Like this second I decided that. However, I proclaimed to my Facebook friends a month or so ago that I would write a book. I wrote about a chapter and stopped because it got too hard to relive events of 2015. I hope that the further we get away from it, the more I can write, and deliver on this book that I’ve promised myself that I would write.
“If you think positive thoughts, positive things will happen”
“You can change the future if you just think positively”
“If you can’t love yourself, how will anyone else love you?”
Have you ever heard these phrases or other phrases like these? Do you think they’re a load of shit like I do? Er, did. Like I did? Let me explain.
Whelp…I’m dating again and because I can’t keep my mouth shut about my butt, I know I’m getting some new hits to this site from potential mates. I’ve talked a lot about dating in some previous posts on Health Central. One about relationship essentials for IBDers, another about dating tips. I figure I’m no ace when is comes to dating so I wanted to reach out to my new visitors with a letter.
So I started roller derby. I know, right?! After much talking and about a million questions to my good friend Christy over at Ostomy on the Track, I finally decided (after almost 10 years of wishing) that it was time to start training and work towards getting placed on a team.
So I’m dating. Well, I started dating. Let me rewind.
Dating is a HUGE topic in our community because there is a lot of fear around disclosure and acceptance. In the past I’ve written about dating and my opinions, but I have never actually dated since I was diagnosed with IBD. So all of my theories and advice were pure speculation, even though I still consider it solid advice.
So now I have legit experience in the dating-sphere, and I’d like to share it with you guys. I approached dating cautiously, after all the world is full of crazies. I haven’t actually dated…ever. I was in two very serious relationships for the last 13 years so not only is dating with IBD/jpouch scary, dating in general scared the literal shit out of me. I realize that I tend to talk about my butt to anyone and everyone who will listen, but I also realize that is not great first date conversation. Or at least that’s what I’ve read in forums and other blogs. Hell, I think that’s the advice that I gave in the past.
Here is what I realized…I can’t not talk about my butt. First dates, and even the predating period, it took me a matter of days, if not hours to spill the details on my defunct digestive system. I literally can not stop talking about my butt, and my blog and Girls With Guts. If this was the test, I failed with flying colors. Even if I wanted to hide my history, if just for a few dates, I can’t. My name and face is plastered all of the internet with “butt disease” slapped right next to it. I have positioned myself in a place where my future beau can read details about how I poop, see my fat face pictures, and view graphic photos of my body when it was at its worst. This is my life, there is no hiding it, there is no going back. I get that is scary for potential suitors, but whelp, this is me.
But you know what…not one of the guys I was talking with cared. In fact, many of them talked with me about their own health ailments and it made me realize a few things about the world. First, that many of us are all giant health disasters, and also that people like and fall in love with the person, not their medical records. I’m sure there are people out there who might run screaming from me on a first date, but frankly, I never found that guy. Not once.
In fact, I found the opposite. I have found someone who cares about me because of what I’ve done with the hand I was dealt. Someone who understands and can relate. Someone who I think is really great, and who thinks that the sun shines out of my ass. Actually, I’m going to ask him to guest post so he can tell you himself what he thought when he met me, learned about my butt disease, and MS and why he didn’t run screaming.
So don’t let IBD scare you away from dating. There a million reasons why someone can like you, or not like you, and frankly IBD is probably not one of them.
Something is off in the IBD universe right now and I don’t know why, but I don’t like it. Many of my close friends have been sent to the ER and had hospitals stays for blockages, fistulas and a lot of dehydration. So I’ll preface this with, srsly people. Take care of yourselves. We all need a reminder to take it easy, and to stay on top of our health, and I hope that you take my hospital fun and that of my friends as your own reminder.
So during this period of time I had an interesting situation arise. I would say 90% of my friends have IBD or related health issues. Usually when one of us goes down, be it for IBD issues or life issues, most of us are there to pick them back up. To offer support and to listen to how much life sucks at that moment. But what happens when all of your “pick me up people” are down for the count? How do you pick each other up?
Well I learned that you don’t. I found myself struggling between keeping my own head above water, and sincerely caring for my friends who problems were equally as complicated and sucky. Constantly torn between feeling like a shitty friend and wanting to just be selfish and sick and sad. I would fluctuate between being mad that they didn’t show enough interest or concern in my conditions but at the same time logically understanding why they didn’t and that I was not as supportive as I would have usually been.
So it became this big, mean circle. Where I got sick, and they got sick. I cared for their issues until I had to care about mine. Then I would have less of an interest in their issues, and they’d take less of an issue in mine. Then I would be angry that no one cared as much as I wanted them to. I haven’t confirmed this with any of my other friends, but I almost hope that they felt that same anger, and that I’m not a total asshole.
I am overly sensitive right now. Life is awesome, and I’m doing awesome things but my personal life is a bit of a drag. And it dragged down my health and my attitude all at the same time and I’m working hard to stay on top of it all. But recently I had this power struggle between how I aid my friends and how I aide myself. Quite frankly. I didn’t figure it out. I think I’m past this scenario at least for a while as it seems as though we’re all on the up and up, but damn. That sucked.
I am a planner. Always have been. For most things, my plans have plans and that helps me from worrying and freaking out. I predict all possible outcomes and then plan out what path I’ll take depending on the outcome. I’m a little neurotic about planning, just ask Charis.
However today I realized something.
I don’t plan long-term anymore.
When I got sick I totally lost all my planning power and since I’m so neurotic that was a huge struggle for me. But slowly over time I learned how to just let things happen because I couldn’t control anything or plan for outcomes. Today I was having a chat with my future brother-in-law and he was asking me all sorts of questions about where I see myself in 5, 10, 35 years. And I was honestly like, I don’t know…alive? He was asking me about jobs and where I’d like to be versus where I am, and what I pictured way down the line and I just didn’t have any normal kind of answer. I realized that being sick changed that about me. I’m still totally neurotic about things that I can control and that are happening right now, but anything further than this year is an open book.
Here is what I know:
I want to be happy and healthy and have a job.
There you go. Future planned. I know what kind of job I want (and have), but I don’t know if I’ll always have it or want to do it. I could get sick again and lose my job again, or lose the motor skills it takes to do that job. He asked me if I planned on staying in my house for the forseeable future and I just thought…I hope so. I could lose my house, which I love. He asked me if I was 100% sure I don’t want a family. I learned the hard way that you can never be 100% sure about anything. I don’t plan for kids, I don’t particularly want them but life changes. People change.
It dawned on me that most people have some kind of plan for their extended future. Granted many people out there are just happily floating through life, but the average joe has a plan for the next 10 or 15 years that includes more than be alive and make money.
Is this a chronic illness thing? Or is this a weird Jackie thing? Sometimes I feel like a lost 22 yr old, and other times I just feel like a calm collected adult that has learned to roll with the punches.
I think some of this stems from the generational changes from my parents to me. In my parents generation, you got a job, got married, had babies. You stayed in that house until you could afford a bigger better one, and you stayed at your job for as long as possible because there was a loyalty to your employer and it was rewarded. People didn’t switch jobs the way they do now. Picking a career was “final” and now its more like “what I feel like doing for the next 3 years”. My house is small and old but I love it. One day I’ll make enough money to move out of it, but I don’t think I will. And well, you all know how I feel about babies. “Settling down” isn’t really on my radar because it’s not like I’m particularly wild anyway. Actually last Friday night was full of insanity as I sat alone on my couch watching documentaries and crocheting. True Story.
Perhaps its just that I’m not worried about my future, because I’ve learned its exhausting worrying about the unknown. Or perhaps I’m just up for the adventure that accompanies a life unplanned. I don’t know and I’m ok with not knowing.
I made the choice about 2 weeks ago to switch to a Paleo diet. Since diet is such a common topic among my Butt Buddies I figured I’d let you in on what I’ve been doing. So here are the basics.
What is Paleo?
Paleo is also known as the “caveman” diet which basically means you only eat things that cavemen could have eaten in their time. Seem rudimentary doesn’t it? Trust me there is no pointing and grunting involved and if you’ve ever tried eating Gluten Free its very similar.
Here are the very very basic cliffsnotes:
As organic as you can get. All those hippie terms are now your BFF.
Things that are organic, locally grown, grass-fed, free range, no GMO, ect.
Dairy (except eggs)
Grains (ALL grains)
Legumes (peanuts, and chickpeas, ect)
Fried food/fast food
OR you can use this fancy info graphic to help you make your choices. (Click to view larger)
So that’s it pretty much. Now go and stuff your face with meats and veggies. Well initially this sounds awful and quite frankly scary from an IBD standpoint. The basic theory on the Paleo diet (or lifestyle I prefer to use, because “diet” insinuates that its temporary), is that when cavemen were bee boppin’ around, humans didn’t discover agriculture yet, and because of that we didn’t eat grains. Actually grains are pretty difficult for out bodies to digest, those of you who are GF already know this. And grains are one of the more processed things that we eat daily, and things we are lead to believe are “good” for us. The reality is a single piece of bread is very processed, and most grains honestly do not hold much nutritional value. Sure there is the whole grain argument, but I’m not here to argue, I’m just explaining Paleo.
Why can’t I eat peanuts?
You are free to eat nuts, as long as they are not processed. So that means no roasted nuts, unless you’re fancy and roast them yourself. That means no salted cocktail nuts. That means no peanut butter. Wait…why not peanuts? Because peanuts are Legumes, not nuts silly.
Why not dairy?
Again, cave folk didn’t use dairy products. Hence neither do Paleo lifestyle people.
Ok so what CAN I eat?
You can eat as much meat and veggies as you want. Some fruit but be careful because it has a lot of natural sugar. You can eat eggs, and I eat a lot of them. They key is eating the cleanest food you can. The real complaint about Paleo is the money. Grass fed beef and free range chicken are pricey. Organic fruits and veggies are expensive. But I had this epiphany the other day where I realized that I’m willing spend a boat load of money on fun, and material things (I use the term “boatload” loosely), but not on what I feed myself. What the hell is wrong with me? This is a personal choice, but after what my body did, and the great comeback it made, I’ve chosen to reward it with eating the cleanest food I can find, even if it costs me a damn fortune. My body has 1,000 reasons to fail and crumble, and I won’t let the food I eat be one of them. Also baked goods and deserts are not out. You can use almond flour, or coconut flower for a lot of baking needs. Frankly I cook a lot more, and I have eaten some delicious stuff.
How the hell am I supposed to eat so many veggies? I have a butt disease.
This is going to be the deal breaker for a lot of people. I can already notice that with my increase in vegetable intake that my bowel movements are different. Many are thicker, which makes pooping a little more difficult, but frankly has slowed down my system enough and its kind of nice. And its all about the veggies you can eat. If you can’t do celery, do freaking eat celery. I roast a lot of them, cook them in a pan, ect. I do not eat most of them raw. When I notice things are not moving as nice as I’d like, I use some apple juice to get things moving. I’m only 2 weeks in, but its going well. I slowly transitioned and that helped my system adjust. I’m still having a hard time breaking up with sugar, and I still crave it a lot but I have found a piece of fruit or a small amount of organic fruit juice helps to quench the craving and then its gone.
So how do you feel?
I think it’s really too early to actually say. I’m still fighting sugar cravings but they are lessening. It could be coincidence but I have slept much better the last few days, and I swear I have more energy. I don’t ever feel like I’m dragging ass anymore. When I wake up in the morning, it never feels like a bus hit me anymore. My stomach and intestine have adjusted quite nicely, and nothing I have eaten has given me any issues. I eat meat, veggies and fruit all day now. I eat nuts a lot too but I make sure to CHEW CHEW CHEW. A single nut at a time until it’s a paste. And I’ve lost 2 lbs.
What else do I need to know?
Are you working out at all? If you’re going to do Paleo you need to be doing some kind of activity, because all the protein you’re stuffing into your body will just sit there and turn to fat if you’re not working it out. If you are, it will help turn it into lean muscle and also to help burn fat. What I like most about Paleo is that you can customize it to work in your life. If you wanna be crazy Paleo person you can follow the diet exactly and maybe go a little nuts along the way. For me, I do it as best as I can, and know that there are some vices I won’t give up. I like to drink Cider (Angry Orchard, or Strongbow). AO is Gluten Free but its still got a boatload of sugar….every once in a while. I”m ok with that. I lightly salted my roasted veggies with kosher salt. Some people can’t give up cheese. Some people can’t give up diet Coke. Thats fine. The goal is not to make you miserable, its to make your life healthier and if 95% of what you eat is good, clean food its probably an improvement from what you eat now. Frankly, giving up a lot of the grains and things hasn’t been that hard. Sure, I love me some pasta covered in cheese, but I can live without it and it doesn’t make me sad, but you better believe when my Mom makes an apple pie I’m eating it. And then I’m going to the gym. Also when it comes to eating “clean” meats, I have learned it’s not only that they are expensive but they are hard to find. If you can’t find it, or can’t afford it, its ok to buy meat from Kroger. Again the goal is to eat as clean as possible, whatever “possible” means for you.
Also it really works for me because it lets me eat when I want and as much as I want. Its not horrible to skip meals, and it doesn’t mean tiny portions. It means if I don’t eat lunch, fine, who cares. A lot of the food can be pre-made, and frozen, so all you have to do is thaw it and then stuff your face which works well for me. I pre-cook a lot of meals and then I don’t have to worry about “whats for dinner”.
Here is another info graphic with some more info: