Mighty Life List
Dec 29 2010

Get Health Issues in Hand? Let’s talk.

A few years ago, I was pretty sick — sleeping 17-20 hours a day, covered in hives, nightmare dental issues, joints not working, dust and moths billowing out my mouth when I coughed, that kind of thing.

I needed to address it, but the symptoms snuck up on me so gradually that I wasn’t conscious of how bad my health had gotten. I was overwhelmed by how many doctors appointments I needed, which is how “Get my health issues in hand” eventually made it to my Life List. But in the meantime, I made sidecars and baconsteak for dinner, while maintaining a strict regimen of sitting still at a keyboard.

I’ve resisted going into my health issues too much here, because I like this site to be a kind of scrapbook of stuff I want to remember. “Oh my sciatica” doesn’t make for great memories or memorable reading. But as I’ve slowly returned to life among the ambulatory, I thought some of you might like to know how. So if you’re into that, keep reading. If not, here’s that video of a kitten being surprised repeatedly.

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My extended family has health struggles. (Hi, family!) One by one we’ve developed exotic autoimmune disorders, and one by one we go to doctors who first say nothing is wrong, then eventually stick a close-enough label on our symptoms and begin treatment. As a group, we’ve been diagnosed as having Maybe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Probably Lupus, Possibly Chron’s, Could Be Epstein Barr, Looks Like Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, plain old allergies, and, the old standby in the face of medical confusion — hypochondria.

A few years ago, I started getting hives that looked like mosquito bites all over my torso. I ignored it, because I am stupid. Then they moved to my face, at which point vanity sent me to the doctor who sent me to an allergist. The allergist said I was “sensitive” to a zillion things, so I tried to cut all that stuff out of my diet, which didn’t work.

I eventually figured out that wine and caffeine exacerbated the hives, so I tried to eliminate those. Then I tried getting rid of gluten, then pesticides, and then dairy. Then I sobbed uncontrollably while my joints ached and people asked if I had chicken pox.

Around this time, Heather wanted to do the Oprah cleanse from Quantum Wellness with a group of us who were doing an online book club together. The cleanse meant:

- Adopting a vegan diet with no meat, dairy, or eggs.
- No gluten — so no breads, pastas, crackers, or joy
- Cutting out caffeine and booze
- Eliminating refined sugars (yes to fruits, no to snorting crushed cookies)

So essentially, you can have air. And quinoa.

Anyway, the cleanse made a lot of the girls sick, supposedly because their bodies were clearing out toxins or something. One the other hand, I went from sleeping 17-20 hours a day to bedtime at 3 a.m., sleeping four hours, and awaking refreshed on no caffeine. My hives cleared up, my joints felt better, my skin was amazing. And suddenly I realized how grave my situation had been.

Let’s talk more about that tomorrow. That and cute dresses. Break!