How did we spend our Easter weekend? Why shoveling the driveway of course. That’s my backyard, not last month, this morning! We had family over Friday night for an early holiday dinner and that’s what they had to contend with getting here, 8 inches of snow and rush hour traffic. We are nothing else if not stubborn here in Michigan and they came anyway. When my sister-in-law from Louisville was getting her son Evan’s winter coat out for the trip he complained, “No, it’s spring!” And she answered, “Not in Michigan!” Little did they know what was really in store for them. Joann was just considering the cold, she left their boots at home and the kids ended up trudging through the snow in their tennis shoes last night.
It was good to see everyone, although my mom wasn’t up to coming and that bummed us out. Like most moms she is the Queen Bee of our family and we missed her terribly last night. I would take all the bad weather Michigan can dish out and never complain again if I could just have my mom healthy again. Joann’s sister Jackie is also very sick and has been in our thoughts and prayers lately. So come to think of it, who cares about the stupid weather. From now on each time I start to whine about the weather I’m going to stop myself, dig up something to add to my “blessing list”, and say a prayer for family members who are dealing with serious illness right now.
Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year.
~Franklin Pierce Adams
I did this painting some years ago when I was sick. I really wanted to be out there on that beach, out of my body and away from the life that I was living at that moment because it was filled with loneliness and illness. Not aloneness, but loneliness, there’s a difference. I was married and had two beautiful young children, so I wasn’t alone. Yet as my health failed and weeks became months and those months dragged into years of living in a body that had become a kind of prison, I felt isolated. I was like one of those mimes in an invisible box, I could see the life that I wanted to be part of happening all around me, but I couldn’t quite get to it, it was just out of my reach.
That is what chronic illness is, what it does to those living with it. If you’re lucky and have a supportive family and good doctors some of that burden is lifted, but even still, it is a journey that wears on the body and on the soul. Nietzsche once wrote, What does not kill me makes me stronger. I would sometimes think about those words back then, and the truth is, I sure didn’t feel like I was getting stronger. I think that what life’s trials really teach us is that we can survive. We can do what we never thought we had the strength or the courage to do. Are we stronger? Maybe, maybe not. But as we step out of that box, battered and scarred from the crossing, we take with us the wisdom that no matter how dark the day the wings of hope can take us anywhere we want to go:)
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.
~ Christina Rossetti
So it was one of those good-news/bad-news moments when I found out that I would feel better by not eating food containing gluten. And most of the time I don’t miss all those carbs, mainly because I began to look at them differently. When I see a slice of chocolate birthday cake, a mound of spaghetti, or a basket of hot rolls I see poison. But the one thing I still missed after being wheat-free for many years was pizza. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I didn’t care, that it was gooey and fattening and no big loss, the truth is, I still longed to bite into a hot cheesy, crusty slice of yummy pizza! Last week, while standing in front of the gluten-free product freezer at my local market, the woman next to me asked if I’d tried the Kinnikinnick Pizza Crusts. She went on (and on and on) telling me how she prepared them and how great they were while I stood there nodding and thinking that she must be totally deluding herself. There was no way they could be as good as the “real” thing, but I threw a bag in my cart and figured I’d give them a try. I made two individual pizzas that night and she was right, they were fabulous! My husband even loved them and he can eat wheat. So thank you gabby grocery store lady, you were right, I was wrong, and now because of you I’m eating pizza again and I’m going to have to ramp-up my meager workouts on the outside chance that winter will eventually end here in Michigan and I’ll have to put on a bathing suit someday (4-8 inches of snow predicted tonight!).
Did you know that when man first began eating wheat it contained only 1-2% gluten, while today’s wheat contains 55% gluten? No wonder more and more people are feeling the effects. If you have chronic digestive problems, skin rashes, or autoimmune health issues, consider talking to your doctor about a screening and perhaps giving the gluten-free diet a try. It’s really not so bad, really, you can even eat pizza:)
Last week my doc told me that I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. It wasn’t a big surprise because I’ve had symptoms for a long time; numbness, tingling, and pain in my hands when I get cold along with fingers that are always so naturally chilly I can dip them quickly into boiling water and nab a hot noodle to check it for doneness. I have to strap on two lovely wrist splints every night now (very sexy) and I’ll visit my massage therapist and see if she can open up the carpal tunnel and relieve some of the nerve compression. I’ve been doing more writing and photography in the past few months, and even though I try to use good posture and support my wrists, I think that the added time at the computer has made things worse.
And here’s where the moanin’ part comes in. My body has disappointed me plenty over the years and I’m more than a little annoyed that it’s up to its old tricks again. I’ve dealt with chronic illness on and off since I was in my twenties and I’ve had to rearrange my dreams and goals many times to accommodate and care for the whims of this rather needy little body that I was born into. Living with chronic health problems has forced me to lead a more balanced life (which is a good thing), it has taken me on a journey that has taught me the value of self-acceptance, hope, and resilience (also good), but enough is enough already! So take note body, this is war, I absolutely positively refuse to give up any more territory to illness!
Oh, and that photo up yonder was taken just this morning, the sun actually came out today! The wind chill is 10 below zero but that’s okay, we are sooo sun starved here in Michigan this winter we’ll take it any way we can get it:)
My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass. ~Leslie Grimutter
That’s my favorite photo of my mom. My godfather Walter took it on Belle Isle when she was about six years old. Walter was the unofficial family photographer and his photos are a cherished history of my mother’s family. Yesterday, my dad called and told me my mom had a serious bloody nose that they couldn’t stop. She didn’t want him to call me because she said I would take her to the hospital. She was right. I did. She had lost a lot of blood and should have gone in sooner, stubborn little Frenchwoman that she is! The ER was more crowded than I’d ever seen it (the triage nurses needed a triage nurse) and I felt like we were on the set of a disaster movie. Normally, they would have taken her right back, she was a mess with a clothespin device and gauze on her nose smashed under an oxygen mask because of the COPD. But it was a crazy Monday in the ER and the ambulances kept rolling in allowing us the opportunity to practice the art of patience for a few hours until my poor mother could no longer stay upright in the wheelchair and they finally took us back. Our seven hour ordeal ended with my dad and I wheeling mom out to the car, wondering if she really should be going home, she looked pretty bad. But we got her home and into bed with a little help from Mr. bookbabie and I got the call this morning from dad that she had an uneventful and good night’s sleep. As trying as it was in the ER, those docs and nurses work very hard to help their patients and it’s good to know they’re there if you need them. So my little red stocking cap is off to all the doctors and nurses this morning (including my own brother and sister) who have dedicated their lives to the art of medicine. Merci.
When I tell people I have to eat totally gluten-free they look at me with such sympathy you’d have thought I just told them I had to have my right foot cut off! While I may not be able to pick up the phone and order a double cheese pepperoni pizza anymore (my arteries are breathing a huge sigh of relief), there are still plenty of not-so-great-for-you-but-tasty-carbs that I can chow down on. I recently tried the poppy seed bagels that Glutino makes and they are now a yummy addition to my morning breakfast menu. Last week at book club a friend gave me an article she had clipped from our local paper. The cake shop I’ve always ordered cakes from (for “normal” family members) has started making gluten-free desserts. One of their customers simply asked, and just like that, they are now in the GF baking business. This has taught me two things, 1) Speak up, people are often more than happy to oblige those of us with diet restrictions, and 2) I have such thoughtful friends, thanks for thinking of me and passing along the article Sandy!