Oh look, it’s mini-me! That’s me, at the wonderful age of 12, having the time of my life! Ha, kidding! That picture was taken during my very first hospital stay, a pretty scary time; being so young I couldn’t really understand what was going on. I was a not-so-healthy 60ish pounds at that point, and I was so sick that I was taken off of all food and put on a clear liquid diet for 15 days. Jello anyone?
The only “food” I received was through that gorgeous IV (a PICC line), called TPN. Who knows what’s even in that “food?!” I was also on high doses of Prednisone, which made me insanely hungry. Just ask my parents. Or my husband. When I was able to eat, I could easily clear out the entire fridge while dreaming of my next meal! As an adult, I would pack big brown grocery bags to the top with food, just to cover my lunch at work! Those who’ve been on high doses of Prednisone know exactly what I’m talking about!
I went back to 8th grade with a puffy face due to Prednisone, and one boy in particular made fun of me for it. To his credit, he later (kinda sort of) apologized after he found out that I had a disease, but it really stuck with me. After that, I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness, especially my friends. In high school, very few people even knew that I had a disease. I would mysteriously leave school early to go to the hospital to have medications infused into an IV every 4 weeks. I just wanted to be “normal,” to fit in with everyone else. Being a teenager is hard enough; I didn’t think anyone needed to know what was really going on. I smiled through it all.
As the years went on, my “mask” became more and more common for me. No one, except for my husband, truly knew how sick I was. I never told anyone the real details, as I saw no benefit in them knowing. If anyone walked into my hospital room I would instantly plaster a smile on my face and pretend that I was just fine. It’s the way I learned to live.
It’s a blessing and also a curse to be able to smile through it all. On one hand, what I’ve been through has made me incredibly strong. On the other, plastering a constant smile on my face meant very few knew just how badly I needed them. I never once asked for anyone to come visit me while I was in the hospital, or even while I was home recovering. I never wanted to inconvenience anyone. It’s not like hospitals are fun! I knew that I could handle it, as I know my own strength.
So what’s it like to not eat for 15 days straight as a kid? Well, first off, it’s confusing. Incredibly confusing! I couldn’t fully comprehend what was happening to me, or why. All I knew is that I was starving and no one was bringing me food. I thought everyone was so mean! You quickly begin to realize just how much our country revolves around food, and that every TV commercial involves some sort of “food.” I became obsessed with food. I mean OBSESSED. Don’t believe me? Alright, let’s start with the pictures I drew of food! I also made food out of clay. Everything I did pretty much involved fake food. I was really into art; it helped to pass the time and saved me from complete boredom.
The obsession continued as I made lists and lists (and lists) of food that I wanted to eat. 20 pages to be exact. Then I created my dream menus. They’re ridiculous, and so is my spelling. Check out what I wanted for breakfast alone!
I also created some wicked recipes…
I’m in a place now where I can look back at this journal and remember all that happened, and laugh REALLY hard! I know that it’s a place I will never have to visit again, and I smile knowing just how far I’ve come. I’ve learned to fend for myself, and with my husband by my side, I am truly unbreakable. I have bad days, just like everyone else, but when I feel like the world is crumbling around me, my husband is the one who helps me find my strength again and see the good in every situation. He’s amazing like that. Life is crazy, but it’s what we make of it that truly matters.
Having all food taken away from me for such extended periods of time really created for an interesting relationship with food. I was so protective over what I ate! I absolutely hated when someone told me I shouldn’t be eating something. I just gave them the “stink eye.” I always felt that I’d been so restricted, that there was no way I would ever restrict myself by choice!
I was on prescription medications that lowered my immune system, for 14 years straight. Without them, I became very sick right away. Now I have a deeper understanding of why I had to rely on medications, as I was consuming foods on a daily basis that aggravated my disease. There was no way my Crohn’s could have gone into remission! Food was such a comfort to me, and I had no idea just how much damage it was doing to my body. I’m especially looking at you, gluten (and GMO’s)!
I can say with all honesty, that this is the first time in my life that I have an incredibly healthy relationship with food. I eat as if my life depends on it, because it does. It’s absolutely incredible when you realize just how much control you have over your own life! It’s more than we were EVER taught to believe!
I have absolutely no interest in eating anything that’s going to make me feel less than amazing. I also couldn’t care less what anyone else around me is eating. Things that I once loved, like bread and pasta, just have no appeal whatsoever. This is the life I choose to live, and given the choice, I wouldn’t choose to eat any other way! I find paleo to be the most fun I’ve ever had with food! It allows me to express my creativity and hopefully help others who are struggling with their own health, to show them that there is another way!
Oh, and just so you don’t think I was THAT obsessed with food (I was), I also drew a picture of my family during my first hospital stay. My drawing skills were amazing. You’re welcome!