Friday, August 19, 2011


I test the floor. Oooo, ouch.
Wait. Breathe.
My back shoots a pain through my mid-section, down through my legs. My knees click, crack, pop, crunch. My hips locked into the cowboy position. I grab for the boy and he crawls across the bed giggling. I grimace and make my way across the bed to catch him.

I want to play, baby, but it hurts. It hurts.

I hobble and wait for him to come to me. By the time I reach the stairs, my walk feels stronger. Thankfully. I take each step by holding on to each wall surrounding me. I was an athlete once. Strong. Formidable. I played football and gymnastics, and rode my bike impossibly long distances with only a little talcum powder and some water.

It is my shoulder, and my back, and my knees, and the bottoms of my feet, and my ankles, sometimes my wrists. Basically, it is my joints. All of my joints. I've been poked. Prodded. Made to walk in a straight line touch my nose. I had to stand absolutely still while a doctor watched me. I have had blood drawn. Pictures taken of my insides. Months and months of testing, and I know that I do not have lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme's disease or Multiple Sclerosis, celiac disease, or Epstein-Barr.  I have nothing, but pain, extremely painful pain.

About nine months after Lucia died, when I was doing bloodwork in the early part of my pregnancy with Thor, I found out that I had thyroid disease. My nutritionist told me that endocrine systems break down in trauma and grief. I had nothing but trauma and grief in the those months. I held onto her in my joints, I thought. The pain manifest in the spaces between my hard bits. That is where she snuggled up, in the soft, delicate parts of me. Every movement a reminder of the pain of losing my daughter. The pain of birthing her dead. The pain of parenting a sister-less girl. The pain of babyloss. I didn't mind the pain as much as you would think. It seemed inevitable.

The best I can do is cut out the wheat. Somehow that helps. My endocrinologist thinks improving from not eating wheat is a psychosomatic reaction. He's a number guy. He thinks the nutritionist is bunk. The thinks the anecdotes on the internet are hogwash. When I tell him of symptoms that haven't improved after taking my medicine, he says that it is another disease and he cannot help me. There is no research, he says. But on the internet, I find women and men with Hashimoto's disease talking about how different their lives are after cutting out wheat and gluten. And I am one of those women, I guess. I have been eating like this since February, and it has changed my joint pain tremendously. Psychosomatic or not, I feel better. I can walk without debilitating pain. I can carry my baby down the stairs.

This week I had a cupcake that my mother left in my fridge. I don't know why. I just saw it and thought, "Mmm, cupcake." I ate it and couldn't move that night. I cried in pain. And so I suppose I know now. Cupcakes are not good.

The only downside is that I eat nothing fun. No baked goods. No buttery croissant on a Sunday morning. No tiramisu after a nice manicotti. No cheese sandwich for lunch. No crunchy ciabatta with pesto and fontinella. The doctor also suggested that I cut out the dairy and the meat. (Did I mention that?) No wheat. No milk. No meat. (I didn't eat meat most nights anyway, but whatevs.)

I have been daydreaming about smoking cigarettes. I haven't smoked in years and years, and lately the smell, the ritual, I have been romancing it all. I won't smoke, but I am romancing it. I watch them outside of meetings, inhaling, talking, laughing, relaxing. There is no buffer between me and the world anymore, or me and my stress. I don't take a moment to go have a cigarette and think on it. I don't sip a bourbon pensively when I get a testy email. I don't drink to cushion those emotions. I don't smoke to breathe deeply and take a moment away from my desk and my life. I don't stuff carbs into my face when the kids go to sleep. I just feel it all. Every. Little. Thing. Like my chest cavity was wrenched open in a Y shape, and my heart is exposed .

Here is everything, World. Be gentle.


  1. Oh my, Angie. That last line just stopped me dead in my tracks. Having lived with chronic back and neck pain for so long that I remember exactly 1 day in the last 7 years or so when I was pain free, I get it. But the fact that all this pain and all this sacrifice are tied up together- well, The World had better be wearing its compassionate hat.

  2. Yikes. I'm glad you found something that makes it better, but Oh, what a finding.

    There are so many other good grains available these days, I'm hoping you can latch on to some yummy and filling summer salad recipes involving those and roasted veggies. And when I cut dairy for the baby, I only then realized how much dairy was a condiment in my life. I really chopped it out, only do limited amounts of yogurt anymore and really feel better for it.

    Much love. Hang in there. Nuts are your friends.

  3. I'm glad you found something that makes you feel better, but it really sucks that you don't get to have anything "good."

  4. Yes, lots of other grains, and lots of nuts and lots of veggies. Holy shit, do I eat a lot of veggies. I juice like a motherfucker. I'm like a fucking juice pimp. "Drink my juice. Save yo life."

    I don't know why I am talking about the pain this week. Maybe the cupcake reminded me how the pain isn't so violent and painful by being so violent and painful. Maybe because I feel raw and having people issues, and I wish I could have a bourbon, a cigarette, some bluecheese and crusty bread, and a big ass slice of cake-y something at the end. A vacation from diseases. Or maybe it is just that I want to sit on my pity potty for a little spell. Just to get it all out, so to speak.

    I hate to say this, but the cupcake was fucking worth it.

  5. i wish you didn't have to live with all of this pain on top of your pain.

    so unfair. i can only hope that you get some small glimmers of happiness and light on those heavy days.

    i can find something divine to make you that is wheatless...perhaps a flourless chocolate cake? hmm?
    (or lele)

  6. I have a fabulous, decadent, and super easy flourless chocolate cake recipe—you ought to be able to indulge in something without pain.

  7. do check out this site for some amazing gluten-free goodies, that is if you don't mind baking ...

    some seriously delicious stuff!

  8. I could talk all day on the topic of doctors who don't believe their patients. When my Mom's thyroid shut down back in the 80's and she told her doctor about her unexplained weight gain, he asked her if her marriage was happy. WTF?

    It's tough when you put it out there and get slapped back down--and then there's no crusty roll to help ou get through.

    Now, I care about your physical health. But, I also care about your sanity. So...have you thought about potato chips?

  9. "There is no buffer between me and the world anymore, or me and my stress."

    I self medicated after Emma died - food, drink, more food and more drink. It was a buffer, totally and I can understand how giving it all up might be healthy and helpful but leave you feeling exposed. It would me.

  10. Late to this I know, but just want to send you (and the very painful pain) some very healing vibes, yo.

  11. Oh, I'm so sorry. Food problems just suck. :p I'm allergic to tomatoes & hot peppers. I've never had to use my epipen yet, but my reactions have been scary enough to keep me away from those foods (and that's a hard thing to do, especially when eating out). And I LOVED tomatos. I had a dream the other night that I was eating pasta with tomato sauce & I could almost taste it. I have developd a whole new sympathy & respect for people with really severe allergies. It's a scary thing to deal with.


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