Month 3 Dad-less

A lot happened this month.

We switched the boys daycare. We made progress painting our fence around our pool…we started in June. It’s kind of a horrible Summer project but needs to be done.

And we passed the three month mark since my Dad died.

I’ve been super irritable. I kept blaming PMS but then I realized it revolved around July 6. The closer we got the more irritable I became. Then it came and now it went. Still irritable but less so. More just sad.

The thing about Dementia is that you sort of grieve the person when they are alive because you lose pieces of them along the way, but the shitty thing is that for me at least, I also walled off some of that grief because he was still alive. I wanted to enjoy as much time as I could and not dwell in the morbid thoughts of him slipping away.

It was hard and I think I’m paying the price now. It’s like I’m double grieving.

I’m grieving the Dad I had in the last two years because it wasn’t the dad I knew for the 32 years prior. I’m grieving the loss of those two years. That my last times with him were with him fighting an illness. I saw him fall, I saw him have a stroke, literally in front of us at my niece’s birthday, and so many other things that signaled decline after decline and it was heart wrenching.

Death sucks regardless and I don’t know which is worse. Losing them suddenly and unexpectedly or watching them slip away into nothingness slowly.

The boys talk about him less. But we were looking at picture books from when they were babies and there were a ton of pictures of Poppy holding them as babies. He was generally okay when they were born; started to really decline when they were about 10-12 months.

There are so many times I think oh Dad would be playing with them with this toy right now, or Dad would want to know about the new daycare, or Dad would be helping us paint the fence. Because that’s the kind of Dad he was.

The other crazy shitty incredible thing is he was a twin. His twin is still alive and well living in Florida. My Dad and his twin and actually their younger brother too, they all looked incredibly similar. I just think/know my Dad would get such a kick out of all the crazy antics my boys get into because he would see himself and his brothers in them.

The last week or two has been rough. I don’t know why all the sudden it’s hitting me hard but it is. Maybe because we are also now in his birthday month. It was always fun because he made a big deal about his birthday being my half birthday. Because it is. Half birthdays are cool. Don’t knock them.

Time is supposed to make it easier but it’s not. It’s making it more painful.

Because I keep seeing all this stuff happen in my life that I can’t share with him. That I will never share with him. That my sons will never share with him. And it sucks. That he won’t ever see them past the age of three just sucks. It’s like the more time without him the more stuff I have to tell him, and the more I have to accept that he’s just not here.

People told me losing my Dad wouldn’t get easier. They were right. It doesn’t.

I also don’t think I ever discussed the Office with him. He would have loved The Office. I don’t know if he even ever watched it! I feel remiss in my daughter duties for never having this discussion with him. We watched a lot of sci-fi and bad 80’s action movies together. Star Wars and Mel Gibson and stuff. We had similar tastes. I’m sure he would have loved The Office. Dwight would have been his favorite.

Update on waxing- I have an at home situation set up. I was literally laying on the ground ┬áin my bathroom with wax on a delicate area of my body thinking, “My friends will be here in thirty minutes. I’m still going to have wax on me because it hurts too freaking much to pull it off and I’m literally going to have to have one of them pull it off.”

I screamed and cried and writhed around on the floor in the bathroom but I got it off. I told my friends. They think I’m nuts. As does my wife. I mean I got it off…

******In the picture I’m wearing one of my Dad’s button downs. I took many of his shirts and ties. I have been wearing the button downs to work and actually getting a lot of compliments on them. But that face is me trying to hold back tears as I take a photo before work knowing I’m wearing my Dad’s shirt and that he won’t be wearing it again.

 

Eating For Endometriosis

If I could eat whatever I wanted I’d have my Dad’s oatmeal pancakes for breakfast (with chocolate chips), chicken cutlet sub or egg salad with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat for lunch, and spaghetti with meatballs for dinner or fettuccine alfredo with broccoli. Then maybe a chocolate chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and peanut butter.

Now if I actually ate all of that in a day I’d likely feel super shitty in every way the next day. Oh and probably throw in a glass or two of wine. Forgot about the alcohol!

Around the time I had my two surgeries, so roughly ten years ago, I was exploring every possible alternative treatment for endometriosis. I learned it was a chronic illness and actually would never really go away…I needed alternative means to try and take control.

I read a great book, which I still have, by Dian Shepperson Mills, called Endomestriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition. She is British so there were recipes with “aubergines” in them and I didn’t know what the hell that was. She also talked about inflammatory foods which I had never learned about before. I had a degree in nursing at this point…no one ever taught us about inflammatory foods. We learned nutrition based on the food pyramid. Shaking my head now.

She advised cutting out dairy, wheat, meat, and sugar. So basically everything in my diet. And alcohol. Over the next ten years I would try all variations of these dietary changes. I did cut them all out at one point. I remember that month of pain from endo and withdrawal from every food I ever ate.

I’ve perfected gluten free baking. It only took about five years to get that down. I now have a great flour mix that allows me to enjoy baked goods.

I slowly learned that gluten free, dairy free, and mostly meat free (some times chicken), with fish included, and low sugar is the best to keep my symptoms controlled.

It totally sucks at times though to be so restrictive. I’ve had epic meltdowns in restaurants. Well not in, but in the car afterward. We scour the menu before we go anywhere now to make sure there are options for me. When people ask if I have a food allergy I just say Yes, because I am sick of explaining that no I don’t have an anaphylactic reaction but I will be in crippling pain for a few days after eating wheat or gluten or dairy.

This year off birth control and doing hot yoga I still couldn’t lose weight though. I also was having a lot of pain and realized my PCOS was back as I now had several cysts on my left ovary. I was eating too much sugar and meat. I was eating a lot of what the boys were eating which was not good for me.

I met with my OB and she confirmed the cyst diagnosis I already had given myself. She did it by ultrasound; I knew I had cysts based off thirty four years living in this body. She offered me a lot of pharmaceutical and surgical options. I shook my head and asked her to order some lab work and then I left to go back to my roots of nutrition for endometriosis and PCOS.

When I examined my eating habits and my lack of weight loss I realized I was eating healthy-ish but not a true anti-inflammatory diet.

So I prepared my wife. She’s been with me through many cleanses before. She knew what to expect. No alcohol. No sugar. No gluten. No dairy. Lots of kale smoothies and this time I was allowing myself seafood because it has specifically been linked to lower PCOS symptoms.

Off I went. Two eggs over easy in the morning usually over sweet potatoes or veggies from the night before. Or with cooked salmon or homemade sausage (Whole 30 recipe). Lunch- Smoothie. No snacks. Lots of water. In the smoothie- kale, avocado, banana, frozen strawberries or frozen peaches, maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter, and maybe unsweetened cocoa, and definitely unsweetened almond milk. I fill up a 32 oz nalgene bottle with it and that’s my lunch.

Dinner- Generally another smoothie. I always change up the fruit or greens but there’s always an avocado. If I have “real food” I have grilled squash or sweet potatoes and fish like salmon or haddock. Sometimes I throw scallops and frozen veggies into a pot on the stove with olive oil and Old Bay seasoning.

You get the picture. No snacks. Veggies. Fruit. Seafood. Eggs. Lots of water. No alcohol.

The first week sucks ass. The first two days I’m always hungry. The third-fifth day I want to kill some one. The sixth day it becomes more manageable. That’s where I screw myself sometimes. Just when it’s getting easier a weekend pops up and I think, hmmm, I’ll have a drink or a dessert because it’s my cheat day. But cheat days don’t work for this.

Because the super annoying part is I see results. I am losing weight. I also feel better. I hadn’t gotten my period for over a month as often happens with PCOS, five days into my crazy new diet plan I got my period. No pain either. So yeah. It’s infuriating because it works. It’s amazing because it works.

I feel better now that I’m not starving all the time because my stomach adjusted and now I actually crave smoothies and feel full after them. I feel better now that I’m not in nearly as much pain. The cysts are gone. I don’t need an ultrasound to tell me. That constant feeling of pressure and fullness is gone. So yeah. Kale. My new bestie.

It’s nothing I haven’t done before. I keep telling myself I’ve actually been more restrictive in the past. But sometimes I just want to toss the damn blender and eat some chicken nuggets and fries and chocolate cake. I just want my body to not be my enemy. But that’s all self pity.

Endometriosis and PCOS force me to actually treat my body better than I would without a chronic illness. Do I yearn for an egg salad sandwich on real bread? Yes. But I love living without pain more. Does it irritate me that I can’t eat what I want when I want? Yes. But I begrudgingly appreciate the accountability this disease forces me to take over my choices and my nutrition.

Not one doctor of the many I’ve visited has ever told me to read Mills’ book. Yet among Endo people it’s a well known valuable resource.

I practice Western medicine. But I know firsthand it’s limitations.

Here’s to my nutrition and to yours. If you think you can’t…make it past day six and seven…then you can. Promise.

What I’ve learned the most is not all restrictions were right for me. I really had to feel it out and figure out what foods aggravate and what foods heal. That is very individualized. Some people wouldn’t tolerate eggs or seafood. For me they work. Get to know your own body and yes restrict so you can add slowly back in to see what makes the pain worse. It’s a horrible experiment. But worth it.