Food & Hospitals (& Hospital Food – AHHH!) (My “Health Journey,” Part 3)

My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

Woohoo! Part 3! The end is almost in sight!!

Yeah, that’s a lie. The end is nowhere near being in sight.

But you are almost caught up on the “brief overview from when it all started to where I am now.”

That’s gotta count for something, right?

So it was late February/early March of 2014 when I finally “bit the bullet” and made some radical changes to my diet. I only remember the date because my birthday is in late February, and, well… that was not a very fun birthday. Food-wise, anyway.

But for about the next 10 months, I stuck very closely to a very restrictive diet. If you’ve ever heard of the Paleo diet, that’s basically what I was eating.

No grains, no starchy vegetables (so no potatoes or sweet potatoes!), no sweeteners except honey, and no dairy except aged cheese such as cheddar.

Sometimes it felt like it would be easier to tell people what I could eat instead of what I couldn’t… seemed like it would be a shorter list.

Meat and vegetables. That’s pretty much it. With some fruit and nuts thrown in there on occasion.

Now, the “wrench” to throw into the middle of this whole mix is that I knew I would be losing health insurance in June of 2014. I was still covered under my parent’s insurance at the time (one of the things about being self-employed is that, while you do have a lot more freedom schedule-wise, you generally aren’t able to afford luxuries such as health insurance. Thus: mom & dad’s insurance!). Anyway, the place my dad worked for was closing in June, which meant he’d be out of a job, which meant I’d be insurance-less…

Which meant that the medicine that at the time cost me about $20 a month in co-pays would be costing over $1000 a month out of pocket.

Yeah. That’s gonna happen.

So not only was the diet a “drugs ain’t working, I need to do something else” type thing, it was also a “I’m not going to have access to drugs, I need to do something else!” thing.

Fortunately, within a month or so of making the dietary changes, not only had I gotten really good at chopping veggies, but I was also feeling much better. By April, I had stopped taking the medicine.

Through the entire summer, I felt great. I had a few not-so-good days here and there, but nothing compared to how it had been before. And all without any medication! Yay!!

It was around December or January when things started to change… slightly.

Nothing big. Some “illegal” foods started slipping into my diet a few times a month – potatoes, corn, milk, sugar… chocolate…

December is also a busy time of year for me simply because of my job. Multiple extra gigs, and literally stacks of music to be practiced and learned for the Christmas season…

Kinda cranks up the stress a little.

I was also in the middle of an extremely stressful personal situation at the time.

Then, in January, my family got sick.

Like, my whole family. For all of January. And most of February. Colds, ear infections, bronchitis… the whole 9 yards. I had a cold or two, but I escaped the worst of it. I was very glad to not have bronchitis, but I can only imagine just how much overtime my immune system was doing to keep me relatively healthy during that time.

So with the combination of all that stuff, it really shouldn’t have surprised me when I started relapsing in the middle of February.

Over the course of a week, I went from feeling kinda “off,” with my gut bothering me a little, to being checked into the hospital – extremely dehydrated, in a lot of pain, and with a white blood cell count (which I’m told is an indicator of infection) double or triple what it’s supposed to be.

I was NOT happy. AT ALL.

It was bad enough being tied down to a hospital bed, pumped full of fluid and antibiotics, but then to add insult to injury, I had to witness the whole hospital “food” routine.

Painful.

I was on a liquid diet most of the time I was there, and that was bad enough. I drank their herb tea. And I think some of the apple juice. I wouldn’t touch their “jello.”

And I shouldn’t even get started about the “broth.

If I was horrified (and I was) at the high-fructose corn syrup/artificial colored/so many additives I can’t even pronounce them all – laden gelatin and “Italian Ice,” then I was utterly and completely outraged at that science lab chemical concoction that they not only had the nerve to call broth, but they also tried to feed to people!! OH. MY. GOSH!!!

(And if you think I sound all wound up about this, you shoulda seen me in person!!)

So I made my sister bring me some *actual* broth from home. And then forced her to listen to my next tirade about how they were asking the poor woman in the bed next to me if she wanted margarine on her pancakes. Margarine. MARGARINE!!

I thought this was supposed to be a HOSPITAL!! WHY ARE THEY POISONING EVERYONE???

Hang on. Sorry. Give me a second to let my blood pressure go down a bit…

*Deep breath.*

So I was in the hospital about 5 days. I got poked 11 times (yes, I kept track. When they wake you up at 5 or 6 AM every day to stick a needle in your hand and draw blood you don’t tend to forget about it real quick). Ouch.

They finally let me go home, though, with instructions to get back on the medication, that I’d be on it for the rest of my life.

Yeah, about that

I haven’t taken it. At all. (Don’t tell my dad).

What I did do, though – and I know this sounds counterproductive – was relax my diet.

I’ve stopped stressing about my food so much.

And the crazy thing is: it’s been working!

Even without rigidly following that diet, I’ve been feeling great!

Now, I’ve also dealt with some personal issues and de-stressed a little in other areas of my life, which I know has a lot to do with my feeling good as well.

And I do still (and plan to continue to) eat healthy.

When I cook for myself, I still cook (mostly) grain free. I still rely heavily on meat and veggies. I avoid a lot of sugar (stop laughing! I’ve just been… uh… craving ice cream lately, that’s all).

But I think God created all different kinds of food to be enjoyed. I don’t want to live my life without ever eating grains again. Or drinking milk. Or drenching my pancakes with maple syrup. (I would totally go on a rant here about maple syrup being all the proof I need that God loves me and wants me to be happy, but I realize this post is getting a bit long already, so I’ll spare you. This time).

I don’t know how adding more foods into my diet will effect my health.

But it’s a risk I’m willing to take, for multiple reasons.

More on those reasons later.

Love, N.

P.S. There, yay! You’re all caught up to where I am at right now! That is, assuming you’ve also read Part 1 and Part 2 of my “health journey.” And if you haven’t, well… what are you waiting for? Hop to it!!

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