That time I had a spinal tap in Budapest and how cauliflower recently made me contemplate suicide.
I’ve lost 9 pounds in about two weeks since I changed up some things in eating. But enough about all that good news.
Last Friday, I bawled and sniffled and sobbed for a couple of hours. Doomed! Dying! Brazen! If you aren’t sinning – and that includes with food and drink – then you aren’t living. That’s been my motto for a quarter of century. Now, here in my 40s, I have to reduce the epically pointless purpose of the universe down to something I can manage that will also allow me to cling to this paltry planet for a few more years. It will be through fun low-carb cauliflower soup recipes, right? KILL ME RIGHT FUCKING NOW.
So, last week, the tears came out of nowhere after an easy meeting with a colleague. Said meeting wasn’t stressful but I could feel myself distracted. Thinking about the pills I now have to take to control the diabetes my doc diagnosed me with a couple of weeks ago. Just a few minutes after the meeting in my office, I looked out the window as a little bird flitted past and the damn broke.
The stress of being told I have a disease and then figuring out how to live with it finally gotten to me. Sure, sure…I know, it will all be fine. A million people live with it and have happy happy lives. But I need some time to accept the diagnosis of a disease and one that, if not handled properly, can lead to a lot of bad, bad things.
After crying for a while, I realized that, in some ways, it’s the best thing to happen to me in a long time. My relationship with food has to change. That relationship is bound up in my ideas about adventure, about pleasure through the work of brilliant chefs, of a lifestyle of good, rich eating and drinking with no limits. No accounting for calories, carbs, alcohol poisoning etc. because somehow that makes the whole endeavor seem less of an adventure and more of a chore. The side effect of that has been to gain more and more weight every year and to exercise less and less. I FUCKING HATE EXERCISING. There, I said it. But somehow, every fat person I know who got thin now joyfully runs marathons and bought a $3,000 bike. So there must be something to it, some path to joyful sweating (can’t that just be sex??) where you join up with other fit people who share your hobby and talk about chaffing and learn a new lingo. When I have lost weight in the past, I worked out in the gym 5 – 6 days a week. I never loved it. But I knew I had to. What I loved was how sculpted my muscles got, but I didn’t have a lick of fun achieving those sexy ripples.
Nowadays I must count the carbs of everything that goes into my body. Whoa Nelly, I never knew how loaded everything on the planet that’s edible is loaded with sugars – either natural or processed. For someone who now should only have about 40 – 50 grams of carbs per meal, I discovered that an apple cinnamon bagel has 51 grams and no nutritional value. That’s the thing, even if I blow my carb load on something tasty, I now need to think about how much nutritional value it packs. [NOTE – this switching to 40 – 50 grams of carbs per meal really has worked for me – I haven’t veered from those numbers and I have lost almost 10 pounds in 2 weeks. If that will continue, I really don’t know. But I’ve been working very closely with my doctor on this and all is well so far.]
But here’s the rub – while this seems really difficult to me, I am discovering that there are a lot of healthy people without diabetes who live like this every day – just so they can be thin and feel good and end up with a disease where they might go blind or have their left foot amputated.
WHO FUCKING KNEW?!?
Even in my healthiest, thinnest days, my svelteness could be attributed to alcohol, lots of walking, and cigarettes. Even when I was counting calories and fat, I wasn’t thinking much about nutrition. Just how to stay within my allotted numbers and not suffer.
These past two weeks I fell into a deep depression, thinking that I was doomed to raw veggies and stir-fry. I just didn’t know what was low-carb or how to cook low-carb beyond that.
But now I’m learning. For my birthday, a friend gave me a Paleo cookbook (the Paleo way of cooking, for the most part, works well for diabetics who need to cut the bread and pasta our of their lives. Though, the Paleo folks who don’t have diabetes seem to make the food so yummy by using a lot of high-carb veggies). I went over to Quail Ridge books and found that there is, in fact, a diabetic cooking section (ah! I’m not the only one dealing with this fucking thing). And so begins the foray into how to cook well with an eye towards not spiking my blood sugar and cutting out the high-carb stuff.
I’m in my 40s now. I don’t feel invincible like I did in my 20s and 30s – and I wreaked havoc on my body and partied like a lunatic for all those years. Once, during my mid-20s, while studying in Budapest, Hungary (I lived there for over 2 years), I was partying so much at the local dive bar taverns with my best Hungarian friend Agnes that I had to go into the hospital there. Actually, Agnes was my roommate and she only partied with me part of the time. I was too debauched for most Hungarian female students so I had to find some hard-drinking boys to hang with. They are easy to come by in Eastern Europe, thought, they don’t always have all of their teeth.
The over-the-top debauchery and lack of eating anything by goulash led me to a major vitamin deficiency and I had to be hospitalized. For some reason, a spinal tap was ordered. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a spinal tap in a communist-era hospital (well, it was right after communism but the architecture was still all-Stalin. I remember the actual spinal tap. I sat in the middle of a dreary, bleak room. The doc, a young fella who spoke only broken English, told me to take off my top, and sit backwards on the metal chair. There in that cold, empty room he proceeded to prod deep into my spine with a massive needle more than once (he said he couldn’t quite get to the fluid) – the pain was so excruciating that I screamed out “FUUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOOU” for about two minutes and then wailed for a bit and then decided to shut up because perhaps he might just hate Americans and be fucking with me on purpose. Americans, in their Tevas and Washington Redskins t-shirts, are not well-loved in much of Eastern Europe, no matter what you might think.
After the spinal tap, I was wheeled into a room on a squeaky cart and told I had to lay completely flat, not even lifting my head, for 24 hours. Not a problem unless you are sharing a room with an insane old woman named Marta who screams incessantly something about a dog named Jozsi and how she doesn’t have all the right ingredients to make Hortobágyi palacsinta (Hungarian crepes made with veal and a creamy paprika sauce – they are my favorite Hungarian dish).
That night, the batteries in my Sony Walkman started to die just as the old lady began a new round of especially loud screaming. The only CD I had with me was U2s “Zooropa” and, as the music slowed waaaaay down until there was nothing left to hear but the long, muddy warbling of Bono, I felt my only tether to sanity slipping away. It was then that I decided to slow down the partying and drink less Bull’s Blood (that was the name of the wine me and my fellow Hungarian students swilled by the gallon. It cost roughly the equivalent of a $2.00 a bottle and it was damned good.)
Long story short, the partying and wild times, well, I’ve had a good time doing it all. God knows I have. The thing is, not only can I NOT live like that anymore. I just don’t want to. Honestly, it bores the hell out of me. But so does raw bell pepper and measuring out almond flour by the tablespoon full. So, I’ve got to find a way to make this new relationship with food and drink just as interesting and exciting as my other relationships with food and drink.
I shall become a brilliant chef of all things low-carb. Sexy food photos to follow. I won’t preach about it or proselytize – I’ll just share my journey. For those of you who are contemplating changes in diet and health, I’ll tell you this – no one – NO ONE – is less inclined to a mostly veggie diet than me. But there’s got to be a way to make this work.
Oh Bojangles! I miss you! But a cute little black dress from Neiman Marcus needs me!
Oreo Blizzard from Sonic! Sayonara! But a bikini calls me.
Food porn and shopping porn to follow. Ciao, my lovelies.
Oh gin-soaked revelries. Adieu!