Crying over Spilled Milk . . . or Chili
I never imagined a time when I would have to relearn how to eat. I also never imagined a time when I would need to gain weight. Both things happened to me. Most people don’t understand just exactly what I mean when I say I couldn’t eat during the massive flare of colitis. When I ate, it caused really intense pain and a lot of time in the bathroom. Imagine a stomach virus that leaves you pale and sweating and never goes away. After several days, you know that you need to put some kind of nourishment in your body but it just hurts.
Hunger typically wins out or some kind of medication gives a little relief. It didn’t for me. The more pain I had, the less I ate. Hubby got very worried about me. He was worried that I was also anorexic. Many of us that are too thin have heard this and resent it but his reasoning was not my size but the amount of food that I was eating. I also have food allergies. For about a year, I ate nothing at all with any fish, shellfish, peanut, pecan, walnut, almond, or wheat; so, no bread, pasta, crackers or breading of any kind. The next thing to go was any kind of tomato or raw vegetable, then anything with any kind of spice. Finally, I eliminated anything except completely soft and bland foods and I ate very little of those.
When a couple scrambled eggs caused me serious pain, then I ate even less. I might have a pudding cup. We tried a little bit of everything. I tried putting everything in the food processor. Have you ever seen cottage cheese after it has been in a food processor? It tastes pretty good. It still hurt though. By the time I had surgery, I was eating pudding and cottage cheese that been in the food processor, about a cup a day. I was malnourished and dehydrated.
After surgery, I was so relieved that I was going to be able to eat again. I went into surgery dreaming of the things I was going to eat when it was over. It didn’t quite work that way. First of all, my appetite didn’t just miraculously come back. They do make appetite stimulants for that, however. And then, I was still afraid of food. My colon that had been the reason for the pain was gone but in my mind, eating and food caused pain. I had to get used to the idea that I could really eat again and it was not going to hurt. It was slow going at first. I tried something and when it didn’t hurt I would keep eating that one thing. Slowly, I kept eating and I started gaining weight.
Now I had another new hurdle. When you do not have a colon and do have a stoma your body doesn’t process food the same way. Your colon absorbs the liquids. Pieces of food can get stuck in a stoma. All of the healthy foods like fiber are no longer good for you anymore because they can cause a blockage in a stoma. Gas? Well, when you are wearing an ostomy bag and have no colon it has no place to go. The bag on your side just blows up like a giant balloon. If this happens during the day you can let it out but at night if you don’t wake up it just keeps getting tighter and tighter and the gas just keeps building with no place to go.
So now I am eating again and have gotten over my fear but I have to figure out just which foods exactly I can eat that won’t cause a blockage or cause me to be up all night long with a bag full of air. I’m finally excited about eating again. I love to cook! The weather is changing and it’s getting cooler. I have several great soup and stew recipes that have always been favorites. What is the first thing I make? Chili, of course, my chili is famous! Oh, was it good! I enjoyed ever single bite. I was excited and proud of myself. Until 5am that is when my ostomy bag was so full of air and chili that it exploded all over me. I stood in the shower and cried. I cried all day over spilled chili. I had finally gotten over my fear of eating, food tasted good and I wanted to eat and when I did that stoma and ostomy bag were putting up a fight! I really cried all day. Over spilled milk, er chili. It wasn’t that I had to get up and shower or change the sheets and do laundry; it was the loss of something. I was completely ready for the surgery and to have Moxie but I was unprepared for these feelings. I wasn’t prepared to want to eat, for food to look good, smell good and then for it to still cause problems. I needed to mourn the loss and change.
I only cried that day. I mean, not eating chili or eating only a very small amount and for lunch not supper is really nothing compared to dying now is it? And I can eat again. I’m back to a healthy weight. I’ve learned to really like white bread instead of whole wheat. I’m getting a little tired of green beans and really soft carrots but I’ll just have to get a little more creative about cooking. I made more chili for the family. This time, beside that big pot of chili, I also made a pan of goulash, meat, tomatoes and pasta with all the chili seasonings, minus those beans. It was delicious! I topped it with cheese crackers and a dollop of Daisy. My mouth was so happy. Moxie was also happy. Life is good.