Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Of Foodstuffs and Other Terrors

I'm going to finally respond to “Wrote a Blog-Like Thing” and tell you what led to my recent eating issues, by telling you a little bit of my history with food.

We've never gotten along terribly well.

From age one there was an issue.
There is a chance that I was reacting poorly to soy in the formula, since I do have an intolerance to soy which was at one point a full blown allergy. However, soy wasn't quite as common in EVERY GODDAMN THING when I was an infant.
~~Before anyone chimes in with “all your problems are because your mom didn't breastfeed you” I'm going to go ahead and say A. No. and B. she actually tried to breastfeed and just couldn't. 
It's like telling someone who has no feet that by not running, they are purposefully trying to get fat.
By telling my mother that she did something wrong by not doing something she really physically couldn't do, you are a bad, hateful person.

...Quite frankly, it's right up there with people explaining to me that I'm unhealthy because I don't eat the things I'm seriously allergic to.  It's backwards, stupid logic. 

So, moving on.~~~

I was diagnosed with a “failure to thrive” and often this is an emotional thing. Babies sometimes get this when they just don't have a will to live, as well as possible physical reasons. So, it could have been a lot of different things.  "Failure to Thrive" is kind of a catch all in this respect.  
Regardless of the reason, the doctors didn't have much faith that I would survive, because food and I were already on bad terms.


It was like getting in the middle of a gang war. What doctor wants to do that?

Luckily, interns are used to being thrown into the middle of gang wars, so an intern put some cereal in milk, which I guess flavored it or something? I'm not really sure what went down, actually. One way or another though, this guy got me to eat.

My thought, as depressing as it may be, is that with all my other medical ailments putting me in incubators and making it most likely pretty uncomfortable to do anything, even as an infant... Having someone just be with me and spend that time with me may have done a lot.

My parents absolutely tried and they are wonderful people. However, when you've got one daughter who is loudly mentally unstable and then a much younger one who is physically funky, something has to give. I could never cry as loud as my older sister could. That is a simple fact.

By four years old, I had the rest of my hearing back.

Lemme explain that one. 

I had been mostly deaf due to a common fluid problem, but it took two surgeries to fix instead of one because my inner ear, like the rest of me, is kind of wonky looking. This made it so my speech was also funky. I spoke the way I had always heard things, which was reeeeaaaalllly quiet and kinda mumbled. I still speak this way if I get nervous.

Anyhoo, I had my hearing but I couldn't really communicate well. I could understand everyone around me, but only my sister (of all freaking people) could ever understand what the Hell I was saying.

Around this time, I fell down.


In my memory, there was a push involved and a traumatic moment attached, but we seem to have chosen to pretend it didn't happen.


So, my parents took me to the doctor and because we were having a bit of a disagreement as to how it happened, and any verbal argument from me wasn't entirely audible, it was decided that my S shape of a septum was just yet another deformity.

The problem here is that having a deformity from birth isn't something so easily fixed when you are a little kid, as it could just grow back as you age.

...So I didn't get my nose fixed. He took out my adenoids instead. 
It didn't help.

Not being able to breathe meant I couldn't really taste anything either.

More than that, I had to breathe out of my mouth. This meant that I couldn't scarf food and I had to be extra particular about drinking, because I wouldn't be able to breathe.

Beyond that, I had come in contact with a number of things over the years that had made me itchy. We understood that I had food allergies, but we had no idea what that meant other than a lot of food seemed to make me really uncomfortable.

We didn't even really look into what the foods were, besides nuts. This made for a vague sense of ALL food being potentially unpleasant.

This was made much worse when I was thirteen.

We went to Israel.

As a Jew-type person, this should have been a wonderful experience.

It was not.

The main reason?

Turns out, I'm allergic to chickpeas. Hummus is kinda big there.  Kind of a big freaking deal.  
At the time, we had no idea that anything, even nuts could do what this thing did.

I blew up like a balloon, broke out in hives all over my body, my eyes swelled shut and blinded me...

And still, I was the calmest person in the whole damn room.

My parents were in a frenzy, unsure of what to do “What the fuck is an epi-pen??”
There were doctors on the phone telling them I may need something injected into my heart...

But, no one said to take me to a hospital either.  The phone-doctor just said to watch me.  ...Having no epi-pen, what would have happened if I had keeled over?

But I didn't.

I threw up. Waited for it all to get worse or better, and then calmly stated that I should eat something I know I'm not allergic to, like pizza.

This is hilarious in retrospect, because it turned out at the time that I was also allergic to wheat and tomato, but to a more mild degree. I've since grown out of them for the most part. Somewhat experimental allergy drops have helped.

By the way, ordering pizza on the Sabbath in Israel?  Amazing freaking feat.

Either way, after all that...

It left me, every now and then, like this:

I was pretty good for many years at hiding this. People could eat things I was allergic to, and I'd just quietly panic and tell them it was fine. I'd only seriously panic if a boyfriend ate these things, because then kissing him could be potentially dangerous.

I felt like a giant asshole.

“How dare I expect a man who loves me to not eat something that could kill me? I'm ruining his life!”

Talking to anyone else, I'd think they were being unreasonable. They can't help what could hurt them. But me? No no. Ever accommodating I am. Even if it actually does, in the end, kill me.

This is part of what led to the Fishbone incident.
Part one and two are here:

At fifteen, we went to a crackpot quack of a surgeon to fix my nose. He was purely a cosmetic doctor, which was upsetting. He wanted to shave my jaw down because I looked too “masculine” and give me my sister's nose. He wanted to make me look like a different person.

Being a fifteen year old girl with a speech impediment, a slouch from boobs that were too big, gnarly hair... My self esteem was already garbage.

I did not need that shit.

So I just cried a lot and for some reason they let him cut me open anyway, in hopes that he'd find my damaged Happy gland.
He sort of fixed one side a little.

I still couldn't really breathe, which led to another doctor giving me a nasal inhaler that I couldn't use. 
 It was not a lung issue, you freak.

Also, throughout my childhood, I would stand at the table or eat elsewhere. This was because of two things:

A. Pressure. The pressure to eat like a normal person made me feel like it was something I could fail at, and so I pretty much made myself fail.

When I'm upset, I don't eat, and my childhood wasn't exactly fantastic. This was not my parent's fault at all, by the way.
I want to make that clear.

B. I felt silly and too small. I had to sit on phone books in order to reach the table.

So, fine.

Back to the nose thing.
After a very unpleasant healing process, I could wheeze through my nose with a lot of struggle, but at least I looked the same. I guess he was afraid to even straighten the damn thing with the “fuss” I had made about him wanting to rearrange my face.

Not enough space to breathe, smell or taste, but there was just enough space to shoot food out of my nose by accident.

I can not express how incredibly painful and embarrassing this was.
Powered cheese product on macaroni should never exit through nostrils.

Five years after that, a reconstructive surgeon fixed my nose for real. I was very happy.

He also went out of his way to try to prevent me getting anything else done, realizing that I was also asking for things I didn't need. He worried that I had Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and... maybe? I may have had some variation of it. I figure I was just oogly and now I've accepted that I'm... a “unique” kind of pretty.

I felt so bad for my mother here. Her immediate instinct was to jump on “OH! Don't worry, you don't have BDD!” The problem with that was that if I didn't have it, that meant I was ACTUALLY as hideous as I thought I was, and that it wasn't just in my head.

It seems to have been a phase though, rather than the actual mental illness. It pops up every now and then when I'm already depressed. My brain goes to “you are deformed” and just kinda sits on that.


Back to food.

With all this nonsense, it isn't really that remarkable that I've spent most of my life underweight.

I don't really look like that. But, it is how I feel sometimes. I liked the year or so when I was a bit more filled out. I looked the same, just healthier.

After the Fishbone incident/Everything that was where I was living for ten or so months, I wound up like this:

So eating was just... Not something I ever associated with causing happiness.

And now, you know.

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