Since When Are Strawberries the Enemy?

Forbidden Fruit

Forbidden Fruit

A lot has changed since we last met.  We moved into our new house, a home we finally own. We are done unpacking and are now in the “putting away/hanging pictures” stage. My daughter ended preschool and is on summer vacation. She hasn’t been out of school for this long in over a year, and we have 2.5 more months before Kindergarten. I am both excited to spend time with her as well as looking forward to her weeks of camp.

The latest development, however, is nothing short of a steamroller through my life, through my emotional well-being.  I have Interstitial Cystitis.  Basically, it is a condition where the mucus membrane of the bladder disintegrates, no longer protecting the lining of the bladder from the urine it holds. So, I feel like I have a Urinary Tract Infection all of the time but without the infection.

Here are two links: layperson friendly and technical.

I know what you want to know: what is the treatment? Well, no treatments work 100%. Or even 60%.  Medication works only 30% of the time, you have to take it for 4-6 months and it causes hair loss while you take it. There are other therapies but I am not in that much pain. I am annoyed and uncomfortable but I wouldn’t call it “pain,” like someone who is doubled over with an inflamed bladder and has to crawl to the bathroom. Thankfully, I am not like that and it might not get that bad.  It is bad enough, however, that it can’t be ignored.

The recommended way to stop an I.C. attack is through diet. The less acid in my bladder the less it hurts. Check out what I can’t eat (this is abridged for space):

  • Most fruits (except blueberries, pears and melon)
  • tomatoes and onions
  • Anything with vinegar (ie: salad dressings and marinades, condiments)
  • fruit juice, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, any drinks with bubbles
  • meat with nitrates, tofu
  • aged cheese, yogurt (I can eat string cheese, cottage cheese, American)
  • anything spicy
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

If you followed me around all day, you would see that everything I eat is on this list, except for my beloved sweet potatoes and steamed vegetables.   At this point, I eat a lot of blueberries and am practically drowning in water.  The list might not seem so bad, but when I say it is everything I eat, I am not kidding. We practically live on chicken apple sausage.  My husband cooks with loads of spices. And I can eat a tomato like an apple (and often do…or did).

I am passionate about eating. I love strong flavors like gruyere cheese and meat grilled with spices and herbs. I drink wine, often. Olives! Pickles! Nectarines! Food is a way J and I experience life, especially when we don’t have family in town and rarely have a sitter.  In place of going out to fancy restaurants and dining ourselves into bankruptcy, my husband makes delicious meals accompanied by wine or beer. Every night is date night in our household.

The change in diet has brought on a lot of anxiety and sadness for me, and it isn’t only because of how much I love Jardine’s steak rub.

In college,  a therapist and a dietitian helped me work through compulsive eating. To give myself comfort from the never ending barrage of insults I threw at myself, I ate constantly. Especially at night. Especially peanut butter. (I stopped buying it but ended up eating my roommates’ jars. Yes, JARS.)  Eating was the only way I knew to fill the pit of my stomach that was always in knots from my constant questioning: Why am I so ugly? Why am I so stupid? Why am I so worthless?

Over the years, I have worked through the self-hatred and the eating has subsided. Mostly. I can normally talk myself out of the behavior and walk out of a store with nothing to gulp down by the handfuls. PMS often brings on some kind of crazy eating, but now I share my experience with my husband and I’m done.

However, I also need to feel that all food is accessible to me. I assume this is related to the compulsive eating somehow. Even when I diet for weightloss I can NEVER have a category of food off limits. Limited in intake? I can handle that. Off limits? I’ll eat even more. The feeling of punishment is simply too strong to overcome the “no-carb” diet. If I can’t eat a food that some skinnier, prettier woman can, then it proves what I always knew about me: I am stupid, ugly and worthless. So, I eat lots of healthy food and sometimes not so healthy food.

So I am completely boxed in here. I have no choice in what I can eat. At restaurants, I am one of those annoying people who has to ask what is in everything and ask the waitress to take things off (next time you are at a restaurant and about to order a salad, try taking off the bacon, tomatoes, onion and dressing and see if it is even worth buying anymore). I stare at strawberries in our fridge and want to cry. I miss juice. I miss yogurt. I miss eating what I want when I want.

This blog was never meant to be about anything in particular. I don’t intend for that to change. But having I.C. will definitely be a theme, as well as food and the psychology of eating. Because if there is one thing I am definitely no expert at, it’s how to maintain my sanity while being told what I can and can not eat.

Eat a strawberrty today, and think of me.

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10 responses to “Since When Are Strawberries the Enemy?

  1. Oh mama, I am so sorry! I’m sure (I hope) after a (LONG) while it won’t feel so hard… But it just sucks, period. Hmpf.

  2. Hang in there! That sounds unpleasant :-(. Hopefully, having an actual diagnosis is helping you feel less stressed.

  3. Again, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. But glad at least yours isn’t at the point of excruciating chronic pain. (My ex described it as a feeling of razor blades grinding in her bladder.) I guess they’re still not sure what causes IC but in her I think it got that bad due to a combination of factors (including extreme pelvic trauma, which may have exacerbated an auto-immune disorder already in progress). That is to say that while it’s a total drag you have to deal with this, hopefully yours would never get to that point.

    And I hear you about the deprivation mentality. (Speaking as someone who has consumed more than her fair share of peanut butter jars. Hell, you could call them tubs. “Troughs,” even!)

  4. I’m really sad to hear this. I so enjoy your blog and your spirit and I can certainly see how this would be a difficult thing to face. Just wanted to say I’m sorry for all the adjustments which seem to be in front of you. From one foodie to another…it just plain sucks when “they” mess with our meals!

  5. Wow. I can’t even imagine what this must be like. I know how much I suffer when I voluntarily choose to eliminate foods for a seasonal cleanse, but I always know that I will go back to my usual way of eating. I’m really sorry that you are going through this.

  6. This sucks!! I’m so sorry to hear it. 😦 I know how important food is to you.

    Thank you for sharing here… and who knows– you might help raise awareness and inspire others with this journey.

    Also… I want to see your new house! Are you having a housewarming party?

  7. I’m really sorry to hear about your IC diagnosis. I can relate to your difficulty with all the food restrictions. I had to watch what I ate due to gestational diabetes and I hated it!

    It certainly made me feel angry having someone else dictate what I could and could not eat – even though I knew it was in my best interest.

    I wish you all the best.

  8. I’m really sorry to hear about this… it sounds really uncomfortable. I recently had a bladder infection… that feeling of pain and fullness when nothing is actually there… so it’s pretty vivid in my mind. I can’t imagine just having to deal with something like that permanently with very little help. Ugh. {{{ hugs }}}

  9. Yikes! I was recently diagnosed with adult onset asthma, but I think you have the worse end of the deal. Sure, not being able to breathe can be a pain, but I guess I’ll look on the bright side in that I can still eat chocolate.

    Good luck adjusting. Sometimes just knowing what the problem is and slowly getting used to living with it can help (rather than being in pain and not knowing why).