“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

11 February 2012

Healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

I've been thinking about this today. It's a strange adage, isn't it? If Silicon Valley is any indication, it's not terribly accurate. And I'm not all that interested in being wealthy; I'd be quite content just to live comfortably and help my kids go to college if they choose. Of course, I would very much like to be wise one day but I'm willing to wait until I've earned my keep. I'm not the sort of person who compares herself to others in this way. Well, almost never. With one glaring exception.

I envy the healthy so much right now that I can hardly stand it. It's my own little green monster, my jealous Achilles heel. I've never been one for assigning blame-- not since I've outgrown my teenage angst-- but I do go through bouts of incredible anger when I think about my health. It's not directed at people, or at Gods, or at fate. It's mostly directed at my own body, which is exhausting. The jealousy I feel can make me lash out in unexpected ways.  I feel embarrassed by my own envy, which is exactly why it's better to get it out in the open.

The relationship with my body is complicated. It was even before I developed Crohn's. I've never really enjoyed living in my body. I've never appreciated it. I've never had the strength or the emotional capacity to be satisfied with it. And what does that mean, anyhow? To be satisfied with my body? It sounds distasteful to me, like settling for something you don't actually want. The further along this road I go, the more Crohn's Disease takes away from me. The list of foods I'm allowed to eat gets shorter almost weekly, and the roster of medications keeps increasing. I'm not getting better. I'm trying to learn to see not getting worse as a win.

Fact: My body and I are in a never-ending battle of wills.
Additional Fact: I am losing.

My body is starving-- not for food, obviously, but for the nutrients it cannot pull out of that food. My cholesterol is high, my vitamin absorption is low, and I'm so inexplicably tired. It's frustrating to know that I'm eating healthfully and exercising, and my body is still suffering like this. My doctor suggested starting the Specific Carbohydrate Diet in an attempt to get back in control. The diet focuses on foods that are simple to digest. It means cutting out both diary and starch, as well as soy products, chocolate, and sugar. No, I'm not happy about it, and I'm not doing it because I want to. I really do not have a choice. That anger I was talking about? It bubbles very close to the surface when I think about this.

I think about these sorts of things a lot, and that's when I start to feel depressed. Focusing on my work helps. Reading helps. Looking up SCD recipes helps. Facebook helps, and so does television, and I don't care if you judge me for that. Living inside this head, inside this body, really sucks right now. I spend so much of my time pretending it doesn't. I tell people I'm feeling fine when it feels like my guts are eating themselves. I want to complain but I generally don't, and I feel so guilty when I do. What’s healthy about that?

On top of all this, I'm tired of being a burden. I think about the weddings I'm set to attend this year-- my brother's and my sister-in-law's-- and I wonder what the hell I'll eat there. And I hate that anyone might have to worry about that, because it turns me into a problem. Everything in me rebels against being anyone else's problem. Sometimes well-meaning people imply that I can be braver, or that I should beware using my disease a crutch. “Such-and-so got sick, and became such a whiner, and isn’t it terribly sad when sick people just wallow in it all?” I want to tear their hair out. Only a healthy person would say this. The jealousy monster rises up in me, green-skinned and red-eyed, and commands me to go for their throat. But I don't. I never do.

So I guess I’m doing my ranting here. Poor you, really, for reading all of this. See that?! I did it again! Guilt is very powerful. My husband has been struggling with the fact that Crohn's Disease is incurable. He's a "fixer," and so he has a hard time accepting that this isn't something that can be fixed. Sometimes I want to lie to him, to tell him my doctor said I'm improving when he actually told me the opposite. I want to comfort him, and I want him to comfort me, and neither of those things ever really work out. There's very little comfort to go around right now. I want to be sorry for dumping all of this on the internet, and for making you read it, but I won’t let myself feel guilty about that. You didn’t have to read it. I don’t owe you an apology. If I was a mantra-having individual, I might try that one out: I don’t owe you an apology for my honesty.

Where do I go from here? Nowhere profound. I’ll make an SCD dinner, and then head to bed early.

Early to bed, early to rise. It really can’t hurt to try.