I suggested that I cook. You know. Make an effort. Something nice. Something with flavour, as opposed to the from-a-bag feathered veg that usually gets upended into a wok with some waterlogged chicken and a sachet of personality that is less ‘herbs and spices’ and more ‘sugar. refined. liquid’
Something other than what we resort to night after night of together-but-apart eating.
I’ve had a stomach niggle for coming up to ten years. For the first seven I kept thinking it was me, something I ate, in the wrong order, quantities or state of being. It wasn’t an allergy because I’d be dead (and on some days I shudder to say that I’d snort “I WISH” in as much a Kevin The Teenager fashion as is possible)
As I got sicker and more defeated I ended up doing the thing desperate people do; which is to say I went on the internet and found a company that would send me a little pack containing a shallow needle-like blood-drawing device and a return envelope detailing the carriage of genetic material so that I could swap money for answers.
It all added up to an intolerance list that most doctors and all of AA Gill sniff at. The laundry list of things I can but can’t and shouldn’t eat because while they won’t kill me will make me want to kill others includes yeast, gluten, egg, dairy, capsicum and bizarrely and quite specifically, black currants.
“Hmm” the nutritionist said “have you had a candida test?”
No. Just one bogus non-medically recognised and flagrantly financially extravagant test at a time, thanks.
“Well, it looks like you have it. What you need to avoid is sugar in all of its forms. And mushrooms. And anything that can grow mould”
“Well, everything, really. Just. Don’t eat anything too ripe, but I suppose you won’t because you mustn’t eat fruit”
I was stymied, but now I’m not because it’s been three years of getting on with it and I’ve felt remarkably human. In a way that I didn’t before. Anyway, it’s been a long game and one that never really ends and so Ideal Brown and I eat together, but very rarely the same thing.
I have a friend who doesn’t believe in ghosts but does believe her boyfriend’s flat was haunted because of all the scratches they’d awake to find on their hands and arms in the morning.
Food intolerance is kind of like that. Whether you believe in it or not, it’s there and it’s uncomfortable.
I annoy a lot of people because I can’t eat food and I get annoyed with a lot of people who feel they have to suffer the inconvenience of something that isn’t even happening to them for the approximate length of one meal-time.
On that note- just quickly- fuck you.
We’re not making it up. We of the challenged gut don’t enjoy the reluctant attention our fickle insides receive. We’re gastro hypochondriacs out of necessity, not leisure. It’s really embarrassing to say “cheese hurts” and then to have to explain that “bread hurts too”. Also; it’s terrifying to learn how few people know what their food actually contains. Cue 1980′s tales of vegetarian woe upon rejecting pork on the grounds that it’s dead and being offered chicken nuggets instead.
“You can’t eat bread? How about pasta?”
The planks. They’re making a case for cannibalism. Sure, we might get the shakes but hopefully it would lower the Stupid in our gene pool and solve the meat-guilt problem. Because I suffer with that too.
Most meals are involve a quiet mental war between concentrating on exactly what I’m eating, the horror of it being in my mouth and how wonderful it is at the same time. Sometimes I eat really fast. Once the pig has passed my tongue everything is okay, but until that point I feel like a monster. It’s senseless and easy to scorn, but so is eating pork but ruling out mutton because once I saw lambs playing like puppies.
These days I get by on a lot of soy yogurt and almonds. Lots of almonds.
I solved one gut problem and created a new one; trying to digest the food equivalent of hard wood flooring.
So, it’s Friday. It’s Valentine’s Day. There’s a big storm barging in. I suggested I’d cook. I went to the shops. I thought about this the whole time:
And I left with a litre of soy yogurt.
Happy Valentines day.
Actually, it’s worth saying that the York Test although costly, was worthwhile. To anyone who has been wondering, for ages if they should part with such a lump of cash for what your doctor will almost certainly wave-away while telling you that IBS is common and that you should learn to deal with it – I’m so glad I got it. I’d almost say it changed my life if I didn’t worry that all the new-mummies would beat my shallow arse to death and run me down with an infant-laden buggy.