Part III: A Withering Spring
Did I mention that I was trying to work 40-hour weeks at a digital agency this whole time? My employer was pretty good about it, letting me work from home. I’m a writer, so I didn’t necessarily *need* to be in the office all the time. I was on the daily standup call at 8am and I tried to go in when I could, which some weeks was only a day or two. I usually made it in by late morning. I don’t think they loved the arrangement but they seemed to do right by me, which was helpful. And I was thankful to have a full-time job with health insurance. (America’s healthcare situation is fucked up. There, I said it.)
As April became May and May turned into June, I didn’t see any miraculous improvement of my symptoms from the Humira. What I did see was a steady decline in my weight and energy levels. 155 lbs at 6’2″ is not good. I was having lots of diarrhea, basically not retaining any food at all. I attributed these symptoms to the Cipro & Flagyl. Whenever I mentioned that I was on both of those antibiotics at the same time, people’s jaws would drop. The power of those antibiotics separately is strong enough, and I was taking both, multiple times a day.
As I mentioned before, my father died from cancer in 2016. As I shuffled around the house in his hand-me-down sweatpants, I felt like I was channeling his decline and dying in a similar fashion. I mirrored his exhaustion in the way collapsed into my chair, closed my eyes, and rested my chin on my chest when sitting down at mealtime, needing to take a moment to rest before I ate. My energy levels were such that I could only really lie in bed and work. I don’t remember having much abscess pain at the time, just nonexistent energy.
I started seeing a therapist in early June to deal with some of the fallout from things around my father’s death (vagueblog intended) as well as cope with the constant pain. She recommended a book called Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morell in hopes that I might find some healing in those recipes. In late June, she mentioned a rice porridge dish called congee. Being on the SCD for over 13 years at that point, I was comfortable eating rice and once she sent a recipe, I started eating ‘sweet’ congee every morning, made with ginger and raisins. It tasted so good with honey and sometimes pecans. In the words of my therapist, I needed foods to nurture and nourish me. That guidance resonated with the part of me that wanted to live and find a solution to the pain.
But I still wasn’t thriving. I was exhausted. I was as sick as I’ve ever been. And I knew what was causing it.
Congee is clearly not Paleo/Primal/SCD ‘legal.’ The recipe that follows is taken from the Mosaic Acupuncture website. I have no affiliation with them, this is the recipe my therapist sent when I asked her for congee recipes. Check their site for a ‘savory congee’ recipe after the sweet congee.
- 1/2 cup rice
- 5 cups water
- 1/4 cup raisins (or dates)
- 1 tsp grated ginger root
- 1 tsp honey
- Add rice and water to a pot and heat to boiling.
- Cover and turn heat down to simmer for 40-50 minutes or until rice is soft.
- Add dried fruit and ginger and continue to simmer until the mixture has a consistency similar to watery Cream of Wheat or oatmeal and the fruit is plumped – approx. another 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in honey and dish into bowls.
- (My comments – This recipe is good just off the stove but I really like it the next day, after it’s had time to thicken and the raisins have soaked up more liquid. I make it without stirring the honey into the whole batch and just add some to my bowl each time. I also add a couple dashes of turmeric for anti-inflammatory properties.)