“This is so you” Mike mutters during a family viewing of My Girl earlier this year, after I had been telling them how much I loved the movie as a kid – specifically because of an affinity to Veda’s character. Watching it as an adult though it became suddenly apparent just how much I hadn’t changed from the young girl who use to lay awake at night obsessively diagnosing herself with an array of rare diseases and abnormal syndromes. A big aspect of my childhood was riddled by death fear. Like Veda, I had lost a parent at a young age and it’s easy to imagine how that kind of trauma can manifest itself in the shape of health fixations, disease and worry. A neurotic tendency I still resort to all these years later, whenever I feel the least bit stressed or anxious.
January is always the most trying for me. For a lot of us, though, I would think. A dark, dank season weighed by emotions attached to that post holiday let down mingled with new year frets. Throw in some rainy gray weather and bone chilling temps, and it’s basically a breeding ground for depression. At least for me it is. What I learned this winter (So Cal’s coldest on record) was that I am basically only a good mother, friend, wife and human when I’m warm and in weather decent (Let us not forget we endured the season without a working heater in the house. Which meant some breakfasts where we could see our breath. Painfully cold mornings and equally cold nights where I was miserable through most of February. Because anyone who knows me knows I am an eternally cold person constantly seeking the kind of warmth others can’t stand. Like sitting in your hot car with the windows up for a few minutes and calling it bliss, kind of heat.)
At this point I pretty much know what to expect and how to handle myself during fumbling winter blues but this year proved a little rougher. This one started with a real health scare. When one Sunday after an early morning trip to the beach I noticed a swollen mass in one breast. A mass that grew over days and sent me to a local urgent care after a red line on my skin appeared. A tale tell sign of Lymphatic breast cancer.
From urgent care I was sent to a breast center who took me in for my first mammogram. They said it looked great and was likely due to minor infection. But in ultrasound the whole tone shifted when my radiologist looked noticeably concerned. She told me she had never seen a scan present the way mine did. But that it didn’t look like cancer. Which is what we were all fearing. Within minutes she was leaning towards a fungal infection of some kind, tossing around everything from lymphoma, to leukemia, to cat scratch fever, TB and beyond. I laid there frozen with fear until she brought in another Dr. to access the scans and he decided a round of antibiotics might just clear it up.
He was right. Overnight the swelling nearly dissipated entirely and the infection was deemed old bacteria clogged in milk duct. Non lactating mastitis. In the weeks after, I couldn’t shake the worry it left me with though.
And so begins this frantic four month journey towards healing. Examining things like why my migraines are so much more prevalent, my tongue coated in white, my anxiety mounting, and my overall sense of well being feeling downright shaken. Mike laughed me off. He’s rightfully unfazed by my neurosis. So did a couple *doctors who told me that I didn’t have thrush, and one dentist who assured me the blood vessel I found in the very back of my tongue was definitely not tongue cancer. I read and worried and obsessed over this white tongue for weeks until I started to think more practically about how much my body was rejecting one main component in my diet. YEAST. Yeast in the wheat heavy IPAs I drink on occasion when I know I shouldn’t. In the bread I eat, the pasta and the sauces I love. Knowing full and well that the older I get the less capable my body is at breaking down and process yeast. It just took a white tongue for me to take it seriously.
Years back I had taken the Pinnertest to pinpoint food intolerances and yeast came back as my number one. The woman I spoke to on the phone told that it was one of the only intolerances that can be reversed but that it takes hard work because yeast is in almost everything. When I started to think about it, all my symptoms can be attributed to it. Bloating, sluggish digestion, headaches, all of it. I’m at the point now where major dietary shifts are in order and although I consider myself a fairly healthy eater, what it takes now is vital, focused mindfulness. Regarding what I put in and how I go about healing.
Proactive moves of late include: joining a hot yoga den **down the street (which I’m loving) working to consistently cut out gluten and yeast, jumping on the ***celery juice band wagon, looking into water fasting, amping up my supplements and taking a real break from all alcohol – until I get to a point where it doesn’t hinder my general well being the way it does now. Because having a glass or two of wine and feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck the next day just isn’t right.
And now there is an ****acupuncturist in my life too. A slight, soft spoken asian man called Dr Xu who I found on yelp with rave reviews. Who greets me with a warm welcome and classical music blaring from his office speakers. I tell him I’m here because of a white tongue so he takes a look and laughs (this is not the only time he will laugh at me. He laughs twice as hard when I tell him I have four boys) But about my tongue he laughs like I told a joke and tells me it’s fine. And I guess with him being my fourth opinion, I have to accept it.
He then proceeds to unravel a condensed history of Chinese philosophy about how important honoring the seasons is. Eating and drinking and existing differently in different seasons. He tells me I need to drink and eat warm food until summer. That my system is damp and needs more “fire.” He also lectures me about growing my own food. I don’t bother to explain my renovation woes, that my bathtub still drains from a hose out our back window and I hardly have the energy right now to garden. I just listen and agree with it all.
The needles are placed along my body and then electrodes attached which send tiny pulsing currents to each pressure point while I lay in the dark for 20 minutes alone with warm towels wrapped on my feet, feeling these pulses along my spine, head, back and feet. Then comes the cupping. Which I know has become a novelty of it’s own thanks to the influx of celebrity endorsements, but it’s incredible. The heat, the pressure and the release all offer instant catharsis. From that moment on I’m hooked.
An hour later I walk out with two bottles of pills to be taken 10 in the morning and 10 at night along with a bag of herbs to be “cooked in water with ginger” to prompt healthy digestion. Because that’s an issue all it’s own.
When it’s all said and done I’d say it lived up to my expectations completely. And while the bag of mystery herbs has yet to be cooked and digested, I did wake up feeling lighter, brighter and altogether more refreshed. I can probably even attribute the vivid, intimate dream staring Post Malone in a leather jacket at a dingy nightclub last night to the clarity my body now knows. $110 well spent.
So from here on out the journey continues. And I’m here reaching for warmer seasons, embracing beerlessness, wanting less worry, and zero yeast, and my bright healthy pink tongue back.
As always, I’m just happy to be out of the dark and back to the blog.
Thanks for sticking around,