Monday, December 19, 2011

Psst! Chelsea Handler? I Have Your Liver.

Do you know what I’m eating right now?  Blueberry yogurt.  Not carcinogen-laden Yoplait Fruit on the Bottom artificially sweetened goodness, but plain yogurt. . .plain. . .with blueberries. . .and wheat germ.  OK, stop laughing; no I haven’t joined the Dark Side and embraced the Gwyneth Paltrow school of macrobiotics, nor am I attempting to shed that little extra sumpin’-sumpin’ before the holidays.  No, this new regime comes courtesy of my doctor; or as I like to refer to him, Dr. Downer McBuzzkill.
A while back I posted about my visit to the cardiologist as WebMD had managed yet again to convince me that my fatigue and general feelings of “meh” were symptomatic of everything from heart cancer to erectile dysfunction.  As my heart appeared to be behaving nicely for once and yet I still felt about as energetic as a narcoleptic on Xanax, hi-ho-hi-ho, ‘twas back to the doc I go.
He started by doing some basic blood work to rule out the obvious things like anemia, leukemia, and pregnancy*
*Although ‘tis the season, the odds of yet another immaculate conception are pretty freaking rare, but I humored the man.

All we could tell is that “something was off” but Dr. House still seemed baffled, so he started burrowing through my medical records and randomly tossing out possible diagnoses.  I swear to God, there was more random guessing going on in that room than Dyslexics Week on The Wheel of Fortune. 
"Are you SURE you've never been a Columbian drug mule?"

Finally he stumbled across a random tidbit of data hidden in my files.
“Wait,” he said, “you didn’t mention you had mono a year ago.”
“Umm, well…yeah.,”  I replied, wondering why I felt guilty for having contracted the Epstein-Barr virus.
“Was it bad?” he queried.
“Well. . .yeah.  I mean, it was MONO.”  Seriously, I don’t know how I could have forgotten those three months of hell.  The short people and I had to move into my parents condo so Dad could corral them while Mom attempted to keep her sweat-soaked daughter’s fever below 104.  I was knocked out so flat I made Sunny von Bulow look like Carrot Top after a quad-shot Americano.
“You DO realize that mono can permanently damage your liver and kidneys. . .right?”
Well, shit, I do now!  Thanks, Dr. Kevorkian; as though the amount of grain alcohol I pumped through my system in the late 90’s wasn’t enough, now you tell me my little bout with ‘the kissing disease’. . .*
*Which I didn’t even get from kissing, so where’s the fucking justice there?
. . .has given me the liver of a Kennedy on Spring Break?  Lovely.  He then went on to ask about my current eating habits.  I thought about lying, but my renal system was obviously waiting to rat me out, so I begrudgingly admitted that my eating habits were about as under control as Herman Cain and Bill Clinton at a Miss Hawaiian Tropics contest.  I mean, seriously?  You set me loose in a Starbucks or a Taco Bell and I’m happier than an autistic kid in a pinwheel store. 
Suffice to say, after conducting a liver function test it was surmised that years of alcohol abuse + Epstein-Barr virus + eating habits of a frat boy on Spring Break = my liver is jacked-up, yo.  So, the good doctor hooked me up with some ‘cleansing’ meds and prescribed a Spartan diet that would make a Carmelite nun’s look like All You Can Eat night at the Golden Corral.

Now, I am all about change.  I love to try new things, and like a vampire (or Keith Richards) I thrive on fresh blood.  But do you know how hard it was for me to keep a straight face while Dr. Killjoy von Douchenheimer blathered on about things like soybeans and cruciferous vegetables? I hate to burst your bubble,, but all the Bragg's Amino Acids in the world are not going to make a flaccid chunk of tofu taste a goddamn bit like bacon. I get the whole animal rights thing (to an extent), but come on.  I'M a goddamn animal; so who is there to protect ME from cruel and unusual punishment? Where was PETA with their placards and cans of paint when I signed my marriage license in 1997, or when the doctor suggested that I give up caffeine indefinitely? 
Yeah, you heard me.  No.  Caffeine.  Ever.  Apparently caffeine (as well as meat, sugar, salt, and joy) will get your liver's ass kicked harder than Ann Coulter at an Occupy Wall Street rally.*
*Much love, Ann ((*fist bump*)).
So at present my diet consists of the following: raw or lightly cooked vegetables, raw organic fruits, raw nuts and seeds, small amounts of lean meat, little to no dairy, no salt, no sugar, no preservatives, no caffeine, no over the counter medications, and drinking so much water that if you jammed a tap in my stomach you could reenact the Tennessee Valley Authority project. Basically, this food plan is about as creative and inspired as the dialogue on your average ABC Family show, but if it’s going to help my liver regenerate like a starfish, let’s do it.
My immediate concern with this diet plan was how restrictive it was.  Not because I thought I’d be strangling homeless people so I could lick the coffee from inside their change cups, but because I have a long history of disordered eating.  I have been treated for both anorexia and bulimia and now that I am able to eat in a relatively normal (albeit non-nutritional) manner, the thought of putting restraints on my eating worries me that the bossy little food-bitch I’ve locked away will chew through her restraints and bitch-slap me back into submission.  Moderation is not a word used freely in my vocabulary, so I am nervous as a whore in church that having restrictions on my diet will make me backslide into food obsession. Fortunately I know that my family will be watching me like a ‘tween at a “Twilight” marathon, so I feel relatively secure that they’ll ‘keep it real’ when push comes to shove.

So here we are.  Day 4.  The caffeine-detox headaches have started to abate; I no longer weep when I pass a Starbucks*
*Which is every five fucking feet in this city
And I’ve stopped fantasizing about stabbing puppies for their moist, juicy flesh, so I’d say that’s progress!  As for my liver, it appears to be relatively well-behaved at the moment.  At least it’ll have some kick-ass, hookers-and-coke-in-the-hotel-room stories to share with my kidneys and pancreas at the next block party; it’s good to know that at least one part of my anatomy is worthy of a VH1 ‘Behind the Music’ documentary.


Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd said...

So do you get to add back in some of the things you love after a certain amount of time? I hope it makes you feel better.

Anonymous said...

You poor thing! I have similar restrictions on my diet, although in my case I don't have any problems with meat and I'm allowed to add salt to my food. On the plus side, I have been eating like a hermit in the woods and have yet to trigger my anorexia, mostly because I haven't lost any weight. I guess I should thank my middle-aged metabolism for that.

In my case, if I break my diet too often I get punished with a PAIN cycle that takes forever to pass. That's a pretty good incentive to stay on it. And in my case, it's not three months, it's till death do us part. Yay?

Leauxra said...

You made a very sad story make me laugh. Now I feel guilty.

I had a brush with the flesh eating strep throat last week (apparently I don't have it, just a horrible cold) and I stayed home sick on Friday. SUCH a bad headache. I thought my brain might be hemorrhaging. The next morning I realized I hadn't had any caffeine the day before. Yow!

I truly feel for you with the no caffeine thingy.

Anonymous said...

So are you feeling all peppy and cheerleader like again now that you have completely detoxed and purified your bod? Because, seriously, that is a super no fun way to go about life. Hopefully it will be short term. We can survive anything for a brief period of time, right? Even, gulp, no Starbucks . . . ouch, it just pained me to even type that out. But, stay strong, woman! I know you can do it. You are quite possibly the strongest bitch I know, so if anyone can conquer what I am guessing is a pseudo-vegan diet, it's you. Kick this thing's ass and get back to eating normal food again. I will expect a full food tour when I visit you in P-town, so you need to be in eatin' shape once that happens. Don't worry, you've got some time.

Stay strong! Hugs and caffeine-free kisses.

Jen said...

CARRIE - We're going to do a "rescreen" in 3 months and see how things look. Keep your fingers crossed!

ANDI - Yikes! You make me feel better about my 3 month restriction; and about conquering my food demons. You are a rock star, milady!

LEAUXRA - The first 2 caffeine-free days were BRUTAL! My short people were afraid. . .very, very afraid.

MISTY - It actually disturbs me to say how good I feel right now. It's Day 5 now and I haven't needed sleep meds for the last two nights, my eyes are clearer, and my skin looks amazing! Thank God Starbucks has herbal teas and their hummus/veggie packets are Doctor approved or I would seriously lose my shit. Oh, and when You come to P-Town (or we both go see Johi in Ft. Collins) all restrictions are OFF!!!

Jennifer Clark said...

Glad to hear the withdrawal headaches are subsiding. That's the worst, especially when you cain't pop 4 Motrin to make the pain go away. I sent a very earnest prayer to the Mother that this plan would help and also wouldn't cause you to eat your young; sounds like She's on the job. Hell. Maybe I should try it.

Best of luck, sister Jen!

PS: so, what are the kids eating? Gonna clean up their dietary act, too?

PPS: Perhaps this is Santa's way of answering your wish to be a calmer, better mother? 'Cause, you know, sleeping is a great first step in that particular direction....

Angie said...

Awwww girl this whole thing reeks of "sucks ass". Remember the good old days when one pill made you larger and one pill made you small? Sorry that's a song, huh? I can't believe we're about to hit 2012 and we still have to watch what we eat. I call bullshit.

I hope the headaches vanish soon and you're able to get through this diet of deprivation without strangling people.

CiCi said...

Hey Jen,
If this makes you feel any better, I am allergic to and can not have the following:
Beef, turkey, pork, chicken, fish, lamb, wheat, barley, rye, malt, soy, dairy, all nuts, tomoatoes, garlic, onion (had to hand in my Italian card), strawberries, carrots, eggs and anything else that tastes good. As someone who has struggled with the anorexia and bullemia thing too, once I was told I can't have any of these foods either my family has taken to watching me like Big Brother in 1984...if you need an email support buddy let me know, I also have a lot of recipes for you to try.
Look into quinoa it's a grain you can cook like rice in a rice cooker or use like a cous cous. It's a complete protein so you don't get too anemic on this detox diet. You can season it how ever you want so that it isn't too entirely bland.

*Fist Bumps* lady, you can do this!

Ally Gregory said...

How long do you have to be on this torturous diet?

Have you had raw cashews yet? They are my favorite snack.

Jen said...

JENN C - I know better than to try to wrestle my short peple away from meat and cheese...I value my life. :)

ANGIE - Jefferson Airplane song reference for the win! I haven't throttled the Office Skank so I think I'm golden.

CICI - Ho. Ly. Shit. OK, I'll quit complaining now. How do you do it, Girl?

ALLY - I've got 3 months of strict adherence, then we do a reevaluation. I hate to addmit it, but actually I've never felt better...damn it.

CiCi said...

I drink a lot of coffee...that's how I do it...that doesn't really help you at the moment though...
Some times I cheat and always pay for it... has a lot of cookbooks for restrictive diets. I'm basically as cooking challenged as they come and I'm able to follow these recipes and make things work for me. I'd reccomend you look there for recipe books.

Anonymous said... this diet mean no Christmas cookies? How long do you have to be on this diet?

Jo said...

Truthfully, sweetie, I'm glad you're doing this, because I'd like to know that you're going to be around for a good long while.
And yep, those benefits start showin' up awful fast, don't they? And they feel GOOD. Glad those damned headaches are easing off, no-caffeine headaches are the worst I've ever encountered, and I'm a headache

Mandi E. said...

That sucks balls. Wait, can you still have those?

If you give me a list of what you *CAN* have, I can give you a list of recipes that will make you hate your diet a little less. I've actually made gluten-free fun for people because I'm a giver like that.

Jen said...

THOUGHTSY - 3 months at least. I've survived 3 cookie-laden holiday parties so fay; keep good thoughts that I'll survive the next 2...blecch...

JO - Thanks, Jo. Yeah, survival is key as the thought of Gil raising my short people is terrifying at best.

MANDI - I can have all fruits and veggies, VERY small amounts of lean white meat, whole unprocessed grains, and beans. Basically, no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, sugar, salt, or mushrooms (not 'cuz of the diet -- I'm allergic to mushrooms). Thanks, are a giver indeed. :)

Bexstar said...

Fuck mate, I am depressed as shit reading your new diet. Especially so close to the one time of the year when the universe allows us to binge like a blow fly at a shit party.

And HELLO now I know what Mono is. You Americans & your funny words. I always thought Mono was an STD you got in your mouth? Anyhow, now I know. I too have had Mono. Except I called it Glandular Fever. And it ripped me a new asshole. Condolences to your liver & shit.

I will be thinking of you when I tuck into my bigger than balls tin of Roses chocs on Christmas day. Respect lady. Respect.

TonyGeo said...

I was trying to find gluten free,tastefree,smellfree,bacon flavored yogurt for you but for some odd reason no one has invented it yet. Maybe that is your million dollar idea. hell people pay 2 dollars for a bottle of water, what would they pay for a cup of yogurt with a picture of a peice of sizzlin bacon on it?
I feel for ya Jen. But if it gives us 50 more years of Jen blog then fight the good fight.

I would also like to wish you,your short peeps and all the followers of your blog a very Merry Christmas.(or Kwanzaa,or Hanukuh,or Winter holiday,or..oh fuck the PC Crap)Merry Christmas.

Scott Jung said...

Omg, I'm hurting from stifling laughter that would wake my wife and cause me much pain. This was so Dennis Miller...the good Dennis, not the weird Monday Night Football Dennis.


Jen said...

BEX - It's a good thing I love you beyond all time, space and reason or I would punch you in the tits for talking about chocolate right now. My doctor is nine different flavors of douche for springing this on me before Christmas. Adeste Fideles, mother fucker.

TONY - We need to tap that bacon market, my brutha. We'd be kings of industry, KINGS I TELL YOU!!! Happy Chrismakwanzakah to you, T. :)

SCOTT - I dear Baby Jeebus, I'd forgotten about Monday Night Football Dennis. Sadly, your typical NFL viewer will not be hip to the Torquemada and Caravaggio references you throw out there, Denny. . .stick to Bill Maher. PS: Tell your wife I'm sorry. :)

Anonymous said...

Lord, honey, I feel your pain! I was very excited to be able to add refried beans to my horrible my-pancreas-hates-me diet, because up until then all my food was the same color! WTF, internal organs?

Jen said...

HOODY - Believe it or not when the doc was talking to me the first thing I thought was "holy cats, it's just like Hoody!" Refreied beans sound like Haagan Daas to me right now. @#$% liver...

Allyson Ford said...

Crap Crappy Crap!

Believe it or not, I eat pretty similar...but voluntarily. When I do, I am less of a psycho biotch, which is good for all concerned - especially my wee ones. I do, however, get to eat small doses of dark chocolate.

You should bring the short people over sometime soon. We'll get them jacked up on sugar and let them run around with my wee ones, breaking things and creating general mayhem while we discuss Nancy's and frozen organic blueberries for lunch.

Jen said...

ALLY - That would be awesome, Ally! I too am in desperate need of a playdate. :) Give me a holla after the break, Girl.

Andrea said...

So instead of eating cookies this season, it'll be more like putting out a bird feeder? I hope the goods get to come back to you in moderation soon! Maybe you will gain superhuman strength, or at least energy!

Becca said...

First of all you're going to get super skinny (as an aside to all of this) and then I'm going to have to secretly hate how skinny you are on the inside. I went on a diet like this my senior year of HS into my freshman year of college for stomach ulcers. GURL I looked fierce and 30 lbs underweight, but I digress. You're one strong HO, and tell you what, you'll just have to keep making those frequent stops at Target to keep yourself from falling off the food and liquids wagon. Target is a safe happy place. Man, I am like the best sponsor ever. xoxoxo! Keep up the good work bitch! You're my hero.

Jen said...

ANDREA - It kills be to admit it, but I've never felt better. My skin has cleared up, I'm sleeping well without meds, and I have SO much more neergy. . .damn it.

BECCA - Yippee! I knew my Target enabler would come through for me! :) If I can drop a few lbs. then HOLLA! Right now I'm just focusing on living long enough to see my short people graduate high school.

Phoenix Rising said...

Great. Now I have to google the Tennessee Valley Authority project....

and Holy Shit! Swear on my healthy liver the word verification is TURDS!

Gia said...

Hahahah oh man, the idea of not drinking coffee is totally traumatic to me. Honestly, I'm so addicted that when I have a STOMACH VIRUS (right, puking my guts out), I get withdrawal headaches so bad that I honestly have to choose between drinking coffee or intense head pain. Usually I end up choosing coffee. It's not a healthy addiction.

I feel for you and I'm terrified that I'll one day be in your shoes. Shudder.

Sandra said...

Goes to show we learn something new every day. I'm a nursing student. Nowhere in my textbook doesit say anything about the symptoms you described related to Ebbstein Barr. Very interesting. Love how open you were honest about your past eating disorder. As an eating disorder commerade, I can say that being on a diet of good food has actually made me healthier. I find that now that I'm eating to gain muscle, I'm terrified of getting skinny and falling back into old habits. Hope this is the case for you.

Jen said...

PHOENIX - The TVA Project was when they flooded the valley as a means of conducting hydroelectric power. They showed it in the final scene of the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou". Turds was your verification? That is classic...

GIA - For the first two to three days I was a fucking WHACK job; thank God the short people were at grandma and grandpa's or I might have gone all Diane downs on their cute little butts. Now I can honestly say the headaches are gone and I'm ACTUALLY sleeping at night without meds for the first time in ages. It sucked ass at first, but I'm starting to be OK with it...except for the no sugar thing...that shit ain't right.

SANDRA - Mono can wreak havoc on a NORMAL liver, but when you toss the Epstein-Barr virus into the blender with a liver already scarred by years of alcohol and laxative abuse and add a dash of crappy-eating-coffee-chugging lifestyle you're looking at some serious issues coming down the pipe (no pun intended). My symptoms weren't Epstein-Barr related, but rather the by-product of a damaged liver working at half-capacity. It's weird to be writing out meal plans again as I haven't done that since I was in E.D. treatment, but it's really keeping me on track and my friend have come up with some amazing recipes for me. I hear what you're saying; it's nice to finally feel like eating is a positive and healing experience rather than a negative and guilt-ridden one. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow... Epstein Barr can do that? no wonder doctors always do liver function tests on me...

Thankfully I've never failed one yet, so I havent had the horror you're going through ...

I hope your liver recovers after your detox and you can go back to junk food and caffiene again.

Lunachance said...

One of my evil docs took me off caffeine about four years ago. There is caffeine in so many items (and I still treat myself to a truffle before bedtime every night - heck, I have cancer, so I deserve the treat)... It is hard when friends want to meet at Starbucks (I can order the hot chocolate, not mocha or any other "mixed drink"), but I muddle through. Unfortunately, you will get used to not having caffeine (after you get over the withdrawl headache), and it should not take too long for that component of this restriction. I am glad you have kept your sense of humor.


Jen said...

METTA - Epstein-Barr is E-V-I-L!!! That nasty little bitch can live in your system for years, just waiting to sneak up and smack you when you least expect it. Keep getting those liver tests, girlfriend!

LUNA - I have FINALLY gotten over the headaches and can now order a soymilk steamer at Starbucks without wanting to throw it in the hyper-caffeinated barista's face. Progress! Huzzah!