Sunday, June 19, 2011

Can't (hardly) Wait

The other day while rummaging around in a draw looking for something, I found my ‘Can’t Wait’ card. I was so excited to get this card when I first joined Crohn’s & Colitis Australia. It was one of the main reasons I first joined. I pretty much thought this card was going to save me from so many hassles and problems when I left the house.

That was before I realised that nobody has really heard of Crohn’s Disease, unless they either have it or know somebody who has it. The population at large generally have no idea and now the card lies abandoned in the bottom of the junk draw. I’m not sure I ever even used it.

For those of you unfamiliar, during a flare-up, trying to hold on for any amount of time results in agonising, doubled over, just fucking kill me, abdominal pain. Often, holding it in, is impossible. The ‘I hope I don’t crap my dacks in public’ anxiety attack is still one of the worst feelings in the world for me, hence the ‘Can’t Wait’ card. Developed for just these situations. In theory you would pull out the card in a busy shopping centre toilet and the crowd of understanding and sympathetic people part like the red sea to reveal a makeshift path to the shining porcelain oasis ahead. In theory.

Can you imagine...

I don’t know what the men’s are like, but the women’s toilets always seem to have a line of at least three people (denoted below by different colours).

Flashes card to a line of impatient people.

"I have a 'Can't Wait’ card. I'm sorry but I need to go next”
"You have a what now?"
"A 'Can't Wait' card. It means I'm physically unable to wait to go to the toilet."
"I have Crohn's Disease."
"What's that?"
"It's a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It means I can't hold it and I get massive pains in the stomach when I need to go."
"What? Like lactose intolerance"
"No. Sort of. Look, I've got to go. NOW"
“Yeah me too.”
First person heads into the toilet.
"Where'd you get that card anyway?"
"From the ACCA."
"Did you have to pay for it? How much was it?"
"I could use one of those. I don't like waiting in lines, especially at the Supermarket"
"What? No. It's for the toilet. And you have to have IBD."
"I have IBS. I gave up dairy. It's fine now."
"You should eat more fibre. That’ll make you regular as clockwork."
"I can't eat fibre..."
"Well that's your problem right there. Change your diet."
"What's it called when you can't eat bread?
"Oh, my niece has that."
Toilet becomes available. I make my way to stall.
"HEY! I was before you."
"Yeah, no pushing in."

Seriously, you’d spend more time explaining why you have the card, it’d be easier and probably a whole lot quicker to either push in and risk being accosted by angry toilet goers or go somewhere else. Personally, I’ll use another toilet. Men’s. Women’s. Parent’s room. The Disabled. I’m not proud. If I’ve got to go, I’m going.

I think orange lady has something though; I wouldn’t mind a ‘Can’t Wait’ card for the supermarket. Or the petrol station. I hate that line the most. Those guys are relentless trying to sell you more stuff. No, I don’t want to buy 2 packs of mints for $7 to save 2 cents on my petrol.

Has anybody actually used their Can’t Wait card? I’d be interested in hearing what happened.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Phat Dinner

A curious thing happens when you cut fat out of your diet, you not only lose the taste for it, but you actually become intolerant of it. When you eat something fatty, like KFC for example, it gives you the shits and I don't mean in the pissed off sense. You can actually taste the grease and fat as a separate entity and It feels like a layer of grease is suddenly coating the inside of your throat and stomach. It's not pleasant.

I discovered a long time ago that my particular brand of Crohn's is much better controlled with a low fat, low fibre diet. I adjusted my cooking so that everything I made was the absolute lowest fat version of itself while still being tasty. There was a period of adjustment, I grew up with the understanding that the 'fat' was where all the flavour was. (It actually isn't I've learnt. Herbs, spices, things like garlic, lemon are where the flavour lies)

Last night we went out for dinner at the house of a friend of mine. They'd invited us over several times and for various reasons one of us had had to cancel so diner had been put off at least four times but last night the stars aligned and dinner happened. It's not often I pray before a meal, but when the plate was put before me my first thought was "Sweet Jesus"! My friend is well aware of my Crohn's and we often talked about our respective low fat diets. She'd told me many a time how she could no longer tolerate fat since she'd cut it out of her diet.

It seems that there are different ideas about what 'low fat' actually means.

Dinner was roast beef with baked potato, pumpkin and onion, cauliflower baked in cheese sause and gravy made from the meat juices. The vegetables were baked in a sea of oil and were actually soggy and almost transparent, the meat which had been cooking for 4 hours in too hot an oven was tough and grisly. As I looked down at my meal I could see the gravy had started to separate and a layer of oil was emerging around the edges of my plate. The meat had a thick edge of fat around it. Basically, not one Crohn's friendly component in sight. Too be honest, I'm a little scared to know what their meals looked like before she "cut the fat out of her diet".

I ate it, well most of it. I really didn't want to be rude or hurt her feelings. She was quite proud of the meal and her family all told her how delicious it was. I smiled and said it was lovely. About halfway through dinner the baby started to cry and I jumped up from the table to tend to her with more gratitude than she'll ever know. My friend said "You eat, I'll see to her." I smiled, "No, it's alright. I think she needs changing." No matter how much people love babies, nobody wants to do that particular job ;-p

I am really paying for dinner now. My stomach hurts and in the 12 hours since dinner I've been to the toilet at least 15 times. I'm pretty sure I've expelled my own body weight in crap. Seriously, (anyone whose ever had a bad case of gastro or food poisoning will be able to identify) where does it all come from? I was so nauseous in the few hours afterwards that I was sure I was going to throw it all up. Maybe if I had, I wouldn't be so sick now? Who knows. Even my partner was feeling a little ill last night.

This is pretty much why I'm not a fan of eating at other people's houses. At least at a restaurant there is bound to be one thing on the menu I can eat and if in the unlikely situation there isn't, I don't have to worry about offending anyone by not eating or only eating a small amount. Although there was this one time when the chef came out looking pissed off, sat down at the table and demanded to know what was wrong with the food. I tried to offer some constructive criticism which he argued and in the end I said "Look, I just didn't like it. Get over it, you can't please everyone" He went back to the kitchen in a hail of profanity, leaving the very embarrassed owner apologising profusely and offering us a free meal on our next visit. Thanks, but no.

It makes things a bit awkward really. How do you say to someone who thinks they're doing something nice for you that they are actually making you sick to your stomach? I can offer to have them over to my place for dinner but they'll want to repay the favour. I can suggest we go out to a restaurant but money can sometimes be an issue. Staying home isn't a very fun option and for normal people (eg. not me) having dinner at a friends house is actually quite a nice way to spend a saturday night.