Actually I Can't

Thank you to all those who sent kind words my way or simply just spared me a positive thought in the chaos of the universe. Every single bit of it is welcome as I continue on this journey.

I found a quote in one of my tarot books this week (yes, I’m trying to get in touch with my intuition using tarot) that really spoke to me:

“Wisdom is crystallized pain” - Rudolf Steiner.

The guy elaborated with “true self-knowledge has no other option than first to go through pain and suffering.” Now from what I can tell, he’s just another old, dead white guy. But it got me thinking. I’m not sure I can describe my pain as crystallized. That word, of which I am quite familiar having a PhD in geochemistry, implies that the heat has passed, the suffering has abated and the pain has morphed into something else, which is now the root of wisdom. But my pain doesn’t pass, so how can I possibly be wise? Enough esoteric wrangling with existential matters, however. 

I’ve decided to make these updates into two parts. One will focus on the present, on the evolution of my current situation, on the supplements/treatments I’m trying and results I’m getting. The second will be a reflection on whatever I want, something I feel I need to share. Feel no pressure to read any of it. This is something I’m doing for me and it does not require participation from your side of the screen. If you want to follow me along this thorny path for a turn or two, however, please be my guest.


So most importantly the results came back from my allergy test sent in by my Naturopath. Why other medical professionals have never thought to run this sort of test on me before is incomprehensible. But I didn’t insist, so the judgment will have to take a break on this one.

It turns out I’m currently allergic to far more than any one person ought to be. This verifies the theory that there’s a lot more going on than some bladder lining being inflamed. It means my whole filtration system is inflamed and that it’s time to start tackling the small parts, not just the big ones. Indeed, often in life, the universe and what science I’ve done the cause is the sum of many smaller things not some massive tidal wave. So I need to be diligent and kind to my guts in a new, more cognizant way. 

Currently I am allergic to: Asparagus, beef, blueberry, cacao, candida, carrot, casein, clam, cow’s milk, crab, egg albumin, egg yolk, English walnut, garlic, gluten, goat’s milk, green pepper, kidney bean, lima bean, mushroom, navy bean, peanut, sesame, soybean, string bean, sweet potato, whole wheat and yellow squash. Of all those, I’m only deadly allergic to clams, which I have never tried in my entire life, so that was nice to find out before any type of reaction occurred. Everything else inflames my guts, but doesn’t come close to killing me. Ironically, the entire past week I’d been eating nothing but 100% natural beef hotdogs, green peppers and breads made without the irritating additives I already knew were bad. So 100% of what I was feeding my body elicited an allergic reaction. Fantastic… it’s like I had a sixth sense for making it all worse.

I’m going to stop eating all of it. Everything that irritates me plays a part in my pain, so it’s all out. So what am I going to consume? For right now just oatmeal and Yukon Gold potatoes with gee (no more butter), olive oil and sea salt. Bland as heck, but a good baseline to begin trying things on the “you’re not allergic to this but it still might cause you IC pain” list. I’m going to add one thing a week, paying close attention to how my pain evolves. It’s going to take forever, but it’s going to be worth it.


The Reflection: Actually I Can’t

I have a Captain Marvel shirt that says in bold yellow letters wrapping around her signature star Actually I Can. Every time I wear the shirt, I can’t help but think that my superhero phrase of the moment is the exact opposite. Actually I Can’t.

I read an article aimed at those close to people suffering from chronic illness (not just IC, but the whole awful gamut) a few months ago. I wish I remembered the author or even where it appeared online, but what I do remember vividly is this revelation. Those of us with chronic illness cannot just grin and bear it; we can’t push through. Where others might come out on the other side exhausted, we simply don’t come out the other side at all. We run into a wall and if we push, we run into that wall at a higher velocity. We will never get through that wall. Indeed, we have to respect that wall otherwise we will suffer. We have to stay the hell away from that wall.

That means learning to say no to things you can’t say no to. This means disappointing people over and over again. This means that every instinct I honed during the first 20 years of my figure skating career has to be eradicated. Every instinct that I view as foundational to who I am. I defined myself by pushing beyond my current abilities, by working through exhaustion, by becoming the best version of myself I could imagine through sweat and pain. I competed with a kidney infection for goodness sake. I trained myself to ignore my body, wired my brain to believe it knew better, that I could take the abuse.

 Even now, I still don’t take a seat when I need to, I don’t take a break because I know I can push through. I have years of experience telling me I can.

But I can’t. Not anymore. I can’t and that isn’t a dirty word, that isn’t the world telling me no or society putting me down. It is simply the honest to God truth of the matter. I can’t. So who I am I now? How do I become someone else, someone who doesn’t fight until their knuckles are bloody and their body is destroyed? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m learning to recognize this variety of thought, to understand that I can’t, that’s not a bad word. At least, not for me.