This is the seventh part in a series, CLICK HERE to start at Part 1
2007 and the beginning of 2008 kind of blur together for me. My love/hate relationship with food still continued but my new-found confidence seemed to help with the guilt and remorse when I would binge. David had his moments of over-regulating what I would eat and it was those moments that would set me back for a while. It seemed that we revisited how I felt about his intrusion every few months. Having to talk about my boundaries again would be a tough conversation for both of us that would usually end in tears - mine and his. He would vow anew to mellow out and not nag and I would vow to try harder to take control of my health and my eating habits. I really did want to be healthy and to lose weight, but anything that set me off emotionally would cause me to fall back on what made me happiest for a moment, but in the end, it made me feel guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed. No one would see me in these moments because I did them in secret so the only person that judged me was myself. I had become one of my worst enemies.
The road house had burnt down in June of 2007 and I decided not to look for another part-time job outside the home. Instead, I focused on my own business and tried to grow different aspects of it. Being away from the food industry helped but only for a short while. I took to baking a lot when I felt down and blue. For the most part, I felt happy and confident, but there were times when I would feel discouraged, empty, and completely unattached to what was going on around me. These were my moments of weakness and they confused me. I didn't understand how I could be so happy and confident one moment and then feel so incredibly despondent. These feelings weren't a daily thing. It came and went at different times and as I said, for the most part, my self-esteem and confidence had been growing and so my days were usually content, creative, and joyful.
In June of 2008, David and I paid off the last bit of debt (other than our vehicle payment) that we had. We had incurred business and tax debt over the years that we had our catering business and had worked very hard to get rid of it. The interest was killing us even though we were making regular payments every month so we consolidated everything and paid off almost $25K in four and a half years. It was tight and tough for those years. We had never been materialistic and in fact, many people that know us could tell you that we're quite minimalistic. We weren't the type of eat out, go to movies, splurge, etc. We scaled back every where we could, but since we were already living a simple life, there weren't a lot of other places where we could cut back. We were very creative with our resources and never missed a payment when we were paying off our debt. We had gone "cash only" a couple years before we consolidated so we were used to only being able to buy what we had the money for. Being able to make that last payment and being debt free was a huge accomplishment for us.
We had told ourselves for years that we would look into buying our own house when we were finally debt free and that time had come. We weren't looking to purchase right away but I was anxious to find out what the housing market looked like and what we could potentially afford. I called one of the best realtors in the area, who also happened to be my brother's landlord at his place of business, and asked what we should be looking for considering our income and the fact that our debt to income ration was in the best place it had ever been in. This was only three days after we had made our last debt payment. She mentioned that there was a house she thought we would like and the price had just recently come down and asked if we would like to look at it. I went to the bank that day and got us pre-approved and the next day, we checked out the house and put an offer on it. The next afternoon, our offer was accepted and we were on our way to purchasing our first home. It seemed surreal. We hadn't expected to buy so quickly and we had said that we weren't going to put an offer on the first house we saw, but everything was perfect and it made no sense for us to keep looking if we'd found just what we were looking for and it was in our price range. The closing took place a month and a half later and we were in our new home.
During the month and a half between putting the offer on the house and moving in, we were busy packing up our belongings to make the one and a half mile move (interestingly, it's just as much work to move a mile and a half away than it is to move hundreds of miles away). During a hot and sweltering July afternoon, David and I went through and cleaned out quite a bit of stuff in the shed out behind the apartment we lived in. We found a few bird nests and dead baby mice. I thought nothing of scratching at some sweat that had run down my shoulder and into my armpit. I was wearing a tank top and was really uncomfortable in the heat. A few days later, my armpit itched and so I scratched it. A week or so went by and my armpit was red and irritated and itched unbelievably. I put some cortisone cream on it and hoped it would go away. My grandmother happened to be staying with us for a few weeks and she insisted that I try one of her anti-itch creams. The next day, the rash had spread and was starting to be very painful along with being itchy. I would scratch in my sleep and dig it open. Eventually, the rash showed up in my other armpit, probably from scratching both in my sleep. By the time we moved into our new house, both of my armpits were raw, bleeding, and driving me mad.
I made an appointment to see my doctor and she told me it was just a heat rash. I was given Nystatin and sent home. A couple of days on the Nystatin and everything had gotten worse. I started breaking out in little bumps on my shoulders and I went back to the doctor. I was apparently allergic to Nystatin and was put on another cream. A few days later, I showed back up at my doctor's office and showed her how bad everything had gotten and how it had spread to my stomach. After being on an anti-fungal medication that didn't seem to do anything, it was determined that I had a staph infection. The culprit was probably the dead mice and bird nests that I had touched and then scratched my armpit directly after. I was put on Keflex for 21 days. In the meantime, I had tripped and fallen in the middle of a crosswalk in town and skinned open both of my knees. I put band-aids all over them only to find out a day later that I was allergic to latex.
If you've ever been on anti-biotics for a long stretch, you know that you're susceptible to a yeast infection and with my luck, that's exactly what happened to me. My immune system was so shot from the staph infection and allergic reaction to the latex that the yeast took over my whole body. It searched for the least resistant way out of my body and that was through the stretch-marks I had gotten from my pregnancies. All along my stomach, my stretch-marks started popping open. It looked like someone had taken a knife and sliced each of them down the middle. I had never felt such pain before. I'd also never experienced a skin-surface yeast infection before. There were times that I cried for hours before I fell asleep, wishing I could go to sleep and not wake up until it was all over.
I felt absolutely miserable. The heat of the summer combined with having allergic reactions all over my body was enough to drive me crazy. I would lay on the couch completely naked and with a towel under me, all alone in the house. The ceiling fan was directly overhead and turned on top speed. I had Domeboro compresses on me to dry out my stretch-marks and cold compresses on my head to help cool me down. The itching was maddening and I tried every way I could to suppress the urge to itch. I prayed, I cried, I tried to sleep. David and I even tried raw garlic on my wounds to combat the fungal infection but all that did was cause me to experience a pain unlike anything I ever felt in my life. I remember laying on our bed and having David rub the garlic onto my stomach, bracing myself for the stinging feeling. Instead, it felt like someone had pointed a flame thrower at my body at point blank range and I pulled a pillow over my head to scream and cry into it, while writhing around on the bed and trying to stand the intensity of pain for as long as I could. My daughter came to the door of our room and started to cry because she thought I was dying. I yelled at David to turn our shower on and I ran inside of it and washed off the garlic, sobbing, gasping, and shaking as the water ran over me and slowly took the pain away.
One of the upsides to being so sick was that I couldn't think past my pain to think of food. The "sick diet" is never a pleasant one, but it does have its benefits. Even though I was miserable and this would usually make me turn to food, I couldn't stand the thought of eating much of anything. I lost some weight because of this. My doctor had put me on Prednisone and I felt like I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
About a week later, we adopted a puppy. I know what you're thinking...what on earth would possess us to adopt a puppy while I was in so much pain and agony? This puppy, though, brought me so much joy. The kids had just started back to school and David was at work all day. This meant that I was home alone with with a puppy that needed house training and love and attention. In many ways, Tovah was my saving grace. I was forced to take care of something other than myself and instead of laying on the couch all day, wallowing in my misery, I was forced to go outside and wait for the puppy to pee and poop. Having something to keep my mind off how I was feeling all the time was something I was so grateful for. Tovah gave me something to laugh at and adore when all I wanted to do was cry all day until David got home to help take care of me. It was a good thing I had Tovah to look after because my condition got worse a week after she came into our lives.
It was Labor Day weekend (2008) and we had planned a trip to visit my parents in Rhode Island. I felt miserable and was looking forward to getting away. My period had arrived and, because my body had gone through so much over the past 6 weeks, I had the worst menstrual cramps I'd ever had. We were out of Advil so I took a quick trip to the drug store to get some more. I saw that aspirin was on sale and bought it. I had taken an aspirin since I was a wee child and didn't even entertain the possibility that I could be allergic to it. Twenty minutes after downing two aspirin, my back started to itch uncontrollably. I pulled up the back of my shirt and asked David to take a look to find out what was itching so much. He told me that my entire back was covered in hives. It wasn't long before my stomach started to itch and then my thighs. There was no choice but to cancel our trip to Rhode Island. I was in no state to sit in a car for five hours and then spend a weekend on a sailboat that made me seasick anyway. This disappointed me because what I really wanted at that moment was my mom.
Just when I thought things were starting to get better with the Prednisone kicking in, I was covered in hives. I felt so defeated. Those hives lasted six very long weeks. The heat from the summer, the discomfort, the humidity - everything came crashing down on me. We made compresses of jewelweed and a friend brought over goldenseal powder that I rubbed onto the worst spots. By week five of the hives, all of the skin that was affected had broken open. By week six, the hives were drying out and my skin was healing. The staph had subsided and the skin-surface yeast infection was on its way out due to a round of Diflucan pills.
My body had started to go back to normal, but after not eating much for twelve weeks, I was so hungry. I hadn't been able to do much in the way of work those weeks because I couldn't focus and was so uncomfortable. It had all taken such an emotional and mental toll on me. Now that I could look at food again, I wanted to eat everything.
Click HERE for Part 8.