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What’s your favorite food?
Okay. When was the last time you ate it?
Briefly, if you will, imagine going 18 months without that food.
Not exactly a monumental feat, but it is certainly less than ideal. In other words, you might get pretty grumpy, but you would survive. Okay, but next picture yourself eating nothing at all for 18 months. Now that is quite possibly life-threatening and definitely insufferable.
And finally imagine, after enduring all that misery – and several existential breakdowns – that things start to improve, life begins to reemerge. Having gone through the worst of the worst, just think how unbelievably good your favorite food, or any food for that matter, would taste when you finally get to sink your teeth in, feel the texture, and really let your tastebuds run wild.
This is now my reality. It is both humbling and invigorating, unfair and lucky. Just as my condition worsened so mysteriously, my ability to eat food has curiously returned. It happened so innocuously too. After a year and a half too sick to consume solid food, I tried a bite of pie on my birthday with the courage of another year behind me. It set off a small frenzy as I tried to eat my favorite foods for the first time in 18 months. It was a feast. Well, if you can call three bites of pie a feast. But the next day I tried gnocchi, then banana bread, then pasta, then fruit tart. It was marvelous.
As horrifying as it has been to have my body fail, it has been commensurately revitalizing to have it gradually start working again. And as terrified as I am that it will begin to fail again, I have learned, among other things, that with this disease you have to enjoy things while you can or you may never get to again. And also, where there is great deprivation there is the potential opportunity to regain and experience life in a way few people will.
I will say, however, life is still an immense struggle. I’m lucky to have one meal which I can chew each day, and it is always followed by immense and prolonged pain in my jaw. Have you ever been punched in the face? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Well, actually it’s worse than that. It feels like the pain of being punched in the face and the pain of being stung by a bee had an evil child with a fondness for kicking people in the shins. But damn, the taste of blueberry pie is totally worth it!
And this comes from a guy who used to only eat what was prescribed on his daily diet plan. For most of my adolescence and adult life I ate only bland foods and in only small servings. Well, after the hell I’ve been through, assuming my health continues to improve, I’m going to eat anything and everything I want. No more rice cakes and egg whites, but definitely pie and probably a lot of cheese. Yes, definitely lots of cheese.
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