I have a friend named Jess.
I actually have two friends named Jess and they are two of my oldest and best friends. Together, we’re Kat and the Jesses. The Jess in question is not the one I have known the longest (hardly her fault – the other is my cousin), but I have connected to her in a deep and unique way.
This Jess and I are both Synesthetes. Both Mirror-Touch Synesthetes too, unless I’m mistaken.
I assume this is the reason for my unusual connection to her. What she can describe to me, I can feel. And that description is not only verbal, but through the physical expressions of her body – posture, facial expression, breath, and [I propose] even electro-magnetic charge.
It is ironic really, because in many ways I have been more in tune to her body than my own.
This is the story of my life. I cannot tell you how many hours (months) I spent as a child looking in the mirror and wondering what I looked like. Why people reacted to me the way they did – like I was weird. Was I not pretty enough?
Popular girls were always pretty in books and movies. That must be it. My heavy eyebrows, I looked aggressive, I began training them to lessen the severity (I was still a blonde 9yo at this point, but my brows had darkened toward my current natural).
Layer upon layer of self-doubt followed, not just regarding appearance.
I transitioned into high school, eager to be connecting from another side with the theatre group I had been working with for a couple years (except – surprise! – they swapped the beloved Mr Jolly for a mediocre (but free) nun and then even theatre sucked), but with no idea who I was other than what people told me (ie: their words+behavior=> my interpretation of self). I had a lot of insight that I don’t think most have though. By 17, I knew I didn’t have to worry about how I came across because no one was paying attention – they were all too busy worrying about how they were coming across. There are exceptions, but go ahead, test it – open your eyes and look – see who else is actually looking.
When you are looking to others to define who you are, it is kind of crippling to realize they can’t even see you to define you.
High school was hard for me in a lot of ways – It was an all out assault against how my body wanted to live; but I was told it was good, that They knew better.
By 17, I fantasized regularly about passing out in the halls so they’d let me sleep in the nurse’s office. I was sooo… tiiirred…. Empty.
I contemplated suicide just to escape the never-ending torture. I wanted to drop out; do something *I* cared about with my time.
But I was “too smart” for that. *eyeroll*
My health was horrible. O, I looked great from the outside, but I ached like a football veteran; my skin crawled at sudden bumps (…the potholes of Bucks County in the early 90s… *shudder*), I had headaches so often I was more likely to notice when I didn’t have one than when I did. Migraines, knee and back issues, allergies (did you know I used to break out in hives twice/day every day June through November? For several years.).
I had no idea what was wrong with me, but I knew something must be.
The way I saw it -> if everyone felt the way I did, there wouldn’t be a human race.
During the summer before Senior year I was hit with several big blows in succession – learned about the family skeletons, lost my first serious boyfriend (of 1.5yrs), felt isolated from my friends, etc.
I crashed hard.
I cried for the first time in 8 years (I was a bit emotionally dysfunctional 😉 ).
I went nuts. I was crawling with pain and, more than once, I remember writhing in my parents’ parking lot late at night, just raaaaaaaw.
I turned to a lot of bad habits (not eating, lots of sexual partners, drugs, cutting, Marilyn Manson) and a few good ones (sleeping in nature, exercise, meditation, counseling).
I hobbled into senior year also working 40hrs/week to pay my own tuition plus expenses. It was hard. I was exhausted. Tired of living the life other people thought I should, but didn’t know how to escape back to my Self.
My final semester of high school was spent -> School -> Work -> Home long enough to convince parents I was home -> Sneak out and drive to Tim (my now-husband)’s dorm.
Sometimes we stayed there; sometimes we drove all over creation or climbed on 4th story roofs or ran through the woods. We had a blast.
And, no matter what else we did, we always talked. Talked and talked and talked and talked and talked. And not just with words. We would spend hours simply staring at each other and exploring the facets we saw in each other’s faces – we are both very feline.
For the first time in my life, I felt like someone saw me.
And I was starving for that.
So it’s really no surprise that 7 months and 4 days after first meeting (1), we were married and already expecting our first child.
I was 18.
By 21, we had 3 children, a condo and 2 cars.
On a McDonald’s salary.
It was a difficult time, but a miracle happened and Tim was offered a gig programming for a pharmaceutical market research company. The guy even bought him $1200 worth of suit to impress at the interview(s).
Tim thrived and has become a sophisticated developer. Our lifestyle has ‘improved’ accordingly.
When we got that new paycheck from the new job (+25% of his previous salary), I went to the grocery store, for the first time since high school, without a list and a calculator. It was glorious.
I would mark that day as the beginning of my Food Journey.
In the intervening 15 years we have shifted from On-Cor and Hamburger Helper to a diet based primarily on local, organic, un- or minimally processed foods.
In January 2014, I did an elimination diet that a friend reported startling results from.
And experienced startling results myself.
I had been struggling to lose ‘those last 15lbs.’ For a decade.
When I completely removed gluten, dairy and (not quite completely) sugar from my diet those pounds melted away effortlessly.
And I felt amazing.
I had not realized it was possible to not feel as though my belly were a Chain Chomp – sitting in my lap, bossing me around and making me eat things I didn’t want to eat – to eat when I wasn’t hungry, etc. My joints didn’t hurt anymore, my skin cleared up, my intestines began to work properly (a tragically recent thing for me).
And my body and I began to be able to communicate!!
Garbled -but I had learned how to use the chemistry lab and now could experiment with what was good or bad for the patient – Me.
I ate really well all last summer, but then…. Halloween came.
There were enough GF/DF candies about that I let sugar creep back in hardcore. By the time the candies were drying up, the rest of the holidays were rolling in, then winter depression and we get to this Summer.
In May, we came upon an opportunity to make an exciting lifestyle change.
I decided not to do film work as I had originally intended, but rather devote my time to renovating, cleaning and decorating our house for sale so that I could pursue another lifelong dream – Living in Community.
I had hoped to have the house ready by mid-July and then audition for a play while we needed to be out for showings anyway.
I auditioned for the play and was cast, but the work was nowhere near done -> 1 full and 2 partial bathroom renovations, painting, staging, and all the odds-and-ends work that had been let to slide for 6 years and needed to be done yesterday.
I kept on trucking – house by day, art by night.
Then my parents’ asked if I could cover the family business phone for a few days. We needed the money too badly to say No.
So, I’m working on the house (sometimes with my brother), interrupted constantly by work phone calls, watching Tech Week get closer and the house – Still. Not. Done.
“I’ve got to backpedal. I need to find good stopping points on all the open projects and get the house clean and sane before Tech or….. I just don’t even want to consider that possibility!”
Tech is hard.
Especially at the beginning of a school year. When I have committed to teaching 2 classes at a new homeschool co-op. While moving. And doing a play.
My good eating habits collapsed.
I was living on potato chips, chocolate chips, Enjoy Life bars, coconut milk ice cream, pepperoni, GF crackers, and eggs. All foods I *could* eat, but few that were actually nourishing me. My intestines were a mess.
I hesitated to even buy veggies as there were already quite a few wilting in the Produce Bowl. I did finally ask my brother’s partner, Wendi, if I could pay her to take my veggies and make them into something yummy, and she delivered wonderful nourishing food.
But I was already starting to have trouble eating.
She had made an even-more-nutrient-rich variation of something I would normally sit and plow half a batch of, but I could barely eat a single patty.
I was panicky, but confident I had caught the train before it ran off the rails. I just had to get things stabilized before Tech.
And then my friend Jess called me last Monday night. Remember Jess? It’s a song about Jess.
Jess was in distress.
So I rushed to her side. I took her to Urgent Care and then the ER. I love my Jesses.
But I sat helplessly for 6hrs watching one-of-the-people-who-I-am-most-deeply-attuned-to writhe in pain. Even after they gave her morphine.
The diagnosis came – acute appendicitis – she was admitted. Cousin Jess and I saw her to her room (after hours of lovely morphine-skewed chatting anxiety), then headed home.
Frankly, I’m not clear on what happened after that. Everything became chaos.
You see, Kat and the Jesses Featuring Nettie was supposed to spend 3 days at Cherry Springs -> kicking back and enjoying the Milky Way during the Perseids. But one of the Jesses turned out not to be up for it. The one whose birthday was the reason for the trip. The one whose appendix had just demanded out of a mutually destructive relationship.
We were all reeeeally looking forward to the trip, so we waited until the last possible moment to decide whether or not to go.
And then I hung on a day longer thinking Tim and I would go Friday at least.
Which days would I work for my parents? Which activities that we had expected to miss would be put back on the calendar? What was I preparing for? What was I supposed to be doing? So many things needing to be done and so many balls in the air!!!!!!!!!!!!
Somewhere between Tuesday and Friday, I went into full-on adrenaline mode. I had no sense of time.
My entire self – past, present and future – was united in a singular now, heavy with the wisdom of the universe.
I was nuts.
And I wrote.
And wrote and wrote and wrote.
I spent almost 3 hours texting myself stream of consciousness seeds. [pick a time stamp and unfold the seed; would love to hear what resonates]
Seeds that I may spend the rest of my life unfolding.
I am still unfolding at a rapid rate, but I am stabilizing and so, for a passing moment, I am both inspired with divine energy and coherent enough to articulate a piece of it.
That could sound sad and it is a little, but it is mostly amazing.
I don’t know what was wrong with my body for the past 27 years, but it is GONE.
I writhed for days. My kidneys and adrenals on fire.
It was convenient timing.
I was trying to puzzle out my character for the play – Cassie Cooper – and feeling a bit discouraged. I had a general sense of her themes, but I hadn’t found the right key.
Until I became her for a week -> Anxious. Spiritually driven. On the bare edge of sanity.
I had Fire in My Belly.
And there was Cassie.
Now I just had to stylize her.
And figure out how to make her funny.
Sometime in the middle there, I imploded.
My endocrine system felt like it went offline. A stabbing lump just behind the points of my ribs pulled me into a hollow ball of excruciation. And shock.
The lump felt black and hard. But it was moving! Painfully. Down the left side of my body. Until, suddenly, I couldn’t feel it anymore.
There was a ton of residual pain, so no guarantee the lump wasn’t only lessened, but oh. My. WORD! I felt like I was rewiring. Reconnecting whatever had snapped 20+ years ago.
I connected suddenly and profoundly to Cassie because I had been her 20 years ago. At 17. And I writhed and screamed and cried at the slightest jolt or air of tension, but I also rejoiced. Because -> Art is Beautiful Therapy. Therapy in it’s truest and grittiest sense.
As I crawled out of the hole I had fallen into, I reached out to all sorts of people I hadn’t previously felt connected to.
And I have been completely overwhelmed at the response.
I had really no idea there was so much love available to me.
I am currently plotting how to keep you all in my life and bind together various clusters of common interest on a regular basis. Like a French Salon, but where we might build a trebuchet if we feel like it.
Local people interested in connecting can raise their hands. I have a few clusters in mind to test and see how it goes.
I guess I’m adding a new title -> Kat, Networking Agent. Permit me a giddy hand-rub – Hee-he-heee!
So, back to my body!
As soon as it got really bad (last Wednesday?), my diet changed.
I simply couldn’t eat certain things. My intuition was on such high alert that the mere mention of a food that would be bad for me made me over-double in agony.
I could call to mind anything I had previously consumed and know whether or not my body would accept or reject it, from steak on down to vitamins.
I have also been intuiting any manner of weird things regarding friends I talk with. I have no idea if I’m right about any of it – that’s up to them to figure out. Or not. But I’ll suddenly need to tell someone they should eat sweet potatoes and suchlike.
I have a sense of smell again!!! I haven’t had a sense of smell since I was 12 and took up smoking!! And it is telling me so many amazing things!!!!
The first thing I was able to eat was almonds, so I got some hazelnuts.
Good. I could manage 3-5 at a time and was ravenous-with-no-appetite every hour.
I needed more fuel but so many things made me wretch -> refined anything (including oils), sugar (including most fruit), vinegar, vitamin C supplements, etc. It looked like acid was my problem.
(Guess I was paying for doing that at 17 too! Ba-dum tsch!?)
Gradually I was able to eat lettuce. I sat, like an empty sack on the brink of collapse and ate lettuce leaves because I needed greens. And they were bitter and gross but oh-so-wonderful. Minerals. Minerals. I’ve been mineral deficient since my teens and only recently realized it. As my body has cried out with kidney stones, and cavities, and waning strength that it is not nourished I have said ‘But I don’t like those foods. I don’t have time to learn to make them likeable. I don’t have time to cook them. And I feel so much better, surely this is enough, yes?’
But it wasn’t.
And my body finally grabbed me by the throat (literally – my thyroid was spazzing so hard I couldn’t even swallow water at some points, only trickle it down my tongue).
It was …..8 dimensions of awful. And 12 dimensions of awe-full.
I feel healed.
The lump showed up again but further along. It felt like a store of sugar and carb-gross that had been sitting over my pancreas. And when it left (after I laid on the earth in the sun for half an hour), something else also left – everything I had always hated about my belly. Seriously.
Well, except for the excess skin which comes from having been 75lbs heavier at one time. At least my belly button makes an Up arrow, which is kind of cute, I guess.
I’ve been self conscious of my belly since I was 8 and discovered I was “fat” (ie: – tended to arch my back and thrust my belly forward).
And I’m just not anymore.
I never want to lose this.
And not just the aesthetic!
Though I did land at a pretty svelt size 2 that I would love to keep if I can be healthy here.
I lost 8lbs over the week; 3.3 in one day when my thyroid totally freaked out.
Finally hit my pre-pregnancy weight!
Was actually really scary.
I went through this at 17 and by the time I was healthy enough again to notice, I was ‘back up’ to 105lbs.
I did not have 10 more lbs of life in me. I felt like my body was eating itself from the inside out – consumption (2).
The day after the lump-release I felt sooooo muuuuuuch better.
Until I did too much or otherwise got agitated.
Then I was right back to screaming and crying and having trouble breathing.
and running. and curling into a tiny ball.
I finally crawled my way outside in the middle of the night and lay on the ground.
And I stilled.
I placed my cheek to the bare grass and slept. Peacefully for the first time in days.
That 2 hours did me so much good.
The following day, the aforementioned Wendi and my brother, Sam, gave me an IET session.
It was….. transcendant.
Afterwards, as I slowly stretched my way from a deep shavasana through some poses-approaching-Down-Dog and out of the Healing Room, I felt something amazing -> A straight line through my belly.
I have never felt like this before. Ever.
As a synesthete, Touch can carry all sorts of other senses. But especially motion and sight.
During the session, I perceived colors and shapes and felt a breathe-flow like a stream passing over varying terrain – pooling, burbling; sloshing.
… I just realized.
I’m going on again.
So the gist is ->
CBD Oil may have literally saved my life.
When triage at the ER took my blood pressure, it was up almost 40 points. My bottom number was higher than my top number usually is. And that was not one of my worst spikes.
The tiniest things were triggering me if I had expended too much energy (and I was weeeeeak. I could feel my bones grinding against each other.
I needed a walking stick to get from couch to fridge.
I ate my mommy’s amazing soup, and nuts, and lettuce leaves, and bananas and tried not to do too much. Including talk.
Because once I got into it, I couldn’t stop – no brakes – crash.
It was awful and terrifying and I struggled to make sense of it – adrenals and thyroid, adrenals and thyroid were all over this – not just ‘fatigued’ – run down -> dying.
And the ER said? Bloodwork and ekg normal -> Anxiety -> Discharge.
So I took a nap and went to Holly Hill.
Where I got myself stocked up on minerals and vitamins and Rescue Remedy and the like.
Suddenly in the conversation, Ray – our guide – ran off and brought a Nice Lady (who I would recognize if I saw, but can’t name) who started spouting about CBD Oil. So she offers us a sample.
She squirted some onto a spoon – ‘Hold it on your tongue for 30 secs.’
10 seconds in, I felt my body melt. And my focus completely shift.
I hadn’t even realized how much data I was taking in – where people were in the store, background chatter, visual stimuli, etc etc – suddenly I could turn it off and just focus on Tim and Nice Lady.
That night my guttering inner fire roared back to life. I ate foooood. I wanted MEEEEAT! And peppers and garlic and all sorts of things I hadn’t been able to eat for more than a week.
I feel aMAYzing.
I never want to feel the way I used to again. I feel right.
I can’t wait to exercise!! Yoga! Capoeira!!
I feel like I could do things I’ve never been able to do before.
Perhaps it’s related -> I have loved my hair for a few months now. For the first time in my life (yes, really) I look in the mirror and see Me. The Me I lost when I took everybody else’s word for it.
People. Take care of yourselves. Love yourselves.
And inevitably, you will come to love your Self.
Two thumbs up. 100% recommend
Good morning, Sunshine. Good night, Kat!
(1) Actually Tim and I had met several times in the past, but only in passing – we knew a lot of the same people and had been introduced at least once before Friendly’s brought us together – the Cook and the Waitress, awww.
(2) Wait….. Consumption = Tuberculosis = mentioned in the Adrenal Insufficiency piece that felt like my symptoms
I *have* to note (in wonder) that I wrote this entire thing in a 99% straight line. I haven’t written that way since a poem in 8th grade that carried my soul and that I have lost (maybe not, but I’m afraid to look and not find it). But my mind does feel clearer. Could this lead me to conquering Winter?!?!?!?!?!!!