Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shouldn't Have to Lie

Last week I kinda stopped functioning for three days.  I didn't go to classes, didn't go to my assistantship, and had to tell something to the professorly people who would care.

I told all my professors that I have a "chronic condition that flared up recently."  It seemed like the best thing to say.  It implies "I won't be coughing for three weeks after I come back because this isn't the flu so don't think I'm playing hooky."  (I always worry about people thinking I'm playing hooky.)  It also implies "don't ask."

My advisor, I told him I have a "chronic pain condition that flared up recently."  That additional word might've been a mistake, but, come to think of it, it probably would've played out the same way with or without it.

Him: So you have a pain problem?
Me: Yeah.
Him: Can I ask where?

Here is the point where you say, as I read somewhere recently, "why do you want to know?"  But I'm not that sharp.

Me: My whole body.

It's not actually a complete lie.  I have full-body pain when I eat gluten, and that's why it's such a handy thing to say.

But it's still a lie.

And I shouldn't have to lie.

I swore, I swore in those split seconds leading up to that question that I was gonna say "in my vulva."  Four syllables, not even a complete sentence, all words I've said before.  But my advisor was born before there were vulvas, and anyway he's not a native English speaker, and I never have a Japanese-English dictionary handy, and without one I'd be forced to demonstrate.

And I was never going to say it anyway.

I think lying bothers me most because I feel like there's never been a time in my adult life when I didn't have something to lie about.  Before I was lying to avoid saying "depression" and "anxiety."  Now I'm lying to avoid saying "vulva."

I don't want to lie anymore.

But I don't want to invite people into my internal affairs either, brain or panties.

So I guess the answer is not to say anything.  If someone asks why or where or what and I don't want to tell the truth, I'll tell a different truth, like "I'd rather not say."

Crotch Update

I tried going low-fiber/low-residue as recommended for Crohn's and similar digestive problems, just to test the theory that if you have IBS, you can't recover while eating lots of fiber.

I had to make some exchanges to cut back on fiber.  For instance, I tried adding jelly and fruit juice back to my diet, and I paid for it immediately.  Both gave me acute bladder and urethra pain not long after I ate them.  I haven't eaten any whole fruit besides bananas in a long time, and I think I'll hold off on the others for a while.

I also tried milk, and that was an owie.  I don't know that it did anything to my cooch, but I get really sharp pains in my gut several hours after drinking milk, when it gets down to my large intestine.

However, switching away from a high-vegetable diet made my bowel movements much better.  (Why do I find poop more TMI than vulvas?  I always get weirded out when I start writing about it.)  When I was eating a ton of veggies (plus a lot of raw nuts), I'd wake up every morning to a crampy stomach and have weird things flying out my butt as soon as I got to the toilet.  That's how it was when I was vegan too, except it happened multiple times a day.  I expected it to settle down over time, but it never did.

Now that I've laid off the veggies and cut out the nuts, I don't have any crazy-uncomfortable bowel movements anymore, and no messy ones either.  (Sometimes I felt like a baby.  You know those adult baby wipes they sell?  Well, I never deigned to buy them, but yeah.)

So I'm a little confused as to what's really best for me to eat, but I've decided not to worry about it right now.  I need a vacation from the food sifting for a while.  Tonight I made a gluten-free, dairy-free pizza using Bob's Red Mill's pizza crust mix and Lisanatti's "mozzarella" "cheese" made from almonds (which really melts!).  It was so niiiiiice to eat like that.  I even put pepperoni on it, and then I died.


  1. I usually tell people I have a damaged nerve in my tailbone. Kinda true, and it makes them much less uncomfortable. I wish it was ok to say "my vulva hurts," but it's so far out of the normal range of experience, I don't think they'd be able to sympathize much. Argh. It's a fine line. Sometimes I think I'm 10x crankier during a flare just because I can't tell people what's actually going on. One day I'm going to scream "imagine your fucking penis is on fire! How cranky would that make YOU?"

  2. I just tell them "I have a girl problem."

    That's what I told my boss & co-workers when I was out for Vag surgery.
    (I think they might've figured it out :o based on the, post-surgery closed-knee shuffle walk.)

    No secrets from like doctors & stuff though.

  3. Those are both good suggestions.

    I was thinking, "I have chronic pain WHENEVER I LOOK AT YOUR FACE."

    AK, I agree that just being able to say it would make it better. That's probably why everyone's moaning about their maladies all the time.

  4. I always liked the phrase 'nerve disorder' - technically true. I agree that it's really hard to explain. Like when I'm off work with cystitis - I hate having to phone in and tell them why. And they make me fill a form out to put it on record too - I wish I could come up with a lie to get me out of saying what it is. Out of curiosity, have you tried manuka honey for your IBS? That's my current test (3 days in and I'm actually feeling a bit better).

  5. Stef, "nerve disorder" is so perfect! It doesn't make you specify the body part and you could easily talk about it more without noting where it's happening. "I have a nerve disorder...yeah, my nerve endings get inflamed" etc. etc.

    That sucks that you have to fill out a form for work. It really shouldn't be their business what specifically is wrong with you!

    I hadn't heard of manuka honey for IBS before. Let me know if it works out! I'll look for it the next time I'm in the weird food store :)

  6. Well, I'm taking a teaspoon a day half an hour before my main mean. It tastes yummy and the research that's been done for it suggests that it works well. They think it works for IBS because it coats the lining of your stomach and so stops it being irritated. Well that's what they claim anyway.

    I'm glad you like the 'nerve disorder' thing. That's been my get out of jail free card for ages now. Generally people don't ask anymore once you say 'disorder'. I always tell people that it means I interpret touch as pain. That's about as much as they usually ask. No need to tell them where!