I smell like fish. Not all the time. But certainly often. As often as possible.
Don’t go getting all 7th grade boy on me. That’s not what I mean.
This all started in 2012.
That year was a doozy, as my grandmother would say.
First, I had twins.
They were born at 34 weeks, and though they had grown really big and strong (5 lbs. 11 oz./6 lbs.) they had neglected to learn how to breathe. So we went through this for a while:
Then, just a couple of months later, my mother died while enjoying fish and chips in an Irish pub. This is not funny. In fact, it is so not funny that I’ve spent two years cracking jokes about it to try to make it less horrifying, less real. But it was real, and so I had to set about going through all the things that I had prematurely inherited from her. Included in this list was some lovely jewelry, some antique china, some pictures of people I’ll never be able to identify, and Every. Freaking. Ailment she ever complained about.
It was surreal. It seemed as though all the physical maladies she’d ever suffered were let loose on the world when she died, and went searching en masse for their rightful heir. My mother’s cracked skin around her thumb nails: I got your bleeding fingers right here. My mother’s thin hair: mine started falling out by the fistful. My mother’s breast cancer: Hey look at that! We need a biopsy.
But the real winner was the gallbladder.
A month after my mother died I was rolling around on the living room floor crying and vomiting and wishing I could die. The ER doctor diagnosed an acute gallbladder attack, just like my mother had when she was 35. Of course. The surgeon recommended removing it, but said we’d need to wait for the results of the breast biopsy to make sure cutting another hole in my belly (my C-section was just about healed) didn’t send cancer cells floating through my body willy nilly.
By the time the biopsy came back clear, I’d already had another attack and feared I was growing a little too fond of the IV Delaudid. This explains why I booked the first available O.R. appointment and “yeah, yeah, yeahed” my way through the surgeon’s list of possible complications.
I thought a gallbladder was like an appendix, or adenoids, or some other leftover bit of evolutionary tissue. Not so much. Instead, your gallbladder does all sorts of nifty things. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as an automatic bile dispenser. Bile is made by your liver, stored in your gallbladder, and helps your body process fat. So, you eat something and your gallbladder gets an order to release a certain amount of bile back to your liver so that the fat can be broken down and used, or you know, stored on your ass. Many people experience their first gallbladder attack after eating something really greasy. In my case, it was Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. This pain indicates that something has gone wrong with the gallbladder, usually gallstones. The easiest thing to do with a stone glutted gallbladder is get it out of there.
There is just one problem with this. Without the gallbladder, Mr. Liver doesn’t have anywhere to store the extra bile he makes, so it just kinda spills into the digestive system like beer on a frat house floor. This is most unpleasant. Just mediate on the definition of “bilious” if you need a hint. Over time, the liver usually figures out how much bile is going to be needed, even without the help of our adorable green friend.
Well, my liver is a slow learner. It’s not really his fault. I do keep him very busy. Nonetheless, he doesn’t know what to do with fatty foods, and he’s grown so weary trying to figure it out that he’s stopped dealing well with almost all foods. Essentially, anytime I eat, anytime time I eat anything at all, I know I have about 15 minutes to find a bathroom. And I gotta hope it’s a nice bathroom, with plenty to look at, because I’m going to be there for a while.
For the last couple years my solution to this has been to stop eating. That’s been working ok. After all I have three toddlers, who has time to eat? But lately, a few issues have developed. First, I’m anemic. Not surprising. Second, I’m losing all my hair. Not pretty. Third, a month or so ago my 11 year old daughter pushed away from her untouched breakfast and said, “Mom, I’m just not hungry. I think I’m going to be like you when I grow up. You know, someone who never really eats anything.” NOT ACCEPTABLE.
So, I’ve been working on it. I’ve been trying to eat something at least twice a day. It’s not going that well. Breakfast, I have discovered, is an absolute bust. I may as well just pour the fancy Greek yogurt or granola or fruit right down the toilet and save it the 10 minute detour through my body. I’ve got about a 20% shot with any other meal of the day. There is, however, one thing that I can always manage to hold onto.
I don’t know why. I think it might be some cosmic joke: Broke mama/writer/teacher’s wife only able to digest food that costs approximately $20/lb. Ha fucking ha ha. And no, plain rice does not work. Perhaps I also inherited my mother’s extremely expensive tastes, without, unfortunately, inheriting her bank account.
What I do know, is that I can always tempt my daughter to join me in a little yellowtail goodness. I make sure to save it for when she is around. She sees me gobbling happily, and she then she’s gobbling happily, and then the whole kitchen smells like fish, and I’m just, well, happy as a clam. And that, my friends, is worth $20 a pound any day.
So do me favor. Go up there and subscribe. You’ll be helping to support my sushi habit, my daughter’s realistic relationship with food, and my lazy liver. Mwah. Fish kiss.