The moral of this story is that you should stop eating, and teeth are really just expensive chunks of enamel with an agenda of pure evil.
Or possibly it’s Go slowly.
Wait—no, it’s Research.
I don’t know. Maybe you can figure it out by the end. That all withstanding:
I love food.
Except when food doesn’t love me.
And except when food becomes a sharp and wicked thing that tries to eradicate pleasure, induces pain, and entertains eliminating the ability to draw breath altogether.
Every sip and each forkful begs the question Good? Bad? Russian Roulette?
I think my words are not hugely off the mark to a lot of people reading this essay, as most of us are likely aware of the relationship we have with sustenance. There are foods we are told to eat, many we’re warned to avoid, and some we’re scammed into giving over treasure troves of cold hard cash to with the promise that it is the answer to all that ails us and may even turn back time.
We scratch our heads in wonder at it all because the ground is always shifting. The data today is irrelevant tomorrow. The expert right now proves to be a charlatan in a week when we discover they’re funded by someone with a vested interest, or only attended half of medical school. The truth is ever evolving, and that evolutionary rotation is enough to make our heads spin and our stomachs swirl with nausea – which of course, requires some sort of comestible balm to repair it.
Recently, I made the switch from mostly vegetarian, to mostly vegan.
I did so for a variety of reasons; namely, I have a somewhat overzealous attraction (read addiction) to cheese (I believe this to be a spurious genetic mutation from being Wisconsin born), and because I want to eat less food that once had a face (or came from a source with a face). It’s complicated. And I think making that decision is a complex one for most people, as there is likely more than one reason to make these changes.
But the shift should not have gone as it did. The upgrade became problematic because of my all or nothing approach to life, and that “I can do it” attitude had me fall flat on my face and then kicked me in the butt to boot—er, maybe back (you’ll find out why in a sec).
As my life’s motto is CHANGE EQUALS DEATH, if I must make change, I do it swiftly, and wholly, and try to convince myself that I’ve always been in the boiling water—that there was no “dip in a toe and turn it up a notch bit by bit” type of scenario available. All or nothing.
Since I was in the middle of my second big bout with our planet’s plague, and couldn’t taste or smell a thing, I figured this was the perfect time to make that leap, as while food could not bring comfort, at least it might participate in restoring health.
I upped the ante on just how much kale and spinach, carrots and tofu I could muscle down my gullet. My meals were full of lentils and seeds, and broccoli and beans. Absent were all my friends from the dairy world—the melty, nutty, stinky cheeses, the shocking tang of sour cream, the soothing balm of silky gelatos. Bye-bye eggs. So long scrambles. Adieu my coddled, crepey, deviled friends.
I replaced them with versions that promised texture, that advertised congruence—we’re so alike you’ll never know! the packages of almond cheese or coconut yogurt, or cashew cream swore.
How would I know? I chewed, I swallowed, I sighed at the loss of sensory pleasure.
And the little pleasure I did possess was further lessoned because of the dastardly drilling from a wretched root canal. Make that TWO root canals. Masticate on one side, and don’t forget your meds!
Had I glanced across the landscape to view the turbulent churning clouds amassing, I may have given pause to question my participation in the rotation of said clusters.
Also, it would have been nice if someone told me about oxalate toxicity.
A weird little disorder I might not have ever uttered before had I continued on my merry veg and very lovely cheese routine, but apparently, I was untutored in the careful maneuvering many vegans must put into practice in order to retain renal health.
Mainly, make sure you have balance.
Many fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains have high levels of oxalate acid within them—a naturally occurring compound within plants that use it to help protect themselves against predators—insects, grazing animals, and come to find out, vehement vegans. I think of it as seedling self-defense.
Humans are quite capable of eliminating the body of oxalates they ingest from their food, but these compounds are, in my mind, a little bit like having your errant 22-year-old son move back home and set up an apartment above your garage.
They contribute nothing, and they bleed you dry of essential elements.
They need something that will take them by the hand and lead them far away from that which houses your goods and assets—away from your bones, blood, muscles, and major necessary organs. They need a girlfriend. Let’s just call that girlfriend Calcium.
Calcium sees that your functionless freeloader is about to offer you the unreturnable gift of kidney stones. Not a particularly valuable set of gems, but I understand they’re still considered “collectibles.”
Sadly, I did not correctly appraise Calcium’s true value until it was too late, and she simply and casually gave me a shrug of, “He’s your problem now.”
Also, to ditch my allegory, it appears I set up my kidneys for a big one-two punch by utilizing the jumbo-sized container of Advil (as directed by my endodontist) to fist fight all the root canal carnage. It’s like I welcomed a battle with the bucket I was kicking. That offal feels awful if you pump it full of products that prove poisonous.
I just didn’t know.
Hours on the bathroom floor curled up in the fetal position, a costly trip to the clinic, a round of nausea-inducing antibiotics, and countless sympathetic conversations with nutritionists and vegan friends later I gleaned two things:
It might be time to donate to the National Kidney Foundation—maybe tip the karmic scale of good deeds in my favor.
And I do a piss-poor job of cleaning my bathroom floor—no pun intended.
Ultimately, kale and I have decided to go into therapy.
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