I watched my mother’s dance with illness for quite some time. It seemed to be the same dance each time she had a bout of whatever it was she was dancing with:
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn
Followed by a chronic cough
Followed by severe back pain called sciatica
Early on, in its most severe state, mom was rushed to the hospital with intense dehydration. A few times we thought we would lose her. Mom is now 89.
Having been in the health food industry for over 35 years and having used food as medicine most of my life, I finally interjected. I think you need to eliminate all pork products and cow dairy from your meal plans. That was easier said than done. Mom could be a bit resistant.
Now that she was in a “retirement” home, and after meeting with the dietician, her files were clearly updated. Mom’s meal plan was deficient in pork and cow dairy product. I replaced cow dairy with Coconut Milk ice cream sandwiches and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. That seemed to appease her, although Mom was not happy about this new change. She resented feeling controlled.
The truth was, she was quite angry and directed that anger at me. She felt she was being denied the things she had enjoyed all her life. I tried to make my case and the possibility that these foods had a direct impact on her physical symptoms. She had no desire to hear my truth.
This is when the child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the child. I was willing to play that game with her if need be. I chose to ignore her anger and do what I felt best for her at this point in life.
Slowly mom noticeably improved (to me anyway). Her bouts of illness were fewer and farther between and each one seemed to be less severe. Trips to the hospital became a memory of the past.
And one day, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. Mom had gone out to dinner and upon asking what she had eaten, she replied, “crab cakes.” She had eaten them previously in life; why would they be a problem now? She decided to test her theory a few weeks later when crab cakes were offered at the retirement home. Low and behold… same outcome. She did not need much convincing that crab cakes needed to be avoided. She was not happy, yet not quite as resistant. We were making progress.
Her body was happy, however, and her bouts again became less and less noticeable. And if one did occur, it was short lived.
Just last week, her and I were shopping and she had that chronic cough usually following a digestive upset. She admitted that she had experienced a night of heartburn, keeping her from sleep most of the night, which definitely did not make her happy. This time, however, it was very different. This time, she admitted, “I know what caused my heartburn. It was the peppers I had at dinner.”
This was a huge shift. Mom willingly took responsibility for her food choices. She admitted that she thought peppers had bothered her previously and this time she was sure of it. The big difference this time was that she was not mad about it. She was actually excited that she had figured it out on her own. This time I did not have to tell her to stop eating them, she told me she was done eating them.
Finally, my mother was taking charge of her own healing and she was happy about it. And although she had the chronic cough following the digestive upset, it was mild and short lived, and the back pain never manifested itself. Could it be that her anger had caused the back pain and now that she was not angry about the truth, her body did not have to become inflamed?
That’s my theory anyway, and I’m sticking to it!