While Bryan and the kids are camping I am supposed to be revising. Instead I am playing hooky. I napped for three thousand hours today. Two thousand yesterday. I will be up forever this evening surfing Netflix Instantplay. But it is so worth it. Naps are my new favorite pastime, especially when my insides are on strike.
Last night, filled with collards, freedom (and other, ahem, things) I drove to Whole Foods and confessed in hushed tones to the silver-haired vitamin guy, the one with the buzz-cut and the architectural glasses, that I am constipated.
Dear Reader, it's come to that. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I told Dr. Whole Foods that a friend recommended liquid magnesium but we both decided it was too expensive at $24.99, too much of a gamble, even though my friend has much expertise. The box, for some reason, looked menacing. I couldn't do it.
Dr. Whole Foods mildly criticized the bacon in my basket so I knew he wasn't down with traditional foods or saturated fat. He asked me what kind of cooking oil I use and I tried to look proud and self-assured when I mentioned pastured lard. I wanted to explain the benefits of grainlessness and animal fat but I get mealy mouthed when trying to convince the unconvinceable, especially when they're in a position of relative authority and I poop once every five days. Something is obviously wrong. I was not in a position to be touting my ways.
In the end, his eyebrows escaped the edges of his slick specs in uncharacteristic excitement. He told me to eat not one but two apples, that the pectin would help me, and ooh, ooh, he'd just read this study, it would help me avoid coronary heart disease too. And also, I should use flaxseed oil. I bought a bottle of that for $6.99, a stultified sheep in the Whole Foods headlights.
Back at home, I ate a spoonful of the oil and wanted to die. It was almost as bad as the cod liver oil I have tried and failed to integrate into my eating habits. Then I ate an apple, peeled, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon, my favorite way to indulge. I topped each slice with slather of almond butter, the kind that comes with roasted flax seeds. I figured it would help. In a delicious way.
After I munched (not before, God forbid) I Googled Dr. Whole Foods's advice and found that raw apples have been found to negatively affect the innards of lab rats, but cooked apples are our friends, that the pectin can indeed aid constipation sufferers. Great. For insurance I drank a mug of Smooth Move tea, which has senna leaf in it to stimulate the bowel. You're not supposed to use it regularly because you can become dependent on it. But I was on a mission. A poopy mission.
I awoke at one-something AM in the blooming insomniac night to my abdomen dancing a raging hula, all to little effect. Groggy and hopeful I visited the bathroom. Once, twice, thrice, and struck out. Damn you laxative tea! I shook my fist at the indifferent ceiling.
I lay in bed tracing the undulation of my abdomen with my fingers, wishing for sleep but also noting the still curious absence of anxiety. This would have been a fantastic time to worry—to regret blogging about how much I love Primal, to become as filled with angst as I was with poop. This would have been the time for my heart to race with desperation, cringing and wondering, is this grain-free diet worth the aggravation?
The answer came sure and simple and clean. YES. It is worth it. My mind, unlike my intestines, remained calm and untangled. All the reason I needed to soldier on.
In the quiet dark, instead of berating myself for being a damn fool, I decided it all makes sense. I was bottle-fed as an infant. My high school diet consisted of Reese's peanut butter cups and bong hits. Before that it was Pop-Tarts and Cap'n Crunch. Throughout my twenties and thirties it was soy, rice and pasta. I'd taken my fair share of anti-biotics for myriad ailments. My guts were simply not accustomed to the new regime, not without the scouring agent they'd been trained to depend upon over their forty-two years. Constipation among Primal and Paleo eaters is typical but it has to be fixable, I thought. Then I fell asleep.
In the morning I tried yet again to ingest the flaxseed oil, this time mixed in a mug with hot filtered water, lemon juice, Celtic Sea Salt, Bragg's raw apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. It was a hot mess, a foul tribute to all the natural remedy ideas I'd picked up on. Flaxseed oil, God bless if you love it, but ew, Jesus. Eating it felt like punishment, and I have little patience for disguising disgusting-tasting foods, no matter how nutritious.
Eyeing my receipt I remembered Malibu Mark Sisson recommending a couple extra fish oil pills in the case of a sluggish bowel, and I already had a bottle of those on-hand. $6.99, a voice whispered. Six ninety-nine.
I opened my laptop again. Still groggy, still determined, I learned that a number of Primal/Paleo eaters found relief with a product called Natural Calm, which is a powdered magnesium supplement. They spoke my language, suffered what I suffered, and found a way to poop. I felt calm just looking at the container.
I grabbed the flaxseed oil, receipt and car keys. I flew out of the house.
The Natural Calm was there on the bottom shelf. It was $21.99. I was at a crossroads. I didn't want to spend that much on a constipation remedy. Bryan already breaks out in hives whenever I bring home some new superfood. But spend I did. At home I mixed it up and drank it down. Not bad at all. Chalky and tart like a children's aspirin. Totally do-able. Then I sauteed some apple slices in cultured butter, chewed them thoughtfully, took a probiotic capsule, a couple fish oil pills, and mowed the lawn.
Eventually, Reader, things began to move. And move. And move like they haven't moved in days.
The clouds parted. The angels sang. And I sat reverently giving thanks.
My insides and my outside met. They shook hands, smiled at each other, and promised to see each other again real soon.