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Thursday, October 4, 2012

34: Hungover!

Oh, the bleary-eyed regrets of the morning after! Dull, throbbing headache, lethargy, brain fog so thick it’s like stumbling around in the dark without a flashlight. Please, just let me crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and leave the world to go on without me. I shouldn’t have indulged, but I did. Quite deliberately, I had given in to the temptation. I ate a dessert.

It wasn’t just any dessert. Our daughter Melissa was visiting from Edmonton and invited some friends to visit with me. Before they arrived, she whipped up a little speciality as only she can. No recipe: just creative culinary intuition. She sliced fresh peaches and pitted Bing cherries into a dish. She found some red currant syrup in the fridge, her father’s noble but failed attempt at jelly; she stirred some cornstarch into the bright red liquid for thickening and poured it over the fruit. Then she mixed up a basic topping of oatmeal, flour, butter, and a little brown sugar, adding her own touch of maple syrup and then crushed walnuts.

I knew it was going to be good, and I began to think that I would choose to partake in her creation, even though I simply can’t eat sweets anymore. On a rare occasion when my husband takes me out for dinner, I might savour a half a cubic centimetre of his dessert after I’ve had a big meal. If you cannot tolerate sweets, having a full stomach after a heavy protein meal will mitigate the damage.

The damage in the case of this lovely fruit crumble was not mitigated; in fact, it was greatly compounded by some high-quality ice cream that I found in the freezer. And it was all consumed on top of only a very light savoury snack.

I dug in to the warm and colourful dessert garnished with ice cream. And it was so good that I said to myself, This is so worth it! I knew it would wipe out the rest of the evening for me, and probably the next day as well. But I was not prepared for my whole system to be totally out of kilter for well over a week.

So why would a person have such an overboard reaction to a dessert? It’s back to the same old adrenal problem (see Blogs 10 & 24). Blog 24 talks about how the adrenals when fatigued may not produce sufficient mineralocortocoids to keep mineral (electrolyte) balance inside and outside the cells; hence my current need for extra salt. The adrenals also produce glucocorticoids like cortisol and cortisone, which are predominantly involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Stressed adrenals cannot adequatelyly regulate glucose levels in the body. If you’ve noticed that you’re more prone to symptoms of hypoglycemia when you’re very stressed, this is the explanation.

This is how I picture what was happening in my own body: All the little guys that work in the Adrenal Department have been on sabbatical for over a year now, ever since my adrenal collapse. They work a kind of rotating schedule, keeping a skeletal staff on duty, just enough to keep the shop open. Then, on a lovely holiday Monday afternoon, while most of them are lying around on their bunks and snoozing in the warm weather, suddenly there comes a critical alert: “Holy crap, guys, she’s just swallowed a boatload of sugar! All hands on deck!”

One laid-back guy says, “Dude, chill. I heard it’s just a bunch of fruit sugar. Shouldn’t be any big deal.”

“Maybe not if that’s all it was, but there was refined sugar in it too. And word has it, she topped it off with ice cream.”

At the mention of ice cream, there is a collective groan and all the guys roll off their bunks, stumbling sleepily to their work stations.

“I need gluccocorticoids and I need them now!” shouts the supervisor.

And so the beleaguered crew rallies their determination and sets about manufacturing the hormone that will straighten out the imbalance I have created.

The following morning as I wake, the supervisor once more tries to rouse his exhausted crew: “Guys, she’s getting out of bed soon. I need you out here again to get some cortisol happening to give her blood pressure a little lift as she gets on her feet. Otherwise the blood is going to pool in the mid-section and lower extremities and she’s going to get dizzy when she stands up—maybe even pass out.”

But the poor guys are just too played out. They’re going to be flat on their backs all week. They stare back at the supervisor bleakly, then roll over and pull the covers over their heads. And so do I.

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