When Life (and Food) Is Hard to Digest


It is much harder to write when I don’t feel good. Like many of us, I want to be perfect. I want everything in my life to go well. I want to be in control, happy, and the right body size.

But life happens. I am not perfect (or happy or in control). And while I have come to accept my body size as just right for me, I still have the body demons whispering in my ear from time to time.

Bodies are complicated for us, don’t you think? I want to feel grateful and content with my body, but it is rebelling. My newest body challenge is a condition I had never heard of before. Apparently, it is common in bariatric patients.

My condition is called SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Do look it up if you have digestive issues, because when I did, I was quite surprised.

I’m not going to go into the details, but I will share that I have had to go on a specific diet (not a weight-loss diet) and it has been difficult. Emotionally, I feel like I did when I first had my bariatric surgery. I watch other people eat and I feel left out.

I do expect to get my SIBO under control, but I will need to stay aware of what and how I eat and watch for any symptoms that require treatment again. My bariatric experience is helping me with these behavioral changes – so that’s one good thing.

Right now, my life is hard to digest, as well. I am sad to share my father has been put into hospice care and will be leaving us soon. He is 95 and has lung cancer. I’m not going to get to say goodbye to him in person and I’m heartbroken.

If you ever read my first book (which I don’t even sell anymore) you will remember my complicated relationship with my father. He left when I was 14 and my world was shattered. For many years, we were estranged, and the loss of his presence defined me. I cried day after day, year after year. I became an alcoholic. People hated me, because every time I got drunk, I would cry about my dad. I checked myself into rehab when I was 24 and have been sober since then, but it has taken many years to heal my relationship with my father.

We certainly have gotten closer over the years. I have visited him regularly and even helped take care of him in 2019 when he became ill. But it wasn’t until the onset of the COVID years that I really had a breakthrough with him.

He was living in a care facility and his wife was travelling for a month or two to see her family, especially her grandkids. I couldn’t go be with Dad, so I decided to help him stay entertained and distracted.

I ordered a mystery game for us to do together, despite our distance apart. Each month we received our boxes with the latest set of evidence for the six-month mystery we were solving.

By the end of it, we were talking on the phone every day and finishing each other’s sentences. It was the first time in our adult lives we were relating not as a father and daughter (as a father who left and a daughter who mostly saw him as someone who rejected her). We were relating as two peas in a pod. I came to understand I was just like him in some very interesting ways.

Our brains solved problems in the same ways, we jumped to the same conclusions, we laughed at the same things, and we spontaneously expressed our love for each other.

When I was drunk and crying as a 24-year-old, telling the nurse at the rehab center about all the horrible things my dad had done, I never would have guessed I was just like him. I never would have imagined one day I would feel so connected to him.

I’m not saying he became a perfect person. But he became one of my people. Someone who knows me better than almost anyone in the world. He became someone I could miss whole-heartedly. And someone I could be at peace with.

So, while I sit here feeling a little sorry for myself, drinking this special diet and missing my morning eggs, I’m also thinking about how, if I could have eggs, I would be cooking them exactly like my dad would, because we like our eggs the same way.

My husband likes to laugh and talk about how much I am like my dad. This brings me joy.

Hold your loved ones close (at least in spirit) and stay safe out there.

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From Katie Jay’s Small Bites newsletter. Subscribe and get your complimentary report: The 21 Most Common Mistakes People Make after Bariatric Surgery at www.BariSupport.com. © 2022, Katie Jay. All rights reserved.