Altitude Sickness
September 20, 2017

Spiraling to rock bottom with the aid of a sugar binge

By Brady Crain

I promised last week that I would start doing more interesting things to write about. Then came a few good hard intellectual and emotional kicks to the groin.  I won’t get into it too much, but this sort of thing used to spin me out for weeks, or months, even years.

How I cope with these things has changed. Now, knowing that I will eventually eat my feelings for a certain period of time after any good hard shot to the joint, one of the first things I do after I have stabilized, is ask myself, “Is this a one day, two day, or three day sugar binge?”

If someone I love died horribly? It is a three day binge. If I broke my toe? It is an afternoon binge.

One of the things I do with these binges, is, I do my best to avoid resisting them, which just extends the slide and makes the event longer. When I binge, I binge, and make it a good wallow.

One of the reasons this works is that the consumption of sugar and starch is, for me, very uncomfortable, and so I do my best, in the face of a binge event, not to waste energy scrambling at the slope trying not to hit the bottom. I dive. I swan dive. Right to the bottom.

Nut milk ice cream, gluten free crackers and cookies, fruit that I won’t normally touch because it is too sugary, lots of dark chocolate, non-glutenous grains…all of it is on the table. I realize that this doesn’t sound like a binge, but normal day-to-day eating is, for me, something that doesn’t feel complete until I am in pain. Binge eating is a gluttonous affair worthy of a Roman orgy, where I pound down 4,000-6,000 calories in the space of five or six  hours. When I say I eat ice cream, I mean I will eat a pint an hour for three hours! I throw down. And like any good episode of feelings, eating is best done in a shame spiral while watching self-indulgent movies.

The first day, post binge, I had one episode of hypoglycemia, but I am doing my best to just let things settle out. I did walk a lot during this period of time, and I have finally gotten my road bike out for some late season riding, and have done a few 10-12 mile hill rides and I’m working back up to my favorite, East Mountain Road.

The best part of the past week (and this played nothing into the three day binge) is that I had my three-month appointment with my spine surgeon, and aside from getting a sparkling review of my rehabilitation (lots of gold stars), I learned something very interesting: my back was broken.

One of the inferior facets (at least, they didn’t explore the other side or get out to the vertebrae) of my L3 vertebrae was broken, and a piece of it was unhealed, free floating, and near nerves!

They managed to find it in my MRI after the fact.

But anyway, they removed it, and sent me on my merry way. The upshot of this, though, is that I realize in hindsight that the day I injured my spine, I kept mountain biking, kept playing softball, kept training for the Spartan Ultra, tried to run the Ultra, all on a fractured back.

I, apparently, am stupid, and need parental guidance. That is my takeaway from this.

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