It began so uninspiringly, in the dentist’s chair.
He had just adjusted a crown for me, as I’d been having some jaw pain. “I think we were just a millimeter or so off on your bite, but that’s enough to cause the pain,” he said.
He joked that my then husband was built like a Mack truck—rock solid jaws with limitless tolerance for being “off,” whether by millimeters or inches—but that I was more like a Ferrari, with very tight specifications for optimum performance.
Huh. A Ferrari. I like that. Sounds better than Princess and the Pea.
What began that day was my slowly dawning how-the-hell-did-it-take-me-until-middle-age-to-figure-this-out knowledge: What I put in and on my body really affects me. More so than the average bear.
Case in point: The crown I just had removed from my mouth years before its expiration date, because my mouth had felt “annoyed” by it for ages. Turns out, it had a metal base because 14 years ago when I got it, that is how they made crowns. The moment—and I mean the MOMENT—it was removed, it was like cold water on a sunburn. Sweet relief. Turns out my body was having an allergic reaction to the metal.
This roundabout story of my dental adventures—while scintillating– is just to say that I’ve realized many of us (because there are plenty other highly sensitive bears out there) need to take charge of our well-being in a way the world hasn’t.
I think many of you, like me, have thought the grown-ups were in charge. I was raised on cow’s milk and the usual snack foods. Only to find that farmers were feeding their cows hormones to up production that then made their way into my body. That snack foods usually contain gluten, which attacks the thyroid (as does dairy, by the way). And now here I am with a thyroid that needs attending to.
At some point, I realized my makeup contained neurotoxins and the plastic bottles I drank my water out of contained harmful chemicals.
And now, in middle age, as I try to eat clean and whole to fix said thyroid and lose the extra pounds I’ve packed on because of it, I realize that chemicals and additives are in just about everything we eat out.
And as my neighbor chats with me about how high the cancer rate is nowadays, he sprays his lawn with a chemical fertilizer and weed killer. One that will wash into our water table. Hmmm—wonder why that cancer rate is rising?
I tried the Whole 30 diet for a month. It made me feel as spartan as a monk and cranky many days. Until I started to wake up feeling refreshed. No aches. No creaks. My energy levels amped up. My thinking was crystal clear all day long. My hair got shinier, my skin started to glow. My “symptoms” of thyroiditis and rosacea started to dissipate. I found my waist again.
As I try, within reason, to go gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, preservative free and chemical additive free, I feel I may resort to eating the sticks my maple tree drops in my yard. But I’m thinking those may not even work, thanks to my neighbor’s weed killer on a windy day.
We need to care. Not just about our own health but about the collective good. What were those dairy and consumer goods executives thinking as they flooded our personal products and diet with chemicals? I highly doubt much beyond their year-end bonus. And guess what? They’re still doing it. They’re just getting smarter about the labeling, making it more complicated for us to figure out what is what.
It’s a tiny stake in the ground, but I’m trying to buy clean and natural, cruelty-free. I don’t want lotions tested on tortured monkeys, food that will last months without spoiling, little squares of a sweet something that contain no ingredient with less than 12 letters.
If more of us did this—voted with our wallets—think of the change that would have to occur. Wouldn’t that be a great world?
If you’re a Mack truck, you may read this and think it’s all too much effort and so very silly. But, I have a feeling more and more of us are finding our inner Italian sports car.
Given the choice between the two, who wouldn’t want the racy cherry red model?