I Have Returned

I want to thank everyone who has written me messages on my blog, sent email, and tracked down my husband on LJ to express concern, encouragement and good wishes. Your love and thoughts meant a great deal to me while I was recovering from the surgery, and I cannot really express how much it means to me that people from all around the world have been thinking of me while I was recuperating.

Let me tell you how I am doing.

Physically, I am absolutely great. I look better than I have in years (that would be the gallbladder diet, I expect), and for the first time in over three years, I have had a cessation of the nausea that plagued me off and on, as well as the phantom fevers which would come and go like heat lightening in summer. Both my GP and my surgeon think that my gallbladder was acting up for a long time, it was just that until the upper-right quadrant pain started, there was no reason to think that my symptoms had diddly to do with my gallbladder. The nausea was attributed to various medications, anxiety and post partum depression, and everyone just shrugged about the fevers, since they were low-grade and never lasted longer than a day, usually less than that. But I feel amazingly fine. I’ve lost enough weight to wear size 12 jeans again, and for the first time in years–I can eat anything with impunity.

I am back to having a cast iron stomach, it seems. Well, I still don’t eat shellfish, being that allergies can kill, but other than that, I can eat whatever I want and I don’t get sick. Lots of folks who have their gallbladders removed are not so lucky, and I feel for each and every one of them and I thank God every day that I was so lucky. No pain. No nausea, no intestinal issues, no gas–that is the best–I can eat beans, dal, broccoli–tons of onions–and nothing gives me gas. Nothing. I am eating dal like a madwoman!

But what is interesting, is I don’t eat nearly as much as I once did. I eat smaller portions, and am perfectly satisfied. I am wondering if my stomach shrank down to a more normal size for the month when I was living on basically rice, lettuce apples, and crackers. (At the end, it was just the crackers. And water. Nothing else but coffee. That, I refused to give up.) Whatever the reason, I just do not eat as much. My stomach tells me when it is full, and I stop, and all is well. For a long time, I had been having trouble knowing when I was full, and so I would eat more than I needed and that contributed to weight gain.

But I guess not anymore.

Emotionally–well that is another issue.

See, the truth is, the reason I didn’t write for so long is that I am going through really heavy therapy right now to help me get over the trauma that happened nearly twenty years ago during my divorce and custody battle with my ex-husband. Things go so scary and screwy and messed up that I now have two highly qualified therapists telling me that I have post traumatic stress disorder. And–they are right. I can read a textbook–and I know my symptoms, and yeah, yeah, it’s there all right.

A few months back, I had a breakdown and ended up with a friend helping me find a good therapist who specializes in trauma cases and women’s issues, and so I have been seeing her once a week for a couple of months. And we are dredging out the painful memories and slowly, going back and letting me feel the emotions that I could not express then, and express them now in a safe situation. And, in turn, we are disconnecting the emotional content to these memories so that when I remember–I do not have to relive the situation.

So, right before the gallbladder surgery, the therapy also got very intense, and so, frankly, that is what I have been dealing with. The holidays always make everything worse for me, and so that was where I was. In a not so pleasant place in my head, and in no way, shape or form, was I up for writing about food, or really, much of anything.

But–I am back. I am feeling much better emotionally, and am on a much more stable footing. I feel stronger than I have in, well, forever it seems, so I am back on duty, and will be blogging at least three times a week for the rest of the year, and hopefully, even more when the new year rolls around.

Once again, thank you all so very much for your kindness. It has blown me away.

Love and peace to you all.


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  1. So glad you’re back, Barbara! I hope these holidays go easy on you, and the new year brings more healing.

    Comment by persimmon — December 14, 2009 #

  2. i read but i never comment and i wanted to let you know that you have my deepest sympathy. it’s hard to fall off the face of the earth and come back to say “well… i was depressed”
    you’re a brave woman and i commend you.
    i’m glad you’re feeling healthy. I hope your holidays bring you much joy.

    Comment by cmb — December 14, 2009 #

  3. Nice post. I look forward to more posting! 🙂

    Comment by cleartrampoline — December 14, 2009 #

  4. It’s nice to have you back. Wishing you complete recovery and only good news in the new year. -Jill-

    Comment by Jill — December 14, 2009 #

  5. Good to have you back. And great to hear you’re on the road to recovery.

    Comment by Fernmonkey — December 14, 2009 #

  6. Great to hear you’re doing better and dealing with past issues. I know you research vigorously, but just remember it is absolutely normal for old feelings to come up.

    As to the gall bladder issues, I had mine removed a year ago and I think it was your recipe for aamti that saved me, it was all I could eat when feeling ill which was months. Ginger is bad for people with gall bladder problems because of the stimulating effect it has on the digestive system, it was a ginger based punjabi curry that brought on my first bad attack (like a heart attack, but on the right side). I still have problems with fatty foods, I can eat anything but now nature keeps me close to smaller portions of the stuff that’s bad for me or from overdoing on extras and rich desserts.

    I’ve been away from here for months, we moved from italy back to germany but were traveling for sometime in between. Now we’re back in the cold weather and i can’t wait to make your moussaka. And to get caught up on all of the new recipes… All the best and take care!

    Comment by Liz — December 14, 2009 #

  7. Glad to have you back, stronger in mind and body. I know I have heard only a fraction of what you were dealing with years ago and thank goodness for therapists. Here’s to a happier, healthier holiday season (and beyond!).

    Comment by Amy — December 14, 2009 #

  8. I’m so pleased to hear your health is better now. And I admire you for being so brave and facing and admitting your emotions.


    Comment by Maninas — December 14, 2009 #

  9. Hi Barbara,

    I have been reading your blog for some time but have never commented. I (and my housemates/visitors/cats!) have been so grateful for the glorious food inspiration you have provided.

    So I wanted to thank you for that. And also for the bravery, strength, and honesty it takes to talk about such personal things in a public forum. It is so difficult… and also the best way to destigmatize these kinds of issues, not alone allowing people to offer you support and encouragement!

    I’m glad to hear you’re healing – on many fronts – and wish you all the very best!

    Comment by jen — December 14, 2009 #

  10. I’m glad you’re back and I’m sorry you’ve been through so much. I hope your family has a nice relaxing time over the holidays.

    I’m struggling with little symptoms myself and a little exhaustion and I hope I either get to the bottom of it or stop being a hypochondriac, either way it gives me hope that you’re doing well.

    Comment by jennywenny — December 14, 2009 #

  11. Glad you’re back. I know how traumatizing divorces can be. I’ve been divorced over ten years now but still have nightmares from time to time. Stay Strong!

    Comment by Amy D. — December 14, 2009 #

  12. Very, very glad to hear you’re back and doing well on ALL fronts.

    Comment by Cindy — December 14, 2009 #

  13. I, too, survived a horrid, nightmarish divorce following a horrid, nightmarish marriage. It’s been 17 years and you know, I can totally see the need for therapy to deal with something like that lo these many years later. My main problem, though, is that in the long run, it has affected my kids worse than it did me.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better, both physically and emotionally.

    Comment by Jan — December 14, 2009 #

  14. Glad that the physical side of things has improved! Best wishes to you for clarity and strength as you work through the emotional stuff that’s come to the fore.

    Comment by Lexica — December 14, 2009 #

  15. Best wishes to you Barbara! To be honest, I was a little worried when you didn’t post for so long after your surgery. I thought maybe something had gone horribly wrong post-operatively. Phew!

    Comment by Maria in Oregon — December 14, 2009 #

  16. Very touching to read your words, only happy to hear that things are getting better. Dealing with emotional issues will hopefully improve the quality of your life. I admire your honesty and bravery for sharing.

    Comment by pamwest — December 14, 2009 #

  17. Be well. Be strong. I wish you the best with your journey through therapy. And may the new year be a good one for you with less trauma and difficulties.

    Comment by Diane — December 14, 2009 #

  18. So glad things are looking up for you now.

    Comment by Jumper — December 14, 2009 #

  19. Hi Barbara,

    A friend turned me onto your blog, and I’ve relished your posts for much of the past year.

    So glad you’re back and came through the gall bladder procedure so successfully!

    Thank you for sharing so much of your emotional self. Your journey into conquering demons of the past is truly inspirational.

    May the New Year bring you and yours continued prosperity and peace!

    Warmest regards,


    Comment by Sharan — December 15, 2009 #

  20. So glad you’re back and that your physical ailments are abating.

    Good for you for getting your emotional life in order too. It’s hard, but hopefully it will be rewarding. Man, when I was going to therapy there were whole sessions I just spent crying.

    Comment by Christine — December 15, 2009 #

  21. Congrats on getting to the bottom of your gallbladder issues… I suffered from atypical gallbladder pain off and on for 20 years before it was finally diagnosed and my gallbladder was removed (unfortunately before laparoscopic surgery)and it was quite a relief when it was out of there!
    I wish you and your family a peaceful holiday season.

    Comment by Hilarie Burhans — December 15, 2009 #

  22. You are a brave women and an inspiration to us all – as well as an amazing cook. As a child I was the victim of serious sexual abuse. I knew that it was bad and that I had deep wounds but it wasn’t until I had a nervous breakdown in my late 30’s that I got the help I needed. So, the point of this is that it often takes years for the trauma to surface to the point where we are able to deal with it and find the help and support that we need. May you continue to find the help and love that you need and deserve.
    Much love and light and blessings be

    Comment by Nancy — December 17, 2009 #

  23. hey now. if the holidays have got you blue (as they have for me for all the years since my mom died), there’s an easy fix. don’t do them. just don’t. don’t send out cards or put up a dang tree or light candles or listen to songs you don’t really like anyway. clean your house, make some good food, and thank god (or whatever you’d like to thank) for the fortunes you’ve got. that, my bloggy lady, is what st. thorlac’s day is all about. being appreciative for family and a roof over your head, and breaking up the cold of winter with some tasty food.

    good luck to you.

    Comment by sara — December 17, 2009 #

  24. Glad to see you back, Barbara. I’m glad to hear you’ve found a good therapist. I definitely know how that depression thing goes. I don’t have PTSD, but I have had clinical depression my whole life that sometimes turns into a debilitating “major depressive episode” that makes it hard to function. Actually, aren’t the “textbook symptoms” and getting a diagnosis kind of comforting? Makes it feel more real and not like it’s just something you made up.

    Looking forward to reading you blog some more. I see you posted some recipes from 660 Curries. I’ve also been going nuts with that book, since I got it for Xmas, but I’ve been concentrating on the dals and chicken recipes. I’ll leave paneer for later since I’ve never heard of it before and don’t know where to get it.

    Comment by Neohippie — January 7, 2010 #

  25. Barbara, my blog-reading comes and goes depending on how busy I am, and so I just read this. I’m sorry to hear you have been struggling with all this–but gladder to know you are making progress and feeling good. Wishing you well, physically *and* emotionally, in 2010!

    Comment by Laurel — January 16, 2010 #

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