Larry holds a special place in my heart. When we first started dating, I was having difficulties controlling my seizures. Each time I had one, if he was around, he would sit me down, give me a blanket and let me be alone. When it was over, he would hug me and ask if I needed any ice cream. He never worried when I freaked out afterward, he never acted as if it was difficult for him. I knew sometimes is was.
“No! Why? What happened?!” He said that in the middle of a restaurant, while eating with his friends, he fell on the floor. When he woke up they told him he had had a grand mal seizure. Apparently he had a leaky blood vessel in his head.
“I understand now,” he said. “I know what you mean about the ‘word search’, where you know the words but they won’t come out. I understood the panic and confusion afterward and then that feeling of being completely refreshed. I felt that feeling on the top of your head….” He wiggled his fingers on top of his head to give it a little emphasis.
“Like someone pulling an itchy wool cap over your brain?” I asked.
“Yes! Or like someone pouring alcohol over your brain and it slowly intoxicates you.”
“Yes! Yes! That’s exactly what it is like!” We were strangely excited talking about this new connection we had after all these years. There was a comfort for us both in that shared experience.
“You know,” he said, “it’s almost like a drug. I know it sounds weird to say, but there are parts of it that feel really good. It has change my way of thinking about pleasure and pain.”
Larry has another physical difficulty. He is gluten intolerant. For those of you not in the know, that means he can’t eat wheat. Sounds horrible, limiting and boring, right? Far from it. Larry has taught me more about food than just about anyone. Every meal at his house is a delicious adventure. I never knew so many different grains existed. I am amazed at how many different ways there are to cook greens. I relish the thought of his Macaroons. I can always rely on Larry to keep me company when I need my Sushi fix.
I hate to use the words handicap, disease or even difficulty to describe what I have. There are so many other people who have real hardships. I doubt Larry would use any of those words either. The things we have that other might consider a burden have expanded the limits of our existence in way that few people are privileged to experience.
Luckily we can all experience the joys of gluten-free eating by choice. Last night I chose a Larry fav – Kale. Ironically, (and we know how I love that) this morning NPR had a front page article on the stuff. It’s simple, it’s delicious and it’s really good for you. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/12/07/143304131/superfood-kale-in-the-limelight
1 bunch of Kale, coarsely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Peppered Lemon Almonds, crushed or chopped
Romano or other sharp cheese, grated
Start by Sauteing you Kale in the Olive Oil, add Garlic, Salt, Pepper, a little Lemon zest and Juice from about 1/2 of your lemon. Let it cook until the Kale is soft but not mushy. Sprinkle with crushed Almonds and Cheese and serve. You can also put one or two Dried Red Peppers in this as you are cooking it, and for you non-veg cooks maybe some Panchetta.
The next time you meet someone with a “disability” don’t pity them, participate with them. Larry, my taste buds are forever in your debt.