In part one, we learned that I am not feeling well and have embarked on an ambitiously restrictive elimination diet to find the cause. 

On Monday, July 11th, Suzanne headed off with Bear for a fun ten-day adventure to RollerCon in Las Vegas, a roller-skating convention, leaving me in charge at the Mighty Small Farm.

Now compared to a regular farm, the Mighty Small Farm is not a lot of work. Let the ladies out in the morning and put them away at night, feeding them, giving them fresh water, and collecting their eggs along the way. Wash the eggs as needed, put them in cartons. Let the baby ladies out, give them fresh water and food, put them away at night. (They are not obliging about the latter, so I’m sometimes calling them the young hooligans now. They are party animals, they want to stay out late!)

Pick produce as warranted — strawberries and blueberries and raspberries right now. Not a chore, but a delight.

Feed two dogs, walk them, clean up after them in the back yard as needed. In the case of Sophie, the energizer bunny of dogs, if I’m not up to taking long walks, play at least a couple hours of ball, either in the driveway or a nearby field, or take those walks AND play ball (her preference, definitely.)

Feed and put fresh water out for two easy cats and clean out one easy litter box.

And then there’s Gina, #notmycat. She is the only cat I’ve ever truly loved and I do love her, but she’s not well, and she’s basically an equivalent amount of work to everyone else put together.

Minor digression: we were with her at the vet today, and I was returning to the car from walking a dog while the vet tech was interviewing Suzanne.

The vet tech, clipboard in hand, said, “Any vomiting?”

Suzanne replied, “No.”

I said, “WHAT?!? That is a total lie!”

The vet tech, of course, had no idea who this stranger was who had just accosted Suzanne to accuse her of lying and looked a bit perplexed — who to trust, the cat’s owner or the random passerby? But the ensuing several moments of conversation clarified that yes, part of caring for Gina is cleaning up regular vomit, maybe not everyday and certainly not any worse now than it has been for months, but regular. As well as cleaning up all the other consequences of the insane amounts of food she eats — five or six cans a day — which flows right through her system. My routine for her was basically put three bowls of cat food down at 6AM, then another at 10:30, another at 12:30 or so, another at 4 or so, another three bowls at 8. If I was awake at 10, another can then. Five or six feedings a day. The extra bowls were technically for the other cats, but Gina usually eats them, too.

So, Gina: Feed a LOT. Clean up piles and puddles and vomit, quite often (she considers the litter box optional) and also a litter box two times a day.

Still, nothing compared to a real farm, of course. Not that anyone in their right mind would leave me in charge of a real farm, but my point is that it’s not like a full-time job or anything. Some time in the morning, some time in the evening, and five minutes here or there during the day. Plenty of time to get other things done.

So back to the story of why Christina’s presents are late: Suzanne has headed off, I am in charge at the Mighty Small Farm, and I am starting the AIP diet, which means a lot of time preparing food. It is Monday morning (the 11th) and I think to myself, “I’m not going to be hard on myself this week. I’m not going to worry about writing, I’m just going to take care of the animals and feed myself. Oh, and get Christina’s presents in the mail. Yep, that’s all I’m going to do this week. Wow, I wish I could have some coffee.”

During the ensuing several days, the latter thought was my foremost thought again and again and again. Holy cow, it is hard to go through caffeine withdrawal if you are a regular drinker of coffee. I’ve done it before, but back then I was a tea drinker. Ironically, I only started drinking coffee after I did AIP the first time, because I didn’t like plant milks in my tea, and couldn’t drink regular dairy anymore. And I wouldn’t have said I drank a lot of coffee — I have a small coffee pot and I drank one pot a day.

But I spent that entire week feeling awful. Headache, yes, and fatigue, to be expected, but also nausea, shakiness, and a general sense of physical misery. As well as the joint pain and lack of energy I was already struggling with. By Wednesday, I was seriously considering going back to the doctor again, but every time a new symptom appeared — ie, why are my hands shaking? — I’d check and it would be on the list of potential symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. It turns out that my recent consumption of caffeine was probably about four times what I was consuming the last time I quit caffeine. My cold turkey quit was brutal.

And every morning I woke up and thought, ‘I really need to get to the post office today.’ And every evening when I tried to fall asleep, I thought, ‘I will get to the post office tomorrow. It will be my one goal. I will make it happen.’ So passed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday… on Sunday night, I was starting to feel better and absolutely determined. I had one day left: Christina’s presents were wrapped, in a box, with bubble wrap even, and I would get to the post office on Monday and I would overnight her presents and they would get there on her birthday. I was determined. It would happen!

Spoiler alert: it did not happen.

But that story has to be told in Part 3.

Sophie Sunshine, the energizer bunny of dogs.