Disclosure: I developed this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Candied Bacon (aka Pig Candy) in partnership with TABASCO, who compensated me for this post. All opinions remain my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Poet in the Pantry!
I left you hanging in June with the back pain I was suffering and the commencement of taking control of that. I dutifully participated in 6 weeks of physical therapy, but it didn’t change much. My therapist determined that I likely have hypermobility in my sacroiliac (SI) joint. Your sacrum is at the base of your spine, an area where a very intuitive massage therapist told me many years ago that I have a problem with holding all my problems there. Many people are a bit tight in this region but I, apparently, am an overachiever. Too much movement means that I’m overcompensating in other ways to adjust for this instability; this explains the muscle knots in my derrière. It also explains why physical therapy wasn’t doing much for me. He mentioned some potential treatments for this, including injections that help your body create scar tissue in the joints to restrict movement, but I wasn’t completely sold on that.
It turned out that when I actually listened to my doctor and took the medication he prescribed, however, it helped.
I’ll admit, I freaked out at first. Meloxicam, the anti-inflammatory drug prescribed for me, has some scary side effects on the warning label, including the potential for sudden stroke or death from stomach bleeding. Daily alcohol intake increases this risk, as well as continued use of the medication. Once I read this, I tossed the bottle aside and insisted that he come up with an alternative. Luckily, my doctor is the patient sort who knows how to deal with his patients. He called me up and we discussed my concerns. Then he asked me: have you ever taken ibuprofen? Yup, actually. All the time. That’s my go-to. It’s the same. Same warnings. Same risks. Was I making mountains out of mole hills again? It was entirely possible. He suggested I give it a go for a month and we’d discuss it at my follow-up.
And I did. I took it every night and, in spite of my misgivings, the pain evaporated. No more pain! Yay! Sure, it didn’t fix whatever was wrong with me, but it made it that much easier to go about my day-to-day. Hallelujah!
I had my follow-up appointment on August 17th. That’s when my doc ordered an MRI and added Gabapentin to my regimen. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant, often used to treat restless leg syndrome, nerve pain, even epilepsy. This was supposed to calm the muscle spasms I’ve been experiencing in my left leg for years that have recently intensified. 300 mg, 3 times a day.
Now I’m in a daze. Common side effects include: dizziness, drowsiness, and blurred vision. I’m tired all the time. I experience bouts of vertigo frequently. I feel mildly buzzed for hours. I’m not me on this medication. But I know there’s a period of adjustment–time needed for my body to get used to it–so I’m giving it a chance. So far, I’m not thrilled about it. And the pain is returning, no longer contained by the Meloxicam. The beast is breaking through. Good thing I see the doc on Wednesday.
In the meantime, I had an MRI last week. I hate confined spaces. In theaters, I pick aisle seats, if I can. I like having an escape route. Shoving my fat body head first into a tiny tube is not high on my list of things I’d like to do on a Wednesday morning. But I did, slightly sedated in order to endure the process. My mom dropped me off at the hospital and I had this slight feeling of needing an adult to supervise me. Or, at the very least, take care of me. Instead, I had to take care of my dizzy self. It distressed me a little, but I can’t say that feeling lasted long.
The nurse couldn’t find a suitable vein in my arm in which to inject the contrast; she told me my veins were tiny. At least something about me is. Another nurse stuffed something in my ears and asked me what I wanted to listen to–they have Pandora. I said something about 80s music, and my wish was granted. As Bon Jovi crooned a rock ballad, an angled pillow was placed under my knees; a washcloth appeared over my eyes. I refused the blanket: last time, I started to feel smothered by it about 3/4 of the way through the test. Then I was in the tube, with all the banging and clanging going on around me.
I think I dozed off a few times. Thank you, Valium.
2/3 of the way through, I was pulled back out of the machine so the nurse could inject the contrast in my hand. She asked me if I bleed a lot, I think; I don’t really remember. I just know I had to hold something on my hand, then she said it was time to go back into the tube for 2 more tests.
10 minutes later, it was over. I texted my mom that I was ready to be picked up and I glided outside the hospital to sit at the outpatient picnic table, waiting for my brother to pick me up. He brought me to Dunkin’ Donuts, at my request, but they didn’t have the only thing I wanted–a biscuit bagel with sausage and cheese. Why did they still have posters up for it? He bought me a sausage and cheese croissant instead and dropped me off at home.
I slept most of the rest of the day. And now, I wait. I have a copy of the report for my MRI–I picked it up from their radiology records department 2 days after the procedure–but I don’t know enough to decipher exactly what they’re saying. I should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Unfortunately, I can tell this much: it isn’t going away anytime soon.
But not just any bacon. CANDIED bacon, lacquered with brown sugar and the BBQ essence found in TABASCO SWEET & Spicy Pepper Sauce. Sweet with heat is my favorite treat, after all. I chose not to make a full-on barbecue sauce for my basting material, as I really wanted that brown sugar to melt in the oven, encapsulating that bacony goodness and transforming it from simple breakfast food to delightful treat for any time of the day. Is it dessert? Is it brunch? Who knows! It’s just awesome all the way around!
The TABASCO sauce is a pleasant surprise, tingling the taste buds with a sense of something more without quite being able to put your finger on it. I love how that worked out. Everyone else in the house did, too; the candied bacon did not last long. But the memory of it lives on, and I know I can make it again any time–it’s really just that easy.
Sweet and Spicy Candied Bacon (aka Pig Candy)
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
- 3 Tablespoons TABASCO SWEET & Spicy Pepper Sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard the kind you squirt on food; not the powder
- 8 slices thick cut bacon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the brown sugar, TABASCO sauce, honey, garlic powder, and mustard. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir thoroughly, then set aside.
- Lay out the slices of bacon in the prepared baking sheet. Brush on the sauce.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the bacon. Microwave the remaining sauce for 20 seconds, then brush on more sauce.
- Bake for another 10 minutes, then flip the bacon. Microwave the remaining sauce for 15 seconds, then brush on what's left.
- Bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through and sticky.
- Transfer to parchment paper to cool, making sure none of the bacon overlaps. Serve the same day you prepare it.