The Lyrics Said, “Forevermore”

 

IMG_1002Even in times of illness, there may be small, momentary sparks of hope. I recently wrote a fiction piece inspired by my work with those who suffer from brain disorders. You can find it featured on Women.Who.Write:

https://womenwhowriteblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/the-lyrics-said-forevermore/

I’d love to hear about your perceptions and stories of strength, even despite health obstacles.

Patty

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Hey Baby, Can I Get Some Sugar?

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I was ballooning into the marshmallow man. I thought I might just up and fly away at any moment. The doctor completed several tests as part of the joy of pregnancy. “Spit into that, drink this, let’s draw your blood twelve more times.” I was an ever-growing guinea pig.

Ultimately, the doctor came back with the dreadful diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I wasn’t expecting any diagnoses, especially not that, despite a strong family history of diabetes. I guess I figured I was young, a ripe 21-years-old and generally healthy, so there couldn’t be any concern. Yet, I was predisposed. I was told that it would likely go away after pregnancy with the warning that if I didn’t take care of myself, I could develop diabetes. “And that can cause many problems,” he added. For a fun read on complications of diabetes, check out the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091

I was crushed by the news that someone, a very tiny someone, was currently getting in the way of me and my sugar fix. And that it also meant there would be an ongoing obstacle between me and my sugar. No one had ever stopped me from my destiny before – candy bars, lollipops, ring pops, brownie a la mode, rock candy. It was a free-for-all. In fact, everyone encouraged my love for it. If they loved me, they knew that I loved sweet things. When I was younger, my grandma would sometimes wake me up to deliver a variety of candy in the middle of the night, which she obtained from my aunt who returned home with goodies after working the second shift. With a big smile, I would sleepily gobble it all up and go right back to sleep, as though it was a normal nighttime ritual. When I visited my other aunt’s house, she would have cupboard after glorious cupboard fully stocked with cookies, ice cream and chocolate. When speaking with her before my visits, she’d give me a run down of the expansive sweet inventory that she obtained.

Sugar and I, we were always great childhood friends. If I couldn’t get a hold of some form of candy, well, I’d just rip open a packet of sugar, pour it into the palm of my hand, and throw it back. Of course, because it’s one of my few vices anymore, my body recently said I couldn’t have it. When I eat sugar, sometimes even if just a couple of bites, my head starts hurting and my ever finicky digestive system screams out in frustration, letting me know that I’m heading toward fast, furious sugar overload.

Surprisingly, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be once I came to find out that sugar has turned its back on me. For a delusionally long time, I’ve known that sugar is terrible, and that I should cut down. But now, my body is quite adamant that things have changed. It rejects even my small indulgences rather quickly. And I’m trying to accept this by rejecting it back. And that’s okay. Because who needs sugar? Nobody (Wait, wait, I do. No I don’t. Yes I do. Ugh. It’s a hard fight).

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ode to Coffee

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Sadly, I recently found out that my beloved – coffee – has been doing me wrong. Heartbreaking. I didn’t even see it coming. Everything was fine for several years, so I thought, No! It can’t be. Coffee was my best friend and trusted companion. Coffee came to work with me, walked to school with me through many chilling Chicago winters, even came to class and stayed up with me on late nights as I studied. More recently, coffee clocked in long hours of writing, revising, and obsessing over a very involved project.

Yet, I’m left with no choice but to come to grips with the fact that coffee is doing weird things to me, and sadly, can no longer be trusted. Of course I went through a phase of denial and thought that maybe gluten was sneaking into my body without me somehow knowing it. Gluten, for me is particularly deleterious. But no, that wasn’t it. I was too diligent. So I had to start the very difficult process of eliminating foods systematically to find the culprit. Of course I continued to drink coffee because it surely couldn’t be that. However, it quickly became very obvious that despite my back stroke down the deep sea of denial, coffee was in fact the culprit. I frantically started to do research hoping that someone would tell me it wasn’t so. Maybe I’d even find that coffee helps the digestive system function more optimally (see, that back stroke again). Except the only thing I found time and time again related to the digestive system was this:

Coffee can be misunderstood as gluten or other invasive substances in the body, and therefore, the body reacts adversely to it. I’ve included a couple of articles that support this absurdly tragic news:

http://autoimmune-paleo.com/kicking-the-coffee-habit/

http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/10-reasons-to-quit-coffee-plus-healthy-alternatives

NOOOOOOO!!! I didn’t want to find research that confirmed my suspicion. But here I am, now attempting to find suitable alternatives for my beloved friend and comforter, the coffee bean. Of course, there is tea, matcha and mate, the latter possibly being closest to coffee in consistency. But, the reality is that I’m not ready for this relationship to be over and I’m surely not ready for a rebound. So, in my tormenting sadness, the only thing I can do is this:

 

Ode to Coffee

Coffee, oh coffee, where art thou, coffee?

I thought you’d never, ever forsake me.

But you changed, and we can no longer be together.

In fact, separate, I suppose, would be better.

 

You did me wrong, or was it I that was changing all along?

Despite this conundrum, I shall continue to sing this song,

Because you were there when I needed you,

Unwavering, bold and strong.

 

Although it is now time for us to part,

You will always and forever have my heart.

Although you sometimes gave my stomach great pains,

And sometimes gave my heartbeat a terrible start and disdain.

 

Coffee, oh coffee,

I shall always wish that you hadn’t left me,

Yet for my own good, I must refrain from your lure,

In spite of my yearning heart and your aromatic overtures.

*****

Breaking up is oh, so hard to do. I suppose this isn’t a Happy Ending, because I have to sacrifice an old friend, nor is it thoroughly sad, because I feel liberated from its effects. It is instead bittersweet, just as I loved my coffee.

The Freedom to Make Resolutions Any Ole’ Time You Please

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Did you get that gym membership yet? Swear off sugar, wine or cigarettes? Feeling a bit overwhelmed? A little jittery from chocolate withdrawal, maybe? Yes, yes, I know it’s only January 3rd, but a sense of discouragement can set in surprisingly quickly sometimes. Why? Unattainable goals are not real goals. They’ll only lead to quick burnout and bad feelings.

Resolutions are decisions. We make them at a point when we’re so tired of wanting to change that we decide to take the steps to do things differently. For many, coming to that point is a journey of frustrating and sometimes unfortunate events. And this is precisely why New Year’s resolutions usually tend to fail. They begin on a day chosen collectively by society, rather than by a true inner desire to change and the much needed experiences that drive our resolve forward.

New Year’s resolutions may often feel like a burdensome obligation instead of an exciting, well thought out plan. Just because we’re embarking on a new year doesn’t mean a resolution is required or that we’re mentally and logistically prepared for it. And that’s okay. There are some folks who have prepared and are ready to make a change on January 1st, and that’s okay too. However, for most of us who may not be, especially followed by weeks of indulgence, the societal pressure to make an impactful change can only cause us to feel discouraged and guilty. Not the ideal place for new beginnings.

I was in my early 20’s when struggling to quit smoking and made several half-hearted attempts. I had asthma and it didn’t make sense to smoke anymore, not that there’s a time it ever made sense. The defining moment in which I knew it had to be done however, was when my daughter came home from preschool and declared that smoking was an illegal drug. She authoritatively handed me a sheet of paper that contained a picture of a cigarette within a circle and a thick slash going through the image. She tearfully demanded that I quit because if I didn’t, the police would find me out and throw me in jail forever and forever. Rather than explaining that it was legal, I resolved instead that I had to stop, because either way, she was right, I had no business smoking. In the following weeks after the discussion, I pulled together friends and family who would encourage me, got rid of all objects related to smoking, learned other ways to deal with stress and prayed for strength, a lot. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick and I slipped up periodically. But, ultimately I was successful.

Instead of succumbing to expensive gym memberships, attempting to quit smoking in a week (which I attempted many times) or trying to save ten zillion dollars within three months (yup, another one I failed at horribly), allow yourself the time, emotional support and space to figure out what you’d really like to achieve and how you want to go about it.

Have a healthy, beautiful new year.