At The Mercy Of The Normal

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels

These last few days have been a blast, and I mean that literally. Well, almost? Fine, I’m stretching the definition and adding a hefty dollop of hyperbole. I’m taking a certain degree of creative license with my current situation. If I can’t laugh about it, then I might just cry, and I cannot spare the fluids right now.

If you’ve followed me for a while, then you’ll know that I have a superabundance of medical conditions. A cornucopia of physical maladies. An avalanche of ills. A…Put the thesaurus down and step away from the keyboard. 

Yeah, I got a little caught up in the wordplay. It makes me giggle, and I won’t apologize for being easily amused. What about wasting time and energy on unnecessary verboseness? Uh, okay, you’ve got me there. Sorry (ish).

I’m currently dealing with a minor medical malady that, much to my surprise, is a common problem. It’s something that afflicts healthy people all the time. It’s not, in its current incarnation, a serious problem, and it will pass. In the words of my doctor, I am normal people sick and not chronic illness sick.

Normal sick, and not sick-sick? I’m used to dealing with multi-systems failure that requires medical intervention. It happens frequently, and it’s become rather ordinary. When symptoms pop up, I try to assign them to the truly gigantic stuff and completely ignore the commonplace illnesses.

Oh dear, what’s this strange sensation? I’m doomed! I’m a goner. I’m done for. Well, I’ve had a good run. Goodbye, cruel world.

Wait, I have food poisoning from eating an avocado? Can you get food poisoning from avocados? But they’re supposed to be good for you. Will wonders never cease. I knew healthy foods were bad for me and I should only eat cake. I feel oddly vindicated or, perhaps, a little delusional.

So, yeah, these last few days have been a literal blast out of my back passage and other orifices. How’s that for a lovely image to start your week? You’re welcome.

I was, before the onset of symptoms, quite proud of myself. I made whole wheat bread from scratch, and it looked magnificent. I’m not sure how I did it, but it was the biggest loaf I’ve ever made. It was bursting out of the pan all golden, crusty, and smelling delicious. The first slice I tried, still warm, was soft and pillowy on the inside, crunchy on the outside.

It was the best loaf of bread I’ve ever made! Yay me, well done. Oo, you know what would go perfect with this freshly made loaf? A simple sandwich. I whipped up a quick garlic aioli because fancy mayo is yummy. I’d waited four whole days for those avocados to ripen, and finally, they were ready for consumption.

Did someone say consumption? Oh, the irony! This is where we pause for a dramatic musical interlude. Ba-ba-ba-bu. 

A few hours after savouring my simple yet delectable concoction, my stomach started to contract. My intestines began to unfurl. A multitude of sensations rippled through my body, and naturally, I thought I’d been impregnated by aliens. 

Of course, they would pick me. Why wouldn’t the extraterrestrials want me to bear their young? I can’t think of a single reason, and I’m just lucky like that. Oh, this is going to get messy.

No, let’s be reasonable and assume that my body has finally decided that it’s shutting down operations and moving everything to another plane of existence. That’s it, it’s over, and you’re all fired. Blood cells, liver, and yes, you too, pancreas. Your services are no longer required. Mm, this does sound like the more sensible explanation.

Aliens. What was I thinking? Obviously, I’m heading for an early grave. LOL. Sigh. I’m so silly.

The one explanation I didn’t consider was the simplest and, you could argue, the most obvious. The mighty avocado, with all of its creamy goodness, was seeking its revenge. It was plucked from its home, taken away from its family, and sent off to parts unknown. Forced to live in a crate until it met its final destination and its ultimate fate.

Revenge will be mine, screamed the avocado as the knife pierced its flesh, and its innards were turned to mush. You can take my life, but you can never take my freedom. Also, I’m infected with salmonella so, jokes on you, bitch.

It’s funny, normal sick throws me off a lot more than serious, life-threatening, call an ambulance, kind of sick. For some reason, it almost feels worse, and I know that sounds super strange. It should be the other way round. Logically, a life and death situation should carry more of an oomph than a tiny but potent tummy bug. 

Tummy bug sounds cute when I compare it to, say, chronic renal failure. One sounds like a precious little plushy you pick up at a gift shop at Disneyland. The other sounds like a sledgehammer being swung at a strongman game at some cheap, dirty carnival. 

It’s awe versus grr. A cuddle versus a bitch slap. A party ballon versus the Hindenburg. Dare to compare? Care to wager? Nah, I’ll put my money in a registered savings plan instead. Coward! No, responsible.

Shouldn’t I feel more afraid of the monumental and be grateful for the trivial? That seems like a reasonable approach. But emotions and reason don’t always coexist harmoniously. One takes a wild west gunner slinger approach, and it’s a free for all. The other is a whisper in a thunderstorm. Sometimes you can make out what it’s trying to say but, it’s hit or miss.

I’m sitting here, typing these words between cramps and other strange sensations, trying to figure this out. Why am I comfortable in chaos? Why do these normal things freak me out so much? Why do I ask such heavy questions when it feels like I’m being disembowelled? 

I should be resting, but here I am, asking questions that might not have any real answers. This is a thought that’s tickling my brain, and I’m just giving it a scratch. What else am I going to do? Sleep, relax, and let my body chase out the invaders? 

Ha, no, but I did try. It lasted one day before I thought I would completely lose my mind. Do nothing? I don’t know how to do that. Every time I give it a whirl, the same thing happens. My mind wanders, and I start asking questions like: Why am I comfortable in the chaos and terrified of the normal?

This question is a fly buzzing around my ears, and it won’t go away on its own. So, what’s the deal? Is it a comfort sorta thing? I’m more familiar with the high-stakes world of do or die. It’s a prickly suit made out of pine needles. I don’t like wearing it, but it slips on so easily that it’s almost comfortable.

I walk into a hospital, and I feel at ease. It’s like coming home after a long absence. The tension leaves my shoulders, I sigh ever so slightly, and I walk a little taller. It feels like a safe haven in a stormy life. At least here, if something goes wrong, people can help. They can do something, and I just felt a pang of something else.

No, it wasn’t another cramp. I can feel one building, and yep, here it comes. One moment, please. Ouch! And it’s over. Whew, what was I saying?

Right, the pang.

Chaos is something I’m familiar with, and it’s more comfortable. It’s the enemy I’ve chosen to befriend because fighting it is exhausting. Working with it? Leaning into it? I find it’s more manageable and less terrifying to walk with the chaos instead of trying to run away from it.

If that makes sense? I’m not saying it’s the right approach, but when it comes to an illness I can’t escape, it’s easier to work with it and not against it.

But in this case? This normal kind of sick? There’s not much I can do about it. I can’t work with it. I just have to roll with it, and it’s bothering the hell out of me. It’s doing nothing is torturous. If this was one of my chronic issues, I have steps I can take and procedures I can follow. I can do something or find my people who are trained to help.

A tummy bug? I’m at its mercy until it passes. There’s nothing I, or anyone else, can do right now.

I need to do something! That’s who I am. I can’t sit around and do absolutely nothing. I’m horrible at it. Waiting, relaxing, and resting are not things I do with any degree of patience. I get twitchy, and my mind goes to dark places. 

I have to do something so, I open my computer and start typing words because the connection is all I can reasonably manage right now. At least, it’s an actionable step I can take, and I feel less helpless. I hate feeling helpless.

And there it is! The root of my problem.

Like most things in my life, this comes down to changing the narrative. Lying here with a hot water bottle on my stomach, watching movies, and waiting for this to pass feels like I’ve given up. I tell myself I’m being lazy and I could do something productive. I could write. I could do the dishes. I could respond to emails I’ve been putting off. 

But I’m doing nothing, and that’s just pathetic.

Or, I could remind myself that listening to my body and giving it what it needs to heal is crucial. Right now, it’s telling me to drink more water. A few sips and, my body feels a little stronger. It tells me to close my eyes for a little while so, I do that, and when I open them, my mind is a little clearer.

I type these words, and a lightbulb appears above my head. I’m not doing nothing. I’m not at the mercy of the normal. I’m actively listening to my body and giving it what it needs to get the job done. That’s an actionable step. It’s not an enjoyable one, and I wish I could be more actively productive, but it’s necessary.

Listening to your body and giving it what it needs is an act of self-love and self-care. That’s what all the experts are telling us to do, right? Doctors, mental health professionals, and all the rest are constantly preaching self-compassion. It’s been the buzzword for a few years now. They won’t shut up about it because people like me keep fighting it and self-destructing.

Ignoring my needs just prolongs the agony and keeps me trapped in the chaos. It is familiar and comfortable in a prickly sort of way, but it’s a place I’m trying to escape. To do that, I need to fight my natural instincts and lean into the normal. I need to normalize my needs and stop fighting my best interests.

So, I’m going to save this document and close my computer. I’m going to drink some more water, turn on a movie, and take a nap. My body is telling me it needs to rest so, that’s what it’s going to get. 

Arg, this is harder than it should be, but I’m going to do it. Now. I’m going to do it now…Or in five minutes. I’m a work in progress.


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