It brings joy that can be equivalent in value to finding a $50 bill on the sidewalk. I can’t eat it, even though I want to so badly. Ice cream is one of the many foods that I want to eat and fantasize about eating as I watch my friend sit beside me and eat any of these dishes daily (I imagine that it’s me, but don’t tell her though). It’s been two months since I have had to significantly slash the variants of food that I can eat, and as each day passes by I grow closer to accepting this as my new routine for the rest of my life. I guess I didn’t love them enough, especially since I’m not crying about it. Then again, crying makes my condition worse. No, I’m not trying to lose weight; if you go back to my about me, I obviously shouldn’t be all too concerned about losing weight so much as gaining more. I have one of those long winded illnesses that explains that almost every muscle group in my face, head, and neck are fatigued to the point where they do nothing but hurt if I use them too often or even for a moment of a given day depending on the muscle group being used. Meaning, it hurts to smile, cry, give a sassy person the stink eye if they get out of line, or even try to make a baby laugh with a funny face (which mine are limited to lots of yanking my lips sideways and waggling my tongue, I know it’s unoriginal but it’s my favorite). It’s not a big deal if you have the right medication, you can manage the pain with exercises and self control, it is a big deal if you are waiting for the help, which is exactly what happened in my case. A bit over two months ago, I had this vivid nightmare and woke up to a week’s worth of feeling like my head was going to pop while aggressively being squeezed in a lemon juicer. The sensations were unbearable, there were migraine sized pains coming on all sides of my head, so intense that my ears were ringing constantly and my head was tingling as if searing hot water was being poured down the back of it lightly. The pain was so unbearable that I literally stopped moving my face for a couple of weeks while I gained my bearings. After going to an emergency care clinic to be told that I needed to see a muscle joint specialist a month later, with no suggestions or medication to hold myself over in the meantime, I turned to the internet for reprieve in the meantime. I started practicing yoga every day, I shopped around for the right pain medication that would hold me over but not mess me up, and I realized that most of the food that I was eating was not helping in making me functional because I love junk food. I had a whole month of head pains, and three weeks of stomach pains brought on by the pain medication and my poor diet. With every change I made to my daily routine, I had to be methodical in how my choices affect my body and it’s well being. I realized that my body hurt so much because of the years I put off feeding it properly, exercising it, and caring for it. I made the mistake of valuing my mind over it. I put college before it for four years, eating out of vending machines and fast food joints, pulling all nighters often, and sitting down most of the time to design. I put my career over it by having 11-12 hour work days straight out of college, sitting often then too, working over some weekends and late nights, and not resting enough at home with my loved ones. I can honestly say that for five years, I was tired every day and never felt like I was getting enough sleep or food or time (I was running on that 48 hour work day). Also, when you don’t take care of your body, that can affect your mood as well so at my old job I was the office “witch” and my excuse always was I was angry because I was hungry, I was indifferent because I was tired and busy; I was constantly running the limits to my body farther and farther. If I didn’t leave that job I truly believe I could have rushed myself to an early death, because I always was on top of my duties 100% of the time. It was because of that success, that daily/weekly reward to myself, that it was worth the exhaustion because there was a result attached to the energy put forth. It was an imaginary value though because it only meant something to me while someone else can not see it that way. And even after I left my last job to go freelance, I didn’t see it that way. I thought it would be a mini vacation from the fast-paced environment, where I can re-acclimate to my values, but the exhaustion turned into this giant mental barrier.
So I took that managing skill, and became my own life coach, where my body was my priority. Every day of pain was a series of opportunities to get the pain medication right. I’d pat myself on the back by waking up, eating right, and practicing yoga. When I would feel sad or frustrated, instead of there being no time, I would acknowledge it and accept the feeling as a piece of me. Weakness was nonexistent, and no was in case of emergencies. Some days I failed in meeting these basic goals, and I learned to accept that as a neutral thing. I learned to be compassionate to myself and once I began doing that everything else in my life seemed lighter and more fluid. Even though I’m managing the pain on a weekly basis, when this all started it was hour by hour, so I don’t hold onto the frustration, nor punish myself for those feelings of negativity. My experience has taught me that nothing is final until you are dead, appreciate what you have and what you want moment by moment, and to make something final in your own mind is to take it for granted, as if you never understood the benefits of it in the first place. Even if I can’t eat rocky road right now, I can always imagine seeing myself eating it. That memory of the taste and textures of chocolate and nuts can’t be forgotten, even if the time has passed where I can’t enjoy it, and whose to say that there won’t be a time in the future where I won’t have it again. I mean it’s not like I changed much, so I either eat a tub of it in a rage fueled moment, or I can have it once a year after this current state of living has passed.