This morning I looked down at my breakfast with no affection or desire. The sixth pile of toast and eggs in as many days. I felt a tired resignation and appreciation that the carbo-loading marathon week was over. My body has been reluctantly eating pasta, bread + butter, rice and potatoes for the last seven days; the suggested diet to store up energy for the second surgery tomorrow.
When my mother was very, very ill and very, very thin she looked at me and said, “how I regret all those damn diets now.” With her voice echoing in my head I soldiered on last week, stuffing in all the food groups I had literally eliminated from my diet for the last five years. Bread? Where’s the butter. Pasta? Let’s stuff that with cheese and ricotta please. Potatoes? Slide over that sour cream! A diet contrary to everything I believed was now good for me and you had better believe I was following the rule book.
The process of taking care of myself has rearranged and shifted what is important: Food as medicine even when I have not a lick of an appetite. Surgery as preventative medicine, despite how close this is to the last one. New sheets as medicine, just because. Taking naps. Lying down when I need to. I just had a practice run six weeks ago for this recovery X 2, and will therefore forgive myself the couch time, the extra needs.
That moment when your life swivels, that shiver when your blood stops in your veins? My pathology report was that moment. This plate of eggs? Doesn’t matter what I want to eat this morning. This is what I need to eat. Want and need have changed their relationship, every morning performing a complicated dance in my head, in my hips, in my heart.
I will wake up tomorrow relieved that this step is over, anxious to move on to recovery and health, my book project or any writing that emerges, my daughter’s wedding and the budding peonies. Olive will need her teeth cleaned. Lists will need to be made. And I will follow whatever diet prescribed, for as long as I have to, as that is the new order of taking care of myself.
I dream of salad Niçoise. And that créme brûlée brioche from Tatte on Charles Street. Mmmmm.
Just saying. A girl can dream.