The Squinch that Could Steal Christmas

blue tango shoeI consider myself healthy. I don’t have hypertension or diabetes or heart disease or cancer. My cholesterol is good. I have no autoimmune diseases. I rarely get colds. But these days I feel as though I’m being nibbled to death by ducks.

Starting with a throat condition that made me have to stop singing, progressing through chronic neck pain and headaches that limit reading, driving, computer work, and sitting at any events such as classes, social occasions or concerts, I’ve been making life-style adjustments for years. I feel like an idiot carrying a pillow into a restaurant, but if I don’t prop myself up to sit very straight, I’ll have a headache by the end of the meal.

The older I get the more of this small stuff goes wrong. For tango dancing I now wear bunion-sparing sneakers with dance socks over them rather than gorgeous tango shoes. I started walking more for exercise, only to come down with that no-good-deed-goes-unpunished condition, plantar fasciitis.

And now that unkindest cut; parosmia has stolen the joy from my life’s central theme: food. Coupled with shorter days, this last blow has brought depression knocking at my door.

I was thinking about all this as I was working out in the yard today, wondering how to write about these minor but mounting travails without seeming like too much of a whiner. Frowning over the problem, I suddenly felt the sun on the side of my face, accompanied by a soft warmth.

This made my face relax, which in turn made my whole body loosen. A quiet joy visited me for a few moments. I was able to recall that I was in my wonderful yard, with a dog I love, mulching with leaves I had collected with my husband one fun fall morning, creating rich soil for the spring.

And the sun was shining.

Part of my work in appreciating the joys and minimizing the sorrows of life is to exercise, meditate, eat well, and socialize. I’ve been doing the best I can with each of these efforts. Perhaps, though, I need to add one more item.

The parosmia makes me grimace a lot, because many things (like coffee brewing) smell bad to me. I need to remember to “feel the sun on my face”, and unsquinch.

 

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Slog the Blog

This is a slogging wrench. You hit the stubby end with a hammer.
This is a slogging wrench. You hit the stubby end with a hammer.

Since my last blog post I just haven’t been able to figure out what to write about. Everything seems so uninspiring. I don’t seem to have anything original or clever to say, no brilliant ideas, no aha moments. What is wrong with me? I’m not depressed, but I just have no oomph.

Then, suddenly, AHA! An aha moment. It’s the end of October, the beginning of November. The days are shorter, and my body has not adjusted. I’m still in “missing the long days” mode, and haven’t yet made it into “cozy and creative winter activities” mode.

So I’ll just slog on this week. A few too many games of spider solitaire, a little too much white food*, a few too many snippy remarks at my long-suffering husband.

But I am getting the garden tucked in, I’ve started a blog about learning to recycle, and I’m experiencing the joys of figuring out what health insurance to go with next year.

All is well.

Send me an inspiring story.

*I still have parosmia, and it seems that almost everything that doesn’t smell bad is white. White bread, white potatoes, white rice. I’ve started making jokes about going to the “white food” section of the grocery store. Sounds vaguely racist, but I can’t figure out exactly how.

Shhh…Mind the Baby…Habit

SeedlingI am hardly Miss Meditation. In an early post, I mentioned that I found the idea of Mindful Eating was boring. But my attempts at circling in to better eating behavior were just not working. Sure, I was eating plenty of vegetables, and drinking plenty of water, but the poundage of chocolate eaten on the couch was easily overwhelming my other efforts. And the poundage was sticking to me.

So, on my birthday, the day I found I had re-gained twenty hard-lost pounds, I read the first two chapters of Mindful Eating and tentatively began to practice it.

And found it not at all boring. If I really pay attention to the food, the process has its own pleasure, sort of like stepping into a warm bath, or sitting on the porch on a sunny spring day and feeling the sun on your face. Who knew?

The wonderful side effect of tuning in is that I noticed when I’d had enough – way before eating half a bag of Oreos.

I hadn’t yet blogged about this experience. It felt too new, too tender. I didn’t want to crush it by shining too bright a light on it. Nor did I want to have to admit later that I only kept it up for a week.

A few days into these first attempts at mindful eating, parosmia crashed into my life. Nauseated and disoriented, I stumbled around just trying to find where the horrible smell was coming from, and learning what few foods I could eat.

Three weeks into parosmia, I have a list of foods that taste good or at least all right, and have begun to branch out a bit. Added to white rice, potatoes, and French bread, I discovered pound cake and vanilla ice cream. Yesterday I tolerated a bowl of white rice mixed with plain canned diced tomatoes and plain canned kidney beans. The protein felt so good!

But as I re-discover high-fat, high-sugar foods, I’m realizing that parosmia can become an excuse to return to compulsive eating. “Oh I’m sick, I need special treatment…Honey, would you please bring me another piece of cake?”

So, tentatively, I am returning to mindful eating. Yesterday I baked a small potato, added margarine, placed it in my favorite blue bowl, sat at the table without the radio on, admired the hand-embroidery on the table-cloth, took a bite of potato, rolled the rich, soft potatoey-ness around in my mouth, and enjoyed the feeling of food reaching my stomach. A small potato was just the right food, and just the right amount for that meal. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mindful eating is still new. It’s still tender. I still have parosmia. I continue to stumble around doing the best I can.

Life is good.

Parsley Gratitude

GasMaskAt bedtime I often review the day and name things I am grateful for. The list always starts with my husband Ed, then meanders through the day’s activities, perhaps including pancakes, a chat with a neighbor, a completed project, a hot bath. But not until today did the list include parsley.

A week or so ago I started noticing a vile smell in the house. It assailed me as I reached the bottom of the stairs in the morning. Opening the refrigerator, I realized I hadn’t cleaned it out in way too long. I worried whether the recent sewage leak in our basement was back.

Ed and I cleaned out the fridge thoroughly. I checked the sewer pipe (no leak). I started sniffing everywhere – the heat vents, under the couch, the attic where we have bats, the trash can, the closets. No source found.

The smell got worse and more pervasive — a nice concoction of rotten onion, dog doo, and vomit – flambé.

When the newly sparkling and baking-soda’d fridge started stinking again, I began to realize something was rotten in Denmark. Perhaps I was smelling normal things, but they smelled “wrong” to me. I had heard of this in people who have temporal lobe seizures, but not in any other context. Could there be something called “parosmia”?

Yes, there could. Apparently, damaged olfactory cells are trying to regenerate, but they’re not hooked up to the interpretation center properly, so they just send out random (and in most cases unpleasant) signals.

Turns out the smell at the bottom of the stairs in the morning was Ed’s coffee brewing. The smell of onions makes me gag. The fridge was putting out the gases of ripening fruit and vegetables. Mint is horrible, including toothpaste.

And, I can’t stand the smell of chocolate! I can’t figure out if this is a nightmare, a dream come true, or just God having a chuckle.

I am trying to figure out what to eat. Ed took all the produce out of the fridge and put it in a cooler outside. He re baking-soda’d the fridge (see why he’s first on my gratitude list?) and it is now bearable. I am eating white bread, peeled potatoes and margarine. I never thought I would miss vegetables.

But parsley tastes great. Picked out of my front yard, it’s crisp and fresh, and decidedly not disgusting.

Parsley potatoes for supper.

I’m so grateful!