It’s been a really odd and hard week. I thought I was getting a cold, but I think it was probably a swollen parotid or salivary gland. Super painful. The pain basically radiates from the jaw and captures the ear, throat, and neck causing horrible pain with each swallow. Eventually fever followed. I think I lost my mind a few times in the midst of what I’ll now be calling the “lost week of 2014.” I usually think I have a high tolerance for pain and discomfort. Not from this. A bit over a week later, I still have the swollen node/glands and throat pain but I can eat and drink through it and I’m finally sleeping through the night.
Here’s the weirdest part: it completely messed up my ideas of food and eating. Initially, it was just too painful to eat. I could barely drink, but I knew I had to keep pushing fluids so I would manage and wince at every drop. When I was feverish, my body wasn’t even hungry so for a couple of days, eating wasn’t anywhere on my radar. I’d try a piece of toast, but give up. I tried bananas, but even they seemed to irritating to my poor, raw throat. So I basically just stopped eating for fear of pain. Eventually, things started to sound good to me like grapes, so I went to get some, but eating them was hard initially. But it was like my imagination stopped there. It was going to be grapes or nothing, so it was tending toward nothing. Even on the night before I was going back to work, it seemed like too much trouble to go to my kitchen and come up with something to eat, so I ate a bowl of cherries. And then I freaked out.
I could see how my otherwise sane and healthy mind had settled into a disordered eating place. Not an eating disorder, but I suppose that could be where things progressed. I had gotten lazy, sure, while I was sick and I didn’t have a lot of energy. Weight has been lost, but I have no idea how much. Most critical, I was lacking something in my normal, mental reserves. The part of me that is a “foodie,” which means I have to want to eat. I had gotten out of the habit initially out of fear of pain. Then out of lack of trying due to fear of pain. And then just because I don’t eat now.
I went into the kitchen, opened up a can of creamed corn, heated it up in the microwave with some butter, salt and pepper, and ate it. Happily. It wasn’t much, but it felt like making a stand for my own mental health. To snap myself out of my cycle of non-eating. To be normal again.
It was delicious.