“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…” (Chapter 38, Book of Job, King James Version)

Friends, I am displeased to inform you that the gastrointestinal issues I mentioned in my previous post have returned in a slightly varied form.  I consulted with a gastroenterologist who believes I may have ulcerative colitis (UC).  To the two or three people who read my posts, you will know that I already “enjoy” a few separate chronic health issues already and, moreover, my most recent joy in life is cooking.  If I do have UC I will likely have to restrict my diet even further than I have been and it will be potentially physically and certainly emotionally devastating.

When I was but a young thing in college I took a class on the Book of Job. This came not long after dealing with a few personal tragedies in my life (one of which was the death of my Aunt Ellen; I was very close with her).  How obvious, looking back, that I was grappling with why good things happen to people for no apparent reason and mysteriously decided to take a class in the religion department (while a music major) that would focus solely on the story of a good man targeted by God not for being a bad man, but simply to test his endurance.

If I am diagnosed with UC, will I have ANY moments of relief between that, chronic migraines, constant upper neck and upper back pain, and occipital neuralgia?  Job was a fictitious person as far as I’m concerned, plus, he eventually buckled and cursed God in the end.  Otherwise, God wouldn’t have appeared “out of the whirlwind” to give Job a good long tongue lashing for being such a whiner (c’mon, God, you had Job sitting on a pile of poo, covered in boils, all his wealth taken, all his beloved family killed, his livestock destroyed… God wasn’t a very forgiving God in the Old Testament, was He?).  Still I think of Job.  Do I think it would take someone so long to curse God in the real world as it took Job?  No.  But I do think it’s telling that anyone could have conceived of such a person, even in a story.  There was someone somewhere who believed a human being could endure inconceivable tortures.  Endure with a continuing love for the thing most important to that person, in this case, God.

I will endeavor to endure for my own reasons and continue to love the things and people I have loved.  At this point I can only endeavor.  But the desire to endure is a beginning.

Tomorrow I will do a Nuprep cleanse (it clears out your bowels… yaaaaaay…) and on Monday I get a colonoscopy, when I will find out whether or not I am looking forward to UC.  I am hoping to have some tips to surviving the Nuprep, which I will probably not be able to do until late Monday or Tuesday once I have news.

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I should be upset, but when I think about it, I’m pretty fucking happy…mostly

I haven’t been blogging much lately because a little over a month ago I was in the hospital with an intestinal bug.  The symptoms were akin to (and may very well have been) an E-Coli 0157-H7 infection.  They didn’t bother taking a sample of my uh… well, you know… so they don’t know for certain what it was.  Suffice to say it was super horrible and gross and I was in the E.R. for 13 hours.  It took a week before I was able to walk around without being bent over, and two weeks before I was vaguely close to normal again.

Last Thursday, I started coughing.  And coughing and coughing.  And suddenly my throat is on fire.  Friday morning I woke up with a sinus infection–a really bad one.  Are you kidding me, life?  What the hell.  Oh and P.S. this infection has triggered two migraines so far, one of which I’m getting over right now.  I have a job.  It’d be nice if I could keep it.

Okay I am upset.  I feel a little targeted by the fates lately.  I just want to go to work, clean my house, cook meals, play pinball, and go to fun places in the East Village in peace without my body incessantly fucking me.  Stop FUCKING me!

On the other hand I really can’t deny that I feel strangely happy when I think about those same things.  I know the sinus infection will go away and I will enjoy my everyday activities more when it’s over.  When I was over the intestinal bug I was so much happier, really enjoying things, even cleaning.  Who ENJOYS cleaning other than maybe someone with mild OCD, where it doesn’t interfere with their life?

This is a hidden benefit of having chronic illnesses, or in this particular case, just being some kind of magnet for illnesses.  You appreciate shit (sometimes literally) that other people do NOT appreciate.  They don’t even notice.  They drag their feet when it’s time to do chores, you get excited that you’re having a good day and grab a vacuum.  When it’s time to pick up something from the store, you’re happy and strangely proud to do it.  They complain about cooking a meal whereas you’re grateful you’re able to handle it today.

I think that’s how cooking went from being something of a chore to a genuine joy in my life.  When I cook, I take out a cutting board and my favorite knife, placing the necessary ingredients for the meal around me in a ritualistic way.  I enjoy looking at the ingredients because I took time to select the highest-quality items I could find.  I show my boyfriend particularly colorful vegetables or fruits and say, “Look, isn’t it marvelous?!”  I try to create a piece of edible art.  I take care in the cooking process and I try to present the finished meal in a beautiful way, because life is full of enough ugliness.  When the meal is over, if it was successful, I make certain to write down the recipe or write notes to myself in the recipe if it wasn’t mine so I can reproduce that experience in the future.  I also take pictures of things and throw them in a folder called “Food Porn”.  (Below is a pan-seared Alaskan sockeye salmon, steamed asparagus with fresh garlic, and brown rice with tarragon and cilantro)

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Never in a million years would I think I’d be the type of person to give a shit about that stuff.  Only a few years ago I would have rolled my eyes at myself.  Sometimes I think if present me met past me, present me would tell her to fuck herself for not appreciating what she had.  Unfortunately I don’t think telling someone to fuck themselves really opens their eyes to the ways they’re lucky in life.

I’ve said this before in a few different ways and I’ll say it again: Life sucks so much of the time.  It sucks and sucks and sucks.  Nonetheless there are things worth living for.  Loved ones, pinball, cupcakes, a perfectly prepared meal.  Whatever it is that floats your boat, hang onto it for dear life.

And I’ll tell you something else: I don’t think a person CAN really appreciate something–really, really appreciate it–unless they can’t have it or do it whenever they want.  I’m unlucky in health, but I’m only 29 and I know what the word gratitude means.  I think I learned that pretty early.