Learning to Accommodate Myself

It’s interesting to notice the thoughts going through my mind in the middle of the night as I sit on a kitchen chair in front of the toilet, the porcelain god as we used to call it, waiting for the next vomitous mass to purge itself from my stomach.

The primary theme of these particular thoughts focused on my sporadic, even neglectful, willingness to diligently care for my body. This experience of sudden illness and pain brought on by ingesting the wrong foods or combining foods that should never have been mixed made it clear that I am not doing a very good job. There is definitely room for improvement.

For most of my life I’ve never been too concerned about avoiding certain foods. I could eat anything and usually in large quantities, knowing my metabolism would quickly convert the feasts to energy. Then, about thirteen years ago I suddenly developed a gluten allergy. My body’s initial reaction to this discovery was very similar to my recent puking incident. The doctor’s follow-up advice was simple:  “Stop eating gluten.” For the most part, I have, although I’ve been able to tolerate a tortilla or a couple of cookies now and then without any reaction.

Now, I’m not so sure.

The other issue that’s made itself known recently is a weakness in my hands (thumbs and wrists). Likely arthritis with a possibility of carpal tunnel. It’s especially noticeable when I try to pick up dishes from the upper cabinets. Each hand alone doesn’t have the strength to collect more than one dish at a time. I do much better when I use both hands to lift a small stack of plates from the shelf or carry them to the table. Same thing with pots and pans, especially if there’s food in them. I need to use both hands to carry the cookware from the stove to the sink or place it on the breadboard.

This became such a big concern for me, after dropping a dish or two, that I boxed up the decades-old, heavy dishes – my favorite kitchen plates, bowls, and saucers – and replaced them with a lighter (but fashionable) plastic variety. I’ve always considered plastic dishware only for camping and picnics; I never intended to make them my daily set. However, now I can easily lift these new dishes without instant pain.

I’m learning to accommodate myself, to practice diligent self-care. Too bad it’s taken various levels of pain to bring my needs into focus. Yes, it would be better for me if I didn’t wait quite so long to make these changes.

It’s the avoidance of suffering (a Buddhism thing) that keeps me going back to the gym for much-needed walking and biking on a regular basis. The avoidance of suffering is what helps me go to bed on a regular schedule to get the sleep I need. The avoidance of suffering is what prompts me to plan, shop for, and prepare healthy meals on a mostly consistent schedule each week. The avoidance of suffering is what supports decisions to budget finances and expenditures so there’s money left over at the end of each month. And, the avoidance of suffering is what encourages us to seek medical or health guidance when we’re not feeling our best or vaccines are needed, especially in these advancing years.

I’d like to think I’m getting better at accommodating myself BEFORE I suffer. To respect myself. To practice diligent self-care. To keep myself healthy and strong. To be aware of what I need and then take care of that need before it becomes a bigger issue. I’m truly grateful our bodies have the capacity to correct and heal without waiting for permission or even our awareness that something has to be done.

I really don’t want to spend any more nights sitting in the bathroom, waiting to see what comes up.

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