A few weeks ago, I was languishing in a pile of my own snot-ridden tissues while eagerly awaiting the disappearance of The World’s Most Annoying Cold. And though a hacking cough, sore throat, and sinus pressure certainly weren’t pleasant, I unfortunately developed the worst symptom of all about day into my illness: I couldn’t smell or taste. I’ve certainly battled my fair share of bothersome sicknesses, but I find the loss of these two senses to be an unforgivable assault on my general will to continue existing. Life just wasn’t worth living when I took that bite of breakfast and experienced nothing.
You, dear reader, are likely well aware of my tendency to be overly dramatic in certain situations…most of which involve a scenario where I have no control over the outcome. This instance was no different. Losing one’s taste when ill is always a waiting game, but I was convinced that something else was amiss and I was most likely never going to be able to taste again. In my desperate search for a solution, I did what anyone else would do: I turned to the all-knowing internet. My research uncovered several disconcerting articles telling of people who had lost their senses of taste and smell never to have them return. A brief moment of panic turned into a dejected attempt to rationalize my condition: I’d been unable to taste before and it had usually righted itself within a day. I just needed to give it some time.
It was around Day 4 that a real sense of urgency set in. My cough was worsening, my time away from the office hadn’t really alleviated my symptoms, and I was still unable to taste or smell. I’d more or less resigned myself to the fact that the rest of my life was destined to be spent in a flavorless wasteland, and I began to devote a serious amount of effort to recalling all of the food I’d rejected during my lifetime. Why had I been so restrictive??
On the advice of a coworker (who heard me hacking up a lung in the kitchen), I abandoned my post and headed for my doctor’s office. Lo and behold, I was afflicted with a nasty case of bronchitis. Doc sent me home armed with some codeine and a two-week prescription for antibiotics, assuring me that my senses would return to normal in due time. She rightfully rolled her eyes at me when I mentioned my concern, since I’d sat in her office not a year ago fully convinced that I had cancer because I could feel some bumps on the back of my neck.
At any rate, the drugs cured the infection, my ability to taste effectively returned, and in true “I-saw-the-light-and-then-forgot-about-it” fashion, I’ve already started snubbing foods again.
I’m not trying to draw attention to the fact that I deal with intense bouts of hypochondria or that I seem to forget life-altering lessons almost as quickly as I learn them. I’m instead ridiculing myself for jumping to the most negative conclusion possible whenever a challenging or inconvenient situation presents itself. My reason for doing so is both counterintuitive and self-destructive: if I expect the worst, I’ll probably end up pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure why I developed this overly protective defense mechanism, since nothing in my life has ever gone really wrong. But maybe that’s the problem: I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Regardless, living one’s life in fear of some ultimate, unknown catastrophe is distracting and nonsensical. I’m sure I’ve shaved several years off my life with the undue stress and worry that I’ve imposed upon my psyche. See? Counterintuitive: I decrease my health by fretting over it.
While I would love to flip a switch in some remote corner of my brain and have this tendency of mine vanish, I know that will never happen. I suppose the only real solution is to put in a bit of elbow grease and somehow re-wire my brain. A Zen master would be really helpful in this regard. Or perhaps Yoda. Since I don’t have access to either, I’ll instead settle for a hodge-podge of poorly chosen self help books.
In the meantime, please stay tuned for Joselyn Freakout #37829875. It’s sure to entertain.