“And how are you doing today?”
I glanced furtively down at the counter before replying to the CVS clerk who had just asked that obnoxiously obligatory question. I figured that my purchase – Tums and a 14-day pack of Prilosec – was telling enough, but humored her with an answer. “I’m fine, but my stomach isn’t.”
It was 8:30 AM and I’d just made a beeline to the pharmacy because my doctor claimed that my recent stomach issues were likely due to dyspepsia (which is really just a fancy name for indigestion). For the previous six weeks, I’d been afflicted with a very attractive condition: I sounded like a convulsing frog for a good 20-30 minutes after consuming any food because I couldn’t stop burping. I figured it was finally time to get the medical professionals involved when the lower half of my digestive tract also began experiencing distress. The doctor’s orders were very clear: take Prilosec for two weeks, have some Tums on hand for the stomach aches, and avoid any kind of food or beverage that brings joy to one’s life. No caffeine, no alcohol, no pizza… I couldn’t even have tomatoes on my salad at night. It was a grim prescription.
As I trudged back to the office with medication in hand, I felt like an old and decrepit woman. Aren’t people with shitty habits the ones that get afflicted with heartburn and indigestion? I’m young, I don’t smoke, I eat like a rabbit, exercise like a maniac, and drink maybe once a week. Why was my stomach failing me? It just didn’t seem fair. When I texted my mother about my devastating plight, her response was annoyingly rational: “It happens. Humans are fragile things.”
I’m not sure anyone ever stops to think about this fact until they’re ailing in some way. When I learned about cellular reproduction and the myriad things that can go wrong during the process, it seemed a miracle that my body had handled its shit so well and for so long. My deep reverence for mitosis still manages to go out the window when I’m ill, however. It’s as if my body has decided to revolt despite all of the hard work I’ve put into its upkeep and all I can do is wail about the brutal injustice that has befallen me.
But Mom’s right: I’m fragile. There are glitches in the process, chemical balances that are easily offset (maybe that habanero beer on Friday night wasn’t a good idea), and genetic wiring that works against us. We are never invulnerable, despite our best intentions and efforts. I suppose the only thing we can do is appreciate our health while it’s around and try not to screw it up too badly.
Speaking of which, I can’t wait to tackle that pear-ginger beer in my fridge once these two weeks are up.