Air, Blood, Food
These are the things that have been occupying my mind lately. Which is a change, because for most of my life I haven't really thought about them at all. They've just been part of life. But suddenly I'm facing them and thinking about them, and, in between moments of panic and stress, learning to appreciate them.
Air, of course, is our primary need, as mammals we burn through oxygen quickly and need to keep it in ready supply to keep these huge neurotic brains of ours functioning. Fortunately we're well designed to keep pulling in oxygen, and expelling carbon dioxide.
Unless we get sick. COVID is all about making it hard for us to breathe, the jerk. So on some level air has been on my mind. Am I breathing enough? Am I getting lung congestion? Oh, by the by, did you know that anxiety can restrict your airway? So worrying about not being able to breathe literally makes it harder to breathe. I've been trying to learn the difference between not being able to breathe and not being able to hyperventilate.
And I'm also getting started in practicing mindfulness. Trying to reduce my fears means getting to know my thoughts. The practice that I'm doing puts a lot of emphasis on using the breath to center yourself. To follow the breath, to feel it in you. So air is suddenly part of my centering and grounding activities. It's an interesting situation, where I'm focusing on my breath to stop worrying about my ability to breathe.
I see my own blood multiple times a day these days, on purpose and by volition. Then I feed a tiny drop of it to a machine that tells me how much glucose is in my bloodstream. The fact that I can do this simply, safely, whenever I want, with almost no pain, is amazing. But I'm thinking about blood a lot more than I ever have before.
Since being diagnosed with type II diabetes suddenly it feels like the entire medical profession is interested in my blood. The other day, to save me repeat visits, they did all the lab work that could possibly relate to my case, all in one go. Which meant a very nice, very professional, very capable technician stuck a needle in my arm and filled vial after vial with my blood, eight in all, each vial to be sent off for a different test.
Blood is on my mind. Whereas I have spent my life thinking that it's doing what it's meant to do, I'm now considering its function, and my responsibility towards it. I need to eat better, so that less of my hemoglobin gets clogged up with glucose, I need to take more vitamins so that my blood can deliver the right things to the right cells. My blood is my responsibility.
Which leads to food. Food is a lot of things: sustenance, a reason for social gatherings (once those are possible again), a way to show love for others, a comfort in stressful times.
And lately I've been made uncomfortably aware of how poorly I've been choosing my foods. This ties back to the blood, of course. What I put in my mouth ends up in my blood. The more sugar I put in my blood, the sooner I will have to start putting insulin in my blood as well.
So my relationship with food is changing as well. Convenience foods are off the table. Each meal, each snack, has a cost.
And this isn't a bad thing, not really. Eating mindfully means that I am discovering new things to love, I am eating more intelligently, and more happily than ever before, because I am cognizant of the food, and I appreciate it more, even as I eat less.
And the Point is...
I dunno. I don't know that I have one. This has been a hard time. It's still hard! But I'm learning to appreciate what I have and what goes into keeping me alive on a daily basis.
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting 100 Days To Offload.