May 3, 2019

Bitter Pill

I'm sick. There are no two ways around it. Coming from someone who has caught the flu as many times as number of fingers on my hand... this sucks.

Admittedly, it has been a more common occurrence the older I've been getting. The last time it happened was two years ago after a multi-day gaffing gig on a completely outdoor shoot. My throat had already been bothering me for days when I got the call for that job, and there wasn't a moment on set during which I didn't keep a Halls strawberry-flavored cough drop rolling around inside of my mouth. As the days meandered on, this sore throat quickly turned into something more serious. I spent the next two weeks in bed with tonsillitis so severe I could not eat, and lost ten pounds in the same amount of time. I was in and out of the emergency room for quick procedures too ghastly and anesthesialess to mention here. The entire time I suffered through this, I asked myself the applicable questions: 'Why me?' and 'What did I do to make things this bad?'

There are plenty of senses that get honed with time and age. If you're good at paying attention, you may even learn some things about yourself over the years. Realize some patterns. Use that information to recognize some personal warning signs. You become fine-tuned. As for that terrible bout of flunsillitis (so shall I call it from this day forth), I eventually figured out much later that a perpetual cycle of saline rinses followed by the sugar of my endless bags of cough drops led to a stable bacteria-laden environment of an already infected area (do not feed your bacteria endless sugar, folks). And yes, I am making that determination having absolutely no personal medical training under my belt. Post-saline rinses, the cough drops were the only thing that soothed my freshly scoured throat enough for me to relax and get good rest those first painful nights. I thought they were helping when in fact, they had been making me sicker, bringing the soreness back with a vengeance.

Like my two painful weeks, sometimes your experiences in life may suck. You may feel nothing less than horrible. You may wonder why what's happening to you is happening, and fight like a caged animal to figure a way out of or around it. You may swear to yourself that you will avoid any similar predicaments forever after. But sometimes, those same bitter pills are absolutely necessary for us to swallow in order to reach the goals we are trying to achieve or mend the wounds that we are attempting to heal. Sometimes there is no avoiding pain, and the choice we are given is whether we would like the slow, agonizing or short, sharp, and quick removal of the band-aid.

There was a time when, if I had a ridiculously horrible day on my major-show or movie electrician gigs, I would avoid taking on another job for weeks. During those meandering days, my anxieties would grow. My imposter syndrome would fester until by the time I finally mustered up the courage to work again, it was by sheer need of funds. Nowadays, if I've experienced a really terrible time on one job, I immediately pick up the phone and call in for another, giving myself no time to dwell on bad things, no time to feel like an imposter before I give myself another chance to prove myself capable. Almost always, the next job goes much better than the last, and I feel re-validated.

When I first began weight training, I would take the wrong hints from my body to push myself or to stop. If something felt too difficult I would tell myself it was because the weight I was attempting to lift was too heavy. I am a small-framed person like my mother, and would use this excuse as the reason why I would not ever be able to make the strength gains that I wanted to. Nowadays, when I reach a plateau, there are many things I've learned that can help to get me through. Taking a rest week, loading up on protein and carbs for a week, raising my weights incrementally, literally one pound at a time. The going is slow. I may not break the plateau until weeks later, but it eventually happens.

I do realize that not everyone has the same tolerance or threshold for stress or endurance with pain. However, I think figuring out when to subvert a problem versus when to weather the storm and slog through it is a lesson that all people eventually must learn. Knowing which problems call for which responses comes with fine tuning your knowledge of yourself. Taking into account your physical habits and patterns, and using that information to come up with a solution that is perfect for you.

As for my flu and horrible sore throat, I've learned by now to leave the cough drops in their bag. After my saline rinses, turmeric tea, and vitamin overload, I square with myself that raging white blood cells and inevitable inflammation will not be allowing me the best of sleep. I accept that this is the price that I will pay in order to get the fastest relief.

I got up today feeling a hundred times better. Though still flui-ish, my sore throat has ebbed tremendously, bordering dissipation. My fever slightly reduced. And now that I can swallow again, my breakfast of homemade steak, eggs, and bacon this morning tasted better than I remember.