It hasn’t been the best of weeks.
It started with the failed pixie cut. The next night I was so sick of looking at what was left of my dreadful hair that I buzzed it off, thinking I was giving myself a severe buzz cut. Not being used to men’s hair clippers, the result was that I am bald for the moment. And honestly, it looks better than big hairless patches with scrubby sticking-up hair. But it’s taking a little getting used to. It itches under my beanies and scarves. Sometimes I get vertigo when I look in the mirror.
And then there’s the issue of metformin. Meformin is supposed to be very good for poly-cystic ovary syndrome for several reasons. It will treat my slightly elevated blood sugar and my janked-up hormones, and may even make me ovulate. But first it will make me nauseated. And as you might expect for a medication that lowers the blood sugar… well, it lowers the blood sugar.
The instructions say to take it “with a meal” so I took it this morning with my usual breakfast of coffee with cream and a small ketogenic cookie. That’s my usual breakfast because I hate breakfast. It feels like a waste of a meal. Meals are for evening, when you’re actually awake and can enjoy them. Breakfast is for picking at with no relish at all while you check your email and try to write a blog post.
Metformin did NOT consider a single almond meal cookie a breakfast. My blood sugar crashed like a dump truck full of cymbals.
When I first felt it crashing, I didn’t know what to do. The doctor said I needed to be in ketosis for the time being and the doctor also said that I needed to be on metformin. The instructions for treating a blood sugar crash all involved soda and jam, which I didn’t have in the house and wasn’t supposed to eat. I had no earthly idea how to deal with this because I hadn’t been told. For the next few hours, I was miserable– shaky, anxious, irrationally angry at nothing, irrationally on the verge of tears, fatigued and dizzy. It’s just as well I didn’t have any presence of mind or I probably would have called 911. I didn’t need 911. I needed calories. But the same low blood sugar that was tormenting me made every food in the house look inedible. I only wanted food we didn’t have. My brain started conjuring up images of sockeye salmon and porterhouse steaks with whole lobsters on top, glistening with way too much compound butter. But we didn’t have lobster in compound butter. It’s the end of the month, and this month has been extremely tight. We’ve been putting off going to the store. We had leftover sausage, and we had eggs.
If you’ve never had to be in ketosis to treat a chronic illness, you cannot know how sick a person can get of eggs.
I would rather eat horse hockey than another egg, but we didn’t have horse hockey in the house any more than we had steak and lobster.
I scrambled myself half a dozen eggs with way too much butter. I served myself a dry, chewy slice of leftover sausage and a second cup of coffee with heavy cream to go with them. I forced them all down the hatch.
I once read a book, a revisionist take on the myth of Charybdis. In this story Charybdis starts out as a spoiled princess who is cursed to be eternally hungry as punishment for her greed. She eats every bite of food in the palace without any enjoyment but only with mounting desperation. Then she eats the livestock, then rampages about the countryside eating whole families of people before Zeus traps her at the bottom of the sea and turns her into a whirlpool. That was what I felt like, shoving scrambled eggs down my throat with no pleasure. I had always wanted to be a character in a folktale, but I wasn’t Rapunzel or Cinderella. I wasn’t Kwan Yin. I wasn’t Vasilisa the Wise or even Baba Yaga. I was Charybdis.
The enormous meal worked its magic, and I wasn’t Charybdis anymore. I was a fat, chronically ill woman with no hair, it was late February, and every symptom of low blood sugar went away except the depression. That’s stuck around.
Michael took Rosie on a long walk to the park in the sun and melting snow.
I stayed home, moping.
During Lent we pray, “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” I wrote a book that uses that prayer fifteen times. Everyone who prays a Way of the Cross says that prayer at least fourteen times, depending on what formula you use. It’s one of those things that Catholics memorize without thinking. You pass a cemetery and make the Sign of the Cross. You sit down to eat and say “Bless us, O Lord.” You hear of a death and you say “Eternal rest” and so on. Somebody says “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,” and you reply “Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” That’s one of the things that you say.
We adore and bless Him, because by His holy cross, He has redeemed the world. Not just the good parts of the world, the world. All of it, including this. There is nothing that can happen to a person which is not redeemed.
What does it mean to redeem? It means to purchase, to free from slavery, to make what it ought to be.
In the Passion of Christ, everything is purchased. Everything is freed. Everything is made what it ought to be.
There is nothing that a person can feel, which is not taken up into the Passion of Christ and transformed into a godly thing.
Not even low blood sugar.
Not even an aversion to scrambled eggs.
What I suffered today is holy, and what you are suffering right now is holy.
The grace of God is even present in medications, side effects and overcooked sausage. Everything has meaning, and the meaning is that you are loved.
This life: this one, and not some other more aesthetic life, is the life in which Jesus means to come to you and redeem the world, in you and through your sanctification and all around you. Yours and not that of some theoretical person who is like you only prettier and less annoying. In this time, and not a more romantic one. In this place, and not a better setting for such a story.
If you take anything away from what I write, I hope it’s that the whole of your life has value and meaning.
That and that you should eat a good breakfast if you’re taking Metformin.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy. Steel Magnificat operates almost entirely on tips. To tip the author, visit our donate page.