If We Were Getting Coffee

One of the things I miss most about my hometown is the Starbucks around the corner from my mother’s house. For years, it was where two of my great friends and I would meet for coffee. More often than not, there was some kind of boy trouble involved– a crush, a break-up, or a bump in the road. But, there was never something a little girl talk, a pros-and-cons list, and a pumpkin spice latte couldn’t help.

If we were getting coffee together, reader, I’d tell you how different I am (and feel) today compared with a week ago. People suffering from mono are supposed to be just-had-a-baby kind of tired. I should be lying in bed sipping on hot tea and drifting in and out of consciousness. I should be too tired to think let alone tap out words for this blog. Fortunately, I’ve juiced, hydrated, and rested my way into feeling significantly better. I’ve also learned some good things in seven days, reader. Some things I thought you’d really like to know.

Sitting in urgent care a week ago one of my last questions to the nurse was, “Am I allowed to work out with mono?”

“Uh, no. You need to rest as much as possible. No running, no nothing. You need to sit on your couch, watch movies, and eat bon bons,” he said. (Yes, even the part about bon bons.)

Anxiety spread over me like a rash. Surely, I’d gain weight sitting on the couch, watching DVDs and eating bon bons! I’d heard horror stories from friends about mono lasting for over six weeks.  I had three weddings, Halloween, my birthday, my anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day coming up! I thought of all the photographs I’d be in and balked.

Then, I felt relief. Cool-drink-of-water-after-running-sprints kind of relief. I had a legitimate excuse for not going to the gym everyday. I could stop upbraiding myself for missing workouts. I felt like someone had cut my to-do list in half– twice.

Exercise has long been one of my main forms of stress control and relief. I’m an over-thinker and a worrier; exercise exerts my brain into silence. For the past few months, I’ve piled my desk high with freelance assignments which usurped my prescheduled workout time.

Mono has made me like a kindergartner in time-out with ants in my pants. Without this daily cleaning of the mental whiteboard, I have been forced to sit back and make some startling realizations.

The first and most important has been that I am valuable enough to be still. As Americans, much of our self-worth stems from our productivity. It’s a, “What do you have to show for yourself?” state of being. I could go on and on about the merits of efficiency and productivity versus hours logged at work, but I’ll save you that lecture. The point is reader, that I don’t need to show you anything. We are all enough, valuable enough, to be still. Furthermore, rest is not the equivalent of turning down an opportunity.

Secondly, our body image and body size are reflections of our own self-perception. This is actually true; science has shown that those who believe themselves to be thin or of an ideal weight are less likely to gain weight than those who feel they’re destined for fat clothes. As I’ve learned of late, mono will not make you gain weight. I can’t believe I gave a &*%$ about the scale in the first place. Don’t you worry, anxiety and worry has shadowed a few moments here and there. My solution has been to combat the negativity with the acceptance that I am fighting a virus, that getting healthy (not fitting into a certain size) is my primary goal, and finally, celebrating the fact that my body is kicking mono’s ass…

Which brings me to my third realization: what one eats matters a lot more than what one does. As I have been forbidden from going near a gym, I’ve been relatively strict about my eating habits. I’ve juiced at least once a day, hydrated with water and coconut water, downed kombucha, started my days with organic kefir, and chowed down on vegetable-laden meals. I think I’ve probably treated my body with more respect while suffering from mono than I have in the months leading up to my diagnosis. (A clue, Sherlock!) The result? In just over seven days my throat isn’t red, angry, or swollen. I haven’t had to take any pain medication in two days, and I’m nowhere near as tired as I have been.

So, reader, what’s new with you? Have you come to realize any important things this week? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

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