Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fate and Placebos.

This kismet world has a way of working into our days, things to make us believe that there is something more than happenstance at play. Often it manifests as serendipity, an innocent diversion for Fate's serious day-job. And sometimes its confrontation proves a sobering reminder of a thing rather forgotten.

Today, I was confronted. Fate was at work.

A few weeks back now, my mom and a dear friend were out visiting. Both very motherly mothers, they brought up the placebo effect, when I said that sometimes I don't believe this cup of ill will ever be Taken Away. I have been thinking about this mental trickery they touted, urging me to think myself well. The mind does strange things and has its own reasons which the Consciousness often does not know.

For instance, my ex-husband always used a specific pen. They were his favorite and he always kept a blue, black, green and red in his pants pocket. For "variety," he said. Always variety...

When I started my job last summer, my desk came stocked with supplies. Pens, pencils, stapler, book repair tape, archive friendly plastic paper-clips, and more pencils. Everything one working in a library would need. Some of the pens were his favorite. I realized this week that I have not used any of those pens. Not once. Why don't I? Is my brain so affected by this man, that still my subconscious wants nothing to do with him. Not even a pen's stroke?

Today on NPR I heard a story about the placebo effect, as a reminder of Motherly Advice. It was interesting, this story. The doctor stated that part of the placebo effect may be caused by people's association with "Going to the Doctor," and feeling better. You feel sick, you hurt, you go to the doctor, they give you something, and you are well. So it goes.

My pessimism is the one thing that grew fat through this winter of discontent. Its growth waning my frame, emerging thick-skinned, like the Florida oranges that are more peel than flesh after unusually cold winters or unexpected frosts.

Here is a quote from the doctor interviewed in that NPR story:
"But we as humans find it very psychologically difficult to do nothing about a problem.....folks derive a whole bunch of benefit from being actively engaged in treating their problem...They want to be actively fixing their problem. It's like you go home, you see a hole in your wall. Most people won't just let it sit there. They want to do something about it, and your body's no different."

That is my frustration. I try. I do my damnedest to do what doctors tell me to do. I get tests they recommend done. I believe, or at least I believed that they could make me well. I don't mind the diet I am restricted to. I don't mind how much time it requires, how much mental and physical energy it occupies.....how socially awkward it leaves me. I have learned to accept the fact that any time I am out, half of my brain is preoccupied with looking for dangerous crumbs. I have learned to convincingly say I have already eaten.

But, time after time the doctors are wrong. Nothing changes. The pain doesn't go away, and I am not well.

I am an unbeliever.

I am a creature broken. And in another of Fate's works, my eyes found this today: "To be created is, in some sense, to be ejected or separated. Can it be that the more perfect the creature is, the further this separation must at some point be pushed? It is saints, not common people, who experience the 'dark night.' It is men and angels, not beasts, who rebel" (Letters to Malcom, C.S. Lewis, p. 64-65).

As an imperfect creature, I crawl on my hands and knees, feeling desperately to find my way through this Dark Night.

Eating food brings me no joy. The strange part though is, I love preparing it. At the clock's strike of 6:00 p.m., when I get home from work and start to chop and bake and wash...that, is the highlight of my day. I look forward to it. I plan for this treasured time, having dates with myself.

Tonight, I picked myself some lilacs. I dream up a whole hedge of them someday, in my own backyard. They go well with lemons. I learned about these "complimentary colors" from my mother, an artist.

And, I paired beets with tarragon, making their marriage bed in olive oil...heat roasting to tenderness.



~ Placebo Effected? ~

Roasted beets with olive oil and tarragon
Buckwheat Groats
Red leaf lettuce
Red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly cracked mixed peppercorns

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