On Wednesday, I woke up feeling icky; on Thursday, I got out of bed feeling even MORE icky; and by Thursday evening, I was sobbing in the shower and preparing to throw up, assailed by the worst migraine I’ve had so far this year.
I remember lying in bed that night and trying out soooooo many different sleeping positions, desperate to find the one that would alleviate the pounding pain waves slithering up and down and around my skull. I couldn’t find it. But eventually, I fell asleep anyways, exhausted from trying to avoid the pain as much as from the pain itself.
Three days later, I’m feeling completely whole and coherent again, and I’m proud to say that – yet again – I was able to beat another illness without resorting to conventional medicine.
Growing up, I remember a certain family member (who I won’t shame by sharing their name or title here) popping Excedrin in the morning — every morning.
“I feel like I MIGHT be getting a headache,” they’d explain, casually and expertly kicking the pill back with a glass of water.
And as the years rolled by and I realized that I could envision the precise movements of this person reaching for the medicine cabinet with my eyes closed, I decided something, and it was this: Unless I’m so ill that I’m like… dying… or experiencing genuinely EXCRUCIATING pain (IE broke a limb or had all four wisdom teeth pulled — the latter? it actually happened; never doing THAT again), I will not use conventional medicine.
And it’s a resolution I’ve mostly kept. Through the wild and colorful procession of horrific cramps, hammering headaches, drumming migraines, sore throats and upset tummies, I’ve willfully abstained from over-the-counter and prescribed medicines, having only taken them on maybe 3 occasions in the last five years. So rather than causing my body to become dependent upon an external substance to be okay, I allow (and help) my immune system do what it was born to do: defend me.
Stuff I do instead of taking medicine:
- I brew tea. And whatever flavor the tincture it is, I always drink it down with fresh squeezed lemon juice (zap that bacteria!) and a sizable dollop of raw, unfiltered honey (soothe that throat!).
- I abstain from dairy. As a strict vegetarian and a half-assed vegan, I try to stay away from dairy on healthy days, too, but I extra avoid it on sick days, as dairy increases mucus production (and if you’re already dealing with a raw, sore throat, that’s the LAST thing you want to have happen).
- I eat lightly. It’s completely un-fun, but when your body is trying to fend off slash work through infections and heal itself, it needs to pay more attention to kicking the bacteria out than it does diverting its attention to your stomach and digestive organs. I remember, on Thursday night, sitting on the couch downstairs and crying, an untouched salad in my lap. “Do you want chili instead?” Charlie offered quietly. I shook my head no. “What about pizza?” he asked cheerfully. Nooooooo, I wailed. “I know — how about burritos!” he whispered confidently. I began crying even harder; even burritos didn’t sound good! So if your body says, push the damn plate away, fool, listen to it. It might be for a very good reason. The good news: When your body is wrapping up the healing process and its invisible, interior battle has grown less intense, you’ll probably find yourself feeling ravenous, but INSTEAD of reaching for the closest bag of Doritos or a foil-wrapped Crunch bar, give your body the fuel it really needs: fresh fruits and vegetables, hearty, whole grains, and items containing probiotics (like kombucha, kimchi, dairy OR non-dairy yogurts, miso soup and olives).
- I get plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and I’ve pretty much adopted this as a permanent lifestyle; keeping doors and windows open and allowing fresh air to circulate and ventilate your home is a WONDERFUL practice. Additionally, I have about 10 plants stationed throughout the home, and while they’re certainly a cheerful presence and something pretty to whistle at (see how weird that sounded? don’t whistle at plants OR people… it’s strange and unwelcome), they also work hard keeping the air clean.
- I rest and drink TONS of water. This one’s a challenge. Personally, I find sitting on the couch or lying in a bed at home oppressive. I’d rather be drafting something creative and thoughtful inside of a cafe, teaching or typing away at work, or even grocery shopping — whatever; doing something, ANYTHING that feels or is productive. But when you’re sick, it’s crucial that you rest. Again, as with the light eating, your body needs to focus its efforts on ridding itself of intruders and repairing the damage done… not supplying energy for your 12-mile bike ride. Lots of agua, plenty of sleep, and some light exercise are all key factors to help ride out your unfortunate bout with illness.
Now that I’m all better, though, my mind is racing and my muscles are twitching. I’m ready to get back to being busy.
I wrote and recorded a new song last night (a nice little “eff you” to a few estranged ‘migos; check it out here) and had 10 web browsers open this morning with queries ranging from “politics in Ecuador” and “how to self publish” to “healing yoga practices.” One of my web searches produced a basic image of a world map.
When I woke up this morning, the word “goals” was on my mind. We all work or go to school, buy groceries or dine out, and rent a place or own one… but what’s the end goal in all of this? A happy retirement billions of years from now where, on a monotonous loop, you drag your aching, breaking bones from the bedroom to the kitchen each day and binge watch The Price is Right reruns on Gameshow Network?
Ugh. That sounds absolutely dreadful. Now, some might honestly enjoy a leisurely, home-front reprieve like the one described above, but personally-speaking, aside from loving my pets, family, friends and significant other, a huge reason why I stay alive (and look forward to retiring someday) is my love of new experiences… especially the experiences I experience via travel.
After receiving a message from my aunt yesterday, I spoke with my dad and we’ve concocted a somewhat impromptu plan to attend a family reunion together up in Ohio next month. My idea is to fly up to the state early Friday morning, check out an open air market called West Side, pop into a coffee shop for some afternoon fuel and then visit with family members I haven’t seen in about 10 years for the remainder of the trip. Padre and I are looking forward to stopping by Cuyahoga Falls together that Saturday, and he’s also going to take me by the house he grew up in (where he once — as a teenager — lit a window on fire in the process of discarding a joint). Was that too much info for the internet, dad?
Then, on Sunday, he’s going to drive me allllllllll the way back home.
I’m really looking forward to the trip, and planning it has activated my wanderlust.
Wanderlust (n): a strong desire to travel
Visiting Denver, Colorado all by myself in March was an ab-so-LUTE-lee incredible and empowering experience, one that I imagined having for years and then enjoyed planning and anticipating for months, and I want to repeat it — recreate it — over and over and over. The whole process: Intrigue > Research > Idea > Plan > Prepare > Itinerary > Travel > “Most Amazing Experience Everrrrrrr” > Repeat.
Just as reading books allows a person – during their single lifetime – to live multiple lives as all different kinds of characters, traveling affords a fresh perspective, causing infinite baptismals of your current ideas and beliefs, as well a sacred view of unfamiliar landscapes and memorable and insightful experiences with different cultures. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
If I was a zillionaire, I would do nothing BUT travel and write with my pets and special person by my side. But I’m not, so I have to weigh all options, make careful, financially selective decisions, and shrink my wishlist down to a reasonable, wearable, snugly-fitting size.
So here it is: Jace’s Top 5 Travel Destinations Wishlist:
- Ecuador (South America)
- Italy (Europe)
- Ireland (Europe)
- India (Asia)
- New Zealand (Its own weird thing)
See how (2) of those countries are located in Europe? Smartest move would be to visit both of them during the same trip, thereby using just one bank-breaking plane ticket along with a couple of train and bus rides.
I have reasons (that I won’t go into) for wanting to visit each of these places, and I know it’s going to take a good while to be able to do so, so I’ve decided to create goals for myself that include a realistic timeline that charts when these awesome travel dreams can come to fruition.
(1) Year Plan
- Copyright, self-publish, and market my novel, Jinx the Rabbit
- Get an updated passport (the current one still reads Rose Yarbrough… ha!)
- Travel abroad next May (for school; we’ll be living in a Spanish-speaking country for a whole MONTH)
(5) Year Plan
- Graduate from UAB (as a Spanish major and Creative Writing minor w/an Alt Master’s in Teaching)
- Find a side gig working at a Mexican restaurant or performing volunteer work at HICA
- Take a road trip across the southwestern-ish USA (my non-negotiable stopping points: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and Utah)
- Backpack through Europe
(10) Year Plan
- Sell the house
- Visit India… AND New Zealand #ambitiousthirtysomethingyearold
(15) Year Plan
- Move to Ecuador (or another country, because the culture and societal norms here in the US just aren’t for me)
Good to know: If you work within the USA for 10 years and then leave, you’re still eligible for SS benefits upon retirement. Sweeeeeeeeet! The SS Trust Fund will likely become depleted by 2033, but workers taxation should still be a thing, so… #fiftydollarburritochecks
Have you ever sat down and created a basic “goal-oriented timeline” for yourself? For me, it was a very interesting activity. As I penned it all down, I discovered what matters most to me, assessed whether or not it was feasible, and – deciding that it all pretty much was, barring premature death or a simple change in preference – concocted a plan for my present and future selves to follow so that we can all work together to actually make this happen.
Still livin here in bham tho,
PS: As of right now, the idea of eventually relocating to another country seems like it will magically fix many-to-all of life’s problems, and I’m enjoying believing this. Regardless… I still think I’ll end up settling down “elsewhere”, and that I’ll do so before I’m a million years old, because who knows whether or not I’ll come back as a human on planet earth next time around? There’s so much more to see here.