Mental Misdirection

On rare occasion, I feel a slight tightness in my chest. It always dissipates within a few hours, a day at most, but during the time I feel the pressure I worry that it could be something worth being concerned about. But it almost always is accompanied by a bit of an upset stomach, so I blame my diet. If I were to visit a doctor or a clinic or otherwise engage with the healthcare system every time I feel bodily discomfort, I would develop a reputation as a hypochondriac. Visiting doctors or clinics or otherwise engaging with the healthcare system also is a royal pain in the behind, too; the time it takes tends to be extensive and, generally speaking, the outcome is an embarrassing acknowledgement that the reason for the visit is, essentially, “nothing.” Yet every refusal to engage could be that one time that engagement would have been highly appropriate. I have come to the conclusion that the intensity of pain (or the rarity of its characteristics) is a good governor of when it makes good sense to engage. Given individuals’ different experiences with pain, etc., though, it is unlikely that there is a single set of circumstances that would work for everyone. We we all have to wing it or be willing to assume the mantle of hypochondriac. Or refuse medical care in all cases. Winging it makes the best sense to me. For the moment, anyway.


Mi novia bought some ginger ale recently, which I am drinking at the moment instead of my usual demitasse of espresso. It seems to be dealing with my slightly upset stomach and, to a similar extent, the slight tightness in my chest. I wonder what it is about ginger ale that reduces such symptoms? I doubt it is a cure, but it can have a positive effect on one’s body. Or, possibly, the memories of ginger ale’s “curative powers” from one’s youth might have all the mental impact one needs to return the body to a state of reasonable comfort.


I think I slept considerably more last night than the two previous evenings, Though I was up and down several times, I seemed to fall quickly asleep each time I returned to bed. That notwithstanding, I am tired this morning. I think I could sleep for a few more hours, but I first have to get a couple of prescriptions filled. I should have gotten one of them on Friday or Saturday, but they slipped my mind; my blood level of magnesium is low, the nurse told me, and I need to replenish it with pills ASAP. If the pills do not work, I can return to the clinic for an infusion of the stuff…and for more saline solution, if I have trouble remaining hydrated.  Jeez! Everything this morning is whiney medical conversation with myself. I am more than a little tired of that.


No matter the attention I try to give to other subjects, my mind keeps drifting back. I could scream. At least, though, when I called my sister to inquire about the status of her new hip (which has yet to fully and magically heal), the conversation touched on the carry-out or delivery (I don’t remember which) of Indian food they (my brother and sister-in-law are visiting her in Berkeley) were about to eat. Indian food is among my favorites. Lamb vindaloo often tops my list, although plenty of meatless dishes involving eggplant, okra, potatoes, and dozens of other veggies are wonderful…when properly combined with the marvelous flavors of spices from all around the subcontinent. Mi novia has yet to develop a passion (or even a particular tolerance) for Indian food. If we lived in Little Rock (or visited sufficiently 0ften), we could dine in Indian restaurants frequently enough to train her palate. Maybe. Not everyone likes or will ever like Indian food. I realize that. But I will always like it; love it, perhaps is the better way to describe my affinity for the cuisine. A bowl of sambar alongside some potato dosas would wonderful right now, though perhaps a tad too spicy for the condition my gut may be in. Iddlis might be more appropriate than dosas (I do not know enough about the proper regional combinations to know which is “right”). But I prefer dosas.


I learned yesterday of the deaths of two people who were extremely important to friends of mine. The wife of a former employee died of cancer. Another friend’s mother died, though I do not know the cause. And, within the past week or so, a member of our church—a delightful guy—died. Death is an unwelcome constant in life. The closer it comes to our own experiences, the less welcome it becomes. Ach!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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