Saturday, March 13, 2010
This is the kind of day where you want to pull the covers up over your soul.
It’s raining like hell here, the wind is blowing and you feel really sorry for anybody who has to be outside right now.
I went out twice today and both times and I got soaked to the skin and bone.
Enough, already; whatever I don’t have now I’ll do without.
The rain does have its good points. Like a snowstorm it forces you to slow down and look at yourself. And you can take care of those little things you've been meaning to do.
I’m into my fifth day of no diet soda. That may not sound terribly impressive, but anyone who knows me will probably go into shock upon hearing this.
My family has pleaded with me for decades to cut out Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. Every New Year’s Eve since the Carter Administration I’ve resolved to stop drinking the stuff and every year that was the first resolution to hit the deck.
In fact over the years, it only got worse until I was drinking three cans during the day and coming home to chug down most of a two liter bottle at night.
I switched to the decaf recently, but I was still getting the artificial sweeteners and other chemicals along with—burp!—the carbonation.
But a terrible bout with acid reflux and a trip to the emergency room changed everything. It also got me to finally go to a gastroenterologist like I've been promising to do for years.
“You drink all that soda and wonder why you have reflux?” my doctor shouted at me when I told him of my beverage habits. “Bad! Bad! Bad!”
I’ve never had a doctor ream me out like that. I thought he was going to hit me with a rolled up newspaper. But like a true addict I made one last try.
"So you I think I should cut down?" I asked, ready to be struck with the New York Times.
I still wasn’t feeling well a few days later, so I called and told him about the online horror stories I had read regarding carbonated drinks and cancer. The Internet is a hypochondriac's fantasy land: you scroll through all the diseases and symptoms say, "Jesus! I got that, too?"
My doctor was not amused.
"You’re making yourself crazy for no reason,” he said. “I’ll make you better, I promise.”
A friend told me I was strong for giving up the diet soda so quickly, but I know it’s not strength behind this reformation. I’ve been reprogrammed, like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange.
Now I walk right by the soda shelf in my grocery store without stopping. I heard somebody crack open a can of soda the other day at work and the sound alone was enough to give me heartburn.
I do feel badly about the old Chinese lady who comes around here on Sunday nights and picks up my empty soda bottles for the deposit money.
She could probably put her grandkids through college on all my empties alone, but I’m afraid she’ll have to find an alternative revenue stream now.
The funny thing is that I don’t think the diet soda was the source of my misery. There are certainly plenty of good reasons to quit that vile stuff, but I believe I was having a bad reaction to Xanax, which I had been taking because I’ve been having trouble sleeping.
Xanax has been a blessing for me when it comes to getting on an airplane. I actually look forward to travel now, instead of falling into a fetal position and screaming “I’m gonna die!” every time I book a vacation.
But the nurse at the ER warned me that Xanax was highly addictive and advised me to get something else.
And, after taking this stuff for a week I finally got around to doing a little research and found that reflux has been associated with Xanax. That’s what I get for self-medicating.
So at least for now, I’ve washed Diet Coke out of my system like a good rainstorm cleaning off the sidewalk. I do drink some ice tea, but not much and it's not carbonated, thank the Lord.
I also have to cut down on my cholesterol, so my diet has shifted radically inside of a week.
I hope I can stay on this new path and stop making myself crazy for no reason.