THIS PAST WEEKEND was a long weekend, and from the comfort of my sickbed I watched my friends and acquaintances enjoy life on social media being social and out in the world and travelling to the beach or the country or staying in the city or whatever fun plan it was that they had. I had to really try to refrain from throwing myself a pity party. I did not succeed. I was experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) hard. And not in the ‘Ugh I’m having such major FOMO from seeing all my friends together this weekend in Vegas. Wish I didn’t have to be here in boring old St. Tropez sunning myself at Nikki Beach. SUCH major FOMO’ or ‘Man, life is so hard, all my bros are bro-ing out together in Miami and I’m stuck here in this time-share in Aspen swish-swishing. FOMO vibes, man’. I don’t know anyone who has ever uttered those words nor do I care to but that’s what I imagine people who employ FOMO on a regular basis would say. You can leave a comment if i’m wrong but I’m pretty sure I’m right. Let’s all stop using it, ok? Instead of fear of missing out, let’s use HAWASP: how-about we all stay present. Probably because it’s easier said than done, Nora and that’s not the human condition and it takes a lot of meditation and breathing to not see the grass as always greener especially with the recent advent of social media. Oh yes, that. I digress.
By Sunday evening, I threw a tantrum. I’m not in the habit of throwing tantrums, at least since I was about 5 years old, or if my blood sugar gets really low and I turn into a monster until I am able to eat. I was reading a book called Eat Dirt by Dr Josh Axe. It’s all about how we have to get back to the earth, roll around in the dirt, stop overly sterilizing our homes from modern types of house cleaners, to eat probiotics and fermented foods, to chuck all the processed food from our cupboards and to stop using hand sanitisers so the good bacteria exists with the bad. I agree with the hypothesis for his book, I respect what he tells his patients to do, and one can’t deny the success rate he has with helping and curing people. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE TO LIKE IT.
Everything I was reading I was having to go, ok, nope, can’t do that, can’t do that, can’t do that or that or that. Couple this with experiencing FOMO in a really palpable way and not absorbing any nutrients (seemingly) despite eating every two hours, having a distended abdomen (mostly annoying for vanity’s sake, also slightly worrying for medical reasons) and having everything go straight through me to the point where I was actually physically prohibited from doing anything, made me want to tear my goddamn eyes out. I am not that violent nor am I a character on American Horror Story so I settled for throwing the book across the room and dramatically yelling ‘What’s the fucking POINT?!?’ into the ether, and sobbing (as is my wont to do these days). My parents were both around, and my dad has sort of got used to my daily tear ducts exercising their rights on the general population, plus, he’s a guy and historically I have found they get really tetchy and weird when women start crying so he just rode this one out. My mother came to my side and said the usual: it’s going to get better, you’re going to start to feel better, it’s going to be fine, you’ll be able to get back. But, me being me, and being the stubborn asshole Scorpio I am, I was having none of it and inconsolable and defeated. There is just no point in me continuing to educate myself on how to heal, naturally, was my thought, because half the things I’m either required to do because I’m immunosuppressed or have to steer clear of because I’m immunosuppressed. At that moment, I resigned myself to my doom and gloom and locked myself in a tower in the belly of the whale and swallowed the key which would probably come out the other end in an hour so the joke was really on me.
The irony is, it’s not like I could have gone upstate or to the Hamptons or boarded a plane or even gone to Prospect Park and actually have enjoyed myself, there is no way. I couldn’t eat without feeling sick, I could barely breathe without feeling sick. I slept most of the day on Saturday: I could barely keep my eyes open. And on Sunday I managed a short outing to my old apartment in Brooklyn to drop off some things and pick up an extremely important cookbook by Hemsley and Hemsley and some bikinis that I obviously really needed what with my distended gut. But that was controlled, in a car with my aunt, who always makes me feel very safe, with air conditioning, and even then I was wincing over every pothole. I wasn’t in any state to be gallivanting around enjoying life, and I knew that going into this. I knew that the healing would take a while, as I’ve said before, I was forewarned that this would take time. But when you’ve got no time frame and no end in sight, it’s hard to reconcile.
In the time since I went into hospital and now, I have had to miss countless social gatherings. That’s ok, I’m fine with that. But one of them was a wedding of a very old friend, one of the sisters from the French family I did an exchange with when I was 16, and it happened in New York, so I technically could have easily gone, if not for being in hospital/liver rejection. The others were the 30th birthday of another old friend, the opportunity to record a podcast with the amazing guys from Sickboy in Toronto, a weekend to Miami to see one of my best friends, Karina, a train ride to Vermont to see an old friend and do some healing out of the city jungle. I also didn’t get to see another of my best friends, Tara, graduate from law school, something that was more important to me than anything else, because she had worked so hard to get there and because I simply wanted to be present to witness such an exciting milestone in her life. And the thing I was really angry about: the day of the NY primary, being told in the morning that, absolutely I could go and vote, and then later on in the day, when I was about to go vote, being told that Patient Services (an oxymoron if you ask me, in this particular case) had stepped in and didn’t want me to go for liability reasons and gave me an application for an absentee ballot that would have to me either BROUGHT BY HAND to Tribeca so I could then get a ballot to vote and then I would have to post it and I would have to find someone willing to do this for me in the next few hours (something I had to deduce on my own and even then it was vague as to whether someone could actually pick the ballot up for me, despite calling the Board of Elections for clarification). Either way there was a fat chance I could find someone willing to pick that shit up from the Upper East Side, bring it to Tribeca and then back to the hospital and then send it for me, patient services. Are patient services Trump supporters?!?! That’s why they were keeping us all there. I get it now. Insert X-Files theme music here. So I didn’t get to vote, it sucked, it’s something I was looking forward to and it was taken away from me and I was pissed off and upset, but I got over it (after much complaint and protest).
In the scheme of things, I’m completely aware that these are fully first world problems, and I was perhaps too gung-ho about making those trips and plans. And that missing out on these things is not important in the scheme of things, and they are NOT linked to my self-worth nor do they necessarily matter. But I’m young, people are getting married and having babies and turning 30 and there are fun trips to be made. And showing up to these things, make me really happy. I really love celebrating with other people, it’s just always been a real pleasure of mine. Maybe to a fault.
My friend Barrie suggested this week that I perhaps affix too much importance to these events and build them up in my head and then ultimately get disappointed and break down when they can’t happen. I was defensive and said no: you don’t get it. As much as one might try to understand or how well one knows the situation or how close to the person one is: you don’t really understand what it’s like to have your life ticking along and all of a sudden it shuts down and you can’t go out or do anything and then just when it starts back up again (or seemingly), it all gets ripped away from you. Perhaps I do put too much importance on these occasions, but who’s to say it’s wrong or unnecessary or who cares, there will be other things down the line. One can’t say because no one approach is correct; each person will react differently. Having something to look forward to keeps me going and so I’m not going to stop at least attempting to have some semblance of participating in my social life to the extent that I am able because it keeps me sane. EVEN IF it then makes me momentarily unconsolable, throw a tantrum and dramatically throw a book across the floor when I am unable to do them. That shit is what you’ve got to do to survive.