How to be Healthy When You’re Sick

I’m trying to find ways to be healthy despite the fact that I constantly feel like I’m dying.

Having chronic pain is like waking up every single day feeling like you’ve just been mugged, then hit by a semi-truck, and simultaneously come into contact with the plague.

And when it first hits you, you’re like, “I can’t be expected to function under these conditions. Nobody could function under these conditions. I must call in sick to life.”

But after a month of laying on the couch watching every episode of Burn Notice three times, you suddenly realize you’re probably not going to be getting better any time soon, so maybe you should try to, you know, shower or something.

That’s where the drugs come in. And suddenly, you wake up one day and you’re literally taking six different medications before you even get out of bed in the morning. But hey! At least you’re getting out of bed.

And over the next few months or years or whatever it takes for you, you just sort of live in this drugged-up state of barely existing. It’s how I would imagine high school pot heads hope their life turns out, except without all the stupid stabbing pain in my ribs (or wherever yours may be).

Aside from being high daily, you find all the shortcuts you can. For me, I ended up working from home. I moved in with my mom because doing my own laundry and washing my own dishes is literally too difficult. I shower once a week to save my energy. I shop online. And I never, ever, ever wear high heels. Ever!

On one level, I’m just happy that I’m no longer in so much pain that I literally hope I don’t wake up alive in the morning. But on another, I don’t really like what I see when I look down the long, dark road that’s probably going to be my life for, what? Another 50? Or even 60 years if I’m terribly unlucky?

Which brings me to the yoga. Yes, it’s true. I have started doing yoga. I’m hoping this is the next stage in the chronic pain life cycle, which will be followed quickly by, “Find a cure, and live happily ever after.”

While I’m here though, barely living, I figure I might as well get really good at downward dog. I started with a 30-minute PM yoga session for beginners on DVD. The hardest part is when I had to take two deep breaths in a plank pose. And, guess what? It didn’t suck.

I mean, I can admit when I’m wrong. And I was totally wrong about yoga. I really, really thought that bending my body in new, crazy ways would only make things worse. It’s just the human intuition in me, saying, “You’re in pain, stop doing stuff.” But, with chronic pain, you have to learn to override that voice.

And so, I’ve even done the 30-minute AM session, and I didn’t even die from that either. Plus, I also found another DVD by the same soothing instructor that’s 51-mintues long, and I did that one too, all without any trips to the hospital or anything! I’m pretty excited about the whole situation.

After each session I feel really relaxed, and it seems like I’m going through fewer pain pills when I do the yoga as opposed to when I don’t.

I’ve also started drinking tea. Back in the day, when my body didn’t hate me, I used to say things like, “Tea is literally just dirty water. Ick.”  But now, I’m sicker and wiser — and I need to find ways to bring a sense of peace to my wounded body.

So, yeah, tea. It’s got to be better than Coke, right?

There’s a morning tea that seems to ward off the overwhelming feeling of being high that the meds give me. And then there’s a night tea that helps me poop — something I’ve really missed doing ever since my prescription pills took that seemingly natural bodily function away from me.

Truth be told, I am secretly hoping all these new changes will help me lose some of the 50 stupid pounds I’ve gained since getting sick. But if they even help me do more than shower or something, I’d be cool with that too.

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“Hey, Crystal. Your face looks way thinner”

I’m pretty sure people keep complimenting my hair because I’ve lost weight.

They either don’t realize I look different, or they don’t know how to say “Hey, Crystal. Your face looks way thinner.” without sounding awkward.

It’s cool. I’ll take it.

The holidays have been a pretty startling check-in point for me. Lots of people around whom I haven’t seen in about 20 or 30 or 43 pounds. Lots of “WOAH! You look GREAT!” and “How’d you do it?”

I keep teetering between blurting out every ounce of detail and simply smiling away their questions. Does anyone really want to know what I’ve gone through to lose each and every pound?

I want to tell them. But I don’t really think they want to know. I think they want to pretend people lose 43 pounds eating five small meals a day with appropriate servings of fruits and vegetables and 30 minutes of wonderful glow-inducing cardio.

I don’t know those people.

I didn’t lose weight that way.

I lost weight by making my body so hungry that it started eating away at my fat.

It’s called the “that’s how you actually lose weight” diet.

It’s not pretty. I’m never full. I weigh myself two to seven times each day. And I’ve been at this for four long months – all so I could fit into the correct box on the chart at my doctor’s office.

I’m just 14 little pounds away from my overall goal now – I’m still not AT my goal, but I’m so close I could smile.

I wanted to wait until I hit that goal to throw the ITs out there though.

You know.

My weights and measures.

What I started with. What I’m at.

The ITs.

My best friend April has been the only one I’ve discussed those numbers with on a regular basis and that’s only because I trust her to be my friend no matter what those numbers are. It’s a trust she’s earned by sticking out 11 years worth of confessions, clothing sizes, and crying sessions as my friend.

But now, the losing-weight-thing has hit an ankle-based roadblock and the figures are moving so, so, so slowly. And really, I’m actually very, very happy to be where I’m at.

I kind of want to shout it from the Internet rooftops.

I’m very, very happy to walk into a room and think ‘I look normal.’ I probably don’t, but I feel like I do. I know that, at the very least, I don’t feel like someone is thinking “Wow. She’s umm, fat. That’s why she’s (fill in the blank with any number of human failures or ailments).”

Instead, at this weight, I feel like people think “Look. A normal girl. Let me listen to what she is saying.”

And since I’m so happy/content/tickled to be where I’m at, I thinking I’m going to just go ahead and throw it out there.



See what just happened there? I just typed my current weight and then I hit delete, delete, delete.

I don’t know if I can do it.

I don’t know what you’ll say when you see those easy-to-judge little numbers.

The weirdest part of this is that I never actually felt “huge” or “fat” or whatever you want to call it. I felt like “Crystal.” It was the scale that was all judgmental. The chart at the doctor’s office that screamed “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU.”

And now. I don’t feel “thin,” or “healthy” or whatever.

I just still feel like “Crystal.” Still (mostly) funny. Still wearing my heart right there on the edge of my cardigan sleeve. Still trying my best to make a living as a writer.

But I’m not the same. I’m more likely to be financially successful, more like to get married and more likely to make friends.

Why is that?

Why do you think that’s an OK thing? Do you think I’m different now? Am I more deserving of financial success, marriage or friends because I weigh less? I think I’m the same deserving level as I was on July 31, before I lost a single pound.

I guess, in the spirit of that conclusion though, I should just do it.

Just BAM! Type those stupid numbers that are burned in my mind.

They don’t change one sliver of the bottle of spirit and soul and Taco Bell magic that makes “me,” “Crystal” after all.

So, um. Here you go.

I started at 198.

I’m now at 155.

I’d like to be 141.

I’ll be totally happy if I don’t ever lose even one more single pound ever.

I’ll be totally “me” no matter what I type at the end of those three sentences, ever.


Anyway, in complete opposition to every sentence I just typed, I present to you some visual aids:





I realize this isn’t the fairest “after” picture, since I’m kind of behind my mom on the left, but it was either A. this, B. a head shot I took of myself last week or C. a random picture taken right now at 3:30 a.m. of me in my super mario pajama pants and glasses.

I picked A. this.

If you want to see a full version, call me, make plans and come visit – I’ll even wear my skinny jeans that are now, umm, too big for me.

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