I take 13 pills a day everyday except Saturday. On Saturdays I take 14 pills. I (try very hard to) wake up at 8:30 am so that I can eat at 9 am, which is the deadline in which I have to take other pills that need to be taken with food. According to Pill #14’s prescription instructions, I must remain “upright” half an hour before eating and half an hour afterwards. And every Saturday, as I feel the pill slip slide it’s way down the back of my tongue, I wonder: What will happen if I give Pill #14 a horizontal F you? What if I pass out, get knocked out, tired out and I must lie down, that there is no choice? My inner camera zooms in and my imagination musters up words like “fermenting bubbles” and images of cartoon organs with sad, pouty faces. Although, I don’t think I need to lie down in defiance of Pill #14 in order for my inner body to look like that. I’m pretty sure it already does. After hearing how long I have been on Evil P and all the rest of my “pill pals,” I was recently told, “wow, what a terrible thing to put your body through.” My cartoon liver yells out, “um, understatement!!” I’m now taking three of the new pills, Imuran, a day. No noticeable side effects so far. The toxic wheel keeps churning and I’m feeling pretty good by Lupie standards. My body has been enjoying the luxury of sleeping whenever it wants or needs to, so we will see what happens when I start working again. My brain seems to be functioning normally and all that has happened is a dream long past. It really is over. It may happen again someday, but for now it’s done. That stuff isn’t part of my world anymore.
While I was sipping a well-deserved steeped tea from Tim Horton’s after braving the Christmas crowds at the mall, my parents caught the eye of a family friend. She paused amidst the flow of people, waving at my parents’ smiling faces and then to me. She held her eyes on me as she weaved her way towards us, extending her arm towards my face as she drew nearer. She paused, looked at my parents and then to me. I drew in a deep breath in preparation. She looked at my mom and said in Tagalog, “she’s fat now.” I jumped in immediately, mumbling something like, “it’s because of my medication, blah, blah, blah…” My face burned as I slapped on my “robo-smile” and disengaged from the conversation. She didn’t mean it in a malicious way, of course. I remember several “fat comments” from family friends of the older generation, especially one that resulted in my deeply insecure teenage self breaking out in tears and heading for the hills. I wasn’t fat then and I’m not now. I know that. I know she said that because the last time she saw me was at my sister’s baby shower, when I had only been out of the hospital for a few weeks, was most likely around 100 pounds and Evil P’s side effects had not yet kicked in. Since then I’ve gained about 20 pounds and a moon face. She was just stating that I’m fatter, which is absolutely true. Nonetheless, the heat in my moon cheeks kept me warm on the walk to the car.
My point? Well, I’m pretty sure I won’t be off the evils of prednisone for at least another two to three months and I am going back to work in the New Year, so the importance of “embracing the moon face” has come to it’s critical hour. Today’s events reminded me that I will be seeing a lot more people day to day, so I need to start preparing myself and pumping myself up for it. The insecure teenager that headed for the hills is pretty much the same woman who wanted to drown herself in her steeped tea this afternoon, so fully embracing the moon face while encountering other faces who have not seen me since I lost my regular face is of the utmost importance. This will most likely involve maintaining eye contact and not running away when I see someone I know. Should be easy, right? All I know is that robo-smiles and disengagement may be the norm in other workplaces but it will not work in mine.
My mom loves kissing my moon cheeks. She smiles and says it’s like kissing my newborn nephew. I enjoy the comparison. He’s pretty cute.
So if you can, spare me a moon hug. I am building a forcefield of moon hugs to help protect me from all the nasty things my insecure mind has to say because it’s clearly the only one who even cares that I have a moon face. Hardly anyone notices and 100% of everyone doesn’t really give a shit. Funny how that works. And you know what? Deep inside I know I don’t really give a shit either which is why this is all quite irritating.
After the family friend dissolved back into the mass of Christmas shoppers, my mom looked at me and said, “you handled that very well.” Good. That’s good, right? Now we’re getting somewhere.