Last Monday (April 9), I was starving, eating everything I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize how much I ate until late that evening after dinner. I thought for certain that dinner had me stuffed. But by 9 p.m., I was hungry again and I was reaching for more starches, more applesauce and peaches, and the hot chocolate to calm my stomach.
Then Tuesday morning came, and I was miserable. Because I’m a woman, “the curse” arrives one time a month where I’m cleansing my body of estrogen, and with it, blood. And day one of the “curse” began that morning with a stain on my crappy underwear. I also had a headache, and with that, weakness and insatiable hunger.
That’s why I call it the curse. All women get crazy hungry, they get headaches, migraines, cramps, pain, sleepiness, and weakness when this curse happens for a maximum of a week every 21 days or so.
But when I took the Excedrin with herbal tea, I felt fine most of the day. I just felt hungry, craving pastas, sandwiches, snacks, and chocolate all day long. But that didn’t stop me from meeting my word count for Camp NaNo.
Sadly, Wednesday was a killer. I woke up just fine, feeling almost completely alert, but when I arrived at the hospital for my monthly appointment with my doctor, the one who gives me my mental health medicine, I felt like saying, “Kill me.” Something was moving in my lower belly and it hurt; I didn’t know what it was. And I felt like crawling from the hospital back to my house and hiding in my bed, going back to sleep for five more hours.
I probably should have gone to bed earlier than midnight the previous night. But I had to write! I couldn’t help it.
At 8 a.m., the hospital cafe finally opened, and I was kind of upset that there were no donuts and no bagels for breakfast today. So to ease the pain, I drank my tea and bought two slices of cinnamon raisin bread with strawberry jelly. It was probably the cheapest breakfast I ever bought. Besides, they had icky skim milk and their cereals and breakfast sandwiches were kind of overpriced. Dunkin Donuts offered two sandwiches for five bucks, while the hospital cafe charged almost $4 for just one egg and cheese on an English muffin.
I started to feel better when I went for a walk after my minimal breakfast. But when I got to the bus stop, the White Marsh bus had already gone by, and the next one wasn’t coming for another 25 minutes. I realized I shouldn’t have moved from that first bus stop to go further down the road to the next one, for that way, I would have gone to A.C. Moore a lot sooner.
I was worried after my lightning quick visit to the craft store that I was going to be late for my appointment, so I called the office. They said, “Call us when you’re on your way so we know when to expect you.” And the next thing I knew, 10-15 minutes later, the bus arrived, and I showed up at the doctor’s office on time.
My appointment, needless to say, went really well. Unfortunately, I had to wait another week to schedule another appointment with her so I could see her and my therapist within the same day of each other’s appointments. I called my boyfriend after, but I didn’t realize I had woken him up. He got dressed quickly and met me there at the office, where he took me back to his place and got a quick shower, since he’s a guy and guys always need to shower every day.
We were going to trivia night anyway, so we figured we’d spend the entire day in Towson together. He had bought movie tickets to the Cinemark to see the awesome Ready Player One, originally written as a novel by Ernest Cline, adapted for the screen by him, and directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg. I had always wanted to see that movie since my dad told me about the book, and then seeing the trailer when I went to see the most recent Marvel movie in 2017, the one about the Norse gods Thor, Loki, and Hela of the Underworld, Hulk, and the Grandmaster.
We had lunch at Nando’s, the Portuguese chicken place next door to the movies, as I wondered why my parents said they would never go back there again. I looked at the menu and figured out why: they had changed everything on their menu, including my favorite item, the chicken wrap with lettuce and chili jam. It now had “mixed vegetables” that included the stuff I didn’t like: cabbage, onion and red peppers with chicken, sun dried tomato, and the chili jam. I couldn’t ask for them to get rid of the peppers and onions, for the veggies were already mixed together, so I opted for the kale Caesar chicken salad with garlic bread.
For some reason, the tomatoes were kind of cold and spicy, and they must have given me the wrong grilled chicken, for I asked for the “plain” kind, not with the “mango and lime” spicy temperature. So when we left, the headache came back to haunt me. We had a little more time before the movie started, so we walked down to the library cafe where I got myself a warm hibiscus herbal tea to take more Excedrin. I finished it before heading into the theatre.
The cramps came back in the middle of the movie, just before the scene where the kids entered the reenactment of Stephen King’s disappointment and Stanley Kubrick’s biggest achievement, the horror movie version of The Shining. Note: If you have read the book by Ernest Cline before watching the Spielberg movie, you’d get the joke about why Stephen King hated the movie of his most popular horror book while it was Stanley Kubrick’s greatest achievement: the book is not exactly like the movie. Ernest Cline changed a lot of things in his book to adapt it for the movie.
Example: James Halliday is supposed to be dancing to Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” before the scene where he’s in his coffin, then turning into a little boy playing the old video game Adventure on his 1970s console, and then turning into the wizard Anorak, introducing the hidden keys and the Easter Egg. All of that did not exactly happen in the movie. I won’t spoil more of the movie or the book for those of you whom haven’t seen the movie or read more than the first two chapters of the book.
Back to the rest of the day. I realized months ago that the more water I drink, the more I feel better. So it was a good thing my boyfriend bought water bottles and popcorn for the movie, as he always does.
The ice cream at Cold Stone also helped me defeat the hungries and the low blood sugar at the moment, even though he tried convincing me to buy some expensive chocolate at the Godiva shop in the mall. As much as I loved Easter candy that was on sale, I wanted to help him save money, then again, I stuck a metaphorical foot in my mouth when I asked him why not go to Cold Stone because it’s cheaper, and said it out loud in front of the sales girl.
After his Oreo sundae and my chocolate ice cream mashed with Reese’s in it (my favorite thing to get at Cold Stone), I checked in at Capital Teas to see if they had a new spring menu. The girl in the store was playing disgusting heinous hip hop music on her radio and she said they didn’t have a new menu yet, “Check our website!” I kind of left broken hearted.
By the time we got back to his place, it was after six and almost time to leave for trivia. The cramps were pretty much gone, but the hungries and the headaches were returning. We caught the latest “Death Battle” match online, settling the score over which video game character would win a battle: my man Spyro the Dragon, or the crazed marsupial Crash Bandicoot as my boyfriend tried massaging my forehead to relieve the tension in my blood vessels. (I was rooting for my favorite purple dragon.)
When we arrived at trivia, I was still in misery. His aunt, who was a nurse, had asked me about my current physical situation, and advised to take three Advil, not two, for it would work on both cramps and headaches for women.
It did fine for my belly, but it didn’t work on my head pain. We managed to win in first place for the second time that season, thanks to me and Anthony for knowing the question about the comedian and transvestite (Eddie Izard) and betting a low point value on the last question that nobody got the answer right. But I felt like maybe taking some Tylenol to take care of the pooling blood vessels in my skull.
I eventually went home that night, exhausted. I remember asking my dad what to take now, and all he said was, “You should just go to sleep.” I stayed up to unpack a little and watch my DVD of Big Bang Theory, the first season that features neurobiologist Amy, Sheldon’s girlfriend and future fiancee.
After watching a little of Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, I brushed my teeth and went straight to bed, since the pain was just too much. No new ideas for a novel came to me, just the earworms of music in my head, the Sara Bareilles recordings from the musical Waitress, “You Matter to Me” sung by her and Jason Mraz, and the solo tear jerking ballad “She Used to Be Mine”.
As I drifted off to sleep, I tried forgetting the pain in my forehead. I knew my old crappy mouth guard was not going to help me this time since I bit right through it in my sleep and created tension and pain in my jaw and my head. I needed to close my bank account and pull $400 from it to pay for a better custom made mouth guard from my dentist, that would last only 10 or 11 months tops.
But as I imagined Sara’s voice singing, “She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie, she is gone but she used to be mine…” I kept begging someone or something to help take away the pain so I didn’t have to cry. My dad had been in the hospital twice, and they were having problems with Care First from the beginning of the year up to now, threatening to raise our monthly rate and our deductible because dad was so chronically sick. He couldn’t help being born with asthma, there was nothing he could do to control it.
And as the song played in my head, Mr. Midnight returned. I thought he would never come back after the actor who played him in the TV series regenerated into a girl. But he was there in his blue coat with red lining, black boots, dark pants, and a black sweatshirt.
He said, “You’ll be all right in the morning. I’m right here, guarding you. You are under my protection now.”
And I was asleep for 12 hours until Thursday morning.
Had another headache, but one dose of Excedrin took care of me the entire day. But when I opened my computer, I was more than a thousand words behind on my writing.
I wished I wasn’t feeling so terrible to write something new to tell.
-The Lady in the Blue Box