Saturday, February 19, 2011

How Bad Does It Have to Get?

In the 1700s, James Lind came up with the theory that adding a ration of fruit to sailors' diets could eradicate scurvy, a disease that had killed millions (it dates back to B.C.). Tens of thousands during this era were dying during sea battles and campaigns from this disease alone. Captain Cook's ship remained scurvy-free throughout its 3-year voyage (1768-71) in the South Seas with a ration of lemon juice and sauerkraut for his men. Still, the Admiralty didn’t believe such a fatal disease could be cured so easily. They wanted an elixir, preferably one with a complicated name and many ingredients. (Who doesn't?) Lind died on February 14, 1794--the year a naval squadron finally put his theory to test, thereby fully vindicating him. But another ten years passed before it became standard daily issue in the navy.

I have had these little red marks on my right hand--only my right hand--for a couple of months. And they haven't itched or even hurt necessarily unless I brush up against something, and then it feels like I have slivers stuck in my fingers. Not really pleasant and not horribly unpleasant, so I haven't done anything about them, figuring they'd just go away eventually.

But they've gotten worse the last couple of weeks, gotten painful, and since even annoyances are worth getting rid of, I finally looked into the problem last week. I finally decided, after reading a hundred or so posts on a chat page, that the marks were caused by either (a) cold weather (thus the reason they're only on my right hand; if it's a circulation issue, my right hand is farther from my heart than my left) or (b) too much sugar in my diet.

I love sugar. I'm worse than my kids, honestly. It goes beyond chocolate. I'll eat crap sugar: Airheads and Laffy Taffies and Nerds. At least dark chocolate can offer me a speck or two of anti-oxidants. Smarties? Not so smart. I know that.

But I cut it out. Not all the way out. I'm not that faithful. I've still been eating my cinnamon-toffee almonds from Nutty Guys. I had a few bites of cake Wednesday night. I stole a piece of my son's Valentine's candy last night (though he denies the candy was his, because then he'd have to tell me who gave it to him, all of which is a post for another time). But I cut way way down.

And my hand is SO much better after only five days of making this one little change in lifestyle. And it was easy--so easy that I wasn't sure it would be enough. But I was feeling desperate enough.

I didn't mean for this to be a medical post. I've just been thinking about how human nature so often holds us in place--in bad relationships, bad health, bad financial situations, bad jobs--all because we're unwilling to make a change until that place gets so bad we'll try anything. And why is this? Is it stubbornness? Laziness? Pride? Exhaustion? Fear? Anger? Denial?

Sure, making a change so I can have full use of my right hand again isn't the biggest accomplishment--or the most necessary--of my life. But I know I've stayed in situations for all of the above reasons more than once. I've known a little citrus might be the solution but I've still said, "Nope. Not big enough. Not important enough. Bring me the magic elixir, and then we'll talk."

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