The Patient Reacts

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I was completely taken aback. I had had no idea that I would have to give up the things on his list for that long, and I certainly wasn’t psychologically prepared for this. He made sympathetic noises about how hard it was to give some of these things up. He tried to joke about it, saying that his wife was in the midst of constitutional treatment and sometimes even dreamed about coffee. And he continued to reassure me about all the positives I would be experiencing.

I was very upset and resentful. His handout had been a little vague on this subject of how long I’d have to avoid these things, and he hadn’t elaborated or pointed this out in any of our office visits. He had emphasized the need to avoid antidotes several times, but he hadn’t said for how long. To me it was a major omission.

None of these antidotes were things that I couldn’t give up for quite a long time, but many were things I am quite fond of. Not just coffee (I really liked it but could live without it). Not just mint (the only non-mint toothpaste I had found was a horrid-tasting fennel). But “strong” herbal teas, with no real guidelines for which ones were acceptable. And aromatherapy, which I loved in my bath and massages. And, worst of all from my standpoint, a certain recreational drug that was my cocktail and my preferred self-medication for stress.

These were things that I certainly could give up. I’d stopped drinking coffee for years when I first got interested in holistic health. When I started again, I had just one or two cups a day and sometimes none at all. And I hadn’t used any drugs, recreational or otherwise, for several years when I was trying to get pregnant, and I had continued to abstain when I was pregnant.

I felt blind-sided, disappointed, and almost betrayed. I felt that I had had no opportunity to prepare myself to give up these things or voluntarily agree to do this. The decision-making power had been taken from me, I felt, since the length of time that I was going to have to avoid antidotes was never explained until after I had taken the remedy.

So I became resentful and rebellious. It felt like I’d been put on a diet without my consent, and the forbidden foods held far more attraction than they would otherwise. When I visited a friend the following month, I didn’t refuse her offer of recreational drugs. After all, it was my birthday, and I deserved the treat. Maybe a little coffee, too.