My absolute worst Christmas memory is of finding myself in the mall – the BIG mall – within about two days of Christmas. I bet I tainted that Christmas for everyone in the family, too. Considering the drugs I was on, it’s amazing that I even remember this, but that just proves how terrible it was.
Drugs, you ask? Rewind a bit. A few days before the start of the Christmas holidays that year, I got my wisdom teeth removed. Rewind a few weeks from that day, and I was sitting in a surgical dentists’ office downtown listening to the man describe in excruciating detail just what he’d be doing in my mouth (I also had a cyst in the front of my mouth to remove. Let’s just say getting that out would require… peeling…). I spent the rest of the day trying not to vomit. I have far too vivid an imagination. The dental surgeon, in his explanation of the procedure, told me that I would be awake and just numbed throughout the process. The process that involved… peeling…
I decided that one of us would be unconscious before the procedure started, and he could choose which, but if he chose wrong, then I wouldn’t be getting my wisdom teeth out that day… and he might have a concussion.
Part of the problem with the drugs necessary to knock you out is that they do mean that you take longer to recover. I don’t handle drugs well. As an example, the last time I took the full ‘adult dosage’ of cough syrup, I told my university roommates that I couldn’t feel my feet. They considered taking me to the doctor.
Surgery: “Ten…nine… … … … … …ech…se’en… oh… woo dong?” (translation: “you’re done?”) the rest of the day, I was pretty out of it. It required both my parents to manoeuvre me down three flights of stairs to the car.
Then they gave me Tylenol 3 – with codeine! I was strung out the entire time I was taking them. The other pill they gave me was an anti-infection pill that was required to be taken with food. That caused my stomach to empty every time, and left me unable to eat again for another 6 hours or so, at which time (you guessed it!) I needed to take the anti-infection pill again.
Most of the week leading up to Christmas, I was a vegetable. I watched “Bend it Like Beckham” on repeat for about two days, according to my family. They just kept coming in and restarting it when the credits rolled. A few months later, I saw the movie for what I thought was the ‘first time’.
When I was finally holding food down, and capable of dressing myself, I found myself at the mall with my mom and sisters. I have no idea why – this would not be something my mom would ever choose to do, if she had a choice – but we were at the mall. Less than two days before Christmas.
By this point, my stomach had shrunk to the point that, while I could eat, it would be something like ‘a piece of bread’, and then I was full. But not for long, and when I wasn’t full, I was empty. Gut-wrenchingly cramping, clawing, ravenously HUNGRY. So I found myself in the hell that is ‘Malls at Christmas’, kind of high (not high enough), highly emotional (yes, my stomach does control my mood), Popeye-faced from swelling and easily exhausted.
I might have cried. I don’t remember. I wish the memory were just a nightmare.
I couldn’t even eat most Christmas foods– I dropped about 15 lbs (in the least healthy way possible) over the holidays that year. And I still hate the mall, especially at Christmas time. I do all of my shopping online or well in advance of November. That way, it’s still thoughtful, but not blood- and tear-spattered.
Worst. Christmas. Ever.