My thanks to A Nightingale’s Blog by Andalib – the nightingale herself, although I don’t believe the Swedish variety. Although I may be wrong – but if not, she must be very old (and a bit moldy by now, I imagine!). Anyway, her last post was about “craving,” and upon re-reading it, I remembered a time in my life in which I had a very strong craving:
Back in the early 1990’s, I was in the midst of a rather pitched battle for my life. In 1991 alone, I was hospitalized from the Monday after Mother’s Day until the weekend before Thanksgiving. Other than about 5 or 6 days of that time period, I was flat on my back with infections, high fevers, deep abscesses, pneumonia, bone infection. . .you name it, if MRSA could attack it, it did. Those few days away were examples of times I insisted on going home, but having to return to hospital almost immediately. My body wasn’t ready it seemed. I neither wanted to eat, nor could I a lot of the time. This lack of nutrition caused a very serious electrolyte deficiency – specifically potassium and magnesium. The doctors were in a quandary as to how to address the critical and life-threatening shortages. I generally was on IV’s of those two minerals several times a day.
There have been very few foods over my lifetime that I simply cannot stand to eat. The few I can recall right now are: caraway seeds, anise (black licorice), green olives, coffee (although I love its aroma), and dried fruit – especially RAISINS! They always looked to me like flies, and I hated the taste and texture of them. I always felt it was a crying shame to put raisins in a dish and ruin it. Up in the southwestern region of Virginia, we were fortunate to have near us one of our favorite grocery stores, “Kroger’s.” Kroger’s’ bakery department made fabulous cookies. Among them were delicious smelling and tasting oatmeal cookies that I loved, except for one big drawback: they were oatmeal RAISIN cookies! Because I loved the taste, texture and soft chewiness of those cookies, I became very adept at picking out the raisins.
About midway through the terrible summer of 1991, I had virtually stopped eating anything – my stomach just could not stand anything. One morning I awoke with a very deep craving. I wanted Kroger’s oatmeal cookies, and I wanted the raisins, too! I mean I really WANTED those cookies – and that is all I wanted, and Ashley traveled to the Kroger’s store in a neighboring town to purchase those cookies for me many, many times. I simply could not get enough. I would eat as many as a dozen a day – they were large cookies, too – and Ashley was hard-pressed to keep me stocked up. The doctors were happy just for me to eat anything, so they did not object.
During one of my more lucid days, I was reading a magazine. I do not remember which one it was, but there was an article in the magazine about the nutritional values of many common foods. There in front of my eyes I discovered a startling fact. Both oatmeal and raisins carry significant amounts of both potassium and magnesium. I marveled at the wisdom and knowledge of the human body. The body usually knows what it needs, and will stimulate cravings in order to satisfy the need. Amazing! The rest of my body knew what my conscious mind did not. My electrolyte counts did not shoot up instantly, but over the next several weeks, they showed a steady improvement, and because of that I was able to be taken off the heart monitor.
It is interesting to me to note that as the counts improved, my craving for those cookies waned. I still like them – raisins and all – but I don’t feel the need for them. But even today, whenever I feel any inkling of a craving for them, it is time to see the doctor, and the evidence of shortages are almost always discovered. Nipping them in the bud keeps those problems in a manageable stage, and I have not been hospitalized for that particular reason in quite some time. (My body just figures out another reason to have to go!)
Our bodies are amazing intuitive machines, and they are constantly sending us messages for our own benefit. That still, small voice of God speaks countless languages. We only have to listen, and respond. It is enough. . .