Why I wear Captain America apparel to all my doctor’s appointments

If you know me, it’s no surprise that my favorite superhero is Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America.

If you don’t know me, SURPRISE, my favorite superhero is Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America.

My original introduction to Cap was with the 2011 Marvel movie. At the time, I hadn’t been to a movie theater in like, years. Going to see a movie in a theater can be kind of overwhelming to a Chronic- no volume control for the loud explosion parts, no pause button when you have to go to the bathroom 92 times, plus that annoying person kicking your seat, who always seems to sit right behind me. Plus I can’t eat the snacks.

So yeah.

I had been in a movie-going draught. But something about the promise of the epitome of wholesome Americana in a super suit riding a kickass motorcycle to go save the world? It got my bum in a seat.

Let me just clear it up for the Internet trolls who might think the only reason this girl went to see a superhero movie was because the guy who plays the hero is cute. The fact that Chris Evans is adorable was like a bonus. A lovely, blond, muscley bonus. (My favorite kind!) Not the reason I went, but I had no problem with it.

Nope, no problem at all.

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STAY ON TOPIC, NIC.

Ok.

I was so happy to sit in that theater. I loved the movie. I felt like a superhero when I left.

It was a Moment.

I hauled my Chronic self down to my local comic book shop (#SupportLocal #ComicShops) where I had been hanging around tentatively since having read the entire original X-Men series. I flipped through books. I scoured shelves.

I had to know everything about Captain America.

It helped that Captain America is a hero who was made, not born. Personally, I prefer Marvel heroes to their rival DC characters (Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.) because most Marvel heroes are average people who respond valiantly to extraordinary circumstances, as opposed to being born a fully formed super-powered crime fighter (I’m looking at you Clark Kent).

So what were the extraordinary circumstances that average Steve Roger faced that led him to his reincarnation as Captain America?

Well, quite simply, he went to a doctor’s appointment.

Steve Rogers desperately wants to join the US Army at the height of World War II because he doesn’t like bullies, and the Axis powers were the biggest bullies of them all. Except, Steve from Brooklyn is skinny and slight, has asthma, and is altogether deemed “unfit” to serve. He commits a certain amount of fraud going from one recruitment center to another, just trying to get in so he can make a difference.

His luck changes when he meets a doctor, Dr. Erskine, a German genius who has developed a “Supersoldier serum.” Dr. Erskine needs just the right person to use the serum on- it magnifies whatever is inside them, with good becoming great and bad becoming worse. Steve is that good person who has the potential to be great.

The incredibly abbreviated and spun-for-my-Chronic-purposes story is that Steve Rogers goes into his doctor’s appointment kind of sickly, but full of hope and goodness, and he comes out stronger, faster, better than he ever was before.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if it happened like that every time?

I have come to hate doctor’s appointments. I used to feel hopeful anticipation- like maybe this would be the time they find something/figure something out/help me make productive change.

Now I just feel like awfulness.

I’ve been having major chronic issues for the past few months, and that means that I have had a bunch of appointments, tests, and hospital visits.

It’s a critical time, so naturally, I’ve broken out the Captain America apparel.

I have quite the collection. My favorite is my sweatshirt, which I’ve only had for 2 years, but have worn so much that the zipper has actually started to detach, the gray bits of coloring are peeling off, and the white bits aren’t all that white any more. It’s got those weird nubbie bits on the inside that are a telltale sign that an item of clothing has been worn (and loved!) to death. I have a collection of t-shirts, and even socks. I’ve got sweatpants and pajama bottoms.

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Old picture, from when it was brand new!

You know I am prepared for a rough Chronic day if I come downstairs wearing all of it at the same time, which has happened more than once just this past week.

Steve Rogers has a new mission: Chronic security blanket.

I can laugh about it sure; it is a little funny. I mean, if you want to be critical, I’m an almost 27-year-old lady going into an appointment dressed in cartoon logo items I probably bought in the young men’s department (please stay tuned for my upcoming rant on gender politics, merchandise, and the geek industry…).

But why you want to be critical, huh?

Huh?

That’s what I thought.

No, when I have a bright red and white shield draped across my chest, or a tiny Captain America temporary tattoo glued to my hand, I’m not thinking about it being silly.

I’m thinking that it’s just the bump I need to be a little braver, a little tougher; the boost I need to not give up now or ever, no matter how many times I get knocked down. I like that Cap’s symbol is the last thing I see before I go under anesthesia, or that I can focus on those weird little wing things on Cap’s helmet instead of the nurse jamming an IV into my hand (which is the worst, but if they can’t find a vein in your arm they have to put it somewhere!).

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Bathroom selfie superhero pose!

Sure Steve Rogers was scared when they were strapping him into Mr. Stark’s Supersoldier machine. Sure his famous last words were “Is it too late to go to the bathroom?” (Which happen to be mine too!) But he made it through, and wearing my Captain America garb to my appointments reminds me that I can too. And who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll walk out a stronger, faster, better version of me too.

 

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Teach a girl to cook…

And she just might not starve to death from a nameless inflammatory digestive disease!

Hi, kids! Nic here.

I’m not trying to be dramatic.

It just happens naturally.

I really have been unwell though.

I have a high tolerance for “unwellness,” but I figure that since I am solidly in Month 3 of The Great Digestive Disaster of 2015/2016 and have lost more than 10 pounds (I am sending out a search party, pronto. I want those buggers back! I know, I know, not a sentiment usually uttered by 20-something young women, but I had just gotten used to actually taking up space when I entered a room…), that I qualify for a little bit of complaining/fishing for sympathy.

*Go, Fish*

Ok, now that I have gotten that out of my system…

The problem is pretty clear:

My digestive system hates food.

I need to eat food to survive.

#Tricky

Unfortunately, sometime just before Christmas, I acquired the unhappy side effect of my very amenable brain deciding to follow suit with my intestines, meaning I just stopped being hungry altogether.

No good, my friends. No good.

Solutions?

Yes, let’s come up with those please.

Obviously, I have been spending an incredible amount of time with doctors.

Funny thing though, those trained in finding medical solutions to medical problems have a tendency to simply shake their heads and tell me what a “conundrum” I am and then laugh like I’ve said something funny.

Obviously, I have come to feel the same way about doctors as I do about food.

I cannot tell you how many Chronics I have encountered, myself included, who are left to come up with alternative ideas to help themselves because the Standard Solution does not work for them. I mean, really. Without Google, where would we be?

Ok, hang on, I’m getting a little bit worked up about Patient Rights and the State of Things in the Medical Community, and that is not what this post is about.

Nope.

This post is about soup.

And cake.

Ohmygoodness SOUP AND CAKE.

Also known as the only reasons I am still able to make complete sentences.*

*Refer to opening statement about being dramatic.

Not going to lie, I thought it was really strange that for some reason (among many generous presents) I was gifted a KitchenAid mixer and a cookbook for Christmas. I mean, if I were to make dinner reservations right now, I’d do so under the name of “Skinny Starving Sick Girl, Party of 1.” Of course I smiled politely and said thank you, because no one wants to insult SANTA.

But really?

The next day though, I cracked the spine on Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime. I flipped through a few pages.

“This might not be so bad,” I thought, and settled in.

Well, let me tell you, Christmas magic happened.

Lingering over the pictures of Southern-ish comfort foods, something happened.

Something stirred up on the inside of me.

I got just a tiny bit hungry.

It was all I needed.

A quick trip to the grocery store later and I was in my kitchen, roasting butternut squash in the oven and praying to Sweet Jesus that my stomach wouldn’t reject it.

Because that <stuff> is orange, y’all. And I only want to see orange once, if you know what I’m saying.

The soup wasn’t hard to make, which is why I chose it, and only has a few ingredients in it, which is also why I chose it.

*Brief interlude for background information* I do not cook. My mom is an amazing cook. She could make sawdust taste like nectar from the gods. My sister bakes when she is stressed, which means that we all get to benefit from her stress baking dozens (and I am taking PTA mom-of-the-year, night-before-the-elementary-school-bake-sale amounts) of cookies. Me? I curse like a sailor and burn the bottoms out of everyone’s favorite muffin tins. #TrueStory

Ok, so it was easy, it didn’t have a lot going on in terms of things to freak out my insides, and you put it all in the blender, an additional perk, as anyone battling stomach awfulness knows.

Predigested, am I right?

(I’m right.)

I tasted this soup and I just about lost my mind.

It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted!

It didn’t make me sick!

Squash is a miracle food!

Adding maple syrup at the end? Ree Drummond, you GENIUS!

WHY HAVE I NEVER HAD THIS SOUP BEFORE THIS MOMENT?

I was pretty excited, Chronic friends.

I made everyone try it.

For some reason, maybe because they eat normal food day-in-and-day-out and it actually stays in their systems long enough to be turned into nourishment, my family was slightly less impressed with my magic squash soup than I was.

That’s ok.

More soup for me.

Built up with brazen soup-making confidence, I decided to make cake. I needed a springform cake pan to make the Lemon Butter cake I was eyeing in my Betty Crocker. The exact pan I needed happened to be on sale at the grocery store, clearly a sign from heaven that I was meant to make this cake.

And boy was I ever meant to make that cake.

Sigh…

Sorry, I was just having a cake-eating-frenzy flashback.

I would share pictures, but I ate everything before I remembered I live in an Instagram-able world and might want to document my feats of culinary greatness.

ANYWAY.

I was not expecting this.

If I had blown up the stove, burned down the house, and/or created food that would be labeled Hazardous Material by the Food and Drug Administration, I would have been less surprised than I was by the fact that I cooked something, it was edible, and it did not make a unwelcome revisit later in the evening.

Sure, I’ve got more medical tests this week, and that sucks. When you are in the throws of a Chronic flare, it feels like it will never end and that normal will never be normal again. Breaking out of the cycle seems impossible.

But now I’ve got soup.

And cake.

And somehow, that makes everything feel much better. If only for a little bit.

 

As you can imagine, I am now The Pioneer Woman’s biggest fan. The magic soup I made came from Ree Drummond’s Dinnertime cookbook, page 88. And that Betty Crocker chick? She knew what she was talking about. I made the Lemon Curd-filled Butter Cake on page 93 of the New Edition Big Red Cookbook. Ah-mazing. If I can only eat these 2 things the rest of my life, I think I’d be ok with that…maybe. There are a lot more pages in these cookbooks…