I know, I know the title of this article may not jive in this new-age, pro-biotic, juice-cleansing world we live in.
But relax there yoga pants, this is a guilty-free pleasure. A farm fresh, cage-free, gluten-free, calorie free article about the healing power of donuts.
So last Thursday, on my way to work, I stop at Dunkin Donuts. Now I’m not a daily DD’er but I was grinding through a particular tough week and felt I owed myself a belly full of sugar and complex carbohydrates.
My tough week wasn’t because I witnessed the American oxymoron known as Super Tuesday or the fact the Olsen twins are not in Fuller House or that I overheard my son singing Flo Rida in the shower.
No, my crotchetiness stemmed from a purely selfish reason– I was in the taxing process of lowering my medication.
In July, to manage my Sarcoidodis, I was placed on the mercurical “wonder”drug known as Prednisone. Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory used by millions Americans to treat eveything from poison ivy to lupus. And though Prednisone provides patients with energy and strength it slowly and quietly breaks down muscles and organs. Short-term exposure to Prednisone causes fairly minor symptoms–headaches, mood swings, weight gain. Long-term exposure offers some nasty irreversible complications like osteoporosis and diabetes. Prednisone and donuts — both positive and negative and both are consumed by the bushel. America may run on Dunkin but America relies on Prednisone.
So I’m standing in line at DD and I want coffee, and donuts. Lots of Donuts.
My hands ach (one of the treats of my Sarcoid) and I clench my fists and look to the mounted and muted TV. CNN is on and a bearded and homeless looking Leonardo DiCarprio is being tossed around the woods by a bear. He is screaming but the TV is muted and know one hears him (except me) and I think, ” I hear you Leo, I hear you.”
The suited gentleman before me orders 4 coffees and a dozen donuts. The cashier offers a half- smile, spins and gets to work. The bear is trashing Leo about and his face bends in pain. Suited gentleman half-turns and gives me that half- smile people give to show solidarity when they’re standing in line together and I half-smile back and clench and release my fists.
The cashier returns with 4 coffees and jokes, ” did you have a late night?” Suited gentleman smiles and says , “No I’m treating some of my staff this morning.”
Leo has survived the bear attack and is out of the woods and standing behind a podium. He’s smiling and clean shaven and he’s waving a statue of a little gold man.
The cashier hands over a box of donuts to the suited gentleman and he stacks the coffee on the box and says thank you, pays, and smiles at the cashier, at me and exits, leaving a wake altruism and Old Spice.
I step to the counter keeping one eye on Leo as the close caption scrolls “We need to work collectively and stop procrastinating [clap, clap, clap]. ” I order a medium coffee at a box of 24 munchkins and deduce I will eat 4 munchkins-2 chocolate, 2 glaze- and will offer the remaining 20 to my colleagues because that’s what Leo and the suited gentleman would want me to do… be kind.
A few minutes and 4 Munckins later I’m the English department hero. I’m offering Munckins to colleagues and they are smiling and thanking me and for those fleeting moments I forget about my tough week and the pain in my hands and I wonder if the suited gentleman was having a tough week too or he is just a nice guy.
Chronic illnesses are no fun. And though I may look fine on the outside, inside I often feel like Leo D. must of felt after his tango with Cranky the Bear. But here’s what is fun– shedding your ego and thinking of other people. An egoless act is refreshing and cleansing. Like mountain air. Like a Coffee-Coolatta.
Look, I’m not splitting the atom here when I’m saying we should be more kind. You should. I should. Because we are human and we spin on this planet together. And we are all suffering. We are all tragic by design.
But I never knew kindness could be a painkiller. Like Prednisone, kindness can be a simple source of relief but unlike Prednisone , kindness can heal the important things inside– instead of tearing them apart.
Last Thursday, the suited gentleman served a gentle reminder that I need to get over myself. Chronic illness or not I–we– need to do a better job of putting other people first.
And who knows maybe next time I’ll consider the wellness of my colleagues and present something healthy– maybe stalks of kale or spoonfuls of quinoa –maybe.