I’ve always been thirsty. Not metaphorically or spiritually, just thirsty. My childhood nightstand always sported a cup of water at bedtime, and even now I can distinctly recall the plastic Pocahontas cup standing ready at the bedside.
Nothing has changed now. Every night, before padding up the stairs but after letting the dog outside for one last pee, I fill up a cup with water and ice to carry to up to bed. On nights that I feel particularly parched, I forego the plastic cup and fill up my two favorite reusable water bottles. And no, I don’t share with my husband.
A few months ago I noticed that I was drinking even more than normal. Even now, a cup of water is always at my side and I fill up several water bottles when leaving the house. So I did what everyone does. I Googled it. And convinced myself that I had diabetes.
I used to be a fairly unhealthy person. I didn’t eat well and exercise wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. After dropping and keeping off about 100 pounds I’m an overall pretty healthy person, but I was terrified that the damage had already been done.
A visit to my doctor ended in bloodwork and a two-week wait, during which I turned my unending thirst and handful of other symptoms over and over in my mind. Every activity was racked with guilt. Why hadn’t I moved more when I was younger? I could hardly eat without wondering how things might have been different if only I had exercised more self-control. And you know what?
It was my fucking anemia.
Iron pills, a bill of clean health, and I was reassured that some people are just thirsty. The dry, Tucson air doesn’t help much either.
The whole ordeal was an unnecessary strain that I put myself through, but I only recently realized how that situation mirrors my writing life. When starting a new story or gearing up to outline an idea I’ve been tossing around in my head for a while, I experience an extraordinary amount of fear. It follows me throughout the day, beating itself against my skull as I run farther and farther from actually writing.
And then when I do start writing? Well, then I learn that the fear was wrong.