Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eye Surgery Fears > Chocolate Cravings

In 535 days of chocolate abstinence, especially the past 500 or so of them, I've been relatively free from obsessive thoughts about chocolate. Sometimes I see something, a candy shop window, an ad on TV, or an array of chocolate in a store, which triggers a momentary craving. But, for the most part, I'm blessed in my abstinence program with quick recovery after these stirrings.

Not true right now. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a little display of Lindt chocolate bunnies near the checkout stand at our local grocery store. I'm always drawn to bunnies anyway, and so picked one up to examine it more closely. Immediately I noticed it was not milk chocolate, which I never liked much and only ate in desperation, but dark! I noticed it was weighty, a goodly amount of chocolate. It's totally adorable with it's little, brown, crinkle-ribbon bow, and golden bell.

Adorable as the bunny may be, I could so easily chomp off its ears, devour it's nose, and scarf down all the remains of its plump little body in less than 5 minutes flat. I've been obsessing about Lindt bunnies ever since. Every time I go to the store, I can't take my attention away from them. I wake up thinking about them. After Easter, they will be gone, thank heavens, but until then, it's tough business.

Today, I'm asking why. Why am I obsessing about dark chocolate? Why is chocolate haunting me, calling my name, pleading with me to give up my abstinence, just this one time?

I have to think it's fear. Either that or the fact that my mom died 1 year ago today. She's been on my mind a lot these past few weeks. I am missing her and feeling the loneliness of not having a mom or dad any more. However, chocolate wasn't a problem for me around the time of her death. So why now? I'm back to looking at fear.

Oh ho, a thought just came to me... maybe it's both Mom and fear! In the next two months, I will be having eye surgery in both eyes, cataracts, stage 3. Yes, I've been doing the research and understand it's a common and relatively easy procedure these days. Plus it's almost 100% guaranteed to improve my vision, which has been deteriorating quickly. That's the logical, adult, reasonable way to look at it.

The little kid in me remembers Mom, when she had cataract surgeries many years ago. Mom wasn't one to complain about pain or inconvenience. She endured child births and surgeries without any sign of fear or complaint. But when she told me about her cataract surgery, her description sounded like the worst nightmare you can imagine. She told about the horror of her eye being clamped open, and being able to see the knife coming at her eye. I recall her saying she wanted to die then, and would rather be blind than ever have to go through that again.

Her surgery story has always stuck with me, as my worst daymare. So yep, memories of Mom, extra strong right now on the anniversary of her passing AND my own fears of the surgeries ahead. That's what is under the chocolate cravings. What to do about it? I don't know.


  1. What about writing about your mom to take your mind off chocolate and to allow yourself to grieve and heal all at the same time. Use your words:)

    Coincidentally, the anniversary of my Dad's death is tomorrow. It's been 25 years.

  2. Robin,
    I have always admired your PERSERVERANCE and commitment to following through with your goals including your eating plan. You are an inspiration to me. Your honesty with food issues has helped me be more aware of you own issues with food and the struggle around certain foods.
    You are a very special friend to me.
    I love you.

  3. I am so proud of you for writing here and not eating the chocolate!!! The way you describe your Mom's surgery, it sounds like a true nightmare. I wonder if that is how it is now. I wonder if there is anyway to find out. It scared me just reading your Mom's description of it!

  4. Robin, I think cataract surgery has changed dramatically since our mamas did it. I had it done last year and it was pretty much a piece of cake. I wasn't excited about it, but it wasn't traumatic, either. My only problem afterward was that my sweet physician brought me a croissant after the procedure and it upset my tender tummy.

    I took a week off work on doctor's orders because I have a delicate eye condition and he really wanted me to rest. Probably completely unnecessary, but what a nice vacation it was! I borrowed an easel from my daughter and got a big kid's butcher paper painting pad and a bag of big markers - I painted and journaled every day. The main thing nowadays is not to bend your head down at all (or bend over or lift anything) for the first week - a chance to truly relax and change perspective.

    You have to put in drops for a few days. I found them soothing.

    One way to work with fear is to say the positive opposite when the fear comes up. "I'm afraid the eye surgery will be painful and traumatic." "I know the eye surgery will go well and I'll have no side effects afterward."

    Of course, this works for bunny cravings as well! "That is a cute bunny and I remember liking chocolate well, but I don't need one now, thanks." Good on you for sustaining your chocolate abstinence!

    And also - they will give you a valium or some other mild tranquilizer if you let them know you have anxiety. Plan ahead and don't be embarrassed to let them know.

    You'll see so much better afterward!

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