Rendered Fat Content


Vincent van Gogh: Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate) (1890)
"I am my Dyeignosis, which I acknowledge has been the death of my former self."

I have lived most of my life Dyeignosis-free. This state left me with what many might consider a thin identity, for I found myself unable to sort myself into any of the more popular categories. Allergic to nothing that I knew of, I roamed free of imposed restrictions, enthusiastically joining the Gluten Appreciation Society. I freely consumed peanuts at will. True, through the eighties, during the height of the now-infamous cholesterol terror, I subsisted on skinless chicken breasts and oat groats, but before and after I put most omnivores to shame. I avoided soda pop and fast food, not due to any externally-mandated restrictions, but thanks to what I imagined to have been a refined palate and uncommon sense. While diagnosed with high cholesterol, my identity changed. I became a pre-avenging angel, steadfastly refusing pork and beef, charged with protecting my sacred health. My cholesterol numbers never wavered, regardless of my prescription or exercise routine, and when that life-preserving prescription was recalled as a danger to my health, my doctor and I decided to rescind the earlier dire diagnosis. I slowly re-entered the general population without further restrictions. Once that Dyeignosis devolved back into a recognition of a personal eccentricity, that miserly portion of me withered and disappeared, opening twenty-five years of near perfect health and serenity.

Later, The Muse encouraged me, as only The Muse can encourage anyone, to submit to fresh dyeignoses.
My blood pressure tested high prior to a surgical procedure, and, as she implored, I wasn't getting any younger. Over two years and a raft of different prescription experiments later, my blood pressure still registers highish, though slightly less consistently so. I rather religiously swallow my pills, which have morphed into the only evidence of any illness I've ever experienced. I have become my Dyeignosis, as confirmed twice daily as I swallow my pills, which provide me a sense of belonging to a community of other similar sufferers, who, like me, apparently most virulently suffer from their dyeignoses. I now belong to that select community, the members of which punctuate their identity with medications they cannot pronounce which provide questionable efficacy, more defined by our prescriptions' side-effects than by any other element of our identity.

My doctor friend tells me that high blood pressure might be treatable but isn't usually curable, so this Dyeignosis becomes a life-long companion. I swallow my prescriptions without any intention of one day ceasing the regimen. I am not the man I used to be, but a cyborg being now, one designated dependent upon outside forces to sustain myself; no longer any kind of island. I expect to suffer from this Dyeignosis until at least my dying day, never further than half a day away from another small handful of life-sustaining pills; on permanent life-support. Something happened to this once proudly independent fellow when he started growing accustomed to taking the yellow pills each morning and evening. He lines up his prescriptions in order, because he cannot tell one from the other except by imprinting upon their bottles' pattern of arrangement. When the pharmacist asks which prescription needs refilled, I can never recall. I respond by mumbling that I think it's the one that's all consonants (they're all all consonants!) except for the oddly-positioned Y in the middle of it. Do not ask me to say the name, for the name most closely resembles a cytokine storm, perhaps Serbo-Croatian, and fundamentally unspeakable. I no longer recall what any of those pills are supposed to do, I just accept that they have become a central part of my identity. I have become my Dyeignosis.

How else might any one of us tell each other apart? He's a statin and I'm a whateveryoucallit, finally secure in our later life-imposed identities. I honestly pity those diagnosed with gluten and ground nut sensitivities, for theirs seems a sorry state of affairs, chased off peanut butter on toast, perhaps the most versatile breakfast, lunch, and dinner ever devised. And who could live without pasta? My cohorts just swallow pills. Others scrupulously parse their diets, maintaining their personal list of no-nos more religiously than they worship any god. I am my Dyeignosis, which I acknowledge has been the death of my former self. I rush upstairs to my pill display after breakfast and dinner every day to remind myself of who I used to be when I would just sit myself down to eat, never thinking of any subsequent ritual haunting me. Now I slink between my supper and the bathroom sink, cover my palm while pouring a drink of water to wash down one oval and two golden brown, my Dyeignosis going down.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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