Sunday, March 06, 2005

Deadline Diet

I used to get sick after a deadline week. The minute I turned in a book, I'd get hit with a cold, sinus infection, stomach virus, or something equally guaranteed to make my return to relative normality miserable. I couldn't figure out why, either. Before I started writing pro I hardly ever caught any bugs, even from the kids.

I figured it out one day after I turned in a book and went to catch up on my household chores. The dishwasher actually gave it away; it was filled with dirty tea cups and spoons, waiting to be washed (don't ask any of the bipeds in this house to push that button and turn on the dishwasher, evidently it is a highly technical activity that only Mom can handle.) I was also out of my favorite black tea.

Deadline weeks are always a blur of 18 days and endless reading and writing. I don't eat, I have no appetite, no time to cook properly and I can't deal with takeout food. I cook for the family, toss the food on the table and go back to work. Now and then when my stomach protests I'll join them, but I pretty much live on tea and crackers for five to seven days. Which is why I'm generally five to seven pounds lighter after I turn in a book. I also look like hell warmed over; pale enough to interest a mortician, dark blue Samsonite under both eyes, etc.

I asked my doctor if lousy diet was the culprit, and he gave me the well, duh look. Then he suggested that besides eating better, I might try taking a multivitamin. I hate pills, so during the next deadline week I switched from drinking black tea to a rosehip herbal tea. I also forced myself eat a piece of raw fruit (bananas are best) and drink a glass of orange juice every morning. I could probably do it all in a smoothie but I can't be trusted with a blender at 4:30 a.m.

I performed this regime more or less faithfully during the next deadline week, and the difference was immediate and incredible. I wasn't as tired, I only looked like hell half warmed-over, and I didn't get sick. I didn't even get a headache from all the screen reading. To make it a truly (cough) scientific experiment, on the deadline week following that one, I went back to my old habits, and promptly got an upper respiratory infection like the second the book was out of here.

I've been on the herbal tea-fruit-juice deadline week diet ever since, and have not been hit with the post-deadline grunge once. Last week Kath came home with the flu, which I have not had yet (we didn't get flu shots this year as the supply was scarce and we figured the babies and elderly needed what was available more.) She's been breathing, coughing and sneezing on me all through deadline week but I haven't caught it yet, so maybe this builds up your immune system, too.

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