You may have heard the first aid tip that, in the unfortunate event that one should (hopefully, accidentally) sever a finger or toe, putting the digit in a bag of frozen peas whilst in transit to the nearest A&E gives the medics a greater chance of successfully re-attaching said digit. It can be a bag of sweetcorn if you don't have any peas. Or, a bag of any frozen commodity, really. Fingers and toes aren't fussy, apparently...
Thankfully, this incident did not involve me severing my baby toe in a supermarket, but it might as well have. I lose my baby toes, and often big toes too, more frequently than I lose my keys. Poor circulation, namely due to the woman upstairs' chronic Scrooge-like stinginess, means at the moment my body sometimes cuts off the supply to certain digits temporarily. This would be understandable, were I living in rural Scandinavia and frequented going outdoors barefoot. However, on this particular occasion, it happened to be 25 degrees Celsius and I was wearing a long flowy dress and sandals, because…well…it was frickin' warm.
I found myself gently cruising down the frozen aisles of Waitrose* on this bright and summery June afternoon. It was much cooler inside the supermarket than outdoors; of course, Waitrose happens to be one of the only inside spaces in the UK fitted with A/C. (Note, this is why us Brits struggle when there’s a heatwave. Yes, our temperatures may not skyrocket those that most of Australia deals with 90% of the year, but our homes are built to keep the heat in, not out. Finding inside spaces cooler than the outdoors on a day in the mid-twenties is a rare luxury.)
What is also a luxury, apparently, is the reliable functionality of my little digits given a sudden drop in temperature. No sooner had I floated down the frozen vegetable section in my long, wafty dress, did I feel something else float away from me. No, not a silent fart (though there was probably one of those, too), but the soul of that fifth little piggy on my left foot. But this little piggy didn't go whee whee whee all the way home....it just disappeared, slowly returning to me about halfway home after some exothermic assistance.
This was not something I had anticipated having to deal with on a midsummers afternoon. Part of me wanted to be convinced that the Waitrose freezers had malfunctioned and that everyone found leaving the frozen aisle with all twenty digits a challenge that day. An even bigger part of me realises that this is a completely ridiculous suggestion. This is Karen-like reasoning, and a Karen would certainly demand to speak to the manager about her lost toe. The woman upstairs may be a Karen, but I sure ain't. It's the small things like this that help me to remember that my mind is still very much at war with my body.
Of course, the presence or absence of the woman upstairs is not simply detected by these physical complications. She is a manipulator of the mind after all, and changes to my physiological health and appearance are simply collateral damage. The majority of the damage is on the inside. This pain, no set of scales, no heart rate monitor, no full blood count or renal profile will ever be able to detect. The woman upstairs' flat may look immaculate from the outside; but the windows don't have to be falling out for it to still be a bombsite behind the front door. My little toes don't have to play hide-and-seek to prove that I'm unwell.
But, at the moment, even after months of improved nutrition, it's the small things like this, the aching muscles, and the ongoing unpredictability of my bowel movements (sorry), that remind me I’m not okay. It’s these things that remind me that the extra slice of bread or another digestive biscuit can't possibly be a bad thing right now.
*N.B. Other supermarkets are available, but I'm unfortunately still recovering from a small incident at Tesco Extra a few weeks ago, which involved my inability to bay park under pressure. Plus, as much as I pretend to dislike the bourgeois, they do have some great special offers.
"Out of everything I've lost, I miss my mind the most!"