Carrots or cookies

When I was a kid, my mother taught me a lesson about appetites and hunger. An hour before dinner, when I asked her for a snack, she offered me carrots.

“But I’m not hungry for carrots,” I whined, “I’m hungry for a cookie.”

She replied, “If you’re not hungry for carrots then you’re not really hungry.”

Now that I am all grown up, I know eating a cookie an hour before dinner will spoil my appetite. But why do I want one?

My answer is stress.

Stress is my reaction to life’s demands. It results in me staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. or renders me unable to recall the words “paper towel” in a conversation or instigates my yelling at the toaster when the bagel gets stuck.

Been there myself

Readers of this column know that I often write candidly about family situations and experiences.

Just last month I trekked to cold and snowy Boston to care for my sister. She is ill with a chronic disease. There is much I’d like to write about her situation.

For example, there’s the financial impact of a disease whose treatment requires a drug that costs $3,000 per month. Or the dynamics of living with a condition that forces the patient to be homebound, prompting other family members to assume new roles. Or the critical reliance by the patient on an array of medications, despite a desperate wish to be off all of them.

I want to write that column— but I’m hindered by the feeling that my sister would be embarrassed. I