The volunteer coordinator at hospice calls to see if I am interested in taking on a new patient. She reads off the case notes: an elderly woman with cancer, who lives in a care facility and likes books and board games. I think of all those quiet, lovely visits with P. Sure, I say.

I get the client info and call the woman’s daughter to set up the first visit, and as the phone rings I am picturing — well, I am picturing an immediate connection of some kind. I am imagining a lady dealing with a terrible situation who is so glad for someone who can also be with her ailing mom. I am thinking she is in need, and here I am wanting to be of service, and I can almost see this frail, barely-there patient and feel the stillness of her room, and I am pretty much convinced this is going to be a powerful, emotional phone call, and when she answers and I explain who I am, she says …

“Oh? Oh, I see. Well, I’m not sure how — I mean, gosh, Mom doesn’t really need anyone. She’s got all these activities at the center, she goes bowling on Fridays, she has lunch with friends. She’s super active, really. She’s obsessed with the Olympics so that’s about to take up a bunch of her time. Plus, honestly I think she might feel a bit … awkward? With a strange, no offense, visitor? But thank you so much anyway!”

I say goodbye, then sit by the phone blushing for a while. WELL.

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I’ve been on a cut-wayyyyy-back-on-the-carbs food plan lately, which is a pretty big change from how I was eating during the holidays (“holidays” meaning the entire chocolate-smeared section of the calendar from Halloween to New Year’s, mind you) and for the frillionth time I am faced with the undeniable evidence that I just plain feel better when my diet doesn’t revolve around tortilla chips and frosting. Physically, mentally (like: bigtime), energy-wise, headache-wise, stomach-wise: better.

Now what would be great is if I would take this information, which I have experienced many many times, and commit to a self-care-focused long-term lifestyle which involves fueling my body in a way I know for a fact results in a healthier happier me as opposed to repeatedly having to course-correct after an uncontrollable downward slide into the land of Can Cookies Be Pulverized and Placed in an IV Bag? Let’s Find Out but 1) history does not indicate a high chance of success in this department, and 2) even in my most motivated state of being I cannot, repeat, cannot step away from the Splenda.

You know: Splenda. Sucralose. Those little yellow packets of PURE FUCKING HEAVEN.

Most current dietary advice now positions artificial sweeteners as The Absolute Worst, for a myriad of reasons ranging from toxicity to triggering spikes in blood sugar to being evil on account of synthetic things = bad. I’ve read all the suggestions to switch to things like Stevia, Truvia, Eryth … erythit … ritol, Swerve, monk fruit, and of course “a hint of honey.”

First, just stop it right there with your hint of anything. I’m not overly fond of honey but if I’m going to eat it I’m going to want an entire glorp, not a hint. If I were the sort of person who could be satisfied by a hint of anything I wouldn’t have half the problems I do, okay? As for the other sweeteners, I’ve tried them all and they run the spectrum from disappointing to downright hostile.

Nothing is as wonderful as Splenda, which I consider one of mankind’s greatest achievements. It elevates my coffee, it transforms my berries, it can be eaten directly out of a small prep bowl via moistened fingertip, not that I have ever done such a thing (OMG TRY IT WITH SEA SALT).

I feel like my devotion to Splenda, and its freakish effect on taste receptors — what is it, 600 times sweeter than sugar? — is indicative of a basic psychological makeup that probably can’t be altered at this point without trepanation. I like sweet stuff and I cannot lie.

Real sugar and processed carbs legitimately make me feel awful in a variety of ways and I have a terrible time staying away from them, which is why I’m always somewhere on the battle map with how I eat: either gathering forces and holding strong, or in full surrender.

But Splenda? Oh, man. When I’m feeling like this about cookies:

Splenda is all,

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