I stumble across the neverending desert, sand filling my shoes and rubbing skin from my ankles. Sunlight and heat glare and roast my tired body, and I continue to stumble forward, frustrated and angry. I’m just as aware of my unlikely survival as I am of the maggots wriggling while they eating away the pia mater covering my beautiful, broken brain.
I don’t know how they got there, or how I got here. My throat is scorched by sand and I am drenched in sweat. Sand occasionally flies at me in a fury to rip away more skin, more bits, more of my sanity. Maybe that’s the maggots, or maybe it’s me going mad. I don’t know. How am I enduring this?
More than the burning of the sand and sun shredding and cooking my flesh, it’s the maggots that terrify me. What will happen next? How deep into my brain will they go?
I somehow remember the mantra I’ve repeated for the last several years and calm washes over me for a moment.
Refuse to feel, anything at all. Refuse to trip, refuse to fall.
I can’t not feel the maggots obliterating my very core, though. I can’t stop tripping as the tremors in my core and legs toss me to the ground with such force that pain shrieks through me as my body begins to fail.
They’re in my cortex now, the maggots. They multiply rapidly in an orgy of bodies, eating as they sustain themselves on my brain matter; absorbing me at my core.
Refuse to trip, refuse to fall. Can’t be weak, can’t stand still. I watch my back since no one will.
I’ve fallen forward, wiggling determinedly on my stomach through the dunes, just like the tiny bodies in my head. I have to find a way home. Have to find a way to be useful again. I’ll rebuild, somehow.
I’m alright, I’m alright.
I can’t fail. Won’t fail. I somehow wriggle on, forcing myself to find strength to get home. Useless and alone, I’ll find my way home. Home to the one who’s never left me. I only need to keep moving. How am I still alive?
Stay the fuck alive.
I wake drenched in sweat, my mouth dry and my throat tight. My legs are tense and tired; I think I was running while I slept. I drift away again and finally don’t dream.
It’s the nightmare I’ve had for the past several nights now. I always wake before I’m able to reach ‘home’, so I don’t know if I ever make it there.
Just like the other times, I look at the darkness of the early morning sky and smile at the hints of sunlight peeking over the horizon. Unlike the other times, I smile, take a picture of the sunrise, and stretch the aching tension from my legs. This time, I get up.
I’m going to run again. Someday. Because I’m alive, and I’m alright.
I wake rather late, but cheerful nonetheless. I don’t feel entirely cheerful; it’s a chilly, rainy morning and I know that I might get low if I don’t urge myself not to.
I wobble into the kitchen. Make tea. Start the monotonous routine I’ve come to know since the “lows” made their appearance known a few months ago.
Taking up ‘memory practice’ is a new thing for me. I have resisted in the past and countered my internal argument for it with proud, indifferent claims that I’m too young to resort to writing out my daily actions. However I’m clearly not too young.
My memory has decreased a bit with the new medication that my psychiatrist prescribed to test me on. My balance, anger, frustration, vertigo, aphasia, and several other issues have become more noticeable since beginning this medication. It’s unfortunate, but there tweaks that can be made. I just need to be patient… and not let frustration toward forced patience rule things until then.
Brain: We can do this. We can beat this.
Me: I know. *determined face*
So today I’ll try to be vigilant about withdrawal symptoms. I’ll go about this latest routine; try to change it up a little. Slowly and surely, I’ll make it. Turtles are one of my life models for a reason.
On a lighter note, it only took me two attempts to accurately solve a calculus problem yesterday. I haven’t been instructed in math since finishing high school at 16. Twelve years ago now. Oy.
My abdominal muscles burn from yesterday’s intense workout. It’s been a while since I last gave real effort into a workout, and it burned so good.
I’ve made arrangements with Christy for next year’s National Ataxia Foundation conference. I’ve acquired her holiday present.
I’ve scrubbed and straightened the apartment to the point of daily exhaustion and late rising in the mornings.
Is this what mania feels like?
On the downside, I’ve compulsively checked my phone every five minutes. Every. Five. Minutes. But I’m not great about responding to messages. The idea makes me nervous, tired.
Check phone, check Facebook, check the balances in my bank accounts, check what I last cleaned.
It’s not good enough. Scrub it again.
Another upside is that I have the energy to study. Neuroanatomy, neurology, neurological diseases, languages, coding, art history, painting techniques, color theory, functions of Ataxia, behaviors of various movement disorders, biology… I like to study again. And that’s a good thing. I’ve enjoyed the energy to return to rounds at the medical school. Now I just need to overcome the self-consciousness that keeps me from being consistent about it.
I want to cook again. Bake.
All of these bursts of energy and I’m exhausted during them. I’m enjoying the energy, though. I’m enjoying the upside.
Things will get better. Probability theory has my back on that. And so does my kitty. 🙂
I walk to the sinks, the cubicle door swinging shut behind me. Because of the field cut occluding the right half or so of my vision, I don’t notice the woman at the sink next to me until she turns on the tap and I hear the water splash from the faucet.
I turn and smile, “Hi.”
“Hello,” She smilies back, adjusting her purple paisley head scarf as she dries her hands.
Her accent is thick and rich. Musical.
“Where are you from?” She asks me curiously.
“Texas,” I reply, “And yourself?”
Turning to reach for the paper towel dispenser, I notice the weathered rolling luggage bag next to her, just out of my line of vision while I had been standing at the sink.
Stupid field cut.
“Kerewan, in the Republic, Gambia.”
“Wow, you’ve traveled a long way. What do you think of Washington?”
She replies frankly, and I am stunned, “You are brown. I am black. In Kerewan we don’t see skin unless you are exotic; white. In America, I an only a black without a roof. But I am no longer a slave to satisfy men. Now I can smile.”
I suddenly don’t mind my field cut.
7/28/87 – 7/6/17
29 years, 11 months, 3 weeks, 1 day
I only met you once, however, that was enough to realize how you could impact people – you left an impression on me with the first bright, happy smile you greeted me with. Christy, John and Brendan are devastated, along with other mutual friends; but the impressions and joy you’ve left with people – including those of us who only met you once – are and will be forever remembered.
Thinking of you,