Last night while lying in bed, I had a thought.
Maybe when we’re at Mom and Dad’s place for Christmas, I can walk to Joe’s Pizza & Pasta.
The biggest change in me since starting the iron supplements about a week ago has been my ability to see a different kind of future for myself. For several months, my health has done nothing but decline. No “remissions” or “good days” or even good moments.
I’d moved way beyond things like not being able to mow the lawn or drive my car and entered a very scary new place where inhaling was just this side of impossible. I struggled to sit up in bed, fell when I tried to walk. I stopped using my walking cane because I didn’t have the strength to hold on.
I could feel my system shutting down every time I ate or drank anything. My body was telling the rest of me, “Fine, we’ll try to deal with this food, but you should know that means you can do nothing else.” Eventually, I could sense my gut was just completely paralyzed. But not eating hardly seemed like a solution.
I was perpetually hungry, and I was perpetually unable to process what I ate.
For weeks I’d been asking myself questions like…
Am I dying?
How will Dan deal with the mortgage, taxes, utilities, food expenses if I am not here?
Where would I want him to spread my ashes?
Should I try to get more life insurance?
If all of this seems over the top and a little melodramatic to you, I assure you it is only because you have not been living inside this body of mine.
“I don’t know how to explain this,” I said to Dan this morning, “but I feel like I’m getting myself back.”
Dan didn’t say much, he just let me continue with what has recently become my morning iron supplement report.
I have to talk about what’s happening right now. I’m excited and overcome with joy. Sharing is an impulse, like raising your hands in the air and closing your eyes to see if the Holy Spirit is as tangible as you think it might be.
“Every piece of me—my legs, arms, skin, bowels, mind—all of it felt disconnected by the pain and the fog. They weren’t parts of a whole me, they were all just these separate burdens I was forced to drag around. No escape, no peace. Not ever.
“But last night there was no burning sensation in my legs or feet, and I woke up this morning knowing that I had slept.”
All day yesterday my stomach creaked and groaned, making the kinds of noises you’d expect to hear in an old house with radiant heat that’s starting up for the first time in about a decade.
Tick tick tick tick.
I looked down at my food baby, conceived from a modest lunch, and smiled.
See you ’round, fucker.
Joe’s Pizza and Pasta is four-tenths of a mile from my parents’ house. It’s a favorite for Mom, Dad, Dan and me. In fact, Mom and Dad are regulars there because it’s so close and the pizza is so good. The waitress sometimes puts in their order when she sees them pull into the parking lot.
Ten days ago, I wouldn’t have let myself even dream about walking to the restaurant for the holiday pilgrimage.