I’ve been sick for a while. I’m talking about this to everyone and anyone who will listen. Ask my gf. Ask my brother. Ask last semester’s classmates. It’s a sickness that effects my brain. Where I have good days of minimal pain, and bad days of near complete forgetfulness, where I’m fighting to focus and get anything done. And those days where I have near complete forgetfulness are the ones where I’m congested, with a little cold, and my whole head seems to shut down. Just a simple, stupid cold makes me nearly incapable of basic function.
I had a great introduction laid out for my book, where I’d talk about real life complications while writing it; how, in the book, the story starts with a broken tooth and ends with a wooden one. Just like in real life, where my book began with a tooth operation (the reason for my initial tooth writing in the first chapter), and ends with the removal of the tooth and a long line of suffering. It would have been a great full-circle thing, a great anecdote to the complexities of how real life spatters into fantasy and science fiction. If my sickness had ended with the removal of that tooth, it would’ve been perfect.
It didn’t end. In fact, removing the tooth sent a whole new wave of bacteria into my system, punching forgetfulness and memory issues back to full throttle–something I had on lockdown since the beginning of November. Strange how you think you have a handle on something, in fact are nearly certain the issue is understood and workable, and then–nope. It isn’t the tooth anymore. It’s the bone, or the sinus cavity, or an abscess that isn’t draining. Or something even deeper: autoimmune, immunodeficiency, viral meningitis.
Yesterday was a nightmare. I woke up at 11:00 after having watched too much television the night before, took my diabetes medication, drank kefir and had a green drink for breakfast, checked my blood sugar: 195. Strange, given I had a salad for dinner the night before, hummus and broccoli and carrots for lunch, and a donut and coffee for breakfast. This meant I was fighting an infection. Again. Maybe the same infection.
Classes have started; day one was Tuesday, and I blankly stared at the syllabus on Wednesday, trying to understand what was expected of me for the semester. Hell, trying to understand the assignment for homework, due Thursday (today). I tried to read a short story, finished, realized I remembered nothing about it except it was by Octavia Butler (because I had been given that information when I was in a more receptive state), and that it was uploaded in an easy-to-convert-to-sound format and sometimes the fonts were shifted, the spaces between words longer than one. And the rims of my vision sometimes pulsed with my heartbeat because pus is putting pressure on your brain, on your eyes, the doctor said. Sometimes I can not see much at all, sometimes pictures move when in periphery, or seem to, because of the shifting sphere shape of my eyes. Straight up terrifying. What do I do? The low-grade migraine that flowed from the back to the front of my head, coupled by the pain in my jaw that I thought was an infected tooth now radiating from an empty socket, sending me into agony while trying to stare at a computer screen.
I readied a dose of $4,000/mo potassium powder, drank maybe .50 of product, felt better. Wanted to write. Wanted to do homework. Needed to get work done. I don’t have time for this, I thought, fell into the couch and watched some escapist scifi on Amazon Prime. Tried to have conversations with my brother online, slurred words coming from someone sober for months, my own damn mouth, wondering again what the hell is wrong with me, again, expunging that wonder in words to silence from the other side. Realizing, again, six doctors, two EarNoseThroat specialists said this is likely stress-related, and then some small-town allergist decided to give my face an x-ray to maybe see if something was going on up there. Yes, something is going on up there.
They’re calling it chronic sinusitis, or sinusitis that continues after four weeks. It’s been in my head for nearly a year now, perhaps two. My nasal cavity is clear as a whistle, always, but when I get congestion I fall to pieces. Sometimes something drains and my eyes roll in the back of my head from the sensation, like springing a leak where water shouldn’t go. Nurses tell stories of sepsis, people dying from sinusitis of late without really knowing why, “feeling” good one day, dead the next. I have a tremor in my neck, my hands that won’t go away. My ears sing like crickets some days, or cicadas the next, or a tintinning ocean tide. This is an orchestra of sick, perhaps of death, a death bloom of infection that grows and grows. I begin my third bout of antibiotics tomorrow.
Yet, this is another journey for my book to explain. Another parallel degradation of myself, burned into my main character as he trods toward the climax. This is a climax that may never happen, where my journey disrupts the flow of words by ending before the book does. Last semester I worried I won’t finish my finals if I can’t get this under control. This semester I worry I won’t see July.
What is July but a marker of time? I joked to a friend that I lived longer than Jesus, that this was my Jesus year of 33, and at least I have that accomplishment. Perhaps only just. Perhaps not. And what are accomplishments but markers of time spent?
And even this, this post, this discussion, is my strange way of pushing forward. I only realize that now, subconsciously everything planned out before I realize: one class requires short stories, and last night I worried I’d have nothing to write. Nothing at all. And I worried I’d sit for days in front of a computer screen and write nothing, all stopped up like a wine cork pushed too far in the bottleneck. This is not nothing. It’s about nothing. The fear of nothing. The fear of whole, abstract existence. The fear of not finishing. But why? But why is a good question.
Despite all the strangeness of this sickness, my conscious self and subconscious self are so in tandem I find joy in the simple understanding that still, I create.