Excerpt: Chapter One

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“You okay over there?  You look like you saw a ghost or something.” Jocelyn asks.

“I’m fine, just…um not feeling that great.  I think I tweaked my back last night in my sleep somehow.  A shower should help.”

“Need me to get you anything.”

“No.  Just help me up.”

“Ok,” she says as I’m finally able to swing my heavy legs over the side of the bed.  She reaches down and helps pull me up.  I wobble weak on my legs and feel a bit dizzy. My whole body is in some sort of fog that I just can’t shake.  I start to lose my balance and reach out to catch myself with a hand against the wall.

“Seriously, are you okay?” Jocelyn looks more concerned now.  “You really don’t seem like yourself this morning.”

Trying to minimize the situation, I say, “Yeah, you know just need to wake the body up and get those juices flowing.”

She raises her eyebrows, not convinced by my lame attempt at humor but decides not to press further.  “Just please be careful.  You probably overdid it at the gym yesterday.” She glances at the clock and quickly turns towards the closet to continue getting ready.  “Oh, I’ve gotta hurry. I’m running late.”

With Jocelyn focusing on her wardrobe choices, I start my journey to the bathroom.  The bottoms of my feet are numb and the pins and needles sensation seems to have spread all the way up my legs.  Since I can’t feel the floor under my feet, I slowly wobble down the hallway using the walls as crutches.

Once inside our small bathroom, I quietly close the door behind me, then face myself in the mirror.  My dirt-brown hair sits like a helmet on my head, and my pale skin attests to the sun’s long winter absence in these here parts.  My raccoon eyes are sunken into my head.  What the hell is going on with me today?  This is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me.  I am completely perplexed right now as to why my legs won’t work.  Did I overdo it at the gym yesterday?  No, not that I remember.  There has got to be some logical explanation for all of this.  I bet I’ll be fine after a nice hot shower.  Deep breath.  No need to panic.

“You got to take better care of yourself,” I tell the man in the mirror.

“What?” Jocelyn calls from the bedroom.  “Did you say something?”

“No.  Nothing.  I was just talking to myself.”

Our bathroom is small with powder blue walls, white fixtures and a window that looks out to the street when the blinds are open.  There is one sink with a toilet next to it.  Across from the toilet and sink is the tub.

I move left of the sink and position myself in front of the toilet, place my left hand on the wall in front of me so I don’t fall down.  Most mornings I would be wrestling my morning hard-on like an out-of-control fire hose to keep from spraying everything but the bowl.  Today, however, my penis is hanging limp and shrunken, like I just got out of the pool.  As I stare into the toilet bowl trying to comprehend my current state of impotency, I realize things are much, much worse than I thought.  I can’t pee!  I feel my chest start to tighten up again in panic.  How is this possible?  I want to scream but I can’t get any words out.

I move, change my position, move again, still holding myself upright with a hand on the wall.  I lean closer to the toilet.

NOTHING!!

I shift my weight again, reposition my legs, and change my distance from the bowl.

Still NOTHING!

A knock on the bathroom door startles me.

“Matty! I need to get in there.  I need to dry my hair. I’m late!”

“One minute.”

I can’t let her see me like this.  How would I explain this to her?  Jocelyn is the worrying type.  I am not even sure what is going on so I don’t want freak people out for no reason.  There has to be a simple explanation for all of this.  I just haven’t figures it out yet.  I need some time to think.  What to do?  What to do?  My brain is racing.  My heart is pounding.  No place to hide but the shower.  Ah, a brilliant idea.  Pee in the shower.  She’ll be none the wiser.

“Can I come in, please?” She begs.

“Sure.”

Just as she opens the door, I flush the toilet to create the illusion of successful urination.  She comes in, stands at the sink, and pulls the hairdryer out of the drawer making our small bathroom really crowed.  I try to twist around behind her and reach into the shower to get the water going.  Luckily, I get the shower going without falling flat on my face.

The pins and needles in my feet persist.  I look down at the floor.  Bare tile.  Jocelyn must be washing the bathmats. But shouldn’t the tile be cold?  If it’s cold, I sure can’t feel it.  I wish I could feel something, anything.

I strip down, pull the shower curtain back, and carefully step into the tub.  Jocelyn is too distracted by her hair drying to notice my awkward shower entry.  I grab the shampoo and lather up.

God, I really have to pee.  It’s starting to consume me.  I can’t think about anything else.  The hair dryer’s still running so I decide to take a chance.  I lean against the wall and push hard from my gut, hoping to see the golden stream.

Still nothing.

I hear Jocelyn turn off the hair dryer, put it away, and leave the bathroom.  The shower is really steaming.  The steam feels good in my lungs, but it is stinging my legs and hurting like hell.  The pain is becoming unbearable.

Jocelyn returns to the bathroom, pulls back the shower curtain, and leans forward for a good-bye kiss.

“I love you.”  She says and kisses me, “Have a good day.  See you at the gym after work.”

In the interest of acting normal, I force a smile and utter, “Love you, too.”

She quickly exits the bathroom and closes the door behind her.  I wait a minute and then cut the shower. Carefully, I pull myself out of the shower, grab the towel off the sink, and dry off.  After a quick shave, I manage to waddle back down the hall to the bedroom, still using the walls to hold myself up.

I enter our bedroom just in time to hear the weather report on the news.  Great, heavy rain and low 50’s.  On any other given day I would be worried about how the weather is going to affect my commute but at this moment I just want to perform a simple bodily function.   Confused and naked, I stare blankly at the TV trying to figure out my next move.

Suddenly without warning, my bladder is about to explode.  I have to do something, and quick.  I labor back into the bathroom with a temporary burst of strength and—desperate measure—pull down my pants and sit on the toilet. I strain.  I clench my stomach. Pushing and pulling.

Is there such a thing as urination constipation?

I’m about to cry from frustration and pain when I hear drops hitting the water.  Sporadic at first, followed by a steady stream.  Then sporadic.  Then a steady stream.  Then drop, drop, drop.  Then a steady stream.  I feel like Austin Powers being thawed out after twenty years on ice and, God, it feels good to empty my bladder.  Wait a minute. I spread my legs and look down into the toilet.  I can see the golden stream, but there’s no sensation of it leaving my body.  Not only are my legs and feet asleep, but my penis is too.  How is that even possible?

This is all way too much for me to deal with right now.  I convince myself that it will get better as the day goes on. Since I don’t feel sick, I decide that I need to go to work.  I’ve played sports my whole life and I’ve had to play through injuries, so this is nothing new for me.

I lurch out of the bathroom and back to the bedroom.  Not caring what I look like today, I grab a pair of boxers and the closest polo shirt and khakis from the closet.  Sitting on the bed, I awkwardly dress myself.  Next socks and shoes.  I wrestle with my numb feet trying to squeeze them into socks and shoes that now seem two sizes too small.  Why don’t I have any slip-on work shoes?  These shoelaces are getting the best of me!  Never one to give up, I am finally fully dressed and ready for work.  I muster up what little energy I have left to make my way to the kitchen, take my lunch out of the refrigerator and head outside.  Once outside of our small mid ‘50s ranch, I face the five brick steps that lead to the driveway. How do I walk down steps when I can’t feel my feet?

“Here goes nothing” I think to myself.  Deep breath.  I tightly grip the cast-iron railing and set forth.  I drop my left foot blindly onto the first step.  I cannot feel my shoe hit the brick step below, so I grab the railing tighter and then bring my right foot down hesitantly.  Typically, I could jump down these steps, now seemingly overnight my ability to walk has dramatically deteriorated

Cautiously, I make it to the bottom of the five steps and look back up to the house.  Mentally and physically these five little steps seem like Mount Everest.  I have no business leaving the house in this condition.  I let out a heavy sigh.  I can’t go back up those steps right now, though, either.  This is going to be a long day but I convince myself that it HAS to get better soon.

2 thoughts on “Excerpt: Chapter One

  1. you are a marvelous inspiration…………… my 55 year old son is experiencing numbness in his legs, i also see the think tank changing, sometimes unable to speak thoughts clearly, and has had issues swallowing, the texas doctors tried to stretch his throat a few years back… he has had mri’s, they show nothing, and the doctors have not sent him in any direction, just say they do not see any apparent cause for numbness………….

    thus, i went searching ———-found your wonderful inspiring life journey, thank you for accepting –and for your decision making… i can tell your nature, if the world gives you lemons – you make lemonade..

    GOD BLESS, THANK YOU———–as with each being, the greatest concern is acceptance and depression.

    1. Thank you Barbara! I am touched by your kind words. I am glad that you find inspiration in my writing. Acceptance is the hardest part of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. My best wishes to you and your son in his journey for answers.

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