I wake up and I know something is wrong. I’m on my back; the blankets are pulled securely to my neck and under my chin, and wrapped around my body like an Egyptian Pharaoh prepped for the afterlife. My head rests firmly in the pillow like it must have been all night, and even more bizarre I’m aligned correctly on the bed; my head near the head, my feet near the foot.
Something is not right. No naked leg draped over the side of the bed exposed to the winter chill of the midnight air in my frozen bedroom. No blankets and pillow piled on the floor where I normally toss them at night, immersed in a grand adventure of my nightly visits to Camelot, or the Rocky Mountains, or the Great Barrier Reef, or Mars… I am as I was when I retired 6 hours before, and that is not normal. I haven’t moved during the night.
My alarm goes off. I despise it. I hate it.… I would much more prefer the aroma of coffee accompanied by a woman’s gentle touch, and a voice telling me softly in my ear, “Wake-up baby, it’s time for work.” And when lids part my gaze is met with the eyes of the one I love. She is smiling, and on her face is love and in her eyes a sliver of guilt for pulling me from a dream…. That is the way to begin the day, looking into the eyes of an angel. And if all our days began that way, the world would be a better place.
Instead I am blasted into consciousness by the clock. It’s loud and in my face, like a Drill Sergeant, and if I had a hammer close by I would have mercifully ended its miserable existence on this earth. Instead I reach across my body to hit the snooze button, but I’m stopped half-way as the whole right side of my body is racked in pain.
I slowly make my way out of bed. It takes ten minutes. The pain is building and I know I won’t be going to work. I can barely sit up. I nearly fall over on the way to the bathroom, but the walls of the narrow hallway keep me up. It feels like someone has hammered a railroad stake into my back. The pain gets worse as I hobble around the house trying to get ready for the day, but I can’t. I stumble back into my bedroom and crawl into bed. I pass out.
I have to pee, but I can’t get up. Its noon and I’m hungry, but I can’t get up. My lower body throbs with a pain I haven’t felt before. My pelvis feels like it’s in a vice, slowly being crushed. When I try to roll over a power drill bores into my hips. When I try to straighten my legs, I’m halted by the seesawing of a hacksaw on my thighs. I call my family but no one is answering. I wish had some pain pills. I pass out.
It’s late in the afternoon and Luke comes home. He asks how I’m feeling. He suggests that I get up and walk around. I tell him I can’t, but am too proud to ask for help. He goes into his room. I guess he thinks I was exaggerating. Still no one answers the phone. There isn’t much to do when you can’t get out of bed. I’m worried about my Appalachian Trail trip. A month from now I plan on walking 2185 miles in 6 months, and now I can barely move. I’ve changed my whole life for this trip. I’ve sold some belongings, and I’ve given my notice to my managers that I’ll be moving out at the end of February. How will I move, when I can’t even move?
The next morning is Tuesday and I think a day of rest has to have done me some good. I really have to pee, and I still haven’t eaten. I try to get out of bed, but I can’t even sit up. I can hear Romi walking around the house, making breakfast, taking a shower, talking on the phone. He knows I’m in a bad way, but he doesn’t check on me, and I’m too proud to ask for his help… I think it must be nice to have someone… Someone to love you, and care about you, and worry about you. Someone to take care of you when you’re sick. Someone to be there for you. I wonder how many people have someone like that, and foolishly take them for granted. I pass out.
…Finally my mom answers. She comes over with my Grandma and my Uncle Kevin. They are here for me. That’s what family is for. Family loves you no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you don’t drive a nice car, or if you don’t wear the latest fashions, or if you don’t make the most money. It doesn’t matter if you screw up and say or do the wrong thing, because your family will forgive you. Family will love you just as much when you’re down and out as they did the day you were born, and will stay by your side even when everyone else has forsaken you… I need there help getting to the doctor, but they can’t even get me up. The pain is just too much. My back refuses to comply. My mom calls 911…
…to be continued.