“Momma, I’m thirsty.”
My eyes were open, but I could hardly see my child standing over me. I had been on the floor for a while now, completely void of strength and with a numb, “pins and needles” sensation was rippling through my body. I had laid on the floor of our living room to rest, but I needed to get up. Just a few more minutes, there’s still time left in the day, I kept thinking to myself. I didn’t know how I could have been sure of that. I had absolutely no sense of what time it was. I glanced over to the window and winced when I saw darkness peeking through the blinds.
Holy shit, how long have I been laying here?
“Oh honey, I’m sorry.” I mumbled. I was having a hard time talking loudly and clearly, as my lips and tongue were numb.
My child gave a little sigh as she lowered herself to the floor to lay next to me. Resting her head on my shoulder, she asked, “Momma, why are you sick?
That was a very good question.
When this started, I thought I was coming down with a virus. I was having some mild numbness in my hands and face and I was feeling out of it and tired, but nothing too concerning. I had braced myself for additional symptoms to follow, like a cough, sore throat, or unpleasant stomach issues, though this never took place. As the days went on, the numbness spread and I was sleeping every chance I could. My limbs felt like jello, and I barely had strength in my body to execute daily functions. My hands would drop things and had the gait of a drunk. I couldn’t bring in more than a shallow breath when I would breath, as if it took too much effort to draw in a deep breath.
Now here I am, five days later, sprawled on my floor, unable and unwilling to move.
I felt so bad for my kids. I had half-assed heated up left overs for dinner and set aside their homework and put on a movie to keep them occupied. I asked them to run their own showers and put themselves to bed. A night-time story would have to wait until tomorrow. They weren’t terribly happy about this, but they were good about it, thankfully.
I don’t recall falling asleep. A horrible nightmare had forced me awake to see that I had never gotten up from the floor. I looked at my phone for the time, and was shocked to see I hadn’t moved for at least six hours. I felt like Trinity in the beginning of the Matrix when she kept telling herself to get up as I yelled at my body to get to it’s feet. I hugged the walls and door frame to my room to keep myself from falling over as my knees bucked and complained. Thank the gods our apartment is so tiny, I didn’t have a far way to go. I made it to my bed and collapsed and let time continue to disappear.
I greeted the sound of my alarm with dry tears and a quiet sob. I wish I was brave enough to call out of work. I didn’t know how in the hell I was going to do a twelve-hour shift today. My stubborn spirit got me out of bed enough to let water rinse my skin in the shower and to pat a little powder on my nose. I quietly praised whoever invented cereal that I may be able to give my kids a quick breakfast. I hadn’t had much of an appetite for the past few days, but I muscled down some half-cooked eggs and black coffee to put some kind of nutrients into my body. I didn’t have to say much when I arrived to work. My slow shuffle and sunken eyes gave away that I had been getting much worse since I had last been there. When you work with doctors, they tend to know when something is up. My favorite one was on staff, so it didn’t bother me too much to let him do a quick exam. A few pokes and prods, and stat blood work later, he asks, “What do you do to outlet your stress?”
Umm… hm. That’s a good question. I go to the gym a few times a week and do a little drinking on the one weekend night a week my kids visit their grandpa. I have a bi-weekly friendly visit/sexual encounter with my special male friend, and while that can’t hurt, I’m not sure that counts. I relayed this information to him, and he says, “Well, you carry yourself like a hard-ass and I know what kind of pressure you’re under daily. You take things with grace and stride, but it’s bound to catch up to you at some point. If you don’t get relieve yourself of some of the pressure, you break.”
“So, are you saying this is all from stress?” I asked. He gave me a smile. “I’m putting money on it. Follow up with your doctor, see if she’ll run a few more tests, but I’m sure she’ll agree.”
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t hoping for some horrible, debilitating, scary diagnosis. But stress? This was flat-out embarrassing. I was a living zombie and a useless mound of flesh bound to my floor for over six hours because, “life is hard”. Awesome.