My Rare Disease Part 4: Specter

Back to Part 3: Stomach Virus ~

The next couple of days were a blur. I didn’t get any better. I lost more energy and more weight than I imagined I had at my disposal to lose. I was thinner than I remembered ever being. For days I avoided looking in the mirror because I simply didn’t recognize the person who looked back. I gave up on trying to get better and spent all my energy going from the couch to the bathroom and back to the couch and then back to the bathroom. I stopped wondering why this was happening to me—after all I’d been through in Utah—after moving home to make a fresh start. My health had been failing for years, and there was simply nothing I could do about it.

On the seventeenth day of the stomach virus, I rolled off the couch and crawled into the bathroom. As I wondered what could possibly be left to purge, the sharpness of a thousand daggers crisscrossing through my abdomen doubled me over in searing pain. I had a split second to wonder what in the world could be wrong with me before an intense wave of nausea lifted me up to the sink where I proceeded to eject the only thing I’d found in the house to eat that day—half of a tunafish sandwich.

I leaned my now ninety-pound frame into the sink and reached for the spigot. The hand that turned the spigot was nothing like my own. Projecting from the weathered skin, spindly bones disguised themselves as fingers with yellowing nails that curled over their tips. I wondered when I had turned eighty.

Then I realized that no water was coming out of the spigot. I turned it frantically as far as I could turn and reached for the other one. Nothing. It was then that I heard the utility trucks and the sounds of people working in the yard of my little rented house. You have got to be kidding me, I thought as I pushed myself up from the sink, raising my face to the mirror. A thinly veiled skeleton stared back at me with a vacuous expression. There was no flesh under the skin that stretched over her sunken cheeks. Paper thin eyelids hung low over the cloudy gray orbs that seemed to wander in their sockets. I quickly looked away from this specter and sank to the floor, letting my back rest against the cool porcelain of the tub in anticipation of the next abdominal convulsion.

There was a knock at the door. Before I could move, I heard the jingling of keys in the lock, then footsteps through the kitchen. Seconds later, the bathroom door flew open and my mother stood looking down at me from the doorway.

“We’re going back to the hospital,” she said. And I was in no condition to argue.

Next ~ Part 5: Dignity

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