I crawled, slower than a snail, from the bed to the bathroom, pausing along the way for rest breaks. In those days of early 2009, I drank and ate as little as possible to avoid this indignity. Yet still the need arose. For me, the effort of going to the bathroom was the equivalent of hiking Half Dome.
Anyone that knew me, that worked with me, that saw me regularly, wouldn’t have recognized me. Anyone that had ever known me wouldn’t have recognized me. I was unrecognizable to myself.
My life had become a ghost of itself. From within the four walls of my bedroom I watched the days unfold. I felt weight of my eyelids blinking, my bones heavy as grand pianos. How had this happened? To me?
Before the tidal wave of chronic illness swept my life out to sea, I’d been a social worker and wanna-be therapist (no credential yet, just mad experience).
I loved my job: it was called “family finding”, and I likened it to being a detective.
I helped find the loved ones of small children and teens who’d been lost in the social service system. The idea was to get them adopted into families, with people who cared for them without receiving a paycheck (no offense foster care). This would surely change the course of their lives; steer them as far away as possible from the giant iceberg of “aging out” of the system, and onto the streets of San Francisco where they’d be homeless, family-less, adrift. High stakes.
But now I was crawling to the bathroom. Unable to walk without help, feed myself, lift a spoon, let alone stir a pot. Forget finding families for other people! I needed to find a name for what was wrong with my body, this new, foreign place that held me hostage to its whims, pains, and lack of energy.
Without asking for it, my entire purpose became the quest to find my way back to health.